It’s a hard question to ask sometimes, but for those of us who work fully or mostly off-premise, our relationships with venues are critical parts of our businesses. The brides, grooms, mitzvah parents, and corporate planners are not our only “clients” – if we don’t have strong ties to our venue managers and teams, we’re not getting recommended, and we’re not getting leads. Some key questions to ask yourself:
• How often do I really communicate with each of my venue owners/managers/teams?
• When’s the last time I sent them or brought them something to say thank you?
• Do I know when their birthdays are?
• What have I done recently to help make their jobs easier?
• Am I connected to them and their venues through social media? If so, how often do I comment on their posts? How often do they comment on mine?
So how do I build these relationships and become a friend?
Start off by following their rules, each and every time, when you are working with them. Each venue and event space has different requirements, for good reasons – to save on wear and tear, ensure safety, adhere to laws and licenses, and to make sure that everyone coming into the space understands the expectations. Be a trusted partner first and foremost.
Help them succeed whenever and wherever possible. This can mean doing tours with potential clients for them, helping to train their new staff members, suggesting equipment or product purchases when the need arises – the list goes on. When we view everyone we work with as a partner, we get treated the same way.
Acknowledge them and include them in your success stories. If you’re posting a great picture of an event or set up, make sure you are tagging them and including them in your posts. If you are requesting photos from an event for use in your marketing efforts, share them with everyone so that they can benefit as well (and make sure you are crediting the photographer!).
Don’t just call or email them when you need something. You don’t do that to your other friends, do you? Call them to see how their week is going, how they’re doing—especially if you know they’ve been busy (even if they’ve been busy with someone other than you). Talk about things other than work, and actually try to get to know them.
Say thank you. Not just to the “person in charge,” but to the maintenance crew, the security guards, the front desk attendants, the person in charge of the loading dock—anyone and everyone. Treat everyone as a potential client—the more people you have on your side singing your praises, the better.
Take a look at where your leads are coming from—if you’re not receiving inquiries from a venue, there is a reason. Schedule some time to talk to them face to face, have them over for lunch, or meet them where it’s most convenient for them, and really have a heart to heart. Don’t be nervous to come right out and ask if there’s a problem—your business may depend on it.
Doug Quattrini, CPCE, is an event producer at Feastivities Events and is Past President for the Philadelphia/S. Jersey/Delaware NACE Chapter, and current NACE National Board Secretary, Doug earned his CPCE (Certified Professional in Catering and Events) designation in 2009.