Over my many years in the special events industry, I have encountered a few different event producers, meeting planners and suppliers that have had some sort of paranoia when it comes to accepting responsibility for a supplier’s mistakes. For some reason when there’s a problem, they think that it will save their reputation to explicitly tell the client that it wasn’t their fault, and that it was the supplier’s fault.
I have encountered countless situations where planners blame suppliers in front of their clients. Have you heard something similar to the following before?
– “Ahhh… that darn audio guy”
– “I can’t believe that they did it again!”
– “This is the last time I use them!”
It’s so easy to blame the supplier, but hey… aren’t you the one that hired them? So isn’t that a reflection on your own ability to select appropriate, experienced and quality suppliers? The client really doesn’t care who’s fault it was because in their eyes, you are the one that is responsible. They hired you and not the suppliers, and they trusted you for your expertise, network of suppliers, and ability to solve problems as they arise. So when you say something bad about your supplier, you are really saying something about yourself – and the client is likely thinking the same thing about you.
As an example; if you’re eating at a restaurant, and there are rocks in your rice, would you care who the rice supplier was and that the restaurant has had problems like this before? (True story by the way) Not likely. These rocks have left you with a bad taste of the restaurant and not the rice supplier. If they had problems like this in the past, why have they not switched suppliers or brands? Do they not have any quality control? Can’t they see the rocks when they are cooking? It really only makes the restaurant look incompetent. In fact, even if they told you the name of the supplier, you would probably only remember the experience at this restaurant and then share it with as many others as you could.
The same thing goes for the events industry. When a client comes to you to complain about something that a supplier did wrong, deal with it as if the supplier was part of your company. Address their concerns and work quickly to resolve the problem without showing any signs of frustration or negativity. If your stress or anger begins to show, the client will start to lose faith in your abilities. Sarcastic comments, negative statements, or fishing for sympathy will not help the situation. Be positive and in control at all times even if your client is not.
Yes – it is true that it may be their fault, but again… the client doesn’t care and wants you to accept responsibility and take action. Yes – it may be true that you will never hire them again, but the client doesn’t care because it doesn’t help them right here, right now. They will only wonder why you hired them in the first place.
Bottom line – when you hire suppliers and they fail, remember – they represent you and anything you say about them to your client reflects only on you.