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Time to Turn the Tables

The dreaded RFI – Request for information – as a tool to evaluate a supplier has a lot of merit as it attempts to sort the good from the bad, the strong from the weak.

It was forced by a changing landscape from corporate manslaughter legislation to risk management; the need for auditable processes for properly skilled event professionals.

It is a laborious process and the good do it well but many either don’t do it or pay lip service by issuing RFIs simply as proof or doing something.

I do recall one RFI several years ago which had a question on risk assessment followed by one on pillow gift ideas.

Need I say more and it makes us, as an industry, look amateur in the eyes of other professions; which is where I would suggest we want to be.

It is very much a one way street for many agents and corporates.

Complete the RFI with the right ticks in the right boxes and you might sit at the table and get fed.

But, how many suppliers and agents evaluate their clients whether they be a corporate or an agent?

I am seeing examples of missed payments by clients and then asking for payment plans to pay in instalments.

Alarm bells or smart move by the client knowing the supplier is going to be miffed but won’t jeopardise the event because they need the income?

You may argue it is an “isolated incident”, an oversight because it is natural to want to think the best of a client.

This is where your representation company comes in handy.

Dig deeper through them and you suddenly find a trail of “isolated incidents”.

Then the alarm bells kick in and you have a dilemma, either to call time and risk being the bad guy or hoping you are not left at the table without a crumb of comfort.

Maybe it is time for the industry to name and shame the bad payers/players so we can all know what we are dealing with when that tasty enquiry comes through the inbox.

Maybe it is time for the end client to know that their money and more importantly, reputation, is at risk if the suppliers pull the table cloth and everything on it.

In Brazil, if suppliers are not paid on time, in full and in advance, the service you booked will not happen.

I know of another example where the DMC had to accept post event payment instalments which were better than receiving nothing at all.

There is or was a large degree of trust in our industry but that is being eroded by companies whose financial status has not been sufficiently questioned.

Now is the time to turn the table and ensure you have robust terms and conditions in place; a realistic payment schedule aligned with your supplier requirements.

It gives you a table leg to stand on if it goes to court because the contract was agreed in advance and that is probably as good as it is going to get.

However, it is big improvement on what many do not practice today because the paperwork is either too hard or it may lose the client because too many questions are being asked.

The small print is accepted in other industries or when buying a product, why should ours be any different?

My tip, time to sharpen up on contract management otherwise you might be left picking up the bill.

Source : John Hooker is Managing Director of JHCP Limited and a founding partner of the collection destinations in Brazil. Email : johnh@jhcp.eu

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