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Old May 5th, 2011, 10:47 PM   #16
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Re: Cancellations

Steve, with great respect I think you're wrong relating cost/budget/willingness to pay to a "good" or "bad" area; touch wood, we've never had a defaulter and some of our couples are definitely from the "wrong side of the tracks"; indeed I'd go further and say that there's almost an inverse ratio, the more people appear to have struggled to raise our fee, the more reliable they are in terms of paying. Equally, some of the clients who seem to need reminding about paying come from very salubrious locales, big houses and apparently have healthy bank balances.

On the other hand in our trading area I'm definitely with Warren and Chris regarding the payment schedule; how anyone can justify asking for all the money when they haven't done anything except charge their batteries is beyond me. And I don't accept any of the spurious comparisons. The reception venue has to lay out for the food supplies; the dress will be delivered before the wedding etc. But along with the DJ, the band and the table magician, the video and photographer are notably those who do all their work either on the day or after it.

The constant complaint we hear is that "it's two months and I haven't heard from the photographer yet he's had all my money". In my view it's indefensible and quite contrary to the rest of the business, especially as (apart from the big gents rental outfits) very few wedding suppliers are substantial companies so the clients have to hope YOU don't go bump before the wedding.

And that happens. We know of wedding dress suppliers, cake makers and florists as well as photographers go under shortly before the wedding. The clients lose all their money and have to grub around finding replacements at the last minute.

The "all up front" people aren't even in line with the main part of our business where the norm is 50% on commissioning, 50% on delivery. The variation we bring in allows for the extra long lead times typically involved in weddings.

Finally, regarding doing all the work for 2/3 the fee, unless you can show an absolute water-tight contract AND a capricious or wanton disregard of the circumstances by the clients the courts I am aware of will usually not award you the full contract price but deduct what they regard as recoverable expenses eg equipment, travel, accommodation - generally what you get is your profit and few of us get 2/3 of the fee for that. Additionally the courts are typically sympathetic to couples who break up before the ceremony rather than after it.

Overall Steve, I'd urge you to move your price away from the budget end of the market where choice is driven by cost and not all the more important reasons people should have for choosing you, and don't worry if some people can't afford you. Most of our clients will never commission a video again in their lives and have little or no idea what is involved. Far better to have a client react negatively at your deposit than at your final bill.
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Old May 6th, 2011, 04:10 AM   #17
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Re: Cancellations

Thanks Phillip...
I do actually feel my work deserves a higher price tag as i have been told on recent bookings and viewings, but maybe its in my mind with regard to my prices and awareness that i want to try to work every week and worried i may not get custom, i am charging 695 first basic package, 795 middle package with morn prep, top package 995 first dance and bits after, i know in my area some are 500, and some 1500 and the latter are cheesy old fashioned who are now starting to copy my work, in fact one has completely copied my web apart from colour and even my demo trailer down to everything, Now i cant do anything about that but to jump and take a huge step is a bit frightening... steve
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Old May 6th, 2011, 05:11 AM   #18
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Re: Cancellations

Steve, imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but it may also be "passing off" which a stern letter from your solicitor should settle.

Since we started selling our single price, high value and all inclusive product we've noticed others emulating it all or in parts. For example, it seems to me that the number of people including five DVDs is increasing as it should. Including only one when couples would obviously want more was simply a way of making the price seem lower, ie a con. I'm happy with that; our competitors are having to work harder for their pay and the client is the eventual winner. It's like photographers including one parent album. Come on. How many wedding couples have only one parent? It's just a trick to make the price look lower.

Obviously you're a man who enjoys his work so I can understand why you don't want to price yourself out of the market but I have a good photographer friend who has always under-priced his work. Now he's a little older he grumbles but he still has the control in his hands. He does 40 odd weddings a year. I suggest he should raise his prices by 25% which would still put him in the same ballpark as his competitors. At that price he can afford to book 25% fewer weddings, enjoy 10 more weekends with his family and still earn the same income with every likelihood that he won't suffer financially.

