Initial discussions between a potential client and our company indicated that the client’s event would be a very energetic, high-end extravaganza for about 2000 guests in a conference center. The client wanted an entertainment show with cirque acts and unusual, creative décor. Every indication was given that the client was going to work with us. Several days were spent preparing an extensive creative proposal. Upon presentation to him, the client indicated that he had also received two other proposals from competitors that were lower in price but not as creative, and he asked us to rework the numbers. This entailed another day of dedicated time.
A second meeting with the client took place with the revised proposal and the client again said that the competitors had beaten the price but that he really wanted to work with our company. At that point, we called his bluff and stated that we would do no more work without being paid for creative and that the event now had a minimum fee for any work done. We walked out of the meeting and never heard from the client again, but did hear that all the other companies had done the same thing and that the client ended up producing his own show which was much smaller than originally anticipated.
What was the lesson learned? It was one that every independent business person eventually figures out. There comes a time when it is no longer feasible to work on a project, either from a financial point of view or from a “gut feeling” about the ethics of a client.