You’re having an event. You need a location, entertainment, speakers, AV, Catering, furnishing and a slew of other things to make your vision a reality. The list goes on and on. You also need a budget. And to stay within that budget, you’re going to need to bid things out. Or are you? Bidding can be tedious work. Finding reputable vendors who are available and willing to put a bid in can take up to a week’s worth of works. That’s a week of work you could be using to better plan your event. But what options do you have? How do you make sure you’re getting the best possible version of your event for the best possible price? Well, you could always hire a top-notch event manager….Here’s our email!
But barring that, here are a few things to consider when starring down the barrel of a weeks worth of bidding:
1. Pick out the items that you can’t bid on.
What items in your budget are going to be fixed cost? High-level talent may be one. You can’t shop three different agents to get a price to have Kanye West perform at your event. His agent will ask for a fixed price and it will be up to you to decide whether that price fits within your budget.
2. Find an company you trust and share with them your budget and needs.
If you have $10,000 and you want a high energy speaker and band the agent can take those numbers as give you a set of options that might work for you that you had never even considered. Now the hard work of matching the line item budget is in their court and all you have to do is sit back and decide on the best option for your event.
3. Bid things you know nothing about.
How much do you know about pyrotechnics? What about marching bands? In the events business, we run across a lot of unique vendors that we don’t always work with on a day to day, or even year to year basis. You may have no idea how their pricing structure works, or if there are special consideration that you need to account for to make their job possible. In this situation, I would bid as much as possible. What you are trying to gain here isn’t the best price, its information about the service you want to procure. Price is a small fraction of that information. Get on the phone and ask questions about the vendor, how do they do their work, what do they need, how much they cost. If they ask you for a budget, you can honestly tell them you have no idea what a decent price would be because you are unaware of the price ranges in their industry.
My favorite question to ask is “What questions would you want me to be asking you?”
This allows them the opportunity to really open up about when they do. Don’t be afraid to shoot for the stars. When we bid out our website I did so because I hadn’t built a website in 10 years. HTML coding and web building didn’t need to account for mobile or tablet use when I built my first website and I was painfully unaware of what was happening in the industry. Yet, I was getting emails every day about SEO this and optimization that. I knew I needed to do something.
So I called around to places I thought would be on my budget and then I went online and looked up who did the websites that would be laughably out of my budget. But I wanted to know, what did the crème de la crème of websites cost, and what would I get for that money.
Being upfront and honest with the folks I was talking to helped. I’m not here to waste anyones time, and I’m looking for free information, so being concise with my questions really helped. In the end I knew I was never going to be able to afford to spend Coke money on our site. But knowing what that money buys helped me to compare the vendors we were seriously looking at to see who came closer to that level of service in the budget we had.
Bidding is a game. The bidder is going to hide information from the vendor in an effort to get the best possible price they can. They then make a decision based on information that may or may not be related to the price and let the winner know and leave the losers hanging.
Instead of playing coy with the price, try being open and honest about what you want, how much money you have to spend, how much money you would like to spend.
Maybe you have $10,000 but only really want to spend $8,000 to account for additional costs elsewhere and need $12,000 worth of product to bring your vision to life. By letting a select and trusted group of vendors know that information you may be surprised by the information you get back. You will save yourself time by not having to go through each bid with a fine tooth comb.
So does bidding work? As with any tool it depends on how you use it.