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When to talk face-to-face with tent customers

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Technology is a boon to tent renters who want to keep customers in the loop. But there are two situations when an in-person meeting is almost always called for. The first is the initial brainstorming get-together for a once-in-a-lifetime event, especially if the clients are not professional party planners.

“Normally, we book a job with a phone call,” says John Creedon Sr., president of Creedon and Co. Inc., Worcester, Mass. “But if it’s a wedding, we normally do a face-to-face meeting with a bride, or a bride and groom, or a bride and mother. Then we can get all the questions answered.”

The other situation is when a major change occurs in a proposed event. Donny Vasquez, vice president of sales and marketing at Made in the Shade Inc., West Sacramento, Calif., usually does a second site survey, with client in tow, if specs change appreciably. And he recalls a time when his mother, Nancy Vasquez (owner of the family business) had to sit a client down and speak a few truths. The customer had balked at Made in the Shade’s price quote and had booked the event with a discount renter instead, but then came back in a panic at the eleventh hour because the other vendor couldn’t come up with all the tents and flooring she had ordered.

“We stayed late and got everything situated, and then Nancy sat down and had a conversation with her,” Donny Vasquez recalls. “She said, ‘I know what you’re going through. I understand that you’re stressed out. But I want to tell you something: If I was your tent company to begin with, and you came to me at 4:50 on a Friday and said you needed flooring, you wouldn’t be the one who would be doing all the calling. I would be the one doing that for you. That is what you get when you go for the low bid.’”

Based in Georgia, Jamie Swedberg is a freelance writer specializing in the specialty fabrics industry since 1997.

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