Being a “preferred vendor” shows potential customers that a venue trusts your business, and that you will do a good job.
DJay Entertainment

Can you do it better? If you’re in the event materials rental business, standing out in a crowded market is essential. When clients plan their events, they often start by asking which vendors come highly recommended. Who does it the best? While pricing matters, customers often prioritize quality of services and trustworthiness of the vendor in their decision-making. Then, they’ll turn to their venue directors/event planners and ask “Who do you recommend?”

Believe me, venues are prepared for that question. When a venue’s whole gig is based on providing an exceptional experience–from planning to clean-up–they’ll have resources available to assist their customers in choosing a high quality vendor. This is called a “preferred vendors” list. A “preferred vendor” is a reputable company that venues recommend to their customers for various products and services. These vendors are typically ones that have maintained a long-term, trust-based relationship with the venue’s staff.

In this blog, we’re going to give you a step by step guide to getting onto a preferred vendor list, and how that’s going to help your business secure steady customers, regardless of market conditions.

Understanding the Preferred Vendor List

Securing a spot as a preferred vendor for local venues can be a game-changer for your business. This is one of the best ways that you can secure customers on a consistent basis and get ahead of the competition! Becoming a preferred vendor means that your business will be highly recommended to clients every time they book a venue, and they’ll be more likely to choose your services. Essentially, this is top-notch, almost free, marketing. Why?

When a venue creates a preferred vendor list, they are essentially compiling a selection of the highest performing companies. This list is a valuable resource for recommending services to their customers. Because venues make most of their money by offering an exceptional experience, they will only refer those vendors who consistently deliver outstanding service and quality.

But beyond service and quality, venues are also more likely to recommend vendors that provide the venue with some sort of perk. These perks may take the form of discounts, credits, or staging for open houses. We’ll explore this concept a bit more later on in this blog!

Step by Step Guide to Becoming a Preferred Vendor

How to get on a vendor list

Step 1 – Identify Venues and Planners with Preferred Vendors

If you work with a venue consistently, start by asking them whether they have a preferred vendor list. Inquire specifically about the criteria they use to evaluate and select their vendors. 

Identify other venues in your area that could benefit from your services. Visit their websites, attend open houses, or set up meetings to understand their event styles and requirements. In-depth research on each venue will help you understand their unique needs and styles, and you can tailor your services to match based on what you find out. Not only is this a great way to prepare before you begin working with them, but this is a vital step to developing a strong relationship with a venue. 

The event industry often relies on word-of-mouth for recommendations and information. Engage with industry peers, attend networking events, join industry associations, and participate in local business forums to gather information about different venues and their vendor preferences.

Schedule a Demo with TapGoods
Woman talking to preferred vendor

Step 2 – Build Strong Relationships

Building strong relationships with venues is a key part of becoming a preferred vendor. In fact, some argue that this is the most important step! If a venue does not have a high opinion of you and your services, there is no way they are going to recommend your business to their clients. Although the venue is not performing the service or providing the products themselves, how you perform reflects upon them and impacts their customers’ overall experience with the venue.

No amount of discounts, credits, or free products will get you a referral from a venue if they do not trust your services to be high quality. That’s why developing a strong relationship with a venue is crucial if you want them to recommend you to their customers! While every venue is unique, there are a few universally valued characteristics that you can adopt as a business: 

  • Timeliness: Venues value vendors who can adhere to strict schedules, ensuring events run smoothly.
  • Quality: High quality offerings are crucial. Venues prefer vendors whose products or services enhance the overall experience of their clients. The way products or services are presented can significantly impact a venue’s perception of quality as well.
  • Consistency: Consistently delivering the same high level of service and product quality is essential. Venues look for vendors they can depend on time after time.
  • Flexibility: Being able to adapt to different event requirements and handle unforeseen circumstances efficiently is a trait highly valued by venues.

Building a reputation on these pillars can help develop a strong relationship with any venue, which will help you secure referrals. Once you’ve established these pillars, you can focus on personalizing your service to meet the needs of various venues.

Schedule a Demo with TapGoods
How to become preferred vendor using your website

Step 3 – Showcase Impressive Work and Services

Building strong relationships with venues and establishing your business as a preferred vendor involves a presence on social media and a compelling online portfolio.

