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Navigating Tricky Vendor Relationships

In a highly competitive industry, maintaining positive, fruitful relationships with your fellow vendors can be more than a little bit challenging. The friction caused by erupting egos, irrational fears, and misunderstandings is destructive to a creative’s process and product. Taking a positive approach to vendor relationships—even the tricky ones—can yield great advantages and opportunities for your business to grow and flourish.

Avoid comparing yourself with others

Creatives are competitive by nature. Looking at what other people are doing in your space can cause you to lose focus and divert you from growing your own business. Don’t spend time comparing yourself or your work to what you see around you.

“Remember that there is plenty of business to go around! You can’t do all the weddings and events in your market yourself.”

Cultivate relationships with your peers

It is wise to find others in your field who you can call if you are having an issue and need advice or feedback. They might have experience with the problem you are experiencing and be able to give you guidance or assistance. Growing together with your competitors is healthy and creates mutual respect. Remember that there is plenty of business to go around! You can’t do all the weddings and events in your market yourself.

Treat your vendor colleagues well

It should go without saying that peers aren’t the only colleagues you should treat kindly. Be polite to all of your vendors. Strive for mutual success by creating great events together and sharing referrals. Make it easy to work with you. Ensure that vendors are fed at each event and made comfortable so they can do their best work. Go out of your way to provide assistance and make your vendors look good. Act like a host to your colleagues. They will return the favor many times over.


Meet new vendors and nurture established relationships by attending networking events in your area hosted by industry organizations. Stay open-minded as you meet new people and look for opportunities to work with professionals you haven’t engaged with before.

Address concerns directly

If you have an issue with another vendor, or one is brought to your attention by a client or colleague, deal with it straight up. Make a phone call instead of sending an email, and do it right away. If you wait, or simply decide not to use them again, you waste a chance to resolve your issue and strengthen your relationship for the future.

The best vendor friendships result from the ability to communicate. Give others the second chances you would want them to give you. No one is perfect, nothing goes as planned all the time, and knowing that others have your back is invaluable.

Finally, remember that your vendors encounter less professional and less collegial creatives than you every day. Sometimes initial reactions to you have more to do with past experiences than anything you have said or done. Recognize this and combat it with your own professionalism and patience. You will make the events world a better place, not only for your business, but for all event pros and their clients as well.

Interested in meeting peers and networking with other industry professionals? Then Catersource 2019 is where you need to be! Join us for an inspiring four days in February. Click here for the latest information!

Emily Sullivan

Owner, Emily Sullivan Events

Emily Sullivan is the owner of Emily Sullivan Events, a full-service wedding planning company based in New Orleans and serving couples everywhere.