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it SUCKS if you GROSSLY under charge

I spoke on cultivating and setting your pricing at Eventology 2010. It was a difficult subject for me to tackle, mostly because I strongly feel that others shouldn’t be setting your goals or telling you what to charge.

You know what I’m talking about. You’re at an industry event, feeling pretty good about your last event and someone asks you, “How much is your xyz service?” Gleefully you answer to only be met with a scowl on a person’s face or worse, a snicker.

So with that in mind, I will still launch into my diatribe. If you are serious about your event business; whether it is photography, wedding planning, invitations, or cake designing, I’m taking a stand and letting you know that you are hurting yourself and your industry by grossly under charging your services. Actually you would probably be better off donating your time and gifting your services for free, at least the expectations would be equally matched.

In case you feel the opposite, let me tell you why you are totally wrong (I told you, I’m taking a stand):

  1. You undervalue your service/work. Just starting out and you need to gain experience? So you feel like the only way to get jobs is to charge a Day of Coordination for $300. It’s an easy sell for you. However you have now communicated to your “client” that your value is mere pennies. If you do a good job, then your client will tell someone, and they’ll tell someone else, “Hey, I used a coordinator and she was CHEAP.” Is that what you want your business tag line to be? Hire me, I’m cheap ™
  2. You will surely tick off other vendors. Oh sure, it’s not a big deal at first. You won! You grossly undercut the competition and got the job. Open up the cheap champagne! However, my little newbie, you should know that event vendors are a tight knit community. We talk. A lot. About you and others. You’ll need help or assistance one day and some may not feel like extending a hand. Since it takes a TEAM to pull off an event, you’ll be sorry you alienated others.
  3. Have you figured out what you are really making? Track your time and divide it by the teeny amount you charged your client. That’s your hourly rate. Now wait. It may not look so bad at first glance. Be sure to take out a percentage for self-employment tax, federal and state. Now deduct all your expenses you incurred from the event; gas, supplies, food. Now be sure to deduct your overhead expenses. Take another look. What did you make? You might as well of worked for free. And you call this a business?
  4. It’s a hard climb to higher ground. When you set your goals so very, very low, it takes a tremendous amount of time, effort and work to bring yourself up to the playing field of earning a profit and maintaining a successful business. Do not be short sighted. Have courage!
  5. Quit having pity. Don’t feel sorry for brides and grooms who are on a budget. We are all on a budget in one way or another. If we don’t charge what we are worth, then we won’t be profitable. Never be sorry or make excuses to others about running a profitable business. Otherwise, we would all be OUT of business. And where would our clients be then?

Happy Selling!


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57 Responses to “it SUCKS if you GROSSLY under charge”

  1. uberVU - social comments says:

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by saundrahadley: sales coach: It SUCKS when you GROSSLY undercharge http://goo.gl/fb/V2466

  2. Aleah + Nick says:

    This is a great post and people need to read this. Undercutting might be a short-fix for some, but it has the potential to be damaging to this industry. In addition, it can be detrimental to those who have actually worked hard to give our industry a great reputation and to build a brand and reputation for themselves.
    Cheers,
    Aleah + Nick Valley
    The Good Life Special Events
    and Fine Line Managements

  3. April Foster says:

    Thank you for your “blunt, forward thinking material”. I need it to remind me how to be a GOOD business owner! This blog post rocks.

  4. Evelyn Duran says:

    Great post thank you for your bluntness, it’s truly appreciated. Now only if others would listen too.

  5. melissa says:

    this is a great article! thanks for reminding us we are worth it!

  6. Lorez says:

    Well said – and it desperately needs to be said, over and over and over again!!!

  7. Such a timely post. Thanks for saying what we are all thinking!

  8. I couldn’t agree more! Thanks so much for writing a post on such an important topic.

  9. Brit says:

    Such great points, Saundra!

  10. Eric Hegwer says:

    Clearly you don’t have a firm handle on the market. Just like there are high-end brides, there are also high end vendors.

    Nobody should ever be ashamed at what they charge, provided they can support their family.

