Why is my vendor a jerk?
Short and sweet: because they go months and months without a “real” day off all while dealing with jerk clients in a thankless industry of completely unrealistic expectations.
Okay, let’s unpack that. Because I’m sorry, that is so not your problem. They chose this career. Not you.
Context is always important, though. To survive in this industry, you have to be a natural ‘giver’ with a patient and above and beyond attitude. The hours are extremely long and the pay is ridiculously low. As a client, you may note 15 office hours per week but in addition to that, there are events, business development hours, networking to stay current, crazy Austin commutes and so on. Truth be told, vendors don’t eat. Vendors don’t sleep. They never see their families. It’s true, clients get everything. I mean it. Everything.
So that’s how it goes for vendors. For years. And they get moody. Then they wise up and create boundaries. And while boundaries are the best way to ensure you have fabulous service, because they are rested and at their best, clients don’t like being put in the boundary box. I mean, why do you care if a vendor is rested? Didn't we establish that they chose this industry? You should care if they are saying 'yes' to everything for every person, they are so spread thin that a spontaneous combustion is not an "if" but a "when." Do you know how gross it feels to say ‘no’ as a ‘yes’ person? It’s like eating a bowl of green peas and chasing it with steamed cauliflower. Okay, maybe not that bad. But it’s not fun. Vendors want to help!!! That is WHY they are in the service industry. To serve you.
So where is the breakdown? Why was your vendor the coolest thing ever… like take my money, take it all… at the start and all the sudden the Debbie downer that is going to ruin your day? Things to consider:
- Did you first meet them during slow season when they had more bandwidth?
- Are they beat down from busy season and need a moment to shake it off?
- Did they break one of their own boundaries at the beginning because they just wanted to be of help? And when they gave that inch, did you take a mile?
- Is it possible that, as humans, either you or the vendor may have forgotten something or simply misunderstood each other?
- Are you uplifting and respectful to your vendor or demanding and demeaning? You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Fair or not, it’s human nature to excel for those that treat us well.
- Are they unreasonably saying no or is there a policy or reason around their push back – office hours, outside the scope of service, etc? Were you made aware of that policy- on their website, email signature, contract, etc?
- Are you meeting your deadlines? If not, things shift and that can cause a lot of stress and even lead to tension in the relationship.
- Are they in moody season of their business ownership?
- Is this a pattern or are they just having a bad day, or week?
And ya know, maybe they just flat out suck! I’ve seen them. The blatantly rude, always late with no apology, drag their feet on everything, no show, jerks. They exist. Albeit, they typically have bad reviews, aren’t on my vendor list, or are charging a really low fee and just feel abused and treat the world as such for their poor choice. And these vendors need to be addressed. Their woes shouldn't be your problem.
In my experience, these situations cause the most anxiety and we hear about them from couples all the time. After a moment of panic, things settle in and all typically goes well.
-Turnover on a vendor team. My inner response to this is- “Yup, it happens. Let’s move forward.” It happens a LOT. It.does.not.matter. Just as your company has a plan in place for turnover, so do the professionals you hired. Vendors with teams typically don’t even assign a staff member until the final countdown. The important thing here is to understand what that plan is when you hire your vendors. Think about this: someday, when you have a baby, your doctor may not be the one to deliver your baby. They may have the flu, they may be in Jamaica, they may be next door with an emergency delivery. But the doctor that brings your child into the world will have your medical records, a degree and the experience. Everything will be safe and smooth. So if a stranger can someday stare at your lady parts during a gnarly bloodbath of gross awesomeness, a team of seasoned pros can get you through the finish line and on to your #bestdayever.
-Scheduling conflicts and having to take time off of work. In a world of office hours, we all have ‘em. Vendors have working hours same as you. They have families and lives same as you. Ultimately, planning a wedding can require some major PTO. Especially if you do not live in Austin. When you book your vendors, you need to know if their working hours align with your life and needs. At the end of the day, vendors don’t show up to the mall before it opens and expect to be served because they have some ‘exception’ for the store to consider, so it’s super confusing to vendors when clients insist on meetings outside of their office hours.
-Destination clients get nervous about being out of town. Austin is one heck of a city and people line up to get married here. It’s saturated and it’s expensive but the good news is that you are not the only one from out of town. In fact, most couples are so vendors totally know how to track with that! Being a destination client means two things for you to consider:
- You need to coordinate schedules with vendors before you book flights and expect them to magically be available on the 4th of July. Saying “I’m from out of town so only these days work” gets filed under “yeah, you and everyone else.”
- You have to be okay with not meeting some vendors in person. You can’t make it to town for a final walk through? Dude, no problem! We do this with our eyes closed and a phone call can totally knock it out.
Trust. Your. Vendors. When you don’t, all it does is create stress for you and it dominoes into not enjoying your vendors anymore.
-Misunderstanding or forgetting the details of the services that are secured can also cause anxiety. I see it all the time and a lot of it has to do with people not reading contracts before they sign. I kid you not, I've sent contracts out and they've been signed and returned in minutes. Contracts are meaty and outline a lot of policy and procedures. Also, couples interview so many vendors that it becomes blurry on who promised what. To the client’s credit, there are so many details that go into a wedding. They can’t all possibly be discussed in a pre-booking consult so inevitably, assumptions are made by both parties and it can spiral from there. If a vendor agrees to something, get it in writing. Don’t be afraid to clarify expectations, either. You may feel that you haven’t heard from your vendor in a while but they feel like they contact you all the time. Okay, no big deal- just get on the same page.
So your vendor is a jerk, what do you do and what do you NOT do?
-Review your contract, are you forgetting something about their policies or services?
-From there, talk to us! We likely have the insight that will bring peace to your storm. Most of the time, a simple explanation does the trick.
For the ones that literally drop the ball, make costly mistakes, go MIA, etc… we are here to be a sounding board. We want to guide you and give you talking points for addressing these issues. The way you approach them may set the tone for the remainder of the relationship.
Justified or not, these long/drawn out, emotion based emails full of ‘taking it public’ threats that vendors get from couples (or moms. or lawyers.) are the joke of happy hour. Come on with it! All that does is get you labeled as a #zilla and any hopes of good service is now a pipe dream because now they feel like “I’ve given them my everything, they won’t be happy no matter what I do, what is the point?” and they check out.
BACK TO DO:
Our number one piece of advice: call them. Emails are for facts, logistics, reference, etc. Phone calls are for emotions, complexities, difficult information.
I tend to think that one form of beauty is the act of extending grace…. that goes for vendors and clients alike. When a misunderstanding presents itself, my desire is for healthy conversation and realistic compromise. And sure, there are misunderstandings but there are also big fat concerns that need immediate attention. Both ignite real feelings and those feelings are fair. So let us help you navigate your frustrations.