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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » How much is too Little for a fee!!! (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Brent McLeod
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New Zealand
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Greetings-Question-

As a working Professional I deliver a quality show from 12mins-45mins plus in many different theatres, Niteclubs & corporate functions-always working around the client to make the event a success .

I charge appropriate fees-never had a problem

Got a call today from elderly establishment Xmas event that needed up to an hr show-I quote a price at 25 percent of a normal half hour show I quote-in other words around $200-really cheap for me -no Illusions or anything but I wanted to help & anything less is an insult or so I thought with travel & set up.

The budget they had was around $140 , the caller was I think quite shocked at my price & I enquired as to what they expect an entertainer to provide for that sort of money-also pointing out that childrens birthday entertainers charge more!!-Which I don't perform!

She was quite upset that I even queried her budget-I eventually said no thanks not interested but wondered who she actually gets-she mentioned music trios etc & I thought who would perform for $45 if theres 3 of you!!

Was I right or wrong!!-This bothered me today-I know my act & Professionalism is surley worth more but how low should we go!!!

Appreciate any similar experiences or advice

Thanks

-Brent
magic4u02
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Eternal Order
Philadelphia, PA
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Hi Brent:

I think the problem is one of the prospect 1) having a very low perceived value of you and what you can provide to them and 2) possibly never booked a magician before so they have no idea what the going rate is for something like that.

In both cases, it really is not your fault at all, but something we have to combat from time to time with our marketing. In my book, you were not wrong at all. You know what your going rate is and you were willing to work within it to make sure that you can provide them with something but also make the income based on your own value.

One thing I will never do is to lower my rates for the sake of just lowering them. I will lower my rates and provide slightly less (such as less time for the show etc. ) I will also lower my rates if I feel that the prospect is giving me something of value back that I can benefit from. But to lower my rates just for the sake of lowering them, does not do me any good.

Some folks have a set budget in mind that they simply will not stray away from. In this case, there is not much you can do. The biggest thing you must try and do is to increase your perceived value in the minds of the prospect.

This means that every prospect that contacts you (via phone, internet etc.) comes to you with a perceived value of who you are and what you can provide to them and the worth it is to them. Often times this perceived value is very low and much lower then your value you set for yourself.

In this case you can try and increase your perceived value in the mind of the client. You do so in several ways:

- being a professional at all times
- calling the person back as soon as they make contact with you
- willingness to answer any and all questions for them
- a polite and professional demeanor on the phone
- listening to their problems and giving them solutions to meet as many of them as possible
- selling your benefits of the show over the features
- having a great website they can go to for more information
- willingness to send them a promo kit
- willingness to send them letters of reference they can read
- willngness to give them live references they can call
etc. etc.

I know you know all of these Brent and this is not to say that you do not know this or did not do this. In some cases even if you do all of this, you will simply not get them to budge. Some prospects will not increase the perceived value they have in you if the value has hit what they refer to as their ceiling price.

I also do not think it was rude of you to inquire of their budget. If you do so in a way that is geared at trying to help them and trying to work with them, then there should not be any problem with it at all.

However they must know that there is a limit to what you provide for the cost. You can not do your show for anything less then a set price you already have in your head. If they still will not budge, then you can only turn it down and wish them the best of luck in the future.

I think you can still be a professional and conduct yourself as one even when you may have to turn down a show. It is never any fun, but it happens to every entertainer and in some cases, I have had these prospects come back to me when they realize my worth and value is something they treasure.

Kyle
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magicofCurtis
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To be finically successful in this line of work I think it is important to understand budgets and type of events.
Plus, not all callers will be your clients....
The group who phoned Brent, they are more likely on a fixed income and the type of building they are living in charges low rents.... Therefore a low budget....
A. you can accept the budget
B. Say no thank you

I have spoken to many clients regarding their budget they are usually happy to discuss such after you explain the different values of your show... Then they will say we have xxx amount then you explain what you can do for them in that amount... 75% of the time you will get the gig!!! Sometimes you will find that you will have a higher sale!
George Ledo
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We go thru this in my field (theatrical design) too, with smaller venues. They'll want "the Broadway set," but have only a $600 budget, and they think it includes design, construction, installation, painting, and strike. As Kyle said, some people just don't know what the prices today are.

I have gotten to the point where I ask for their budget first, whether it's a theater group, a TV station, or a theme park. That'll give me an idea of whether I can even do anything for them, but of course this approach doesn't always work with an entertainer.

If I were performing today, I'd have a set quote for, say, an hour show, and then negotiate up or down from there depending on how long a show they want and what the budget is. For instance, and I'm just making up some numbers here, say my fee for an hour whow with three illusions is $1000. If their budget is $500, I can do half the show, which is half an hour, or I can do an hour with no illusions, which cuts out the assistant's fee and maybe the transportation costs and set-up time.

That's negotiating: I give you this and you give me that. It's a perfectly professional way of doing business. The only thing is, you always want to make them think they're getting more than they're paying for. In my case, depending on who the client is, I might tell them the $500 fee covers an hour with no illusions, but then throw in a small one and let them know I did it just for them.