    Some people are Chevy drivers, and others prefer Mercedes. I think it is rude to scoff at the vendors who don’t charge as much as you do.

    • saundra says:

      That was my point, Eric…which in my follow up post I will address. However, it still goes to reason that as a business person you need to be sure you are MAKING money and that they are truly able to support their family. I know of vendors that are charging $300 for their services and working 15 hours. I want them to have COURAGE to charge more so they can make money.

      That is, unless this what they do is a hobby, which some do. I know of a videographer that shoots weddings for free. She does it because she enjoys it. The expectation level for the bride/groom is minimal, they didn’t pay for it.

      Rude or not, I stand behind my non-sugar coating approach.

  11. When you grossly under charge, you HURT your industry.

    Thank you for repeating this. I am constantly shocked and annoyed and the grossly under priced vendors who creep into my market. Quit playing in the talent pool and get serious about your business.

    It’s one thing to start some where on the lower end because you are new or you just prefer that market. It’s a completely different thing to only charge $300 for your services when they should start 3 times higher. As far as above comment about Ms. Hadley not knowing the market, perhaps he should read the post again.

    I think people who only charge $300 should be ashamed. They are hurting the industry where I make money to feed my family. If you are a “hobbyist” planner, fine; Clearly state it is a hobby and don’t advertise as a professional.

  12. Sharise Finley says:

    Hi Saundra,

    I completely agree with your statements about low balling your pricing. However, as a fairly new planner (5 years experience with 1 year in business), I think that it is very difficult to know what exactly to charge. For instance, I live in New York so pricing is slightly higher but I have a hard time finding a good price point when other vendors are charging almost nothing or extremely high prices. I am just so confused.

    • saundra says:

      Sharise,

      Great question, which we reviewed at Eventology. First it is important to set your own financial goals. If this is part-time for you, your sales goals will be very different than compared to a full-timer. Once that is set, you’ll want to look at what your market can bear and price accordingly. Perhaps for you, less weddings and charging higher prices is more effective or you are looking to gain as much experience as possible and go for mass quantity at a lower price point.

      The bottom line is, while we all have different price points low, mid and high; but please DO NOT GROSSLY undercharge your services. If the average cost of wedding planning service in your area is $3k you should not charge $1k for the SAME service.

      Quick answer to a very complicated question.

  13. Terrica says:

    Saundra, I agree with you TEN THOUSAND PERCENT, and I thought it was great that you said this at Eventology.

    Eric, clearly you are mistaken. This has nothing to do with rudeness or belittling the person who doesn’t charge as much as “I’ or “Saundra” or “Lorez” or “April” or whomever else agrees with this post. You speak of high-end vendors…this has everything to do with people purporting a “high-end” service/product and schlepping it on “rollback prices” for COMPLETELY selfish reasons. Or to put in the terms that you understand and use, selling a Mercedes for the price of a Chevy.

    We all reflect upon each other and what you do *does* affect the next person. This isn’t a game– this is real life.

  14. […] blog post yesterday created a stir. It’s a problem that I hear about at every convention, gchat, tweet, […]

  15. Saundra I’m giving you a double “AMEN!!!” on this post.

    I had this very conversation yesterday morning with a colleague. This is not a hobby for many of us, it is our lifeline. While I realize there are Chevy and Mercedes drivers, Chevy and Merceds still have overhead and marketing costs! They’ve sat and assessed what their fixed and variable overhead costs are and priced their products accordingly. Just the same when a coordinator charges $2.00 (yes I said 2 bucks) for a service when the average costs should be over $800…it’s a disservice to your industry and your brand. There is a high and low cost to our services, however, some people are grossly underpriced and why should that be called good business?

  16. Terrific post!! Plus great comments/replies!

    I would love to chime in with my thoughts…

    To the Newbie/Hobbyist who is undercharging – think about this: When you finally realize you are not making money and your time is worth something, you will up your prices only to be undercut by someone who is using your previous approach. Then you will come to us and complain about all the unqualified wedding planners and coordinators “out there”.

