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Old May 10th, 2014, 03:00 AM   #1
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How many of you pay commission to get a job?

After reading this thread (Venue trying to charge all vendors "policy acknowledgement fee". Opinions?) I wonder how many of you pay commission to vendors, like the venue, weddingplanners, photogs, masters of ceremony etc to mention your name?

3 Years back I shot at a high end wedding in a castle in the Ardennes in Belgium and the photog told me he was getting several referrals from that venue every year so he quite often ended up there to shoot, it only surprised me when he told how much commission that venue was asking which was 30% of the photogs fee. He was charging around 3k to shoot the wedding so the venue gets 900(!) euro for just mentioning the guys name and telling the couple how great he is. How much time does that take, 5 minutes? 900 euro in 5 minutes time, is that not a bit ridiculous? Then I hear from some other photogs that 20% is often an average commission price asked.

2 years ago when I was approached by a weddingplanner who was looking for a videographer for a couple that had hired her and she asked if I was available the day of the wedding, then she asked, how much commission do you give for these kind of referals promising more could come my way. I said 5% and she agreed right away.

Now I know advertising also costs money but if a couple would ask me if I know of a good photog I'd just mention their name, it doesn't cross my mind to call these people and propose a commission percentage if I would mention their name, I"m probably the worst businessman ever :) In case of the wedding planner I know they want reliable vendors to work together with, people they can trust to deliver as promised because it will reflect on their name as well if those vendors, who they picked screw up. And that made me think why I should pay them commission in the first place?

Are there more here that find these kind of commission normal and if you do, do you ask commission as well for mentioning other vendors names?

There is one very known photog who posted one of my video's on his blog because he was present in that video as well and he liked it enough to use as a showcase for his way of working, I provided that video for free and I have gotten some bookings from couples that hired him and saw the video on his blog and hired me as well. I also got 2 people so far sending me an email asking who the photog is in my video that is on my site so he is getting bookings through me as well. I find this type of cooperation much more effective as you don't need to charge any commission to secure bookings both ways. I also have worked together with a weddingplanner that doesn't charge commission but he asks me to use my demo on his website to showcase his own work, this is the same like I mentioned before, he gets a free demo that shows a part of his work and I get referrals through his site as well.

I was thinking about just refusing commissions next time and just propose an exchange of my trailer, if the couple allows it to put online, so they can showcase their work as well and other wise not to accept the job if they have an issue with that. Any other thoughts?
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Old May 10th, 2014, 03:15 AM   #2
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Re: How many of you pay commission to get a job?

I think if you're offering money to planners, make up artists, venues or what have you. They will sing your name to potential client's all day long regardless of how good you really are.

He paid 30% of his fee ... yes it's ridiculous ... but he gets several jobs a year out of it ? that's money well spent if you ask me.

I would be prepared to pay a fee. And as a matter of fact would prefer people to just tell me, so I know what the deal is. It's better than asking some one to recommend you and promising to recommend them because we all know it rarely happens. But if money is involved, i'm sure it would DEFINITELY happen.

It makes the whole recommendation thing into a business transaction. So as a photog/videog you know you will get jobs out of that payment you make.
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Old May 10th, 2014, 03:22 AM   #3
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Re: How many of you pay commission to get a job?

He paid 30% of his fee ... yes it's ridiculous ... but he gets several jobs a year out of it ? that's money well spent if you ask me.
Yeah, but if he gets 10 weddingbookings through his site or just referrals from clients he has worked for in the past he could save 9000 euro in 5 to 10 weeks time, that's a pretty expensive form of advertising if you only do weddings. :)
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Old May 10th, 2014, 04:09 AM   #4
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Re: How many of you pay commission to get a job?

I've had two venues wanting 25% commission and required me to advertise in their wedding brochure. I turned both down. Have I had weddings in these locations since? Yes, but perhaps not as many as I could have done.

Commissions are not uncommon in business, but I'd have to raise my prices by 33.33% in order to pay a 25% commission and still come out with the same money, so now my packages would become even more expensive and people are less likely to book.

If I was happy doing it all for 25% less then that's where my prices would have been in the first place, and I bet I'd have a lot more bookings too, without paying any commissions.
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Old May 10th, 2014, 05:27 AM   #5
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Re: How many of you pay commission to get a job?

He paid 30% of his fee ... yes it's ridiculous ... but he gets several jobs a year out of it ? that's money well spent if you ask me.

The problem is though that once it becomes the norm thats 30% off everyones fee - yours and your competitors as everyone has to pay it in effect. So what they do is drive down the net profit for the whole sector.

