“Help! I love your columns and website – you are a godsend for our profession! I have a very unique situation that came up today and I would LOVE to ask for your guidance.
I am a wedding planner new to the area. Yesterday I met with potential clients for two hours about procuring my day of coordination service. I typically charge $2800 for this.
The mother of the groom called me today to talk about fee. She was not at the meeting but is footing the bill and hosting the wedding on their multi-million dollar property. Over the phone today she said she expected to spend around $1000 for a day of coordinator. Obviously we are far apart.
I’m hesitant to drop my service fee because it cheapens my offerings. And I do a very good job and have stellar references!
However, she lives in a town where word-of-mouth could be very fruitful, and the income would be welcome. Do you have any suggestions as to how to get back to her on this?”
– Melissa (Rowell) Larocque, Twin Lights Wedding Design
Answer: Quote a price you’ll be happy to deliver on.
Personally, I’d base much of this decision on the connection you made (or didn’t make) with the couple and the mother-of-the-groom.
If you’re getting any “difficult client” vibes now, I wouldn’t do it. It will only get worse from there.
Assuming that you have a positive connection with all the parties:
Did you have a chance to ask the mother about the specifics of her situation, concerns, and the particulars of hosting a wedding at a home?
This is a good opportunity to communicate your value by offering helpful advice. Jeff and I have talked many couples into paying our higher fee with this method.
Rather than chatting price only, try to be a resource first, even if that means recommending other options in her price range.
What is the fee you’d feel good about accepting?
I’m not sure what you’re including for that quote, but $1,000 sounds much too low if your regular rate is almost 3x that. I suspect you’d be willing and able to discount something, but not that much.
Once you’ve determined your asking price, practice presenting the options.
I’d give her a choice such as, “My normal rate is $2,800, but I’d be willing to do this for $x…or we could reduce the hours/features and do it for $x…or if I only covered these aspects of the planning we could do it for $1,000.”
In other words, give her a few options to let her know that you’re actually working with her. But DO NOT offer something you’ll regret later.
If you can’t reach an agreement, recommend another solution and stand firm. It keeps you positioned as a helpful expert and commands respect.
Remember that once this couple has booked you for the date, you’ll no longer be able to take another couple should they come along. Do the math and figure out exactly how many hours work you’ll be doing for this package (add in extra, since you will inevitably do more) and any costs you might incur. Consider the fact that those are hours you can’t spend doing other work, enjoying your family or other activities.
The most important thing is to come from a position of empowerment. It’s your choice to offer what’s in your best interest. If you’re lowering your price out of desperation, you will regret it.
Follow up email 24 hours later…
Thanks again for your advice – after reducing my fee and services only to where I was comfortable, they booked me! And you’re correct – it’s very empowering to stick to your guns. 🙂
Many, many thanks again – I really appreciate it.
What do you say to clients who don’t have the budget for you?