    I also have a problem with *free*. I had a client once who booked her photographer because she was getting a free video. Client thought this was good enough (low expectations – check). However, I explained to my Client that free has no value. You can’t complain about the quality or service, you are stuck with what you get, like it or not. So, in this instance, if the video had bad sound, was blurry and contained no coverage of the cake cutting and father daughter dance because said ‘vendor’ was out on the patio smoking a cigarette, “tough nuggies”. Client wisely followed my recommendations and hired someone who would meet her expectations (whether they be low, high or somewhere in between).

    • saundra says:

      Elisa, great thoughts on the “free” aspect. I TOTALLY agree. My point was, that if you are very new and wanting to break into the business you would be much better off gifting services instead of charging nominal and touting your professionalism. Of course interning is always the way to go to gain experience, but we all know that vendors are less likely to hire you as an intern when you want to turn around and go start your own business down the street.

      That is reality. Thanks again for your insight.

  17. saundra says:

    For the record, I drive a used Jeep Liberty and have no car payment.

    🙂

  18. Sharise Williams says:

    Again, thanks for keeping it real Saundra. I’m taking a stand too. I refuse to work this day job much longer. I want my biz to be a sucess and how can we do that if we are not charging enough! I like that line “don’t feel guilty cause the bride and groom are on a budget, we all are”. Ha! Sharise/ @urbanengagement

  19. Demarcus says:

    Great post! I’ve been guilty of undercharging myself. I needed to hear/read this.

  20. Kristy says:

    As I read this I quickly become annoyed! I am a planner from Central Florida and I charge $300-$500 for day of coordination and $500-$800 for full planning. That is completely my choice!!!

    Those of you that get mad because I am considered to be lowballing the industry are also the ones that are suffering in your business. You look at it as something “bad”, I look at it as the “wal-Mart” approach.

    I recently had a conversation with another successful planner in my area that charges $3000 for full planning (starting) and completely omitted day of because of her profit margin – instead she started referring me and charging the client for $1500 and only paying me $300. Is it wrong that she is charging a client to use her companies name and keeping 75% of the profit? Of course not, it is a smart business decision. If I were not “lowballing” she would not be able to afford to bring me on as a contract employee.

    Whether you are expensive, middle of the road, or high-end, there is a target market for everyone. I would much rather get the 60-80% that think planners are overpriced and a luxury than to go after the 3% of high-end clients that every one is fighting for.

    You are entitled to your opinion but YOU are totally wrong!!! Wal-mart is kicking ass and so am I!!! Get over it!!!

    • saundra says:

      Kristy, I haven’t had a chance to reply to your post and I’m glad you took your own stance on this issue. It IS your choice (please see the first paragraph of my blog post). Others here have already drove home the point of profit margin and so forth, more eloquently than me (I hate numbers and make no excuses for myself), so I won’t belabor that issue.

      I found your website (with the “Internets” you can find anything), it is professional looking and lovely. And I noticed that while you do have a lower price point than most, your services say, “…..starting at $250….”. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see that, there is room for growth there!

      You don’t need to be hired out so cheaply and while you are frustrated with what I wrote, you should be frustrated with someone making THAT MUCH of a profit off you and your team, who obviously work so hard. Create your own destiny. You can do it. Really, I know you can.

  21. Sally says:

    Kristy maybe I am confused by what Saundra is saying, or what you are saying but I really don’t think she is talking about the *dollars* of what you are charging but rather the value and sustainability behind the pricing.

    it’s great that you are comfortable charging what you are- but I think my frustration is lying with how much your time is valued charging at that price. I have no idea of the time you spend- but say it’s 8 hours on the wedding day- so $62.50 an hour, and then you add in the pre planning meetings, consults and phone calls- so say another 3 or 4 hours. Your hourly rate has just dropped to $41.67.

    On top of that you have overheads- fuel, website hosting and design, supplies for your emergency kit, staff, phoneline, etc

    I don’t think it is anything to do with the *price* you charge but rather the value & sustainability of your pricing. I don’t have a problem with what you charge- I’m just interested to know the sustainability behind it!