Creating High Quality Content

Before you start posting like crazy, it’s important to ensure that any content you create for your online portfolio is high quality. But what makes images and posts high quality?

  • Consider hiring a professional photographer or using a high quality camera to capture photos of your events. It’s important to ensure good lighting for each shot, and take multiple photos to have a variety of options. Remember, a significant part of photography lies in the editing process. For convenience, you can use photo editing apps on your smartphone to refine photos of your products and services. Use these editing apps to enhance lighting or balance the colors in your photos.
  • Accompany your images with interesting relevant captions. This can provide context for the image, or tell a story to your reader. Make sure to maintain a consistent tone for each image, which will help establish a voice for your brand.

Posting Portfolios Online

Here’s how you can effectively use these platforms to enhance your business’s visibility and reputation:

  • Engage on social media: Focus your efforts on platforms frequented by venues and event planners, such as Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Ensure all event photos that you post are high quality and maintain a consistent aesthetic. This not only presents a professional image but also demonstrates your attention to detail. Consistency is key when it comes to social media, so post about your latest events and engage with posts from venues and planners that you want to work with.
  • Share client feedback and testimonials: Post positive reviews and testimonials from clients and venues. This builds credibility and trust in your brand, serving as a powerful marketing tool.
  • Create a beautiful portfolio: If you have a business website, create a dedicated page to display images of past events. This visual portfolio allows venues and their clients to see the scope and quality of your work. If you don’t have a website yet, consider user-friendly platforms like Wix or Squarespace. These services offer intuitive tools to build an attractive and effective online portfolio.
  • Create a Pinterest board: While we’ve already discussed the impact of social media, Pinterest in particular is useful for showcasing high quality images of your events and catching the attention of venues, planners, and potential customers. Consistently update your board with recent photos, and ensure that all photos are high quality. 

Here is an example of a Pinterest page done right!

Schedule a Demo with TapGoods
Woman setting up wedding at event venue

Step 4 – Create Attractive Service Packages

The quality of your services is important, but venues are more likely to recommend your services to their customers if there is a perk involved for them. This is a harsh truth, but the majority of preferred vendors are also performing a service for the venue. Here are a few deals you can offer venues that will make your services more attractive to them:

  • Offer exclusive discounts on products or services when the venue uses them for their own events. This could include special rates for corporate functions, staff parties, or venue-hosted events.
  • Implement a referral program where the venue receives credits for each client they refer to the vendor. These credits can be used against future purchases, creating a tangible incentive for the venue to recommend the vendor.
  • Provide free or discounted staging services or products during the venue’s open house events. This not only helps the venue present an attractive setup to potential clients but also serves as a live showcase for your products! Win-win!

Although venues prefer high quality services, the reality is that they’re even more likely to recommend a vendor that offers an attractive package for the venue.

Schedule a Demo with TapGoods

Tools & Resources

Are you ready to jump in and get on the preferred vendor list for every venue you work with? Here are some amazing resources you can use to implement this step by step guide:

Becoming a Preferred Vendor

Download Your Free Guide

Schedule a Demo with TapGoods

Frequently Asked Questions

A preferred vendor is a reputable company that venues recommend to their customers for various products and services. These are typically businesses that have built long-term, trust-based relationships with the venue’s staff and are known for their high-quality services and products.

A preferred vendor list is a compilation created by a venue, gathering a selection of top-performing companies. This list serves as a resource for the venue to recommend high-quality vendors to their customers. It includes businesses that consistently deliver outstanding service and quality, crucial for venues aiming to provide exceptional experiences.

Venues select preferred vendors based on product quality and consistency, timeliness, flexibility, and trust. Long-term, trust-based relationships with venue staff plays a crucial role in landing a reference from a venue. Additionally, venues often favor vendors that offer perks, such as discounts, credits, or staging for open houses.

First and foremost, focus on developing a high opinion of your services with venues. Exhibit timeliness, high quality services, flexibility, and consistency. You should also utilize social media and an online portfolio to demonstrate your high quality work and services; engage consistently with venue posts and share client feedback.

You can also offer perks to venues, such as exclusive discounts or referral credits, to make recommending your services more attractive to the venue.