[Dixielandjazz] >Subject: booking gigs

Talegatorz at aol.com Talegatorz at aol.com
Fri Jun 2 09:11:08 PDT 2006

>From: Gerald Johnston <gerajohno at yahoo.com>
>To: Keith Papas <clarinetti at aol.com>

>   A woman had called to inquire about piano tuning. She began by telling 
>me she was unhappy with the tuner she has been using. After speaking for a 
>while she asked what my fee is. I told her $120 if all the piano needs is 
>tuning. She responded by saying that the other tuner has only been charging 
>her $65 and she doesn’t dislike him enough to pay twice the price for 
>tuning. After telling her that I could not imagine a professional charging 
>so little, I agreed with her that if the cost difference was that important 
>to her she should call the previous tuner. I have been in this business for 
>almost thirty years and this kind of phone call is nothing new.
>   The interesting thing is that she mentioned the other tuner’s name and I 
>know him fairly well. He is about my age and we both got into the piano 
>business at around the same time. He is a very good tuner. A few weeks ago 
>I bumped into him at Dunkin Donuts. He told me that he was hanging out at 
>Dunkin’s a lot lately because his phone was not ringing. Work has been 
>extremely slow for him ever since 9/11 and he wasn’t sure how long he could 
>hang in there. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I am charging $120 
>and have all the work I can handle, but did offer some marketing 
>suggestions to him for getting some work. I doubt if he really ‘heard’ what 

>I was telling him.
>   So, when this woman called yesterday I was struck at the similarity to 
>the music business. I make no pretense at knowing everything about the 
>music bus. However, in some ways all businesses, large or small, are more 
>alike than different.
>   If we took the recent emails about DJ’s cutting into available gigs and 
>change it to be about car sales, piano sales, plumbing service, etc, the 
>basic story line would be the same. Any auto or piano dealer (or piano 
>tuner), plumber, electrician, etc, can tell similar stories about clients 
>who are excessively concerned with price. So, how do we get around this 
>obstacle? I don’t think there are any foolproof formulas. However, I do 
>believe that there are certain basic principles which can be followed.
>   Sales people are taught that when a customer says ‘no’ they don’t really 

>mean it. Rather, ‘no’ is a request for more information. The theory goes 
>that if a client doesn’t buy your product it must be because they don’t 
>fully understand the benefits. This (combined with the need to eat) is why 
>so many sales people don’t accept “not interested’ and simply will not let 
>it go. While I do not accept that ‘no’ is always a request for more 
>information, I do believe that it is often a response based in a lack of 
>understanding of the product benefits.
>   Another observation I have made over the years is that many people begin 
>by asking about price because they don’t really know what the other 
>questions are. People who call for piano tuning are often calling merely 
>because the piano teacher told them they should. They have no idea what is 
>involved so they ask ‘what do you charge?”. In these cases it is merely a 
>way to begin the conversation. I will usually ask these people some 
>questions about their piano (how old, any keys sticking, who plays, etc.). 
>This engages them in conversation and gives me time to evaluate the 
>situation (if the piano may need a lot of repairs above and beyond tuning). 
>Most importantly, this conversation allows them to get comfortable with me 
>and to develop trust - by the time I quote them the tuning fee they have 
>already decided that they want me to do it. Over the course of a year I may 
>have a dozen or so change their mind based on the price. That’s O.K. Price 
>shoppers do not make loyal customers.
>  I am a firm believer that if you don’t lose a few jobs because of price 
>you are not charging enough.
>   Again, these scenarios are just as apropos for any type of business. Ask 
>anyone who runs a business about price shoppers and they will immediately 
>understand what you are talking about.
>   Of course, the solutions are not simple. I understand Daddio’s has been 
>existence since 2001. It is important to note that 50% of all new business 
>fail within the first year. Of those that survive 50% more will fail within 
>five years. Daddio’s has survived five years - that is a darn good start.
>   Having been in business for so long now I have built up a solid referral 
>network. The phone rings pretty much constantly. Most people ask “when can 
>you come?“ as opposed to “what do you charge?”.
>   Unfortunately, I do not have a simple answer for how to build up such a 
>network for Daddio’s. I do know, that there are people for whom cost is not 
>the top priority (who appreciate ‘real live’ music) and that corporate 
>events can be very profitable. How to market to that crowd………?
>   Daddio’s has good musicians, good repertoire and good arrangements.
>   To sum this up, I guess what I am saying is ’hang in there’. All small 
>businesses struggle for a time. Years ago I heard this quote; “A big gun is 
>really just a little gun that kept on shooting.” It is only a matter of 
>time for things to really start clicking with Daddio’s.
>   Don’t mean to be ‘preachy’, just wanted to share some thoughts.
>   Gerry J.
>   P.S. Remeber at the bikers gig I was telling you about a woman who 
>wanted to book me for a gig? I had quoted $240, someone else had quoted 
>$200, but she really wanted me. She asked me if I would do it for $200. I 
>said no - told her I completely understood if she had found someone who 
>could provide music she liked for less money - no problem. She contacted me 
>last week and asked if I was still available.
>   So, the gig is on - at $240!

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