  22. Claudia says:

    Saundra, I couldn’t AGREE with you more! You know what’s even sadder, how these “newbies” who just got married and decided “Oh, I can plan weddings” and I’ll only charge you (insert cheap dollar amount here)! What’s worse, is when they post this on wedding chat forums and then get loads of cheap business!

    So when a reputable planner/coordinator is bidding for a job, then it’s posted all over wedding chat forums about how expensive planners/coordinators are and it’s easier to pay for a cheap one that just got married and decided she wants to be a wedding planner. GAH!

    If all planners charged accordingly, we wouldn’t have to struggle so much and brides would understand our true value!

  23. Tami Brown says:

    I will keep it short and simple.

    Some people shop at Wal-Mart and some people shop at Bergdorf Goodman. Both kick butt in their respective circles.

    Personally, I will not work for $1 an hour which is what $800 for full time planning (which might be all I’ll get after deducting expenses). What are you worth?

  24. Kristy,

    You are free to charge $300-500 for day of coordination. While people may complain about it, the other planners can’t all band together and agree to charge the same amount. That’s called price-fixing and is illegal in the U.S.

    However, from a purely mathematical/economics standpoint, I have reason to doubt the financial soundness of what you are doing. The Wal-Mart approach works because they are high volume (amongst other things). In order for a company in the service industry, which wedding planning is, to “kick ass” financially they have to be high-volume or charge more.

    Allow me to explain further: There are a finite amount of weekends in the year – 52. This means there are only 53 Saturdays to take on a wedding. Yes, there may be some Friday and Sunday weddings, but booking all three on the same weekend is a statistically rare occasion. Most planners are not going to get a Tuesday afternoon wedding – they just don’t happen that often.

    If you booked every Saturday for an entire year at your highest price of $800, you would gross $41,600. (52 x $800 = 41,600).

    A typical rule of thumb is that a company keeps about one third to one quarter of its gross revenue once the cost of doing business is added all up (or in other words: what you charge is not your take-home pay). So, for a year’s work of worth you’d be making, on the higher end, $13,866. (41,600 / 3 = 13,866)

    The poverty line in the U.S. is $15,000. By charging $800 per wedding and working the maximum amount of Saturdays a year holds, you are making less than the poverty line. When you divide this hourly into the amount of time you spent outside of the Saturday actually planning the wedding, you are literally working for pennies.

    As I mentioned earlier, the low-cost model can work if it is high-volume. If you have five planners working for you and you each book $800 weddings every Saturday for a year, you would gross $208,000 per year. Looks nice on paper, but again you have to divide that by 1/3 or 1/4 in order to see what you keep. You don’t get to pay yourself $208k, but instead your annual net would be a little less than $70k. Again this is assuming that 100% of your employees/contractors book every single Saturday in a year.

    It is not wrong for the other planner to bring you on as a contract employee – she is using the volume method as described above. It is a definite misunderstanding though to say that she is keeping 75% of PROFIT by charging $1500 and paying you $300. She is not. She is keeping 75% of gross revenue. Very big difference.

    The ONLY thing in this industry that is 100% honest 100% of the time is the math. Sit down and really figure out your numbers. It’s uncomfortable, but it is what will help you figure out how to build a sustainable business.

  25. Ah look, I added an extra Saturday. Let’s call the 53rd leap year. : )

  26. Kristy, you are certainly allowed to charge whatever you want. But let me break it to you because obviously nobody has. This is a hobby for you. People working at Walmart are making more money than you are per hour, so they way I see it…. Walmart is kicking your butt and you are just too big of a fool to realize it. I’m certainly not threatened by you. You will eventually get burned out (like in two months after you finally realize that you are working for nothing) and quit altogether.

    Whenever you are ready to get serious about your hobby and take it on to the next level. You may want to figure out how much you want to make per year ($40K or more), divide it by the number of events you want to do (fifteen, thirty) , and that is how much you need to charge per wedding. Until that happens… this is a hobby for you.

