Buyer Beware: What you should plan on avoiding when planning an event!
If you are planning an event, party or function it is likely that you have been approached by a few people who have offered their services for little to no money. You may have been referred to a person by a friend or family member that is a hobbyist in photography, floral or cooking and baking. Some of these people are what we call Friendors and others Fauxfessionals. We will cover both in this post to help you avoid a costly encounter!
1. Person(s) known to you who has a hobby interest in a professional industry that you would otherwise have to hire. i.e. Photography, catering, calligraphy, painting, floral, etc.
2. Does the work for fun of it rather than for profit.
3. Often recommended to you by a family member.
They may be well meaning, they may be family or friends, they may have a lot of time on their hands but unless they own or work for a legitimate business in the field of service they are offering you- Walk away.
We do not give this advice lightly or without experience. Being in the floral industry for nearly twenty years we've heard about and witnessed some of the awful mishaps, misunderstandings and mistakes of friendors. Sometimes the damage is not fixable but in most cases it was completely avoidable.
Hobbies are great but, professionally speaking, it is not enough to enjoy dabbling in something when the job calls for experience. That may not be the easiest thing to say to the nephew with the cool new camera or the cousin who just loves to decorate with silk flowers but it is the truth.
1. An imitator of a professional service provider or legitimate business. i.e. Floral designer, planner, caterer, baker, photographer, etc.
2. Offers well below market value pricing.
3. Most likely found on social media.
Fauxfessionals are becoming a very real problem in several professions. For this post we are focusing on how they impact the wedding industry because here in Las Vegas we have a unique market prospective.
Our market has been inundated over the last couple of years with a mass of unqualified people masquerading as legitimate companies. It truly seems to be reaching an epidemic level. With so many people choosing to get married in Vegas each year the fauxfessionals are flooding social media with their phony businesses.
They use nifty words like cheap, low cost, and free- That may make them sound like a good deal but let's get real for a moment, free is never really free. Whatever you are potentially saving will likely be repaid by a loss of quality, customer service and professionalism. Do you even want a cheap wedding? Probably not. How about a cost effective wedding? Sure thing. A professional can help you achieve the best possible outcome for any budget!
How do you spot a fauxfessional? It is actually pretty easy and here are a few pointers:
No website- They may be on several social media sites but having no website is a pretty good indicator.
No phone number- Most companies are going to have a business line. Some small startups only have a cell phone but if that is the case just do a little extra checking!
No reviews- Or even way too many. Most legitimate businesses will have several reviews over long periods of time. So if you see someone with fifteen reviews in less than a month they are probably not being truthful. In most cases they will not have a one hundred percent perfect rating either.
No interaction- Companies small and large tend to communicate with their customers on social media. On most platforms you will be able to see this.
No content- Has little to see like photos, videos, advertising or even reposts. We would also recommend taking a moment to check out the spelling and grammar on any posts you come across. Everyone has spell check these days so what the content is saying is just as important as actually having it!
Our top four fauxfessional follies that we consider to be extremely high risk:
Stolen content- Has little to no original content and/or does not give credit to the owner or originator of the content they post. This may be on their social media or website.
Does not offer a contract- This should be a huge concern to any consumer! Please be sure to inquire about a contract with your vendors.
Has no insurance- Most venues require proof of insurance before allowing your vendors to have access. It also protects against unforeseen circumstances.
No Licensing- A business operating without the proper licensing is an extreme red flag! It is also illegal and should be avoided like the plague.
If you run into any of these last four issues we would strongly advise that you not attempt doing business with the person or company. Do not walk... Run! Seriously. The bottom line really comes down to this: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
The stories of fraud are countless and, unfortunately, still mounting. If you or someone you know has been a victim we have listed a few links below:
We hope you have found this post helpful and are able to be better prepared for whatever a friendor or fauxfessional throws you. Until next time we wish you well from all of us here in fabulous Las Vegas!
Phenomenal photographs provided by: