As florists, we are just a small piece of the wedding industry pie. From event planners to photographers to calligraphists, there are so many other creatives that come together to create these magical days for the two lovebirds. We all know how important networking is, and as an aspiring floral designer myself, I’ve always wondered how important it is to connect with other vendors, and how to go about doing so!
So I asked the Mayesh Floral Forum: Relationships with other wedding industry vendors… how important are they? How do you establish good relationships for referrals and possible collaborations? And to get a bit more specific, we also had a customer ask about images of your work, and if most photographers are willing to give florists their images, or make them pay to use them?
I have never paid for images that photographers have given me. The photographers that I work with quite a bit don’t typically watermark their images but they do ask for credit. Which I happily give! It is important to credit the photographer on your website as well as social media. Sometimes we have to do some extra leg work and ask the photographer for images after an event. And sometimes we never get photographs. So my team and I are trying to get better at taking a few quick snaps that we can use for social media before the event.
Relationships with other wedding industry vendors are extremely important. They can be a huge source of referrals and a great support for our businesses. We typically are referred by Venues, Planners, and Photographers. If there is a vendor that you would like to work with or a venue that you have always wanted to work at, ask if they would be willing to collaborate on a styled shoot. Early on in my business, one of the first styled shoots I did, the photographer set the shoot up at one of my favorite venues. I was so excited as I had never worked there but always wanted to. The event coordinator liked my work so much she added me to their preferred vendor list. It was one of the most pivotal points in my business.
Networking with other vendors is always important. I know it can be hard and intimidating if you don’t know a lot of vendors in your area. But finding a commonality with other people is a good way to start relationships with them. One of the things that is very important to me as a florist and a small business owner is BE NICE. Be nice to other florists, other vendors, and people in your industry. Your reputation will proceed you. Do you want to be known as difficult to work with or someone who is nice to work with? That is so important when trying to collaborate with others.
Almost all photographers just allow me to use them – I’ve had one ask me to pay for them and I said no thanks 🙂 I think that’s a totally ridiculous expectation! Us using their photos is good for them as well – as long as we are crediting properly, I don’t think it should be an issue!
In terms of vendor relationships… HUGELY important. I think each wedding that you work with other vendors is also a networking event. You should be working as a team and making everyone’s job easy so that the event runs smoothly and hopefully they’ll want to work with you again. I’d say i get more referrals from other vendors than most other marketing avenues 🙂
Collaborate away, make friends, and just do your best. If other vendors feel that you’re fun to work with, dependable and talented-why wouldn’t they recommend you?
As for the best ones to “get in with”-coordinators for sure. As a coordinator also, I’m always sending referrals out for vendors i love 🙂 coordinators + venues <3
As far as photographers, they are very willing to give us images digitally as long as we make sure to credit them appropriately when we use them. Photographers that we work with often, also offer a large canvas of our work (and theirs) to display in our consultation room, usually a couple of times a year.
Helpful Hint: When using photographer’s images on Instagram or any other social media that has filters, DO NOT add another filter to their original photo. Some have unique brightness, flair and finishes that they want to represent their brand.
The most important vendor that we work closely with are wedding planners. Their power of suggestion is amazing when it comes to vendor referrals. Most of our larger weddings are brought to us by planners.
The photographers we have worked with have been tremendous. Traditionally they have given photos when we ask. One photographer does a “photo drop” two times a year where they open up their photos to their vendors. We’ve never had to pay for photos of an event that we did. There were a few times when we were a smaller company that our photographers sent photos with their branding on them. As we’ve established ourselves in the industry and grew into our target market, photographers now send us photos branding free and we ensure they get credit for their beautiful work! If photographers ever send us photos with their branding, we just ask them if they could send us specific floral photos without the branding and let them know we would give them credit.
Your “friendors” are definitely important. When we were starting our St. Louis wedding florals company, one of our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) each week was to meet three new connections from the wedding industry. These didn’t make a huge impact immediately, but they did break the ice to further opportunities. In the last two years, 23% of our clients said they heard about us, at least in part, from another vendor. The large part of our vendors who send work our way are the venues. Many of those relationships we actually built by just doing a wedding there. Once they love the work and see Rachael and our team work efficiently and clean up after themselves, they want to work with us again. Recently, we’ve not done gratis inspiration photos shoots as much because the ROI (for us at least) is too low and that money is better invested elsewhere in the business. There are plenty of other places to build relationships with other vendors.
Photographers have long been the challenge to get the actual photos…. We have recently used the approach, “We would like to feature this wedding on our website and credit you for the photography. When can I expect to get some of the best floral shots form you?” Always get their card so you can follow up, but this approach has been most helpful!
We use this same approach on most of our partner vendors and it works great!! We offer to feature the product on our website for a special pricing partnership opportunity.
In 99.9% of instances photographers are happily willing to share images, even without a watermark, because they know I will give them credit and send business their way. From the White House to LA, that has been my experience, but that’s not to say all photographers are generous. In my neck of the woods there IS one that wants to charge me $50 per image. #NO #NiceTry
I will never recommend a vendor to a bride that I have not worked with on multiple occasions with consistent results. Sometimes vendors ask me to recommend them, but I will not do it until a track record is established.
Its a tricky balance; I see the bride once and the vendors again and again, but the bride is the client. I value my relationships with my vendors and many have become very close friends over the years. Those connections are important to me and ensure my brides have a great wedding experience.
Okay everyone, ya hear that? Credit photographers and become bff’s with ’em. Oh, and coordinators too. There was a lot of other helpful advice in there (I love Randi’s suggestion of doing styled shoots with other local vendors!) but almost everyone mentioned these two things.
And what about you guys? Any good or bad experiences with other vendors, and what you learned from the experience? Share below!