Archive for the ‘Best Practices’Category

Today’s Blog entry made possible by Tropical Storm Fay

It was a gray and rainy day in Orlando…

Seriously… tropical storm Fay is looming over Florida and we are in ‘hunker down’ mode (…for some reason that term always brings to mind an image of George Bush…) The world is quiet and we’re sitting here waiting to see what’s gonna happen next…

Seems like a perfect time for a blog entry….

I’m deep in the midst of a website overhaul. This is quite exciting for me because my revamped site will have lots of new features that my existing site can’t support. It’s also proving to be quite a lot of effort to rewrite content and collect images for the photo galleries, etc. I’m optimistic that the fresh look and new features of the site will resonate better with potential clients and make my personal and financial investment worth while.

Now that the site is close to being complete, I’m looking forward to it’s debut and hope it’ll be well received…. If my web designer and I have done our jobs correctly, I will benefit from better placement in the search engines and increased exposure. At the same time, I’m a little apprehensive about the whole matter since I’m keenly aware of how prevalent plagiarism and copyright infringement are these days. Soon enough, my focus will turn from creation to protection.

I say this with some experience. My original website was launched in 1998 and still exists in cyberspace; I abandoned it long ago when site #2 went live. Both of these sites have been copied in the past and I have had to notify the offenders that I was aware of their unscrupulous behavior. Now, as site #3 nears completion, I know I’ll need to be vigilant about monitoring for rip-off sites.

Apparently many planners/coordinators have had similar experiences, which is really quite a sad reflection on those (plagiarizers) who boast about their creativity. And somehow these geniuses think they can get away with it…. ugh! the nerve!

The most helpful and comprehensive information I have found on this topic – a research shortcut, if you will – was complied by Lorelle VanFossen, who writes a phenomenally informative blog entitled: Lorelle on WordPress. Here is a link to Lorelle’s blog, and her tips about Finding Stolen Content and Copyright Infringements. After reading through the entry, be sure to bookmark her site for future reference, because you’ll surely want to go back for more.

© 2008 E. Delgardio All Rights Reserved

19

08 2008

"Hello – I’d like to be added to your Approved Vendor List"

I am often contacted by Vendors looking to establish a relationship with my company… Actually, more often than not, they’re just looking for business… More specifically, business that I might send to them. While I give them credit for reaching out in a proactive manner, let’s talk a bit about the requests I receive via email, telephone calls and voice messages asking: “How can I be added to your vendor list?” Hmm… Good question. Often I’ll respond: “Send me an email with your info and I’ll be happy to add it to our vendor resource file. You never know when we might need it!” – which is not entirely untrue, but it’s also easier than answering the question honestly. If you’re wondering about how vendors get added to my referral list, here are some key points to keep in mind:

  1. Please don’t cold-call me. (Hello… Do you ever use bounce-houses?) Take the time to look at my website and familiarize yourself with the information posted there – learn about me, my company and the type of work we do.
  2. Save a tree (and a stamp!). I can’t remember the last time I responded to unsolicited information. (Sorry.)
  3. Bribes don’t work. (Again, sorry.) You may call it an incentive, but I refuse to give referrals based on compensation. Why? Because as a professional Consultant I’m committed to operating in the best interests of the Client. Not only is the practice of accepting referral fees frowned upon by some of the professional associations I’m affiliated with (it’s like double dipping), I believe that this business practice would ultimately damage my professional credibility.
  4. If you manage to grab my attention and you ask me to check out your website, IT BETTER BE GOOD. Truth be told, if your website is not completely professional (including valid contact info), fully functional and legible (yes, spelling counts) you will probably never get a referral from me.
  5. Please don’t request a meeting. (When can I drop by your office or meet you for coffee...?) As a business owner, wife and mother, I just don’t have the time to have coffee with every vendor in town. (Let’s not even get into the safety issues…) I pretty much stopped doing this altogether after a videography company called me persistently to set a meeting which I eventually agreed to. I arrived at the appointment only to have a representative hand me a sheet of paper which directed me to their website. (Huh!?! – no demo?!? Are you kidding!?!) So, I tried to ask the representative intelligent questions about their services & work which she could not answer because she was ‘new’. She didn’t even have a business card to give me. My daughter had accompanied me to the meeting and said to me in the car afterward, “Well, that wasn’t a very good meeting”. “No honey, it wasn’t”, I replied. (I love that kid! – even at 11 years old she knew better.)

Now it may seem like the door has been slammed shut, but that’s really not the case. The fact of the matter is, it’s very important for me to meet new vendors and keep my Rolodex updated to include rising stars as well as luminaries from every facet of the special events industry. This allows me to present my clients with a fabulous array of options… which is an essential part of the customized services I provide.

Stay tuned for a future post: “Tips for Getting More Referrals from Planners & Coordinators”

© 2008 E. Delgardio All Rights Reserved

26

07 2008

A "Sensational, Emotional and Unforgettable" New Look!

How fab is my blog header picture!!!

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the work of my friend, Orlando photographer Thomas Alan . He’s amazingly talented and such a pleasure to work with! I am so grateful to him for allowing me to use this stunning image which is featured in my new prints ads, website and business cards…. (oooh!)

I must also give credit and thanks to Susan McLean of Z to A Creative for her wonderful assistance with the layout and design of all these components.
© 2008 E. Delgardio All Rights Reserved

14

07 2008

When the Vendor Overrides the Consultant

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

23

06 2008
f