I am wondering if anyone has any insight to the idea of providing coordinators, planners, or other vendors some type of compensation for bringing brides to them.  I have mixed feelings about it but I know it goes on and that there is business I miss out on because these vendors steer their brides in other directions.  Any feedback would be appreciated!

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Unfortunately, there is no definitive policy on this in my market territory. While I am opposed to 'kickbacks', I also deal with a number of very reputable event planners who may get involved in the odd wedding. These planners ask for a quote for me - and from other suppliers - and furnish essentially a marked-up package to the bride. I don't think anything's being 'hidden' here.

 

However, in certain cultural groups, again in my market territory, some bridal consultants won't even mention you as a supplier to their clients unless a healthy 'envelope' is a given. I find that a little disturbing: The consultant is already charging a good sum to run the overall wedding, the client not knowing that a 'referral' is being paid. Also, I can tell you from personal experience that the vendors being recommended are not necessarily even close to the quality of other vendors in the industry, the major qualifying factor to being 'recommended' is playing the game.

 

When I am unavailable for an event, I usually will just refer some of my peers (competitors) who I think would do the job that I would. I don't expect or ask for a kickback- I do hope that those peers will keep me in mind when they have a similar situation (and that does seem to happen!).

 

 

I am a relationship builder myself... not a kickback giver.  It makes my spine crawl personally.  I can understand the point, but then that can lead to different price sheets, etc.  I show my gratitude by referring back, and treating to lunch/dinner (which is a write off and a great one on one relationship), special treats when necessary, or give them something like a photo shoot to show my gratitude.  I would not want someone to refer me just because I am going to give them $.  Then what if they are not good?  It is my reputation on the line for $50?  Just my thoughts. :)

 

I feel like my pay it forwardness by referring those I enjoy working with/their final product has worked for me for 11 years.  And, loyalty goes a long way. :)  I don't advertise hardly at all, and have found my referral business is best with vendors and repeat customers. :)

As a planner I do send thank you notes and tokens of appreciation to vendors that send me business.  But these gifts are simply thoughtful (a bottle of wine to the hotel rep that loves happy hour, a movie ticket to the florist that has date night with his wife) but I find it unethical to take monetary "kickbacks" from vendors.  No matter how much I'd like to say it wouldn't, I know my efforts to match vendors to clients would be swayed if I did.  Any time a vendor offers a discount to planners, I pass that discount along to the client.   

I typically refer to the vendors (makeup artists, DJs, etc) who can do a good job, since it is related to my reputation. I also expect the same from wedding planners. They should not recommend me based on my incentives. Instead, they refer me based on the quality of work.

I think my situation is a little different.  Travel Agents who do refer me, do get 10%. 

 

It seems this has been in place for quite some time. 

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NEVER!   It is shooting yourself in the foot.  I recommend vendors based on reputation and experience, not on how much money they will give me for the referral.  My reputation as a planner is compromised if a bride thinks I steer them to a vendor and then take money for it.

I don't think that compensation for coordinators or planners necessarily has to take the form of monetary kickbacks. It could be a discount that you provide only to couples that use that vendor. It could be a barter system between you and the vendor where you send referrals to each other. Or you could even periodically provide them with a free service so that they can see for themselves the quality of your work and at the same time want to repay you for your generosity. At the same time, I do understand how it can be distasteful if planners abuse the system and only recommend the vendors that pay them. I guess the key is to treat your planner relationships the same way that we would tell a bride to do it: if it feels weird or in any way like a bad deal, it probably is. Trust your instincts and work with planners that you like and with whom you feel in sync. Personally, I really like the idea of offering  an exclusive discount. I mean, how many stores do you visit that offer you 20% off if you refer a friend? it's not like you'll get that 20% anywhere else, and if you like the place, why not recommend it? Same idea with the vendors. It shouldn't be bribery.

I personally don’t accept kickbacks or commissions but love the discounts from vendors because I pass them on to the wedding couple.  I don’t recommend the vendor with the biggest referral incentive; instead with the vendor who I am certain will make my clients happy!

I agree with most of the other wedding vendors. I would stay clear away from anyone who expects kickbacks or commission. Have more pride in who you work with. If I work with you at a wedding, and I think you are really talented, treated my client well, and my client loved your work, then I would promote you. I would link your website to our blog, facebook, twitter, etc. That in turn would get you a lot more money than whatever I could stuff in an envelope. 

If I new of a wedding vendor who only recommended others because of a certain kickback they received, I would NEVER work with them, and I would steer others far away. It's speaks a lot about their character. In the end, they are going to put their wants and needs above the clients wants and needs, and that's not how we run our business.

I was wondering the same thing recently- I just started to offer a $100 referral credit to people who refer brides that book with me, but when it came to other vendors I wasn't sure what to do. I like the idea of sending a thank you gift once in a while, and also offering exclusive discounts (although I'll probably offer upgrades rather than discounts) to their customers.
I think it is important for the bride to have full trust in my services and choose me for the quality of my photography. Buying referrals muddies the water.

I'm glad you started this thread, Ryan! While I'm relocating to a larger market (Orlando) and I'd like to give the networking process a little nudge, something about affiliate programs just feels dodgy. On the flip side, if a vendor approached me and said that they'd give me $50 for every lead I referred to them, I'd probably get a bad gut feeling about them.


Personally, if I ever felt compelled to reward a vendor for a generous referral, I'd lean toward a heartfelt "thank you" hand-written on a beautiful card, maybe with an iTunes or Starbucks gift card or some other little treat tucked inside. Or even make it more personal. If they were just raving to you about their favorite local bakery, buy them a box of cupcakes from there. True, it's still an incentive, but it's one that would sit better on my conscience and probably feel warmer on the receiving end than an envelope.

 

Just my $0.02, anyway!

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