4 Steps To Getting A Venue To Refer You
Listen to the Super Boothers episode on this topic!
July 31, 2017
By: Justin Jowett
How To Get Venues To Refer You
One of the best ways to grow your business and ensure you have a constant flow of predictable work is getting referral business from local venues. To do this you just have to build relationships. Sounds easy enough right?
No. As with all things the execution is more important than the idea and a lot of effort can be wasted if its not done correctly. Before we get started with the how let's take a better look at the why:
Why build relationships with venues?
There are so many reasons every photo booth owner should be investing in building relationships with venues but here is the main crux of it:
- It's nice to work with venues and venue staff you like and vice versa
- Knowing a venue well makes set up and tear down much easier and faster
- Brand awareness through cross promotion (get in their preferred vendor list and/or their packages list, featured on their website etc)
- They will actively recommend when speaking to their clients
- Above all else all the above will work together to get you more photo booth bookings and that means more $$$!
How to build relationships with venues?
There are plenty of things you can do to build relationships but here are my tips based on what worked for me:
Prior To A Rental
- Courtesy call when you take a new booking for that venue to advise them you're providing the photo booth (many brides and clients forget to do this)
- Explain briefly how you work (not all boothers set up and operate the same (eg attended vs not attended) so ensure they understand how you work and any issues can be resolved well in advance
- Ask them for any venue requirements and be flexible to their needs whilst ensuring you get the relevant information you need (eg set up location, set up/tear down window)
- Advise them you will call again X weeks prior to figure out suitable bump times/confirm everything
During A Rental
- Announce your arrival to the event co-ordinator and/or staff and check you're ok to start bumping in and that nothing has changed last minute
- Be friendly and courteous to staff during the event
- Say goodbye prior to leaving
- Follow up call to ask for feedback on how the booth/your staff etc went
- Give them any feedback relevant to the venue eg staff member X was really helpful or the location for the booth did/didn't work well.
- Thank them for helping you make the hire a success for the client
- Be friendly and build genuine rapport
- Participate in venue open days (set up your booth and talk to their potential clients not just about your booths but about how good the venue is)
- Consider formalizing a “Preferred Vendor Agreement”
- Xmas/Thank You cards/gifts
- Offer the venue a free staff hire for Xmas party mid week if they refer you "X" no. of bookings per year
One of the biggest factors working against you is that Event coordinators tend to come and go often so you're going to need to make sure you are maintaining constant contact with your venues or you can find someone else has muscled in and pushed you out.
HOT TIP - Be your own Sales Rep every year!
Be your own sales representative and at least once a year (eg during the quiet season) get in the car and go out and visit every local venue and introduce yourself. Make sure you have pre-prepared some documentation about them becoming a referral partner as well as lots of brochures and cards. Take the opportunity to explain how you work, how you're different from your competitors but really focus on what you can offer the venue eg professional service, great communication, flexible set up/tear down, free or discounted staff rentals, support and cross promotion for their open days etc.
When I started in 2010 getting venues was easy but by 2012 competition had grown so every winter I would sales rep for myself. I'd spend 2-3 weeks visiting every venue around my local area and the results were always positive with a handful of new preferred venues on board each time and more would come even months afterwards. Most coordinators don't get mid week visits from suppliers so this is a great way to stand out from the crowd and start building relationships!
Preferred Vendor Agreements
A preferred vendor agreement is definitely a great way to lock in all the hard work you have done in the past to build a great relationship with a venue. As mentioned previously one of the greatest problems you will face year in and year out is the leaving of an event coordinator. If you don't have something formal in place you aren't going to have a leg to stand on if the incoming event coordinator decides to start referring someone else.
Setting up a preferred supplier agreement isn't hard but it will take some time to create the first template but then you can amend and reuse with other venues so it's definitely worth the investment. When setting up a PVA make sure you clearly note what is expected from both parties and the agreement is for a given period eg 1 year after which both parties can agree to continue or cease with the PVA. If you can get it signed not only by the event co-ordinator but by the managing director or someone high up who is less likely to leave the venue.
If you can be successful at building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships with venues your business will skyrocket to the next level!
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Photo Booth Blogger, Big Chief at The Photobooth Finder and Organizer of BoothCon