I think its utterly dishonest of them the more so because more often than not the recommendation has everything to do with who will pay the highest fee and nothing to do with who will actually deliver quality and value to the clients. And all the while the venue is creaming off extra profit without the client being any the wiser. I'm sure that if most clients knew that the venue was trousering extra money this way they would be far from happy. Especially if its expected to be a cash transaction :- (

I've never paid fees and don't intend to start. Imagine if you were a high-end in-demand film maker and you approached a venue to say that you could recommend your clients to them in exchange for a cut of their fee. They would soon be up in arms at your effrontery but its the same thing. Whats good for the goose is good for the gander.

I do exchange leads with other local vendors but no money changes hands. These are genuine recommendations based on personal experience.

One local photographer colleague told me that when he worked out the maths he was paying around 750 per actual booking for leads from a few fashionista blogs; venue fees were not much further behind. He put a lot of expensive sample albums out to venues as well but only one of these worked. His prices are just above mid-range.

One of my local venues charges 10%. I've never paid but I've had loads of bookings there just through clients finding samples on my website :- )

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Old May 10th, 2014, 05:22 PM   #6
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Re: How many of you pay commission to get a job?

I'm reading some of these "expectations" and thinking "Racketeering", or mob style "business". I have run into businesses/promoters trying these "cross promotion fees", which are nothing more than an excuse for additional up front charges with no guarantee of "performance". And "commissions" (?!)... are these people doing anything to earn them, or is it just a matter of convenience of being in the right place to shill for whoever will pay them a "cut" of the action...

I can see good reason to give someone who gives you a good word/recommendation a gift, or a little something to show appreciation, but somehow it seems tacky, greedy, and maybe just a tad dishonest, to have them "expect" an up front or "back end" piece of the pie...

I'd rather stick to doing business with RESPECTABLE people and businesses, but that's just me... co-operation with other good hard working trustworthy "vendors" makes sense, and everyone should benefit, but any "business" with a bunch of "hidden" payments and transactions going on "under the table" out of sight from the client is just asking for trouble. Sounds like bribes and conflicts of interest would become pretty commonplace, and the clients would suffer in the long run!
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Old May 10th, 2014, 06:05 PM   #7
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Re: How many of you pay commission to get a job?

I never paid out commission. A few venues I know just give out my business card and I always thank them on Christmas with a few bottle of the good stuff.
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Old May 10th, 2014, 06:37 PM   #8
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Re: How many of you pay commission to get a job?

This is horrific in the tourist industry and especially between tour operators and the desk clerk or porter. Vendors offer huge commissions to them for getting business and it purely becomes a money thing and the vendor with the best offer simply wins despite their service or reputation.

The bottom line is still marketing and in the end the bride pays for it! Instead of a venue reaping in the 30% rewards it would be just as good to double your prices and charge say $5000 for a wedding video and then "for a short period only we will pay entirely for your airline tickets to Fiji" ... Bottom line ..they still pay thru the nose!!

Surely if venues are good to us, we will promote them?? That's way better than sleezy underhanded commissions where the best offer gets the job. I have never paid any commissions to any vendor.

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Old May 11th, 2014, 01:08 AM   #9
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Re: How many of you pay commission to get a job?

Commissions, Payola or, as most in my day job refer to it as, "Juice" has been around since long before I joined the business world. I'll bet it's still around long after I exit too !!! :-)

Most of these situations reside in at best the gray area surrounding "ethical" and sometimes are downright illegal. Some though I can see as justifiable and even honorable, at least coming from the vendor aspect. If someone tells their customer about you and then tells them "and give him my business card so he knows to take good care of you" which is the only way you will ever know where someone came from, that sure ain't worth much over $50 to maybe $100 tops in my book. All that is, is a referral and you very easily could be one of several similar vendors he is sending people off too.

As far as paying out 30% of the gig. The person receiving that should be sending you a signed contract and include the customer's check for the deposit as well !!! 30% is way up the ladder of a salesman's commission, and to give that, your "salesman" better being taking care of the whole sell job to warrant getting that level of juice.

Now the right wedding planner, IMO, there is one person who could be your "outside salesman" as they are intimately involved in the entire planning and selection process. I wouldn't think twice about paying the right wedding planner 5-10% of a gig, as she is most likely going to go out there and earn it for herself.

The one thing you have to remember, you only pay juice once to make someone YOUR customer. After that it's up to you to build a relationship that yields referrals from them and repeat business.
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Old May 11th, 2014, 04:44 AM   #10
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Re: How many of you pay commission to get a job?

We don't. Just because we don't believe in being 'recommended' when your really just a sponsor. When people recommend us we want to really be recommended.

30% is just insane but I'm guessing that the venue will take whoever offers the highest commission. It probably started at 5% and I'm sure if someone came along promising 40% they will quickly send Mr 30% to the kirb.