Do the sums and bite the bullet but I accept that it's easier to say that from my standpoint than yours. In the end I'd ask, "What's the real risk?"
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Old May 6th, 2011, 06:13 AM   #19
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Re: Cancellations

Great points Phillip, i have 27 booked this year just done 3 so 24 left, if im more expensive what you are saying do less work for the same money! if i can then get the buisness! Will study hard at my strategy, do you think i could create two websites then if the more expensive one takes off i could then combine the two at a later stage? steve
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Old May 6th, 2011, 07:51 AM   #20
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Re: Cancellations

i had a couple cancel two weeks out. they lost ALL of their retainer, and I am debating suing them for the balance. I had another event book me for more money than they were paying that weekend, so I arranged for my b crew to cover theirs, as was noted in my contract, and the wedding planner talked them into cancelling me and hiring someone else. complete bullsh!t.
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Old May 6th, 2011, 08:18 AM   #21
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Re: Cancellations

Thats a pain scott, i am still mad that i turned down other people for these idiots......
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Old May 6th, 2011, 08:43 AM   #22
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Re: Cancellations

$495 down, 1/2 of balance 30 days before, final payment due upon commencement of editing seems to work for me.

Scott, the idea of suing a bride is bad for business, and pointless. It is my job to protect myself, not depend on the customer. Collecting on a judgement is close to impossible if someone truly doesn't want to pay.

When I have a cancellation, I thank them and move on. Your bride got nervous, and her wedding planner was trying to protect her. You should have told them you understood and were sorry they felt that way.

Scott, if you have a clause that provides for you to do another gig in any situation except in an emergency, I would take it out. You got another job that paid more, but you've lost potential clients through bad word of mouth via two families and a wedding planner, and everyone they will talk to.

Technically you might be justified because of your contract to press a client for money after cancelling, but on a business level, I'm not so sure.

The way I see it, few put hard-earned money down on a wedding unless they are pretty serious. I have one bride I've been waiting on for 18 months to pay her final payment. She doesn't have her video yet, so I'm not stressed. I call her every few months, we chat, catch up, and then I wait a few more months. Her husband lost his job, and times have been quite tough. If I get bored and have nothing to do I might edit the darn thing and give it to them for half price, I really don't care. They are really nice kids, and I always liked them anway.
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Old May 6th, 2011, 08:50 AM   #23
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Re: Cancellations

No no no. I just saw cancellation fees mentioned Steve. Don't put that in your paperwork! It never works! Just get a third or so down, 1/3 about a month before, and the rest before you give the video.

This is not high finance, and is very simple. Cancellation fees, etc are pointless. I've been doing weddings since 1984 and NEVER had a cancellation fee. Just don't give refunds, that's all you have to do. End of story.

Non-refundable deposits are normal, use that and stop worrying about your "contracts". They will not protect you in the end anyway. You design a payment system that protects you, and you're done.

I'm not saying this is the case here, but small proprietors will often talk about "contracts" and "what is in my Contract". I say forget that crap.

What you need is an agreement that simply spells things out in a non-threatening way, not a "Contract" per se.
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Old May 6th, 2011, 10:37 AM   #24
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Re: Cancellations

Thanks Jeff i get your point, so are you saying put nothing at the bottom of the booking form or just simplify saying cancellations fee apply or just say deposits non refundable? and get the two deposits and balance say a week before? steve
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Old May 6th, 2011, 03:22 PM   #25
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Re: Cancellations

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Bleasdale View Post
Great points Phillip, i have 27 booked this year just done 3 so 24 left, if im more expensive what you are saying do less work for the same money! if i can then get the buisness! Will study hard at my strategy, do you think i could create two websites then if the more expensive one takes off i could then combine the two at a later stage? steve
I'm not in favour of two websites Steve unless they are absolutely separate with a patently different product - not just different prices. That's a recipe for disaster in my view. I have a number of websites but they're for different products/services.

The thing is that if you go with my suggestion and put your price up 25% and after a year you've lost 27% and not 22% then just drop your price back down, and offer any booked clients a refund of the difference - they'll be puzzled but will receive it much better than if you get caught out. My better instinct would be to market your site more aggressively but that's something I often suggest and people here know where I stand.

