Business Series Part 4: Negotiating Pricing
As an event planner you’ve probably heard this once or twice from a client after they’ve seen your quote. Clients love the idea of hiring a planner but some—especially first-time clients—have no idea of the cost associated with your services until they see that quote.
In today’s world of Hotwire Deals & Groupons, clients are always on the lookout for a better price… on everything! Our advice: don’t go down that road. If your prices are fair and you’re marketing to the right audience, you shouldn’t have to negotiate your prices.
If you’re having trouble finding clients, you might want to read part one of this series: How to Build a Client Base.
But no matter how reasonable your fees are, clients will always try to negotiate with you, probably using one of the following excuses. Below you’ll find our advice on how to deal with negotiator clients.
“I could do most of this myself”
Well, great! If your client is comfortable planning an event herself, then she doesn’t need you, does she? Instead of offering her a lower rate, consider sharing some of the responsibilities with her. Does she want to hire her own photographer? Or maybe take care of all the décor herself? Maybe her Aunt Mary can take care of the catering? That would definitely reduce the hours you dedicate to the project, which will reduce your final quote.
Just be careful! You don’t want a client taking over a task themselves, doing it poorly, and then blaming you! This can backfire very quickly and can impact your reputation. If you do go down this road, make sure you outline your (and your clients’!) responsibilities very clearly within your contract. Go through the contract step-by-step with your client and be sure she understands before she signs.
“I’ve looked up your competition and they can do it for less”
Awesome. Then maybe he’s a client better suited for your competition.
If you’ve done your research, your prices should be competitive in the area for the services you provide. If a client is only focused on price and is willing to hire a less experienced or less talented planner whose prices are lower, then leave him to it.
If you want to try and retain that client, you can sit down with him and explain, in detail, the quality of the services you offer. Again you want to be careful here. Don’t try to retain a client by badmouthing other event planners. Focus on what you do well – not what they do poorly.
“I’ve heard of another event you planned where you charged less than this!”
Fine. But a 5 year-old’s birthday party probably won’t cost the same as a wedding for 300 guests at the local art gallery.
If a potential client comes to you based on a recommendation, the best thing to do is explain to her how the two events differed and therefore why your fee for her more “elaborate/luxurious/trendy” event is higher. If she understands the differences but still won’t budge on that bottom line, then she isn’t the client for you anyway.
“I don’t understand why you think your time is worth THIS much!”
You can get this type of rude comment quite a bit if you charge a flat hourly rate. Don’t let it fluster you. Most people simply don’t understand the reality of finances in an owner-run business.
If you’re comfortable doing so, you can walk your client through your pricing structure so he understands more closely where the money goes. You can also run him through a competitive analysis so he can see your fees are comparable to most other planners in the area.
But quite frankly, if a client were this rude & disrespectful, I wouldn’t want to work with them.
“If you reduce your fee, I can sign the contract RIGHT NOW!”
You’re an event planner, not a used car dealer. You want your client to take her time, think about her options, and make an informed decision! The LAST thing you want is for any client to regret signing a contract with you.
So in this case, encourage your client to go home and think things through. If you’re really confident you’re the best person for the job (and I hope you are!) you can also encourage her to research and get quotes from your competitors, so she’ll realize you’re offering a great service.
As the event planner, it’s your job to negotiate the best rates for your clients. It shouldn’t be up to your clients to negotiate rates with you!
If you make it clear to your clients that you’ll do whatever you can to get them the best possible price on the venue and with any and every vendor, they’ll be much more enthusiastic about hiring you!