I was at my chiropractor’s office recently, and I saw a sign which caught my attention. It said “Maybe we should stop asking why real foods are so expensive and start asking why processed foods are so cheap!”
I face questions like this on a daily basis, except as it relates to my business.
Only 2 days ago, I was contacted by the most expensive grocery store in town. You’ve been to stores like this, haven’t you? You walk in, and the place is pristine. You’re greeted by someone at the door who wipes down your shopping cart, and you drift away for your shopping experience, relaxed by the piped in music, and enticed by the perfectly organized produce ahead. When you have a question, the person you ask, even from a wrong department insists that she will get your answer for you… and not only does she tell where to find that item, she takes you there herself. It’s premium service, and you pay a premium price for it.
This store contacted me for balloon sculptures and face painting for an upcoming customer appreciation event in a major Minnesota city. We have worked with them before, and they raved about our service. But on Monday, the caller (a different person than the one who’d hired us previously) said that they didn’t understand why we were so expensive when so-and-so was so cheap. I asked what the credentials were for her other vendor, and she didn’t know. I asked how many customers would be reached at that rock bottom price, and she didn’t know. All she saw was the price tag and assumed we were overpriced, since she had already been given a dramatically lower price.
Of course, this was funny to me, coming from the most expensive grocery retailer in the Twin Cities. I wondered if the families (who shop there because they like the better things in life) knew that their favorite store, the one which charges at least 25% more for items which could easily be purchased across the street from an open-box grocery store, knew that this store was cutting corners, and utilizing a vendor which hires its team off of Craigslist. (No offense to Craigslist… a great place to get used bicycles, but is that really the place you want to find an artist who’s going to have their hands all over your children’s faces?)
I am frugal myself, so I understand the desire to save money. And as a mother of three, being self employed for the last 30 years, I have also come to understand the hidden costs of saving money, especially when it comes to things like haircuts, furniture, cars, clothing. There are things I thought I was saving money on which have cost me waaaaaay more in the long run than I would have spent, had I just initially spent a little bit more, paying attention to quality.
4 “hidden” costs of saving money at your event!
So, when you hire entertainment, what are your hidden costs for saving money? Not all of them are measured in dollars and cents. Some of them are measured in satisfaction and peace of mind.
Cost #1: Trust and security — Less than 2 years ago, a prominent children’s entertainer in town was arrested for sexual assault. I lost a lot of gigs to him. He was one of the cheapest entertainers in town, so he stayed busy. Until he got caught. And now he’s in jail. I love being able to personally vouch for every member on my team! And how about the security of a “worry-free” experience, knowing everyone will show up? Each week I receive calls from desperate parents and event planners whose entertainer or artist “just cancelled”! Would you believe that 100% of the time it comes from the same artists & entertainers who undercharge for their services? The worst part about it is the sticker shock they experience when they realize what it really costs! Professional family entertainers never leave their valuable customers high & dry. Never. Even in the case of a family emergency, they always take care and try to replace themselves… with something. The ones who cancel regularly don’t care. (And, by the way, most of them cancel because a “better” gig came along.) Don’t let that happen to you!
Cost #2: Safety and well being — Companies like mine spend a lot of money to use the best products for our face and body art. Sure, you can go to local art stores and decorate your party-goers with products which are labeled “non-toxic”, but that distinction only means that a lab rat didn’t keel over when they fed it those products. We don’t feed your guests our products. We apply them to the skin, and you should be able to trust that your hired professional has your best interests in mind, and not just the pocket book. (FYI… a jalapeño pepper is also non-toxic, but I wouldn’t rub it on my face!) :o)
Cost #3: Liability and risk — Companies like mine spend a lot of money to make sure we are insured, and then we go to great lengths to follow policies and regulations to ensure that your and our risks are minimal. This is why we don’t give balloons to babies and toddlers (and why we won’t give them to you, *wink-wink*.) We aren’t just trying to prevent a lawsuit… we’re trying to keep choking hazards away from little ones. I watched a child choke on a balloon over 20 years ago (not fatally, thank goodness), and it truly was the scariest thing I had ever seen. Never again… not on my watch. We care about you and your guests!
Cost #4: Coverage and disappointment — One surefire way to save money is to under hire entertainment. Fewer onsite hours will always cost less, but what about your guests? How many of your guests will and won’t be reached? How crabby will they be when the single face painter for one hour leaves, and 15 children didn’t get their faces painted. Would you plan an event expecting 30 guests and only provide enough food for 20, guessing that not all of them will come hungry? Of course not. Reputable entertainment vendors will always make sure that you’re getting enough entertainment. Yes, it will cost more to have appropriate coverage, but that’s so much better than the embarrassment of trying to comfort your guests whose children are now in meltdown mode.
When you’re hiring entertainment, make sure you feel great about the people coming to your event! If things seem too good to be true, they are. If the person who is “selling” you seems too eager (or desperate), that’s a red flag. And the next time you’re price shopping, instead of asking “Why are the experienced entertainment vendors so expensive?” Try asking “Why are these other vendors so cheap?”