How to Avoid Headaches When Choosing a Vendor

by / ⠀Startup Advice / April 21, 2012

Finding the right vendor is an art form. It can be a long and stressful process, regardless of the industry or motivation. Vendor headaches come from the overwhelming number of choices out there.

Consumers need to be proactive in order to find the perfect vendor marriage. Always perform due diligence; it’s important to know which things to look for when entering the process.

1. The personality behind each vendor should not be ignored. First impressions are key in business. Of course, a vendor’s role is to get you to buy his or her items, but you can usually tell when someone is solely focused on getting you to sign the dotted line. A self-serving vendor will have horrible customer service. Find a vendor who’s passionate about his work and pays attention to your personal requests. A great test of this is noticing whether or not the vendor can repeat your requests back to you.

2. Be sure to research a vendor’s past work. Check out vendors’ websites and display items to get a feel for their quality of work. Even consider asking for references. This old-school tactic is one of the best ways to learn about the things a vendor can produce. If a vendor can’t provide reputable references, move on to the next.

3. Know how far you will stretch your budget for a vendor. Cost is critical in selecting a vendor. Vendors are salespeople; be ready to negotiate. Remember to maintain control of negotiations. You are the person making a purchase, and the conversation should reflect that. If the cost is still high after negotiations, check out some reviews they’ve received in the areas that matter most to you. If you’re confident a vendor can provide quality work in the most important aspects of the deal, then paying a premium price may be worth it to you.

Red Flags

Consumers also need to be aware of red flags when dealing with vendors. For example, be wary of vendors telling you what you want to hear. Try asking the same question in a different way. If you get completely different answers, then your vendor is probably not being sincere.

Another aspect to pay attention to is a vendor’s deposit. Anything higher than 50% of the total cost should be a warning sign for most items. Anything higher is unnecessary, and you should consider other vendors.

Consumers need to plan on meeting with many vendors before reaching a decision. Have a detailed list of questions ready, and be sure to speak up. The more questions you ask of a vendor, the more confident you are in his abilities. You would never buy from a salesman who doesn’t know his own product, regardless of the purchase.

Another great tip for these vendor meetings is to be upfront. Let them know you’ll be meeting with several other vendors in the industry. Sometimes, the threat of competition will push vendors to ensure quality work and fair prices.

Yes, choosing the right vendor for your needs can be a headache, but thorough preparation can provide relief. Be ready to encounter bad salesmen and laborious negotiations. Just go into meetings knowing what you want – and which red flags signal what you don’t want – and the process will be relatively painless.

Jackie Asta is the founder and owner of WeddingBlissLane and RSVPCustomCreations. She has been in the wedding/event industry for 4 years designing invitations. With the knowledge she gained working in the invitation design business, Jackie launched Wedding Bliss Lane, an e-marketplace dedicated solely to the wedding industry.

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.