  27. Sharise Finley says:

    Thanks for answering my question Saundra. I have charge low prices in the past and it just left me exhausted and feeling used. I will never do that again. However, in NYC you have planners charging in the 5 figure digits for planning services. For me it is hard to do real pricing research because NYC is such a competitive market no one really shares pricing information. Ok so I am taking a leap of faith here by putting the pricing of one of my services. I am charging $1000 for a my month of coordination services. I would love everyones feedback on that price point.

  28. Lisa Green says:

    Saundra – your post is spot on for those wedding professionals who value themselves. The hoobyists or “walmart” professionals clearly are doing this because its fun and easy side cash. For those of us who value our businesses and the services we offer – we’ve taken the time to figure out the accounting behind the pricing and know what we need to make in order to sustain a business and a life. I’m pretty sure that no one would take a job earning below the poverty line like Liene’s example above but my guess is that the planners that do charge next to nothing don’t understand what they are truly earning on an hourly basis.

    At the end of the day – you pay for what you get so if you prefer a quality service, you need to pay for it.

    (ps: you rock for being so straight forward – and calling it how it is!)

  29. Sharise Finley says:

    Entrepreneur – I completely agree with you.

  30. saundra says:

    Great Value Wedding Planners ™

    Coming to a local city near you…..

  31. You can be the Walmart planner, Kristy – please go right ahead. I will continue to charge what I am worth, you continue to charge what you are worth. If you truly believe that you are worth a whopping $300 then go right ahead but just know that others will perceive that you are worth only $300 as well and will treat you accordingly.

    I am also willing to bet that my clients value what I do much more than yours do. Someone who is willing to pay for my services respects my opinion, my experience and what I do for them – someone who hires a $300 wedding day of assistant just simply doesn’t. I can say I have had 1 bridezilla in my 6 years of business and that was a free wedding I was stupid enough to do in the beginning. Can you say the same?

    People value investments (Coach bag) – they don’t value throw away items (Walmart). You can chose to be the throw away, I will chose to be the one people keep and refer to their friends.

    I notice you didn’t include a website on your comment, do you have one? i am curious why if you are proud of what you charge, you chose to stay anonymous.

  32. Entrepreneur says:

    I’ve read a lot of posts and have made a commitment to myself and my business to get educated on all aspects. As a “newbie”….let me change the phrase…as an “entrepreneur” in the wedding industry I have become increasingly discouraged by comments regarding pricing. The term “newbie” has now become a negative term for everyone just starting out. I DO NOT charge $500 for DOC; however, it has not been an easy journey trying to get sound advice on pricing. It has been hit or miss due to the fact I’m on my own. Let’s be honest, some planners are not forthright with mentoring, sharing, educating those “entrepreneurs” that are serious about their business. Sometimes education is the key! This will not hold true for the hobbyist, but the “hobbyist” and the “entrepreneur” are two different things.
    I can certainly appreciate any and all posts that explain sustainability, profit margin, pricing structure, etc such as this one. What frustrates me is the negative tone that some have regarding “newbies”. Educate new entrepreneurs! Those that are serious will build a sustainable business. Those that are not will fall by the wayside in due time. Just my 2 cents. Keep the supportive dialog and education coming…some of us our listening! 🙂

    • saundra says:

      Entrepreneur, EXCELLENT post. We were all newbies at one time, don’t disparage… it’s like being a freshmen in high school. You can be upset about it but you are still the new kid on the block (with fresh ideas too!).

      As for teaching, I absolutely agree with you. That is why I personally have enjoyed conferences such as Eventology 09/10 and an online organization that was created to help teach each other and share ideas. I highly encourage you to join http://www.i-wed.org where we share information very openly. It has helped me tremendously in my business and the investment is nominal.

      Education is the key and I mentioned that in my follow up post to this one.

      As for sound pricing, let me reiterate I do not believe anyone should be telling you or me, what to price. Your pricing will come from your own needs, goals, bills etc and what your market can bear. I want to encourage sustainability and profitability, something we ALL have to address (myself included, I’m doing it right now in my 7th year in business).

  33. Entrepreneur says:

    Sorry….I do know how to spell. “some of us ARE listening! 🙂
    Lol!

