Repairing a Relationship with a Vendor
It is possible a relationship with a vendor may strain at some point in your career. You should make every effort to repair the relationship. Misunderstandings often occur in the heat of the moment when staging an event. Tempers and emotions flare at this time between two otherwise calm people. Perhaps a rift was the result. In this case, an apology in your thank-you letter may solve this matter.
Working Toward a Solution
In the instance of larger disagreements, the first step to mending the working relationship is to have a meeting with your vendor. Revisit a disagreement after a few days have passed, to give both parties some clarity. Begin the meeting by addressing the problem, then listen to your vendor's side of the story. Accept your responsibility in the matter and apologize.
If warranted, address any issues you may be having with your vendor, and hopefully he will return the apology and you both can continue working together.
For all vendor and client disputes, it is a good idea to chronicle the circumstances around the event. If a staff member is involved, ask her to write a statement while the details are fresh in her mind. File all statements together in the event's folder for future reference.
If the matter involves a monetary issue, try and invite a third party to resolve the dispute. The third party should be someone you both have worked with and trust. Another event planner or vendor would be good choices for a third party. If the matter involves a client and a complaint, you might ask the client how she would like the matter resolved and recommend this to your vendor.
For example, your baker created an elaborate cake for your client's 25th wedding anniversary. The cake was supposed to include four layers, and each layer was to have a different flavor, but one of the flavors was missing. You contact your client, who is asking for a 25-percent refund on her cake. You agree this is a reasonable request and set up a meeting to discuss the matter.
The baker agrees to refund the amount with a letter of apology. The solution to this problem has satisfied the three parties involved. Because your baker has rectified the complaint, you can continue your working relationship.
Knowing When to Walk Away
Sometimes a sour vendor relationship has passed the point of repair. If you have followed all the suggested tips for repairing a relationship, it may be time to walk away.
It is best to make a clean break. Do not embellish or gossip to other vendors or event planners. A vendor can also gossip about his experience working for you. Make it a practice not to speak negatively about vendors. Simply stating you used to work with a vendor but no longer do will speak volumes to a client asking for a vendor referral. You will still be dignified in your response and still get your point across.