KNOW WHAT I MEAN?
But Simon warns clients to be careful when comparing the responses. While a long list of clients or a sharp increase in business might look impressive, it could also mean your comparably smaller project will be handled by a junior designer. On the other hand, a drop in the client base might show a vendor is losing business, but it could also mean an event company has consolidated around a few big fish that are providing steady work.
Additionally, any potential vendor will have other projects it is working on. But you need to understand when its busy season is. If a vendor has several major shows going on — with several of its biggest customers — right at the same time you’ll need its help, that could be a red flag that your project will take a back seat to those big clients.
WRONG: “Provide references and a list of your 10 largest clients.”
RIGHT: “Which months are the busiest on your calendar, and which shows will you be helping clients with during those months?”
WHY: A list of big-name clients can be impressive, but it can also mean you’ll be a little fish in an ocean-sized client base full of whales. So when asking about existing clients, also ask about peak times when those clients may be most demanding of your potential vendor’s time, attention, and resources.