Supplier Management 101

event planner

Supplier Management 101

So, you’re planning your event and have chosen your vendors. Managing your vendors, known in the IT world as stakeholder management is critical to the success of your event. Your suppliers will annoy you, test your patience, challenge your professionalism, sometimes under deliver, run late, and the list goes on and on.

In the fantasy land that is your head, you’ve tied and gagged all your vendors and are about to drop them into the middle of the ocean, never to disturb your inner sanctum again. But since we can’t really do that and we actually need the suppliers to execute a great event, I’m going to give you some first class tips that will keep you out of the jail house and your event running smooth.

Tip 1. Email EVERYTHING. Even if you have had a brief conversation on the phone. If you’ve agreed or negotiated on something, changed timings, etc, follow that discussion up with an email to confirm your understanding. I’ve learnt this the hard way when a contractor has retracted on a verbal agreement. As the saying goes “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”


Tip 2. When the supplier tests your patience or irritates you to high heaven, take a deep breath before even thinking about picking up the phone to speak to them. Better still I usually vent and sound off to a colleague, my mum or hubby who usually agree with my point (I’m generally right a lot of the time #justsaying) and then provide a rational balanced view. I’m then in less of an Incredible Hulk mode and more ready to put my professional sugar sweet voice on and resolve issues.


Tip 3. Get used to starting emails or phone calls with ‘I just want to check my understanding /that I have this right’. Take your pick but just get into the habit of checking and clarifying and confirming the facts and details. Better to have too much communication with vendors and get it right rather than be hands off and it goes pear shaped.


Tip 4. This should really be Tip 1 but select good professional suppliers from the outset. Suppliers who have an established practice are less likely to want the Reputational damage caused by a disgruntled event planner. Also in some cases you really do get what you pay for, so don’t always search for the suppliers who offer the cheapest deals. Experience and service are with the extra £s.


Tip 5. Think of your end goal in everything you do. Dealing with issues and problems is par for the course in the role of event planner. The key point is that you want to execute a top notch for the client. You are likely to have to work with the suppliers again so will need to build good relationships. Hold this goal in mind as you deal with the challenges and this should steer your actions to work towards a  satisfying conclusion.

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