Commissions, Referral Fees, and Kickbacks


 Photo Credit: marekuliasz

Everyone has their own idea of how they should be fairly compensated as a wedding consultant and that is fine. However, there are a few fundamentals that seem to have been lost lately and one of them relates directly to our Code of Ethics. “Disclose to clients any payments from suppliers.” Briefly, I’d like to go over each of the forms of compensation from suppliers. We don’t have the room to go into the legal liabilities of each so we will just discuss the definitions.

Commission – you receive a percentage of the sale. This could be the amount of the original sale or the final sale.

Referral Fee – you receive a set dollar value for each sale you send to the vendor.

Kickback – you receive an amount of money over and above the original cost of the sale. For example. If the contract is for $5000 worth of flowers and you receive a 10% kickback, then the florist still receives $5000, you receive $500, and the client pays $5500.

For many reasons, the Association of Bridal Consultants does not recommend that our consultant members operate this way. We recommend that you charge a fair price for your services and let your vendors do the same. Other than the liabilities involved (which could take up an entire newsletter to explain), the perception is not one that you really want. If something goes wrong, then your client will think that you recommended this florist because you were compensated by the florist, not because it was the best florist to do the job. And the client may be correct.

Having said all that, do not confuse all of the above with your dealerships. Many of our corporate sponsors offer our members the opportunity to become dealers. The most common is in selling stationery. When you sell stationery, you double the wholesale cost in order to make money. Dealership costs do not have to be disclosed. They are different than partnerships with vendors. The money you make from vendors must be disclosed to your clients.



Renee Grannis,  Association of Bridal Consultants – Director of Ethics and Compliance



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