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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » Charging too much or too little? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Chad C.
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Hi everyone,

I've done about 10 kids shows in the past 6 months or so, and I've been charging $50 for a thirty minute show. I also did one for $75 because it was in another town. Most of these shows were for kids of teachers that work in my school system (I'm an eighth grade teacher), but I've got a few shows in a bigger city near my town now.

To get to the point, should I charge more or stay the same? I don't want to start undercutting other magicians or anything like that. I've had nothing but compliments at my shows and a few people have mentioned that they usually pay a lot more for the entertainment, but at the same time, I don't want to overcharge and lose potential customers.

Anyway, advice is welcome!!!

Have a great day,
Chad Smile
Andy Wonder
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That is even less than what I charge here in New Zealand. If you can offer a service as good as the professional entertainers then you should charge about the same ball park as they do. Because you have a day job, honestly, you won't be able to do that. You can't answer the phone during the day if you are teaching. It will be difficult to promptly call people back, etc. I do about 6-7 parties every weekend and keeping it all professional is almost a full time job. I tend to think an appropriate fee might be about 75-80% of what the pros are charging.

Whatever you charge, some will think it is too high & some too low. Anyway, if you are charging much less than the pros you can really push for tips with no shame as well.

Oh, one thing I learned a long time ago: If people are willing to pay $75 in the next town, you can be sure they will pay $75 in your home town too.
Andy Wonder, Auckland, New Zealand
Chad C.
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Thanks for the advice, Andy. It's good to have other people's perspectives. Now that I've got some experience, I agree that most people probably would be willing to pay more. And like you said, some people will always complain either way.

Thanks again,
Chad
Steven Steele
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This is an area that always gets a lot of discussion. I have sent material to people only to have them hire somebody for substantially more money. He in turn, called me and had me do the job, because he wasn't really a magician. Go figure. Anyway, in my neck of the woods...$125 for 30 minutes is average...$200 and up for 45 minutes to an hour.

Steven
Turk
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Chad C.

I know that it might be in bad taste to do a show for free that a professional magician could (or might) take; however, that is not what you are doing. Even though you are not magishing full-time, you are still a professional. I would charge what the traffic will bear.

What is the rationale for only charging 75%-80% of what a full-time magician would charge? When you are out there on the stage performing, you are giving it 100%, your all (and performing full-time). You should get the going rate.

My dad always said (about braggarts): "If you have to tell someone how good you are, chances are, they would not have found out for themselves". On the flip side, if you don't charge what you are worth, no one will know how good you are.

In fact, just the opposite can be true: If you charge only $50.00 and the going rate for all the other magicians in your area is $100.00-125.00, you might be "pricing yourself out of the market" because the customer might believe that you are only 1/2 as good as the other magicians in your area!!!!

IMHO, don't be afraid to charge what you are worth.

Turk
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Billy Whizz
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I agree with Turk here. I wouldn't charge 75 -80% compared to full timers. You're doing exactly the same job. It sounds to me like you're not confident enough to charge the same as full timers.

The first couple times you charge a new price you might feel a bit uneasy, but when you start giving the new price to your customers over the phone, etc., and they say yes, you'll soon become more confident in asking for x amount of money.
Emazdad
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As Billy said, it's a matter of confidence. You're doing the same job and people like what you do, so charge accordingly.
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
Andy Wonder
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If you can do exactly the same job as a professional full timer, then yes, you can charge the same fee. I agree. My assumption was that Chad is just starting out and not able to offer a fully professional service. Let’s face it, if you have a day job you can't even answer the phone during the day. How professional is that?

Think about how many quotes don't result in a party booking if you charge top price in your market. Regardless of the quality of Chad's show, if he is working during the day and gets home to a dozen messages on his voice mail where people have all left their work numbers, I am sure he won’t feel like adopting a price strategy that gives a low closing ratio on his sales calls. He will want the majority of his quotes to result in a booking. That way he won't have to worry about spending every evening on the phone playing telephone tag. Chad, that is why I suggested a price a notch below the full time professionals. It will take a chunk of stress out of what you are doing.

I have one idea you might want to consider if you don’t want the sales and admininstration of kids parties to interfere with your day job. You could strike up relationship with one of the full time pros in your area and have them work as your agent. The full time magician will be able to sell your show to his clients for periods when he is fully booked. That way you don’t have any annoying sales calls to make & you can just concentrate on performing.
Andy Wonder, Auckland, New Zealand
Emazdad
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Phone around and find out what everyone's charging in your area and charge about $5 less. Then as your workload increases and your diary fills up, you increase the price.

Personally, I've always tried to charge about a little bit more than most of the others in my area. Just enough to show I'm better and worth paying more for, but not enough to scare people off.
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
Peter Marucci
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How much you charge very much depends on where you are and what you do.

For example, there's no point in pricing yourself at $500 an hour where everyone in the area is unemployed; by the same token, there's no point in charging $25 in New York City!

If you charge too little, people will think that's all you're worth; if you charge too much, people are going to feel "ripped off."

Best way to judge what's right, in my opinion?

Set a price; if you get mostly turn-downs, you're charging too much; if you get mostly acceptances, you're charging too little.

The "right" price should generate about 50 per cent acceptances and 50 per cent turn-downs (as too pricey).

Of course, other ways may, and probably do, work for other people.
Emazdad
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Well put, Peter, and what you have to try not to do is get discouraged by the turn downs. We all get them. Remember, not everyone that phones can really afford a magician. I get people phone me who have a budget of only £20-£30 to spend and have never tried to book an entertainer before so they have no idea of the cost. When you first start out, the turn downs can be a bit worrying. Set your price, give it a couple months, and then adjust accordingly.
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
Cheshire Cat
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Chad, you are already undercutting other magicians - many who probably rely on the business as their sole income. Your charges are so low they also seem to have no built in consideration of them being taxable income. Hey, now what if I went into your school teaching music at less than half the agreed salary? Sorry to be so harsh, even to the point of rudeness, but you did ask.

