I found this article written by the Linen House, to be very infomative. For the Bride, it is a good tool to measure the vendors you are considering, for the vendors, it is a good tool to make sure that you are doing everything that the Bride is expecting of you.
Brides, are your vendors following these critical 6 steps?
Brides, repeat this mantra before you walk into your next vendor meeting: I’ve come to this vendor appointment to find things to make my wedding fabulous and memorable for my guests. I’m working within a budget and vendors need to respect that. After this meeting I don’t want to have to worry about these items at all. I trust the vendor to do his job and involve me in finalizing numbers or to inform me if anything unexpected happens. Regardless of my previous lack of experience with this type of vendor or the size of my order or the venue where I am holding my reception I expect to be treated with courtesy, dignity and respect. This is my wedding and it is very special to me. That’s why I am here! Well, all that, and I want to have fun!
The process as important as the product
When savvy vendors meet with their bridal clients, they want to ensure each meeting is successful. Obviously the vendor wants to make the sale. The bride wants to find those ‘just right’ items for the wedding. Smart vendors understand satisfied customers can become their best marketing campaign of one. Even before the final product is delivered, vendors are evaluated by the bride on the experience of making their selections. That information is likely to be shared with friends and family. It almost certainly will be shared over and over if the experience was a bad one.
How are vendors to ensure their business is not the target, deserved or not, of a bride’s frustration? The best way is for vendors to make sure the appointment is a fulfilling experience for all parties. Keep in mind these 6 steps.
6. Agree on next steps
The bullet points under each heading are the specific vendor tasks associated with the six phases of the perfect appointment.
1. Greet the clients
Welcome the bride and others in her party
Greet each person by name if known
Introduce yourself; provide a business card to each person
Offer a beverage or refreshments
Ask if the bride has previously been to this business location
Give short tour/highlights of the business
2. Share Information
Validate your understanding of what if anything you know about the wedding
Listen to the bride to correct or update your knowledge of the purpose for the visit
Take notes. These will prove invaluable in the weeks ahead
Use a form or check list during the meeting to make sure every possibility is covered. Blank paper is better than nothing, but not as professional and complete as a form.
Start to collect the basic information about the location, time, guest count, etc. during this phase. You will have to circle back to fill in the blanks during the summary phase.
3. Bride makes selections
Encourage the bride to interact with the sample merchandise. The more involved the bride is in the process the more ownership she will feel.
Don’t be discouraged if the bride does not care for the first options you suggest. At the beginning you may have to show a multitude of choices until something clicks. Even at that it could be more about color, texture, price or other factors. Be flexible. Use your experiences and expertise to offer suggestions that would enhance the wedding.
Be patient. The bride is here to make an important decision so it may take a little while to arrive at the final vision.
Enjoy the process. Smile and compliment the bride on her choices. This should be genuinely fun!
Share in the excitement of the wedding you are helping to plan. Ask questions to get more information about the vision, the guest of honor, the venue. Any information that helps make the event more real for you will help you do a better job in assisting the bride.
4. Confirm Availability and Pricing
Nothing is more discouraging to a bride than to fall in love with a selection only to find out later what she wants is not available or exceed the budget
During the appointment, once the selections start to solidify, confirm general pricing and availability. This gives the bride the option to choose alternatives or even enhance her décor based on this current information.
5. Summarize the selections
Wrap up the decision making phase of the meeting
Make certain you know what selections have been made. Confirm this with the bride.
Now is the time to get the exact bill-to name, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, mailing address, venue name, delivery addresses, contact information, table sizes, etc. Doing it later increases the likelihood it will be overlooked.
Provide the client samples of the selected items.
Stress that only firm reservations hold items. Offer to write a reservation right then. If it will take some time to write up the reservation:
Make sure the bride’s beverage glass has been refilled
Provide a blank contract form so the bride can read it in detail
Keep a stack of current wedding magazines handy for browsing
6. Agree on time frame and responsibility for next steps Now is the time to recap what you are going to do and when
Also review what information you still need from the bride and when she will provide it to you and how
Say goodbye; thank your bride for visiting
Review your notes to make sure they are in good order
Straighten the showroom for the next guest
Send a hand-written thank-you note or at least an e-mail recapping the next steps time frame and high level selections.
Brides, ask yourself as you walk out the door after a vendor meeting: Was this a worthwhile experience? Did I have the opportunity to see an adequate sampling of the merchandise and choose items that reflect my personal taste? Did I learn something new that will help me at the next vendor appointment or that I can use when planning other events in the future? Do I know specifically what I selected? Do I need to provide the vendor additional information? Do I know what and by when?
Was being a bride fun today?