The worst thing in my line of work is focusing just on the price: "If you have this budget, I can give you this big a set." That sounds like you're buying a used car instead of a professional service. The idea is to get inside their head, see what they really have and what they really need, and then see what you can do for the price and still come out ahead. If you can't come out ahead (in more ways than one), then just say no politely. That's professional too.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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rossmacrae
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"Was I right or wrong?"

We'd all like to get 'em all, we'd all like to be able to educate every prospect, but sometimes they're just not (here's a marketer's word for ya) "qualified prospects."

Not your fault.
Donald Dunphy
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Great post, Ross! You said it concisely.

- Donald
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
TheDean
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Hey just cuz they can’t afford you or don’t WANT to pay a professional's fee does NOT may YOU wrong. Keep on keepin’ on and do the shows that ARE yours! Certaily it is fine to be willing to HELP them get a proper solution, even if it's NOT you.
Dean
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"Book More Shows... Make More Money... SERVE MORE PEOPLE! - Not Necessarily In That Order…"

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Big Daddy Cool
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Part of the problem is the fact that musicians do not charge the same kind of fees that we do. Many bands are super part-time and more than happy to play for $25 each - as long as they pay their gas and get fed, they are stoked.
Swing hard, swing often, and we'll catch ya on the Flip-Side!
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TheDean
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That is also true... sing it brother Cool!
Dean Hankey, *M.D. - The Dean of Success Solutions!
Serving & Supporting YOU and Your Success!
"Book More Shows... Make More Money... SERVE MORE PEOPLE! - Not Necessarily In That Order…"

(*Marketing Doctor) Smile
chris mcbrien
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Just had a call like this this week. You try and very politely educate them...be a resource to them first and foremost...help them. However, keep in mind that what was said earlier is true. You either say yes or no. However, once you lower your rates that much, and word gets round...what will your other clients (especially those who already paid a higher fee) think if they hear about this? Maybe it won't happen...maybe it will.
I hate turning down money...after all, this IS a business! Sometimes, though, taking $140 for this gig may cost you many other gigs later on..see example above and think about "perceived value". Actually, I think it was Brother Dean who has spoken about this many times here???? Good advice from all.
George Ledo
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One line I always liked was something to the effect of "But working for us for free will get you a lot of exposure among our audience." I've found over the years that, whether you do the work free or at a reduced fee, the only thing it'll get you is a string of other people who also want you to work free or at a reduced fee. Which goes along with what I was saying above about working as a set designer; after years of doing this, I find that a lot of people won't ask me to work with them because they know that if they want me (meaning they like my work and want some of it), they have to spend what the final product costs.

Case in point. A few years ago I had a guy who wanted to do a big magic show in Vegas call me to talk about designing a set. So we bounced some ideas around for a couple of weeks, and I even went to Vegas to scout out the venue (at his expense) and get some ideas. But as we homed in on what he wanted to do, the red flags kept going up in my head.

So I took his budget and backed out 10% as a design fee; I don't usually do it this way, but it's a place to start. Then I took the rest and did a 40/60 split, meaning 40% materials and 60% labor. Then I backed taxes out of it, and did a little more math, and ended up with an approximation of how much material could be bought and how many hours of labor could be spent. Then I did a high/medium/low range. And it turned out that we couldn't even touch what he wanted to do for his budget. So I explained the situation very politely and said I couldn't do it, and he was okay with it.

I would much rather do that than tell him, okay, I'll design it, and then find out that my design costs twice as much as his budget. That just puts both of us in a bad position.

The other thing I've found is that people tend to remember when you do something nice for them, even if you can't help them at that time. I've had referrals from people I couldn't help, just because I sounded like I cared.

I know I've gotten off the subject here a bit, but I find it's really the same thing in any professional service: be up front, give them more than they expect, and still make a profit.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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TheDean
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Your never gunna be able to walk onto a high-end auto lot and say, "gee wiz, I only have $140.00, certainly you'll sell me that brand new SL BMW for that, right?" - - Same thing with MOST (if not all) other real professions. Try getting a real discount on Brain Surgery...

"WE" as an industry torment ourselves over this issue all the time!

There is a REASON that they DO get performers to work for cheap or free... WE ALLOW IT!

We will be respected for our solutions when we demand we get respected for our solutions.
Dean Hankey, *M.D. - The Dean of Success Solutions!
Serving & Supporting YOU and Your Success!
"Book More Shows... Make More Money... SERVE MORE PEOPLE! - Not Necessarily In That Order…"

(*Marketing Doctor) Smile
Brent McLeod
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Great advice & wisdom from you all

Thanks so much!!-At times doing so many shows- something like this comes along out of the blue & catches you by surprise

Kyle) -Thanks a lot-good advice as usual,cheers my friend!!