  34. christina b. says:

    great post! i completely agree. my company offers custom invitations where we sit down and talk with clients, we offer them options, etiquette advice, consult with them about personalizing their weddings, etc. etc. we have over 5 years of experience and provide added value. i know what my costs are and it makes me a little crazy -for example – when i see that someone on etsy is selling an entire invitation suite for $2.50. why would you want to work for free?!

    liene, as always – you are right on, too.

  35. Saundra – I enjoyed your straight forward approach at Eventology and again this morning.

    I WAS Kristy and after doing a “cheap” wedding but still working in excellence for 15 hours which included running from the hotel to the venue in the snow when the make-up artist was late then lost and later tracking down the groom who had cold feet I realized THIS IS FOR THE BIRDS.. “this” being cheap… (sure wasn’t easy cash)

    My time, talent and work ethics (not including the hours and $’s spent on educating myself in the industry) is worth more than the “cheap” bride is willing to pay. Like stated, it’s not for me to take on the woes of the budget bride and groom. I too have a mortgage and bills.. this isn’t a hobby but a profession. Sure I love it and have donated my time.. ‘donated’ to charity events in the past however a wedding isn’t a charity event. People spend money on what they see value in… period

    Yes, we all start somewhere, but somewhere doesn’t have to be $2/hr.~My day of assistant gets more than that. I now stand firm on what I charge and I may not get them all but I get the ones I’m suppose to and I’m ok with that. I may not be Sasha Souza but I am Sharon Patrice.

    Did i mention the sobbing bride said they had very little money and I later watched the “little” budget go higher and higher AFTER I fell for the sob story… argghhhh

    OH- I drive a Mercedes with no car note

    ~Peaceful Planning!

  36. Saundra – excellent post and way to incite people to speak up.

    It really isn’t about the dollar figure, and it really is about valuing yourself and your client enough to say “this is what I’m worth”.

    I cannot fathom doing the job I do for pennies. Then again, I have no expectation that someone charging pennies on the hour is doing the job I do – and neither do their clients.

    Just represent yourself honestly, please. Hobbyists need to explain to brides that they are hobbyists. You OWE that to the couple.

    And yes, there are coordinators and markets that can be tight-lipped. But there are plenty of us willing to share. So I encourage those people who care about this industry and their role in it to move beyond the first closed doors and keep knocking. There are plenty of quality resources for those who really want education.

  37. Carey says:

    Like Christina, I also offer custom wedding invitations and it’s not just a piece of pretty paper it’s tons of emails, meetings in person, chatting about other wedding goodies, giving out advice, creating and designing, putting money into my business so you can find me- all of which is worth something. Don’t undervalue what your time is worth. Emilie said it best- most of the cheapie things we get from Walmart end up in the trash. You can continue to low ball your prices, but you will be taken advantage of by brides who don’t understand your value, because YOU don’t understand your value. It doesn’t mean that you have to price gouge- but do the math. $300-$500 before taxes and expenses will barely buy a week’s worth of groceries, let alone pay any bills.
    And suppose something something bad happens- and one of those brides decides to sue- are you prepared? do you have insurance? would your house be protected?
    Just some food for thought.

  38. Erica says:

    As a “newbie”/entrepreneur I definitely understand & agree with what Entrepreneur is saying as far as figuring out your market. What I’ve learned from many of these ladies is that sometimes it helps to seek guidance & assitance from OUTSIDE of your market because you aren’t necessarily in direct competition with those planners so they are sometimes willing to be helpful & honest (even if it’s not what you WANT to hear) because they likely aren’t competing with you for clients.

    And as far as pricing goes, as someone who has a young company and does planning part-time, I still run my company like a BUSINESS which means I charge accordingly. I’ve already learned very quickly that people will take you seriously when you charge what you are worth and when you are upfront & specific about what your services include for the price.

    And to the planner comparing her services & value to Wal-Mart, I understand what you’re trying to say but I agree that you’re missing the point. There are planners in my market who make as much as 5 figures per wedding. They do 10 weddings a year and spend countless hours on design and details. These planners can do this successfully because they have the knowledge & experience to do so. I, on the other hand, could not command that kind of money because I don’t have the time or experience to provide that level of service. It’s all relative and it all comes down to value & perceived value of you and this industry- NOT just “what you charge”

    And hugs to Saundra for being so upfront and open about this topic. It’s something that everyone should be more educated on regardless of how long you’ve been in business.

