Producing a major festival or signature event can be overwhelming, time consuming, and frustrating. Selecting the right partner to help produce your event should alleviate all of these elements. Here are some pointers to help you navigate the competitive landscape- weeding out the under-performing and highlighting the true professionals.
First- Look past the flashy marketing materials and over-abundance of website domains. Poor-performing companies rely on expansive marketing schemes to collect significant numbers of new clients in order to "feed the machine" since repeat customers aren't really an option. If a company is operating more than one web domain, odds are they provide inferior services and support, and must survive on finding the next unsuspecting customer. A reputable provider typically operates only one website, and relies on providing the right services and support to every client, thereby ensuring repeat customers.
Second- Collect valid reviews on the provider. Google reviews allow unverified accounts to leave fake reviews on a business. Some companies actually engage in creating positive reviews for their own company, and negative reviews for their competitors. Instead, look for verified reviews- reach out to the Better Business Bureau and stroll through accurate reviews. Even better, network with other festival and event organizers. They are usually more than happy to let you know how well a provider performs for their events. Even associated vendors can be of assistance here- before you confirm a stage provider- call a temporary power provider or tent company and ask them about your supplier.
Third- See for yourself. Ask to tour the companies offices and warehouse. Are the facilities clean, organized, stocked full of well maintained gear? Does your provider actually own the assets? Are the employees working efficiently and do they appear happy? Are fire exits clear? Extinguishers present? Cases stacked safely? A company that cuts corners in their own warehouse will surely cut corners on your event as well. Ask to attend an event your potential provider handles. Are they doing things the way you would want them done on your event?
Fourth- Ask to see proof of credentials and awards. Reputable companies are happy to provide you with certifications and awards- everyone wants to brag about their accomplishments. But many companies simply cannot produce proof of anything- even though they may use catchy marketing phrases like "Production Company Of The Year" on their social media. Look for providers who have won professional awards, have factory certifications, participate in trade organizations, or have been featured in trade publications. Be careful of companies that apply marketing creatively- one local company boasts their stage technicians are all certified- but the certification they have is an in-house developed certification- it is not the certification offered by the manufacturer of the equipment. Use your common sense and if something seems odd, it is probably not right.
Fifth- Be wary of companies that offer low price services as the first selling point. Companies that choose to compete on price typically offer no other value propositions to gain your attention. If a company has poor quality gear, improperly trained staff, and a short list of references, they know the only way they can get your attention is by offering cheap pricing. Like any other professional services industry- you really do get what you pay for.
Sixth- Spend a few minutes doing some research. Has a company changed names and filed for bankruptcy before? Poor quality providers must often change their name, or operate under multiple names to avoid being associated with past reputations. Companies that have filed bankruptcy usually suffer from ineffective management and must deal with the burned bridges they have created with suppliers and staff. If they cannot manage their own business, why in the world would you give them yours?
Selecting the right production partner involves a little bit of time and energy- but it is the critical first step in ensuring your production is safe, professional, entertaining, and on budget. Be diligent in your research and choose the right partner- plan for success!