You are a highly paid full time education professional so what have you got to lose charging the same as everyone else for children's parties? - which of course you have every right to do either full or part-time.

Sincerely, Tony.
Tim Zager
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Good advice, Peter! For me, the fee has to be what *I* feel I'm worth without comparing myself to anyone else.

As for answering the phone, most people will disagree with me, but I NEVER answer the phone! I *DO* return calls that same day. I'm a very busy entertainer. Why would I be sitting next to the phone? Again, this is an unpopular view among my peers. It works for ME. I'm not necessarily suggesting you do it.

Tim
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p.b.jones
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Hi Tim,

Being difficult to book is definitely a good marketing ploy. Particularly for higher paid performers.
Phillip
GlenD
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How do you know he can't return calls during the day ?
Seems to me that wouldn't be a problem. If he wanted to return calls, he could do so during breaks, recess or lunch time or just check for messages, etc.
Do what feels right for you. This is a great place to get some advice.

GlenD
"A miracle is something that seems impossible but happens anyway" - Griffin

"Any future where you succeed, is one where you tell the truth." - Griffin (Griffin rocks!)
Chad C.
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Hi everyone, and thanks for the advice. I plan to ask around and get an average on what the going rate is and adjust accordingly. If it works, great, and if it doesn't, I can always change it like Peter mentioned. I'll try to find that 50-50 mark that he alluded to.

I think the confidence issue was probably the main thing keeping me from charging more. But like I said, I have had nothing but positive feedback from my shows, so I don't know why I should be worried. And I have definitely worked very hard to come up with an entertaining show that people will enjoy and be satisfied with.

Thanks again for all the advice and opinions, which are helping a new magician better himself and his magic!

Chad
Emazdad
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Hi Tim,

<<the fee has to be what *I* feel I'm worth without comparing myself to anyone else>>>

When you've been around a while and are established, that's true, but when we all first started out, a lack of confidence and desperation to secure the booking often meant we undercharged. Then as we all got more and more successful we could charge what we felt we were worth. Chad is just starting out finding out what others are charging, and pricing accordingly will stop him from unwittingly upsetting other performers by undercutting them. Then, as Andy suggested, they may be more willing to pass work they can't do Chad's way. A good tip is to charge a little bit more than what you think you're worth then you will always be moved to work that little bit harder to justify your fee.

One question, Tim. I'm not knocking your method of not answering the phone--you're obviously happy with it and it works for you. When I'm out doing shows my phone is diverted to my mobile. Then when I come out of a show, I can return the missed calls. But often when I return their call I find that they've booked someone else. After all, I'm only one person they are trying out of the phone book. If you never answer the phone, how often does this happen to you?
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
p.b.jones
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Hi Emazdad,

I work in a similar manner to Tim in as much as I do not bother too much if I miss a call. (I do answer when I am at home unless the call is labelled witheld.) My experience has shown no loss of bookings to speak of. Most of my calls are from people who want me, not a magician or entertainer. As well as my answer phone, I have call minder and BT has just introduced a new service whereby it keeps the numbers of people that rang and left no message. So far all of the numbers have either rang back or rang again later and then left a message.

One of my main tactics when talking to enquirers on the phone is when asked how much I charge, I ask the usual questions but also reframe the context so that it becomes difficult for them to get me. For example, I might say, "Oh, March. Boy, that's really busy for me. I do not know if I can fit you in anywhere. What day in March is the party?"
I then get them wanting me to fit me in and price becomes less of an issue.

phillip
Peter Marucci
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A lot of good points made here.
Clive has one that I should have mentioned about turndowns:
Don't take it personally!
Remember, as Robert Duvall said to Ave Vigoda in The Godfather (just before he sent Abe on "his last ride"): "It's just business; it's nothing personal."
And Tim, I like the idea of not answering the phone; I do that (albeit for a different reason) and , like you, always get back to the caller that day. It seems to work for me, but I guess I never thought about it before!
Tim Zager
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I really enjoy this type of discussion!

Clive, I had a mentor in my early days that taught me two very important lessons:

1) Create a unique service (show) that would be difficult to duplicate and

2) don't hang around with other magicians until I establish myself in a market I'm comfortable with.

I am from a rather large family with lots of nieces and nephews, so it was easy for me to understand what makes kids tick. The first kid/family show I created was SO different than my competitor's (according to my mentor) I was told I would have no problem marketing it.

When I was ready to get into my market, my mentor asked ME what I should charge. As it turns out, I was higher than my competitors, again according to what my mentor told me. Just a totally lucky guess on my part. I lost quite a few gigs because of the price, and lowered it several times to establish myself, but then quickly got back to where I wanted to be.

As for answering the phone, Phillip says it perfectly. I want people to book Tim Zager, NOT a magician. By making it difficult to get ME, it's easier to close a deal. In the last few months I have heard stories about my clients bragging how expensive I am and how they can't believe they got me for their party.

So, like Phillip said, I'm not too bothered by losing a deal once in a while...and it IS rare.

I should start a topic explaining how I positioned myself in the market. Many of my methods are rather "strange" to many, but they certainly have put me in a good position in my market. I think much of my success is due to the fact I *DID* stay away from magicians early on so I would not be influenced.

Please don't interpret my comments as bragging. These are things that have worked for me...your results may vary!

Tim
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Make sure your customers never lose your information,
with a Digital Business Card.
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