    Cheers, y’all! 🙂

  39. Saundra, great post. The honest truth is appreciated.

    Liene’s comment hit the nail on the head.

    The key here is value, and everyone should determine their own value. It is very much personal. Accordingly, and as my mother used to say, which I’m sure we’ve all heard…stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.

    I had a great manager years ago who told me that “poor performers always feel harrassed”. Can’t say how much this has rang true over the years. Ultimately, it’s up to you to do you, but in all that you do respect yourself and others.

  40. Shanika says:

    Understanding what to charge for services is tricky, however, you know how much it takes for you to live and pay your business bills and personal bills for that matter. Once I understood what I needed to live I made the appropriate adjustments in my pricing and I’m still making those adjustments.

    There is a market for everything and obviously there is one for brides who need or want to hire $300 planners. I’m personally not targeting the types of clients who solely book me on price. So I would think the industry as a whole “maybe” impacted by the pricing strategy of one who has such prices, but I don’t think I am directly effected. I may be wrong but I haven’t seen any direct results in my area and I know for sure there is a lot of undercutting going on in my area.

  41. Most Tweeted Articles by Wedding Planners Experts says:

    […] Tweets Shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots! | The Broke-Ass Bride 2 Tweets It SUCKS when you GROSSLY under charge | saundra hadley :: get real sales coach & speaker I will still launch into my diatribe. If you are serious about your event business; whether it […]

  42. Khris says:

    Using Walmart as a business model is dangerous territory. They’re successful, in part, due to their ultra-high volume. As Liene pointed out, a single planner cannot produce events in the kind of volume that would provide long-term sustainability. ,

    But here’s more to think about when using the Walmart analogy: they source their products in China, their own work force is low-paid, they have a history of shady business practices, and – wait for it, wait for it – they just laid off 12,700 workers in January. Even the MegaCompany has to adjust to remain sustainable.

    Something else at the ‘mart: they routinely price certain items at a loss because they can make up for it with other products that are priced higher than standard mark-up. They entice you with $1.00 of peanut butter but make up for it with a $4.00 loaf of bread. If your service offerings are at peanut butter pricing you have no way of balancing or negating losses.

    Saundra is trying to help businesses make more money by pointing out common pitfalls and practices. I don’t see any judgment or finger-pointing; just straight talk.

  43. Julie Renee says:

    I love this! Thank you so much for reenforcing what I already know in my heart that I need to do…RAISE MY RATES!

  44. […] Do not offer up discounts, because you are new. You’ve already learned not to grossly undercharge because of your newness, also don’t automatically assume that clients will want a discount. […]

  45. So I’m going to chime into this conversation about a month late in the game. But this is one of those posts that has haunted me as a “new” vendor. I guess my question is, as wedding vendors how much do you plan to make an hour?

    I ask this because I have set my prices (which to many veteran vendors are low) after spending many hours analyzing my overhead cost and how much I am comfortable taking home an hour. Let me explain…

    I am a college trained graphic designer. In my case going to college was completely free because to be frank I am smart, got GREAT grades and had grants and scholarships that completely paid my way through school and for my professional camera equipment. I was lucky!

    Where I currently live in south Texas my peak pay scale as a professional graphic designer is $11/hr. You read that right. But I am moving to Dallas so that means the average pay I can expect is $21/hr. That’s before taxes, commuting expenses, cost of lunch, etc… Oh and working in the high-stress, fast-turn-around industry I’m in is no picnic… but I have no choice… everyone has bills to pay.

    But as a photographer I am doing something I love on my schedule. I can pick which jobs I choice to accept. And let’s do the breakdown…
    I charge $450 for a full day of coverage with editing. I have never worked more than 10hrs on day-of and it takes me about 10 -15hrs to edit all those images. So that’s 25hrs of work max.
    Let’s keep in mind: my equipment is completely paid-off. My car is paid-off and gets 37/mpg so I never spend more than 5 bucks in gas. My clients pay for my meal. And my website costs me $2.50 a month. So I’m bringing home $17.50/hr before taxes.

