In our opinion, these are the questions you need to ask yourself and potential suppliers before making an informed decision as to whether to book:
1 Who is the supplier?
How long has the supplier been in business, have they a proven track record in the service which they are offering, whether it be photography, cake making, decor , etc etc. Are you comfortable that the supplier can confidently achieve your expectations
2 Where is the supplier?
Does the supplier have a business premises, and telephone number which is clearly visible on all paperwork, website, facebook page and ACTUALLY EXISTS - IF YOU CANNOT SEE A TRADING ADDRESS, MOVE ON! - how are you going to find them if there is a problem?
3 Does the supplier have the relevant insurances available for you to view (most venues insist now on having this on their records)
Does the business hold the correct level of public liability insurance as required by law. And if hiring electrical equipment, does it hold the relevant PAT test safety certificates
4 Does the supplier issues invoices and ask for a deposit?
All reputable companies will issue invoices or contracts and most will require deposits. If you have no real evidence you ever booked their service then how do you guarantee they will turn up on the day? Some suppliers provide "pay in full discounts". Personally we NEVER do this, and in some cases (not always) can be an indication of a businesses cash flow.
6 Does the supplier normally provide the service you are enquiring about ?
7 Is the supplier capable of providing the service you want?
Again, look at previous work, arrange a meeting with the supplier, ask whether the person you are dealing with in any meeting, is going to be the person who turns up to dress your venue/take your photos, or is going to bake your cake! Ask to actually see the items you are going to hire.