Calling it Quits: Terminate Your Ties with a Bad Vendor

June 19th

Working with trade show vendors is like any other relationship; needs must be met, a little give and take may be in order, and transparent communication and follow-thru are essential. So, what do you do when a vendor relationship turns bad?

While Jerry McGuire-worthy monologues are a nice coping tool, real life business acumen dictates a different and more diplomatic approach.

Terminating Ties With Trade Show Vendors Requires an Exit Strategy

terminating ties with vendor

Terminating ties with a vendor isn’t always easy, but sometimes it’s necessary. Source: Shutterstock

If you’re working with trade show vendors that simply aren’t delivering the products and services you need – or they promised – it’s time to call it quits. The problem is that severing ties and finding a replacement requires time and energy you may not feel you have. A systematic approach is the best means of acquiring the “evidence” needed, to settle financial affairs and to have the right vendor waiting in the wings so you don’t lose momentum heading into your next event.

Identify the Root Causes. Having a root cause for terminating your vendor relationship can help you feel more solid in your decision making. Trade show consultant Candy Adams sums up the most common reasons for vendor relationships to head south, including:

  • High employee turnover rates
  • Location changes that negatively impact their proximity
  • Breaches of trust
  • Poor business ethics

Perhaps it’s a combination of reasons. In any case, being able to identify the reason will help you to communicate more clearly when the time comes to notify them.

Use a Checks and Balance System. First, it’s good to have a paper trail of “evidence”. Whether or not you choose to show it to the vendor will depend on the situation, but having a concrete list of issues, improper billing, or performance snafus can help you to wrap your mind around what’s going on and can provide the confidence you need to “break up” and move on. Become familiar with how to review invoices and catch billing errors – a leading cause of vendor frustration – before you pay for them.

Future Vendor Research. Your business needs to proceed as usual as much as possible, so the more you can do to find a replacement vendor before your terminate your current relationship, the smoother things will go. Start making calls, issue tight and detailed RFPs, and thoroughly grill references to make sure your new vendor won’t become a repeat of the old one.

Use’s Show Branded Marketplace feature to find preferred trade show market vendors under one, convenient, and cloud-based umbrella. Trade show planning has never been so transparent. Contact us to learn more.

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