Fee negotiation

Have you ever found yourself getting a call out of the blue (or email) with an interested party wanting EXACTLY the skill that you proclaim?  Pulse quickens and you're like "Ohhh I don't want to gouge this person" etc etc etc.  Meanwhile everytime you hire somebody for a job, they seem fairly priced or not but the point being, they are getting the amount of money they feel deemed adequate for the job you hire them.

I'll be gone for three months in December and need somebody to plow my driveway because my wife is unable because of her back.  The man quoted me $60 for heavy or $30 for light snow.  I immediately thought, thats a fair price and gave him  the job.  But what if someone is looking at you and doesn't know the industry you're in (in my case music), or feels that you're too high because of past experience with somebody who may have been cheaper.  So lets delve into some great tactics as to how to get top dollar without feeling you're taking advantage but get a fee thats right for you and for the client.

When somebody asks me that question, the first and foremost thing I want to impress upon them is that I am an expert in my field and can provide them with examples of my work and a discussion of what exactly they want for their function.  For example, is it a wedding (Up tempo, music for demographics spanning 10-100 years of age),memorial service (subdued VERY background), or festive, small party (fewer, quiter or maybe a singalong), once I get the function defined , you really need to listen at this point to what they want and NOT what you want.  Applying this to other industries, simply replace the trade,...i.e. electric, plumbing, gardening, figuring in time alloted for the job and materials, but again,itemizing and defining cost to the client is the best way to win the trust and ultimately the win/win  relationship that will guarantee referrals and repeat business.  

Now that we have the function defined, I ask them for their budget.  This is how I can guarantee that I receive top dollar while  providing a service that will make everyone happy.  Lets use a few different examples.   When people are planning a wedding and they're using a band, you can generally guarantee a budget between $5000-$15000.  I know that sounds broad but that is what I've experienced in my performances over 300+ weddings.  

If you get the number from the client, this is the best way because you can come at them with a great product defined by your targeted choosing of professionals (or as a tradesman, you provide references as to why paying you that money is money well spent as opposed to the cheaper guy.  Your years of experience etc.) that will guarantee a successful outcomefor the client and fair wages for the performers.   If they are lookng for you to guide them and educate them, then you have to confidently without pause explain you're industry in as succinct a statement as possible.  You're potential client does not want to you to go on and on.  Cut to the chase and get them to envsion a few scenarios with some sample pricing.  Now they say to you after quoting them a range from $500 (solo piano) to $15000 ( a full band with vocalsits), they say even $500 is too much.  If its on a night (or your trade scedule is not filled), here is the perfect phrase.  Tell them you're trying to create a relationship because if you get heard  (or get to do the trade job), you have your foot in the door.  Recently that happened to me and when I said that (it was a Wednesday) and I ended up getting $200, they hired me for two more jobs and gave me $25 tip.  So I actually made $225 and they said they're budget will be increasing.  I also gave out two cards.  

So if getting top dollar everytime you play is important, you might find yourself short changed in the long run.  Negotiate with class and confidence and you'll be a successful entrepeneur in no time.