Every business needs to maintain a healthy balance sheet. This is why, sometimes, requesting a discount can be a smart way to manage expenses – as can refusing one. So: when is it reasonable to accept a discounted rate request, and when should you decline it?
Here are some good reasons, and a few bad ones, to accept a discounted fee for your services. Of course these are just general guidelines. Every situation is different and you will need to figure out what works for you.
If a charity organisation approaches you, and is not in a position to afford your fee, it is still worth considering taking the job. Do you feel passionately about the cause? Are you excited to do the event? And could you, perhaps, leverage their non-profit status to benefit you – such as the opportunity to create some positive PR for your business, or gain further business through their network? If so, it could be worth your while to take the job on.
If a client comes to you far in advance of the event date, they are giving you a great opportunity to plan ahead and therefore possibly gain discounts from your suppliers, as well as likely have a smoother planning process. In light of this, it makes sense to consider agreeing to a discount and securing the business. (This is especially true when you consider that many companies add, or build in, a late booking penalty into their fee for last minute requests, because they are likely to incur greater costs in this scenario.)
Getting work during a quiet spell is generally preferable than sitting idly by, so this one is a bit of a no-brainer. Hotels and guest houses do it all the time, with surges in room rates during peak season, and attractive specials for off season. Often, if the events industry as a whole has a slump at the same time, it also means you will likely be able to request discounts from your suppliers, too.
Signing multiple events
If a client would like to book you for many jobs under one contract, you should strongly consider giving them a discount. Not only are they guaranteeing you a lot of work, but the chances are high that they will bring you a great deal more work in the future.
Bear in mind that dealing with the same client for multiple events should also make your work easier, as you’ll be able to build up a strong, productive and efficient working relationship.
Word of mouth is a fantastic marketing tool, and it is not uncommon (and entirely reasonable) to reward a client if they helped you secure more work with a new client. This could be by discounting a future job with them, or in some other shape or form. Find a solution that works well for both of you.
When should you not consider a discount request?
A tight budget
A limited budget alone is not a strong reason to accept a discount. If someone is unable to afford you, you have to wonder about their ability to afford the other service providers, marketing and myriad additional costs that go into a successful event.
Of course, with all things there are exceptions. Does the event present a new opportunity for you that you would like to take advantage of? If so, then taking a cut could be worth it. However, proceed with caution.
Another popular carrot to dangle behind a discount is the promise of exposure. This is something that needs to be looked at critically, as often these kinds of promises can be hard to deliver on or even prove. Plus, events that cannot afford you are unlikely to have the kind of profile that will give you a lot of exposure.