But I think you should have the courage to go for it. Unless I've seriously misjudged your market and prices I can't see what you have to fear.
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Old May 7th, 2011, 09:28 AM   #26
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Re: Cancellations

What you do totally depends on your area and market. We followed the same principle as many photographers. A booking fee (notice not deposit) followed by the full balance prior to filming. Yes, there is the argument that the bride shouldnt pay having not seen the final movie yet were all happy to plonk down 16k on a new car not knowing if we will like it.

We also say booking fee as by law you can be asked to refund a deposit should they change their mind. A non-refundable booking fee (deductible from the final balance) entitles you to keep it should they default or change their mind.

The point of deposits/booking fees is to stop brides and potential time wasters from changing their mind and thus you loosing income. A deposit is rarely a barrier for most couples unless they are simply not sure and are thinking that they may cancel. If they are confident with their decision then they should be happy to pay the fee.

But its upto you. Some ive seen have no set price and let the bride decide after shes seen it what she pays. Some have a 50 booking fee, some ask for all up front, some after. Some give 1 copy, some give 10. Your call.

Its about trying different options and figuring out what works for you. Some brides want to give a copy of their wedding video to everyone in their family. Some dont. Find out what works for your particular market. Have your standard package contain 1 DVD but at times do a promo where you give some freebies. You have to remember, were in the marketing and sales business. Ever notice how MFI always had a sale. Made a 10k kitchen sound mighty tasty when it was just 5k didnt it.
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Old May 7th, 2011, 10:21 AM   #27
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Re: Cancellations

Steve, this subject has all but been thrashed to death so I'm not going to comment on the specifics of the previous post except to remind everyone in the UK (and possibly elsewhere) that a sale is a legally defined event and requires the product to have been offered for sale for some time (31 days I think) in the previous period (again I think it's 3 months) so choose your words carefully.

The only other point is that MFI went bust, perhaps DFS might have been a better example?
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Old May 7th, 2011, 11:39 AM   #28
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Re: Cancellations

I thank everyone for there input on my dilemas... i am tending to side with Jeff on this, so im going to get around 35% on booking, then 35% 30 days before, and the final balance of 30% a week before the wedding day. if i start frightening them with cancellation fees, Jeff is right it will frighten them off, so if they cancel 25 days before then i have 70% non refundable deposits, i think this is the only way as i have lost out the past 6 weeks, this way at least im getting something. steve
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Old May 9th, 2011, 03:47 AM   #29
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Re: Cancellations

One thing to consider... can they afford to pay.

Our terms used to be final balance 2 weeks before the big day. Good idea we thought. The couple get to keep as much of their money for longer but then realised... thats when every other supplier requires their balance to be paid and on a number of occasions we had the words "we have no money left, we had to pay the photographer". So your then stuck in a dilema.

Just before the wedding and after people are usually flat broke. So while you require payment they simply dont have the cash.

Our terms are now 4 weeks before. We ensure we get paid before the photographer and others to simply avoid this situation.

It was more of a problem when we were in the sub 1k market so its worth bearing in mind. Its something which happens rarely but when it does your left wondering if you will ever get paid.

1 week before is also the mad time, when they are running around doing anything and everything so having to pay you is another job on this already busy list. 2-4 weeks before things are usually calmer.
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Old May 9th, 2011, 04:16 AM   #30
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Re: Cancellations

Steve, consider Danny's input also. I collect second payment 30 days prior, but final payment when video is being edited.

Danny gets final payment 30 days prior, similar to me, except he's getting it all, I"m only getting second payment. Either way, the week prior makes us a nuisance and is inconvenient for the customer. Not all of them, some are so organized it doesn't matter, but for many it's a bad time as Danny points out.

His reasoning about the week prior to the wedding is very sound, IMO.

I prefer to wait for my final payment until I begin editing. That is just me, but if you need to collect it all prior, I would consider's Danny's idea.

I personally like to have money to look forward to on the end, it spreads out my income, and the brides like to not have paid in advance for something they don't have.

Many end up paying in advance anyway, with the way I have it set up, but it's about 50/50.
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