Name Your Price: The Bottom Line

Preston Bailey Business Advice Fear Is A Liar

(Photo via Melody Ehsani)

I know I talk a lot about money and business finances around here, but it’s just such an important topic. After all, we can’t do what we love unless we can keep our businesses afloat, right?

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know that even after 30+ years in this industry, I STILL struggle with pricing. I’ve already offered lots of financial advice on this blog, and I standby everything I’ve shared — my tips and ideas are all based on things that have actually worked for me and my business.

But there’s a lot of information out there: you’re reading my blog, you’re reading books on freelancing and running your own business, you’re talking to other vendors, etc… It gets confusing.

So, today I think it’s time to do some distilling. Here’s what it boils down to:

When a client requests a quote, the price you name should make you feel a little queasy. If it doesn’t, you’re not charging enough.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — clients appreciate artists who know their worth.

Dear Readers, have you ever given a client a quote that made you really nervous? What happened? Did they push back or accept your price without batting an eye?

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  • Bisi Bordley

    Oh yes I did, very recent in fact, my client wanted me to price match another floral stylist.I refused, and simply justified my pricing to her by stating my skills, experience and been simply honest. I was hired by her for been honest and open about my business practice! xb

  • Eve

    Preston, I am going to frame this and place it on my desk right next to my iMac screen so I can remind myself of this every time I send out a quote.

    On a more serious note… you are so right! You should have ‘that’ feeling and it is GREAT of they accept it, OK if they want to negotiate and if they don’t accept it then it was not the ‘right’ client. It is far better to be rejected based on priced rather than hired as a cheaper option and feel undervalued throughout the whole process.

    Have a fabulous Easter!

  • Sheavonne

    I was nervous about my pricing when I first started out. While I am still will to offer some discounts here and there I stand by my prices because I know my worth and if the client really wants to use my services they will pay, if not then were just not meant to be and that fine too. One of the main reasons I put my starting price on my website is to give potential clients an idea of what the cost will be before contacting me.

  • Rebecca

    Hey Preston,

    When I read this I knew you were speaking to me! I have a perfect example for when I gave a client a quote and got major pushback, and ended up losing the client. This was a really hard situation to be put in, and any feedback you could give me would be great!

    In gaining experience here in the Seattle market (launched in Nov of 2009), I was one of those planners who started off charging WAY less than what I was worth just to gain exposure, experience and a portfolio! :) Subsequently, every year since then I have raised my pricing to reflect more appropriate, competitive rates within the Seattle wedding industry.

    After meeting with a couple a few months ago for their initial complimentary consultation, I had come to find out that they were a referral from a past Bride. After the consultation, they emailed me back saying that they loved me, and both felt like I was the planner for them. However, they did have one question. They were wondering why the price I quoted them was more than what the Bride who referred them had to pay.

    I thought about this for a long time about how to respond, and ended up letting them know that as my network of wedding professionals that I can refer to them grows, as well as my experience, that they are receiving a much more polished and confident planner. Therefore, as I gain years of experience, my pricing reflects that.

    After them thinking about it, I ended up losing the client because they know that they can get someone less expensive. I have to say, it hurt. And I honestly thought about wavering on my pricing to reflect what the Bride who referred me paid. I ended up sticking to my guns and basically feeling like, ‘I’m worth this.’ But in the end, ended up loosing.

    Since then, I have actually gone back to my previous pricing, because of the fact that, ‘well, I tried, and I got burned.’ I am really struggling with this, and as still being a fairly ‘new’ planner in this market, I am not reaching the numbers I would like to have in the first place, so loosing one really affected me.

    I also don’t want the Bride who referred me to stop, just because she thinks I’m charging more now (even though I ended up going back to her pricing).

    Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated. I truly love your work and respect your business.

    Thank you for your time!

  • Lynn

    Hi Rebecca – just from one planner to another, please note that it is “losing” not “loosing.” “Loosing” relates to “loose.” “Loose” is “to make less tight.” It’s a small thing, but some people will judge a planner harshly for incorrect grammar, and I hope you get all the clients you want! :) – Lynn

  • Paul lomax

    I always get nervous before I give my quote to a client worried that it’s always to much, sometimes it’s sometimes they say great that’s what we had in mind, can I ask one thing though I run my buisness in my hometown, which is also where my first and only other employer has her buisness, she has been there 15 years I’ve only been here a year, she is not happy!! I am worried that she is undercutting me deliberately just to get the clients, it’s really bugging me to think that she is doing this just so she can get the client, I would like to know how to get across to my client that I’m a pricing well and not ripping he off, and also my shop is a lot smaller then hers so I think people think that we can not ale on large wedding or events, I have been in the industry 8 years and have done some major events.
    Anyway I love reading your blog and always look to your website for inspiration and tips!!

  • Paul lomax

    Just saying sorry about spelling my iPad has got predictive text on!! ;)

  • Elise Schmitz

    You really hit this one on the nail! Because I do, most of the time, get this “feeling” you so greatly describe! And to my surprise, these clients sign without question!

    Thanks for the tips!

  • Heather Chesnet

    To be honest… we just finished our first paid job. It was very hard giving them a quote we felt sure about. We knew we were asking a little less than we thought we should be but we wanted to definitely land the job. When we were finished, our client asked if they owed us anything more. As much as I wanted to say yes, I said, no we are fine with the amount agreed upon. He asked if we were sure, twice. It was obvious that he thought we had undervalued our services. In the future, we will not make the same mistake. On a positive note, we were dead-on with our supplies estimate, we just need to adjust our labor charges. :-)

  • Rebecca

    Thank you Lynn for your spelling tips! I was also typing with the loveliness of auto-correct. It apparently wanted me to ‘loosen’ :)

  • Fahad memon

    You are very much right preston if client want some discount they use to the another event organizer is offering me some less price and i use to say thats my final price we dnt compromise in quality quantity and service so the moral is if you are honest and so your client is then they will hired you

  • Monica judy Liu

    It never seems to amaze me that everytime I visit your website I keep ending up clicking the “like” sign. But this time I will be outspoken on agreeing with you on this philosophy. because I know I am worth it! Preston, You are Amazing!

  • Crystal

    Great advice Preston! Like Sheavonne, I have also considered placing my pricing on my website. I go back and forth about this often. Fellow planners, what are your thoughts on this?

  • http://YOURWEBSITE K

    Every time my client accepts without batting an eyelash, I know I priced too low. I agree with the queasy. I get queasy every time it’s appropriate. No one could ever imagine a single flower that is worth 15-20 dollars. It’s difficult and I fear a lot will not make it simply because of the price club mentality. What the clients will never understand is that coordinating delivery of a very specific flower and color is not like the grocery getting a random good deal on Orchids.And those orchids are not hand crafted and delivered and emailed to for 12 months… Anyway, I totally agree and this is very timely. THANK YOU :)

  • Asian Fusion Weddings by Wedding by Wendy

    You are spot on with your advice. I think the more we discount, the more clients feel that we are telling them we aren’t “worth” that much as professionals. I decided that if clients need a reduced price point, then I reduce the level of service. My time isn’t free and neither should anyone’s be!

  • Terri Uy-Lennon

    This is a very timely topic as I sit at my desk with a couple of price quotes to write up. Thank you Preston for the reminder of knowing my worth and asking for it! I am in the same boat as some of the newbies in the field. In wanting to book the client, gain experience and add to my portfolio, I’ve priced myself way too low and regretted it. It is just not worth my time & effort to barely break even.

    Thank you Preston for creating beauty in this world & giving back so that others can do it too!

  • julia Hewitt

    Glad to know I am not the only one who feels sick when discussing prices and presenting proposals.