Establishing and Briefing Suppliers

Posted on 31/07/2013 by Chloe

Much like any other step in the event organisational cycle, establishing and briefing suppliers is all about the finer details. Once you have the backbone of your event in place (namely the venue), you’re in a good position to secure any additional suppliers you may need. Of course that means deciding on whether you need additional suppliers in the first instance but let’s just take it that on this occasion you do need them. Here’s our 6 Point Guide:

1. Establish the suppliers you require. A good place to start is your event itinerary. Look at each cosmetic and logistical element of the event and see if you need suppliers to: enhance a theme; provide AV and staging; integrate a team building element into your event; provide flowers and/or decoration; provide entertainment or speakers, a toastmaster or DJ/Band. If your event is being held at a dry hire venue you’ll need suppliers in the form of pretty much everything including catering, catering staff, furniture, security, cleaning, waste disposal, bar hire… but all these elements depend on your event specifications and venue.

2. Home in on what you’re asking them to do. The next step is establish key pointers about what you’re asking your suppliers to do. Put together an outline of your requirements. By this stage the date and venue will have been set so these you can advise on, however, they’ll also need to know: Timings/Dress Code/Duration of their service/Access times/Whether accommodation, subsistence and/or travel expenses are covered (not always applicable) don’t forget to ask if they have dietary requirements if you are providing food. Request comprehensive costings, together with inclusions so you can make like for like comparisons. Also, although they should have all the equipment they need, it’s worth asking whether they need anything provided at the venue (power supply/IT/Connectivity). Double check their public liability insurance and risk assessments if applicable. This would be a good stage to establish any additional information you feel is key, such as their sustainability policy, contingency plans etc.

3. Prioritise & make sure they’re on budget. From the information provided above, you’ll be advised their fees, inclusions and will have been advised if they need additional provisions so you’ll have detailed costings. Update your spreadsheet so you know where you stand with the budget. If everything you wished to be supplied falls in line with your budget, then fantastic. If not, create a wish list and prioritise those that you definitely need. (If you find yourself stuck and believe a supplier to be an absolute necessity then we can always enquire as to whether there’s any further flexibility on price.)

4. Make time for a pre-contractual meeting. As with a site visit, I like to set up pre contractual meetings with suppliers to go through any finer points before formally confirming. Quite often I think it’s best to host this at the venue. You not only get to establish a relationship with your suppliers but you’ll also be giving them the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the venue for accessibility and logistics clarifications. Coincide this meeting with a menu tasting at the venue if possible to maximise your limited time.

5. Confirm in writing and be absolutely clear on inclusions and requirements. We’ll take care of requesting contracts from suppliers and as with the venue we always, always confirm in writing and send you the contract for your approval. Ensure you're happy with and clear about what's included in the confirmation. We’ll also request confirmation of time suppliers will arrive on site together with the lead’s contact details.

6. Diarise key dates. Finally, note payment dates, final numbers, dietary requirement cut off points, meetings and rehearsals.