Wednesday, September 24, 2008
What to do when you see or hear...GOING OUT OF BUSINESS!!!
I am writing to the brides that have sadly experienced this with vendors during or after their wedding. In the last year, I have witnessed several brides lose deposits or full payment on photographs, video, venue location and even favors. This has been shared on The Knot, The Wedding Channel and several other websites regarding wedding dilemmas. I know I am not the only one who feels so disheartened about this reoccurring situation. We can call it bad economy, but in the wedding and event industry our business is thriving at its best right now. The big question is what do you do when a situation like this occurs? While most start up businesses go out of business before or by the one year mark, there are ways to protect yourself from mishaps. It's really about being proactive and not reactive. The first thing you want to do is provide yourself with enough viable material about any vendor you choose to work with. It's about asking the RIGHT questions that provide a substantial reference to your vendor of choice. Here are some great questions you may want to jot down prior to a meeting: 1. How long have they been in business? 2. How were they trained? Do they have a speciality? 3. A valid list of references? 4. Ask for photos of their work 5. What is the policy for back-up if they are a one man show? 6. What is their policy on a clients dissatisfaction? 7. Is there a clause in the contract that protects "you" the client? 8. Cancellation policy... 9. Are they licensed, bonded and insured? 10. Do they have vendors that refer them? Who are they? As there are so many other questions to ask, I have found that these are a great starting point. It's very easy to fall in love with a beautiful book of pictures. It's easy to get caught up in the moment by a vendor who offers you everything you want for 1/2 the price. It's even easier for you to loose your deposit or full payment by someone who is NOT credible. PLEASE brides, pick your vendors with caution. This is not about trust this is business. The only one who is going to watch out for you once you sign on the dotted line is YOU! There are a few companies that offer Bridal Insurance. I think this can be a great idea depending on how the coverage works. If you are a bride who is currently going through the courts to retrieve lost deposits etc...You may want to check with your homeowners policy. This may be covered. Forms of payment can also be a way to protect yourself. If you charge your down payment with a AMEX, MC or Visa, most companies have a semi insurance clause that will reverse the charges if a service has not been provided or you are not satisfied. I would highly recommend working with businesses that have different payment policies. You can always check the Better Business Bureau to see of others have had similar or any complaints about your vendor. If you are one of the "victims" of fraud or bankrupt business issues, you may want to share this information with your vendors. They may have an idea on how you can still have the wonderful things you wanted for the same price, without having to pay more. On the East coast, we had a terrible situation with a company called Celebrations Studios. They not only took several deposits from brides who had upcoming weddings a year from now, but took payments in full from brides who were already married and did not give them their photos. Several brides lost the only tangible product from their wedding. The one thing they could look back at and remember for the rest of their lives. There was no solution for these individuals. Even if some did receive their money back, they still had nothing in the end. Maybe some friends took photos, some were lucky to get the negatives after the court hearing. Again, the outcome was appalling and saddening. The wonderful thing about our industry is that there are so many wonderful companies that came to the rescue for the brides who still had an upcoming wedding and now no photographer and a deposit lost. These fine businesses ate the amount of what the brides gave and still issued them the same program as what they were promised. It makes me proud that I am affiliated with several of these companies. I just wanted to thank the vendors for being there for so many brides. I hope this information helps those who are in the process of planning their wedding. Just remember, you are the ONLY one that can protect your investment. It is NOT about trust. It's not just about the quality of ones work. If it sounds amazing, it's probably too good to be true. Most importantly, take your time in signing with a vendor. If they rush you, continue to mark down the contract if you sign TODAY, be VERY leery. If a company is that persuasive, ask yourself why didn't they offer you this price from the start???? Negotiation is one thing...A persistent salesperson is also completely different! That is a form of salesmanship. Desperation is COMPLETELY different. You can always just call a credible planning agency if you have a question about a vendor. I know we are always good for a few hundred referrals!
I devote my time to ensuring our clients recieve fab service. There's another "calling" for me. To give back to my peers that aspire to be the next "best" fancy pants somebody! Those who play it safe standing behind me, will fail. I do serve as a warning to others and yes, I'm nutty. It's who I am & it's not going to change, as it works. Feel free to comment & join me on what could be the best road trip EVER!
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