When the Vendor Overrides the Consultant

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A few days ago I was confronted with a situation where a Vendor that I referred (not just any vendor, someone I refer a lot, a friend even…) told me that they had provided vendor referrals to my/our client. Upon learning this, I must have said something in my moment of shock because the Vendor said, “well, I figure you refer them too” -which I do, because XYZ service is a great company, but just not one of the two names I gave this particular Client.

I mean, as the bride’s Consultant – and a well qualified consultant to boot – it’s my job to assess her needs and recommend vendors that I believe would be a good fit for her. The Client has made the decision to hire me and follow my recommendations (and there is no kickback or referral fee involved at all!). I strongly believe that vendors should honor this agreement / arrangement / contract, therefore, I was having trouble grasping the fact that a trusted vendor would essentially override my authority by offering vendor recommendations. AND, even though I can imagine a multitude of scenarios where the client might casually ask a vendor their opinion about something, I don’t understand how / why this vendor didn’t respect me enough to refer the client back to me. They simply could have said “Elisa knows so many people, I’m sure she’d be happy to give you more names” or “Elisa only works with the best, after all she sent you to me” or something to reinforce the clients’ faith in me….

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that this has happened to me. I mean, I’d bet is was not any vendor’s intention to be disrespectful; in fact, I’m sure they were trying to be helpful. But, considering that we (Consultants/Planners in general) are paid by our clients for (among other things) referrals to vendors, you’d think that the vendors would show a little more discretion.

If you’re a vendor and you’re reading this, always remember where your Client came from. If the Client came by way of referral from a Planner/Consultant, you need to fight you inner urge to be “Super Vendor” (“the one with all the answers“) and direct the Client and any questions they may have back to their Consultant.

If you’re a Client or potential Client, remember this: As your Consultant I do not offer referrals based on kickbacks (compensation for the referral). As a Consultant, I will listen to your needs and offer advice based on my assessment of what you’re looking for. I will provide a short list of top professionals based on price, personality and style, but can provide many more additional names if needed. However, if you ask the DJ who makes the best wedding cakes, or if you ask the invitation lady which photographer is better, you might be shooting yourself in the foot (so to speak) because you don’t really know what the other vendor’s motivation is… Think about it: Is the invitation lady going to ensure that the photographer will work well with the other vendors on-site and execute his/her job to your satisfaction?

© 2008 E. Delgardio All Rights Reserved

About The Author


Planner | Designer | Speaker I've been planning for as long as I can remember! When I was younger, I planned birthday parties for my siblings and surprise anniversary parties for my parents. I spent many years in the Hospitality industry and also studied Interior Design. I couldn’t have guessed that my creative and organizational talents would lead me to a career in event planning...seriously! "To love what you do and feel that it matters - how could anything be more fun?" - Katherine Graham

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06 2008

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