Put your expectations down on paper
Yes, you need to verbalise your requirements of each vendor for each job. But you also need to commit these requirements and expectations to paper so that nothing gets lost in translation so they have a hard copy to work from. This could be as simple as a checklist or as detailed as a full spec sheet with itemised counts and descriptions.
Have a contract (or legally binding work order) for each vendor on each project
Not only do you need to write requirements and instructions out for vendors, you should also have a detailed, contractual work order that goes into specifics on what they will be delivering and at what price.
This document should include language on what recourse you can take if they don’t deliver as promised, liability terms and any other necessary contractual language to cover yourself. Finally, you and the vendor both need to sign and date the document.
Keep your vendors in the loop
Possibly, the most critical aspect of managing a vendor is staying in close communication with them. This first requires you to establish a mode of communication in which each party can update the other on progress and changes.
A reputable vendor should be able to deliver without having to be coddled and prodded along the way, but there’s nothing worse than hiring a vendor, assuming everything is going smoothly and then find out at crunch time that they haven’t been following through. Maintaining contact throughout the process ensures that they are on task and you know what progress is being made.
Nail down delivery times early
God knows that a successful event depends on precise timing, so even a short delay in delivery of an item can mean the difference between an ecstatic client and an enraged one. So, set exact dates and times from the beginning and have the vendor re-commit to those times throughout the planning process to ensure they are well aware of when and where they need to deliver.
Double-check every order for accuracy
There’s nothing worse than having a vendor drop off items only to find out later after they are gone that they only delivered half of what was ordered or what they ordered was somehow damaged or flawed. So, make sure you or one of your co-workers check on everything that is delivered (regarding condition, quantities, etc.) and notify the vendor immediately if something is not to specifications
Let them make a fair profit
Many events and wedding planners boast about putting the squeeze on vendors in order to get the best deal for their clients. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with getting some extra value for your clients (in fact, it’s usually expected).