    As a life mission, I have chosen to live a life style that allows me to only work part-time so I have all the time I need for my volunteer endeavors. That’s my personal decision. No matter what job I have, that’s mandatory. So who has a right to complain when I am making 3 bucks less an hour doing a job I love and is relatively stress-free compared to the career I trained for. I’m still doing a lot better than most people I know.

    I truly believe that the wedding industry is changing. Look at now famous brides like The Broke-Ass Bride, The Budget Savvy Bride, and Sarah from 2000 Dollar Budget Wedding. They highly “valued” their special day and the people that made it possible but they also valued their wallets and marriages more. Those are the kind of people I like to work with. And when we look out for our clients and not gouge prices because we want a higher standard of life as “professionals” we get to help create a more Utopian society. And I know that the majority of my accounts have been from referrals because of this 🙂

  46. saundra says:

    Sebrina, glad to have you in the conversation. Congratulations on living life mostly on a cash basis, that is incredibly commendable and as you begin your married life, you’ll be better for it. I actually have never had a car payment and still, do not.

    My observations:

    If I may be so bold, when I read your justifications on your pricing, it seems you are still thinking of yourself as an employee, with “ceiling” to your earnings. Some of the biggest reasons people become entrepreneurs is to break away and achieve their desired goals. These goals may include freedom of expression, flexible schedule (although any full time entrepreneur knows that you will work longer hours and harder to make your business successful. It’s just more rewarding) and to make money.

    There is nothing wrong with making a profit in your business. Making a profit is NOT price gouging. You have at least given it some serious thought as to what you are making. I hope you are remembering to include hours that you meet with the bride for consults, revisions to the photos after you deliver, money saved for emergencies: camera breaking, insurance, etc.

    The wedding industry is changing, but some things will remain constant. For instance, we will always have a low, medium and high price range for consumers, just like any other industry. The truth is the low to medium is the bread and butter of this industry….the higher end market is such a finite niche that MOST of us do not tap into.

  47. Samantha R says:

    As a bride who just committed to an amazing island destination wedding that is fractions of the cost of the wedding industry vendor’s collusion, I have nothing to add to your “mantra.”

    Just keep it up and you will have less and less clients.

    Even the wealthy fathers and banker fiances know the “true value” of a replicated filet mignon, a key chain, or flowers used for 4 hours.

    • saundra says:

      Thank you Samantha, for your well wishes. I’ll be sure to pass that along to my family.

      I am not in favor or overcharging anyone, that will surely not help your business at all. That wasn’t the point of this blog post. Let me rephrase in a way that you may identify with better. Let’s say you’ve worked at your job (customer service representative) for 7 years. You have grown your customer base, you are well known for your expertise, enthusiasm and commitment to serving both your internal and external customers. You are paid $20.00 an hour.

      Lo and behold, someone else comes along that is fresh out of college, no career experience but very enthusiastic and earnest. This person tells your human resources that she will do YOUR job; just as well, have more commitment and will serve your customers better, for only $12.00 an hour.

      You are fired and the new recruit is hired.

      This is what we face, as any industry. It’s fair market trade and value. However, if you are self employed there are so many more expenses to consider than when you just show up at a job from 8-5.

      THAT was the point and the being a vendor-to-vendor blog, understood by many. Good luck with your destination wedding I wish you all the happiness on your big day.

  48. Susan Hydzik says:

    I always feel sorry for brides and grooms on a budget, but recently have realized that I actually feel more sorry for myself, working an 80 hour work week and being paid for maybe 40. I appreciate what you have written and agree with it all the way!

  49. […] a planner and marketing / sales guru wrote two posts earlier this week regarding pricing {see here & here} and its sparked a big debate in the social media world {just check out her comments}. […]

  50. […] blog entry will not be much of me talking to you as I’ve already covered this issue before, instead highlighting two wedding professionals who really hit the nail on the […]


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