Stretching Your Event Budget: Getting Vendors Involved

CARES Teams are always looking for ways to stretch our budgets by getting vendors involved in what we do. As a CARES Team, our value is maximized by hosting creative events and getting a lot for a little. Getting vendors involved can seem like a daunting task, but with the right preparation it shouldn't be hard at all.

On our property, my wife and I have a very tight budget for a 420 unit property. That said, we have honed our sales pitch to get vendors to give us what we need for very little. The following are some tips and tricks for doing more with less:

Finding Sponsors
  • Tour the city and local retail. Take one Saturday per month and spend a couple of hours just hunting down potentials.
  • Look for restaurants/retail that is opening soon or just recently opened. They are usually looking for creative ways to market their product – and we can give them just that!
  • Go into existing restaurants and retail and CONFIDENTLY sell what we do and how we can PARTNER with them. Template provided below.
  • Take a look at city websites, village retail newsletters, Facebook pages, and city newspapers to see if there are any events coming soon that you can piggyback on. Many times they are free and fun, and you can just add value. Some CARES Teams have piggybacked on 5Ks by providing branded shirts for anyone in the community who wants to run in it. Community concerts in the parks are always fun as well.
  • Look for timely partnerships. For example, after a severe storm, contact the local auto hail repair shops, and let them know that you would be happy to give them exclusive access to your market in exchange for hosting/and or catering an event. Let them attend and pass out collateral.
  • One of your biggest vendor advocates is going to be your cable/internet provider rep. They will almost ALWAYS help fund at least one event a month because most of the time, the properties offer a monopoly. Our rep sponsored a $2,000 event to help sell one of his products. He raffled off Amazon gift cards and even gave away a 50 inch flat screen TV. All we had to do was let him in with his salespeople to try to convert residents to their product - a win-win for us both.
  • Use your personal connections within your web of influence. Many of us have tons of friends in our life circles. Some are business owners who would be willing to pitch in financially to market their product. Networking within your circle of friends can sometimes be the best thing you can do. Most people are happy to get to be a part of what we are doing so they will go leaps and bounds to help us out because they love us. They may even have amazing ideas that we haven’t thought of. Talk about what you do. Ask people for help and ideas!
  • Ask your Program Director and/or other regional CARES teams for contact information. If you already know the Marketing Manager’s number for the vendor, you don’t even have to go in to the place, you can just call. When you score a vendor, share the information with the other CARES teams in your region. Begin keeping a list of vendors and contacts for each vendor so you can continue to use them down the road.
Perfect Pitch

Some things to keep in mind when pitching what we do to potential vendors:

  • Timing is important: Keep timing in mind when you're going to a place of business. Are they always super busy on Saturday night? If so, that's probably not the ideal time to go in and ask to speak to the manager. As a general rule, restaurants have a "down time" between 2-4 p.m. If you can go on a weekday, that would be ideal. If you see a line out the door, it's not a good idea to wait in it and then ask to speak to the manager. If the vendor is busy, make a note to come back, or ask when the best time to come back to speak with the manager is.
  • Look professional: Wear your name tag. Take your business cards. Wear professional clothing and get a sitter for the kids. If you look the part, they will take you more seriously.
  • Be confident: Many times our CARES teams get this idea that if vendors help us out with events, they are doing us a huge favor. That is just not the case. We are doing them a huge favor by allowing them exclusive access to a closed off market, many times in their own backyard. For example, if your property has 275 units, this represents a market of 500+ people in the area, and you are literally handing them access to that market. They don’t have the opportunity to door hang on your property. You can give them a month’s worth of free advertising by placing their logo on your monthly calendar and promoting their product on Facebook, email blasts, text blasts, Instagram, Twitter, and however else your property promotes events.
  • Create a mock calendar/flyer: Create a calendar using our templates that already has their logo on it and a flyer that you can take and physically show the vendor how you will promote their product. This will make getting a “yes” more likely because you are showing them professionalism. You are showing them the benefits of partnering with us and value in the partnership. We can tell them until we are blue in the face to no avail, but when you show them, it’s a whole new dynamic. • Facebook shoutouts: Apartment Life has begun giving periodic shout outs to vendors who have partnered with us at events on our company Facebook page. With more than 17,000 Facebook fans, this alone gains them a lot of exposure!
Example

Ask to speak to the manager on site.

“Hi, my name is Jody and this is my wife Natassia. We are the CARES team at the (Name of Apartment Community). As the CARES Team, we act as the event planners for the community and host several monthly resident events. We have a July Fourth pool party coming up and would love to partner with you guys by marketing your product in exchange for raffle prizes.”

Generally they will ask what you would like for your prizes. Know what you will ask for before going in.

“We would like to raffle off a $40 gift card to your establishment, and in exchange we will be able to positively promote your product via flyers, our community Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter to help gain your business some exposure.”

Whether you have a large or small budget, these tips and tricks may help you go the extra mile and make a great event an unforgettable one.

--Written by Jody Anderson, Program Director for North Texasand an active CARES Team with his wife, Natassia.

--Written by Jody Anderson, Program Director for North Texasand an active CARES Team with his wife, Natassia.


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