Supplier Contracts for your Event

Supplier Contracts – the do’s and don’ts!

One of the stressful things for managing an event is getting the right supplier contracts. For a novice in the industry where do you start? Well the easy answer is to keep things simple. The most important factor when holding an event be it a wedding, a garden party or a child’s first birthday party – research your suppliers.

Choosing your Supplier

Suppliers can set up overnight and disappear with your money 6 months later so let’s make sure that doesn’t happen to you.

When choosing a supplier, check their reputability. Do they have a website? If they only advertise on Facebook then why is this? It doesn’t necessarily mean they are not reputable – far from it they may be keeping the overheads down in order to keep their costs to the client down but how do you check this. “Oh they have great reviews on their page” – but who wrote them?

Verify their Credentials

Ask to speak to their clients. If they are local to you then they should be out doing weddings every weekend so ask if you can pop your head into one and just see how they set things up and if they client is happy that they have received everything they asked for – remember, at some point they could be doing your event so are they able to manage their time, are they delivering on schedule and are they following the client’s brief – you may not be there on the day to oversee it so you want to know that your wishes are being carried out on your behalf.

Supplier Contracts do's and don'ts

Tailor it to your Needs

I regularly have clients asking for the contract we have to be tweaked so that it suits their individual needs and, as long as it does not incur us with problems on the day or leading up to the event then we are happy to accommodate their requests. If you have specific requirements, such as ensuring that a particular colour or theme is used, then make sure you provide exact details, including images where possible.

Your supplier should always offer a contract which would be legally binding. When these supplier contracts are sent to you print them off and read through them – much easier to do with a hard copy that you can mark with pen. If you are unsure of any of the clauses then flag them up and ask questions. This is YOUR event and they are doing YOU a service so it is for you to ensure that the contract suits your requirements. If it does not then ask for it to be altered. Supplier contracts should be worded to ensure both parties interests will be served.

You should never have to pay more than 50% up front. The client is not providing a service until the date of your event so why do they require more than this ahead of the service being provided. In actual fact we do not invoice the remaining 50% until a week before or, in some cases, the day after the event. Your money should be held in an ESCROW account until after your event (unless the supplier has to have an outlay for items they do not hold in stock in which case they should agree with you for those monies to be released in order to order the goods in on your behalf – the goods should then also belong to you afterwards!!)

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 Protect your Investment

Unfortunately there has been some terrible press recently concerning a company which went into liquidation taking over £70k of client’s money with them. An easy way to have spotted this would have been to ask to look at their bookings for the year. Could a company with only three employees really do events from Aberdeen to Devon on one day? It’s not very likely so that would have flagged up alarm bells.

What does the cancellation clause state? I was recently stung by this myself but luckily I had read the contract inside out as you can imagine. It just shows that no-one is infallible. I booked my own wedding at a Town Hall (trustworthy so you would think) however after giving them a small deposit they decided after 2 months that they were not experienced enough to handle the reception and just returned the cheque. We had already ordered the invitations and various other goods with the date and venue printed on it so despite them ignoring our emails we sent a special delivery letter requesting that unless they paid our out-of-pocket expenses we would be taking legal action which would incur them in an awful lot of bad publicity and a lot of money. Because we had read the clauses of the contract we were also able to imply their own cancellation fee. Had we cancelled the event for no “good” reason other than changing our minds we would have had to pay 75% of the total fee. This came back and bit them on the proverbial as it works both ways in a matter of law – we claimed back 75% of the costs we “would” have spent with them.

Had we not read the contract and been totally aware of the clauses we would not have known this. Read all of your supplier contracts with this same level of care.

Venues also have a duty of care to the client and to the Registrar. If they are holding ceremonies and taking people’s monies then cancelling the Registrar of Marriages can take a very dim view of couples being messed around and can, ultimately, evoke the venues license.

If you are ever in doubt, approach a large company and ask them to check the contract. Even if they charge you for an hours work, it can be money well spent.

Insurances are also, of course, big business but unless the company formally goes into liquidation they will not cover you. Always pay with a credit card if you can rather than a debit card. PayPal also only covers you for 160 days so if you are securing suppliers early this can be detrimental. Use a credit card and just pay if straight off if you can – you are then completely covered against loss.

I hope this goes some way to helping you understand the need to really look at suppliers you choose, ensure they have detailed supplier contracts and to ensure the paperwork you sign is binding and is going to be client friendly if it needs to be.

Article written by Donna Duffy of Gold Wing Event Management. If you are interested in contacting Donna, please use our booking enquiry form on her listing. Also, see a selection of her images in the link to her gallery

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