This lady did have my promo kit sent about a month prior

I kept pretty cool on the phone she was more off put by the fact that her budget couldn't get what she wanted for the organisation

----------------------------------
Curtis)

Thank you for that-reply made a lot of sense
-In future I will try & work a bit harder to possibly ensure some sort of show for that budget

-----------------------------------

George)-

couldn't agree more with your coments in both posts-thanks
Must be even worse in the theatrical field-Thanks for your input!!

-----------------------------------

Ross-)

I don't think she was a qualified prospect-magic wise for booking anyway

I was quite surprised she got other entertainers for virtually nothing!!

-------------------------

The Dean)

Respect your opinions so much

Thank you for sharing

I guess Im of the opinion that its best to walk away than do a very low paying show & my experience tells me I probably would have been treated like a low class act by her when arrived anyway!!seems to be the thing with shows like this!!

Some shows I do Magic & Hypnosis, we travel a lot- as Kyle knows, we charge 2000-3000 dollars for a top corporate evening show & are treated royally by the clients!!

----------------------------------

Big Daddy Cool_

Thanks for the great insight into the music side of the business,, really enjoy your advice & magic act, thanks so much

Having performed with many music acts over the years-bands etc, these guys at time must really struggle for 4-5 hrs & a fee split 5ways-never really thought on this too much as some of the trios etc are really good

-------------

Lots to think about-do any others come across this more often than not or is this 1 in a 50 show experience etc.....

Cheers

-Brent
Donald Dunphy
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Victoria, BC, Canada
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Hi Brent -

I run into this now and then, where customers have completely unrealistic budgets.

I have determined that it has to do with the quality of the lead. When I ask if they have seen my show before, and also how did they get my phone number (how did they hear about me), I pay attention to those answers. From the answers to those two questions, I have a pretty good idea of the direction of the conversation. Sometimes I also ask, what do you know about me / my show?

Just this past Wednesday, I had two inquiries for Christmas shows. One had a heart attack when I quoted him for my basic show (I think his words were "Holy Cow!"), and the other one didn't bat an eye. It was two totally different conversations.

BTW, in the past when I have spoken with contacts from local senior care homes, most of them are used to paying a max of $50 for their entertainment (usually a musician coming in). This is why I tend not to target them with my lead generation mailings.

I also agree with Dean, that it is a great idea to help them find what they are looking for, if they give you a chance. Sometimes the prospect is "offended" by your fee, and doesn't give you the chance.

- Donald
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
Brent McLeod
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Quote:
On 2007-11-24 09:38, Donald Dunphy wrote:
Hi Brent -

I run into this now and then, where customers have completely unrealistic budgets.

I have determined that it has to do with the quality of the lead. When I ask if they have seen my show before, and also how did they get my phone number (how did they hear about me), I pay attention to those answers. From the answers to those two questions, I have a pretty good idea of the direction of the conversation. Sometimes I also ask, what do you know about me / my show?

Just this past Wednesday, I had two inquiries for Christmas shows. One had a heart attack when I quoted him for my basic show (I think his words were "Holy Cow!"), and the other one didn't bat an eye. It was two totally different conversations.

BTW, in the past when I have spoken with contacts from local senior care homes, most of them are used to paying a max of $50 for their entertainment (usually a musician coming in). This is why I tend not to target them with my lead generation mailings.

I also agree with Dean, that it is a great idea to help them find what they are looking for, if they give you a chance. Sometimes the prospect is "offended" by your fee, and doesn't give you the chance.

- Donald



Donald-

Fabulous advice-thanks for the experiences mentioned

The point about 2 different conversations sounds familiar

I would have liked to help but never really got to that point!!!!

I have learnt a lesson in not targeting them as they do get in people for a very small amount!

I guess we learn something every day in this industry we work in, also being a bit more alert as you mention to the 2 lead in questions-Have they seen my show & where did they hear about it!!!

Thanks again-appreciated

-Brent
Donald Dunphy
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You're welcome, Brent. I was happy to help.

BTW, just because I (personally) was never able to find customers locally to pay a larger fee, doesn't mean the opportunities don't exist.

You might find this thread interesting:

Cafe thread titled... Seniors and Performance Fees

- Donald
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
Brent McLeod
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Thanks Donald-

That thread you posted pretty much summed it all up!!!!!

Have learnt a good deal & will approach this in a different manner if I decide to pursue this in future

Cheers all!!!
magicalaurie
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Quote:
On 2007-11-23 12:14, George Ledo wrote:
That's negotiating: I give you this and you give me that. It's a perfectly professional way of doing business. The only thing is, you always want to make them think they're getting more than they're paying for. In my case, depending on who the client is, I might tell them the $500 fee covers an hour with no illusions, but then throw in a small one and let them know I did it just for them...

The idea is to get inside their head, see what they really have and what they really need, and then see what you can do for the price and still come out ahead. If you can't come out ahead (in more ways than one), then just say no politely. That's professional too.


I like that, George.
"Every thought you think, word you speak, and action you take proceeds from either love or fear. Peace and upset, innocence and guilt, healing and illness all spring from that one fundamental choice." Alan Cohen
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