I think it's absolutely disgusting when it's all cash backhanders from venue event managers. A very well known venue here in Luton is famous for only recommending and pushing those who pay the cash backhanders.

I do find however that it's the venues which are run by big chains who are the worst. The venues who are privately owned where the owner has a vested interest in running reputable venue and wants their venue to be shown in the best light who tend to recommend based on quality.

We've also seen venues who require all vendors to pay 10% for working there. This isn't to be recommended, this is simply paying for the privilege of being permitted to film at their' amazing' venue.

I remember a conversation with a wedding planner who said their couple really wanted us and they love our work and want to recommend us to more customers who we would be a good fit for. 'Great!' says I, They then say 'How much commission do you normally pay and we also require you to offer our couples a discount. However the commission will be based on your non discount prices.' I just said 'No!'.

There is nothing wrong with commission for sales. But you have to ask, is 30% just stupid? Wouldn't it be cheaper to employee a sales person?

We recommend others all the time and its based purely on performance. If we recommend dicks then it reflects badly on us.
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Old May 11th, 2014, 05:30 PM   #11
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Re: How many of you pay commission to get a job?

I have no interest whatsoever in paying a commission to a venue just because they recommend me. I often get asked by clients what my opinion is on various venues, and always give an honest opinion. I would never expect a venue to pay me a commission because I recommended them.

If a situation arose where a venue attempted to charge me a fee when I had been booked by the couple directly, and refused to let me film there if I refused to pay, I would consider it attempted extortion and take legal action against them. I would also take action against then for stopping me from fulfilling my legal contractual obligations. I would also take it to the media to warn other potential clients of the practice.

If a venue takes a payment from a couple for hiring their facilities, I don't see how they can then charge an extra fee to anybody that the couple subcontract for services. Are they to charge a fee to the cake company for displaying the cake, or to guests for agreeing to eat there, or how about charges for allowing the bridal car to enter their private car park. Having said that, I did film at a wedding a couple of years ago where the venue had attempted to charge the wedding guests 5 each for parking. The couple immediately threatened to cancel their substantial wedding booking with the hotel and received an apology and excuse that an employee had made a mistake.

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Old May 11th, 2014, 06:23 PM   #12
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Re: How many of you pay commission to get a job?

Back when we first started out nearly 15 years ago, we would give out $50 cash if someone referred a potential client to us and the client booked.

We did that for about 2 years, but since then have simply gone by word of mouth and recommendations from other vendors we've gotten to know over the years.
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Old May 11th, 2014, 06:44 PM   #13
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Re: How many of you pay commission to get a job?

Hi Kyle

Rewarding a previous bride for a lead (whether it's cash or a gift) is often quite acceptable but for companies to start expecting it like on the other thread is a bit crazy and as mentioned borders on extortion!

I'm not really sure about offering brides a cash incentive if they tell their friends (which are a great market as they will be all the same age roughly and produce lots of potential brides) is a good idea.

Because money is involved the bride will send you to all her mates regardless of whether you are good or not because she might make money out of it. If you are not as good as she professes you to be then she and you will get a backlash from a botched job.

I really think that I would prefer brides to refer me without any promise of income..that way it's genuine and there is also nothing wrong with sending a thank you gift to her if she does refer a friend.

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Old May 12th, 2014, 06:14 AM   #14
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Re: How many of you pay commission to get a job?

a 30% "commission" is ridiculous. A 10% finder's fee MIGHT be appropriate and more palatable to the bottom line. Even a booking agent who actual takes care of the entire sale for you would usually be 15-20%.

For many, 30% is their pay.
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Old May 13th, 2014, 10:59 PM   #15
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Re: How many of you pay commission to get a job?

I live in a town with a hugely busy summer cruise ship season. Many of the stores
which sell various 'tourist trinkets' as well as tour operators, are promoted on board
the ship.....if they pay up. Those that do it, consider it a 'marketing' expense.
Many others choose not to, but instead display a sign on their place of business,
which tells customers that because they choose not to pay the cruise ship companies,
that their prices to the customer are cheaper than those who 'pay up'.

I used to do weddings for some of the cruise companies. They negotiated a rate
with me which honestly was low, but because their weddings are so short,
it was worth it. They weren't charging me, but they were marking up about
40% more than what they paid me. After a season and a half, the main office
in Florida called me to ask me to lower my prices as their customers thought
it was 'too expensive'. I suggested they lower their mark up which of course they
didn't want to do. So they said they would no longer promote me. Big loss, now
I'm not crazy busy doing cheap weddings. Instead, I raised my rates and work with
local bed and breakfasts, where many of the destination wedding crowd will stay.
They book the wedding and add a small mark up, but thy aren't charging me
directly and it's a better relationship as they recommend me for other video work as well
as they are a member of the local chamber of commerce.
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