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Happy Friday, friends!
We all love a good deal. For some reason I gravitate towards flashy signs that read “50% off” or ” 1/2 yearly sale”. Is it just me or does a pair of pumps on sale for $100.00 seem more appealing than a pair of pumps regularly priced at $100.00? It makes no sense, lol. We’ve been conditioned to always want the best deal, and honestly there’s nothing inherently wrong with that but sometimes the retail price of an item or service is the very best rate you’re going to get it for.
I am a fan of quality products and services. One of the first designer bags I ever purchased was a Louis Vuitton speedy. When you walk into the Louis store there are no flashy sale signs, prices aren’t plastered on the merchandise. You walk in the store knowing that you’re going to get a quality handbag at a premium price. I didn’t haggle the sales associate asking if I could get the bag for $300.00 instead of the $950.00 retail price. I took out my credit card and happily purchased the item I had been eyeing for quite some time. I recognized the value in the item I was purchasing.
How does this relate to the wedding and event industry you might ask? Well, believe it or not the “50% off” “1/2 yearly sale” mentality has confused people into thinking they can get everything at a discount or that they can negotiate a better rate on a service that is already very fairly priced.
Every now and again I’ll have a client ask if I can “negotiate” rates with a particular service provider that they would love to book but feel is out of their budget. With the Savvy business model, when we present client’s with estimates or quotes from our creative team the rates that we’re presenting are the very best that our client is going to get for that provider and the service level they’re interested in. That’s key to mention – for instance, if you’re looking to book 10 hours of photography coverage for your wedding and the photographer quotes you $7,000 you can’t then try to negotiate a lower rate and get the same level of service for $5,000. Perhaps if you’re willing to reduce the service level to 8 hours of coverage the photographer will be inclined to reduce the rate. It’s like asking a person to work a 40 hour work week but only compensate them for 25 hours. Would that work for you?
Every aspect of an event has a price associated with it, services cost money. . .people’s time costs money. . .people’s talent, expertise and experience costs money. You know the saying, “you get what you pay for,” it’s true regardless of the service or product in question.
Below we’re going to share the do’s and please don’ts of negotiating rates with service providers.
1. Do Ask – Asking for a discount never hurts, but don’t be surprised if the service provider says No. You have to remember that the vast majority of service providers you will work with on your wedding or event are small business owners. There are various costs associated with owning a business from liability insurance to equipment, marketing materials and gas. . .and then there’s the whole making a living aspect of what a service provider does. This is a full-time job for people, not a hobby or something they do to pass time. Do ask for a discount, but be respectful if they tell you no.
2. Don’t Throw Other Estimates/Quotes In Their Face – I’ve seen this happen so many times. A prospective client will call a provider and say “I really like your work, but I contacted Photographer X and they charge $x,xxx – why is your rate so much higher?” No, no, no, no – please don’t do this. Each service provider prices their services at a price point that works for them. Also, you have to recognize that one provider may have a considerable amount more experience than another- they may have invested in more educational training, have more experience, better equipment, etc. and quite honestly, they charge what they charge. You also have to remember to compare apples to apples – one provider may offer a heck of a lot more than another – don’t get so caught up on the price, look at the entire package and the value of what you’re paying for. You wouldn’t want someone coming into your job and listing off what your counterparts make in comparison to your salary. You may have an MBA or other professional degree that allows you to command a higher salary than your peers.
3. Do Be Honest About Your Budget – service providers truly respect honesty and transparency. If you are honest about your financial situation and have a connection with a provider, they may very well offer you a price break. I don’t make a practice of discounting my services, but in certain situations I make an exception. Honesty goes a long way.
I hope these tips help as you navigate the planning process. Feel free to leave your feedback and share how you feel about asking for discounts or negotiating rates for services.
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Savvy Events is a full-service event production company based in Los Angeles, CA.