It’s too bad professional speakers are such lone wolves.
If we got together more often, we could exchange tips and war stories, and everyone would benefit, I’m sure.
One of the things I’d willingly share is my philosophy about fee setting and the all important topic of getting paid.
In fact, if you look at those two things, how much you charge, and how you get paid, the second one is much more significant.
It doesn’t matter what your fees are if they aren’t collectable!
And this brings me to my point.
As Dun & Bradstreet says in its promotional materials: “The deal isn’t made until the money is paid. "
Let’s say you are hired to deliver a speech across the continent. What will you do to prepare?
(1) You’ll set aside the date, right away, and you’ll calculate the time required to travel to and from, and you’ll reserve that time, as well. Instantly, that time will not be available to other clients, and your overall schedule will be impacted in various ways. You may elect to leave open one or more days upon your return to follow-up with attendees, and to recover from any jet lag or fatigue.
(2) You’ll book your travel. If you’re flying in Economy class, you’ll have to commit your money, probably on a non-refundable basis. So, you’ll be out of pocket, and financially committed to the event.
(3) You’ll start your speech preparation, if only mentally, selecting, editing, or modifying content, customizing to that audience, and the like. You’ll be committed, intellectually.
(4) You’ll start using this event as a credibility booster with your other clients and prospects. After all, it’s a feather in your cap to say you’re engaged for this talk.
(5) You may formulate a modest “tour" around this event, offering your services to others situated near the venue, while extending to them a discount for a certain portion of travel because you’ll be in the neighborhood, so to speak.
I could go on, as you know, if you’re a professional speaker.
Now, when do you get paid?
If you’re smart, you’ll insist on receiving 50% of your speaking fee upfront, as a deposit, at the time of reserving the date. This is non-refundable, if the client cancels.
By the way, given all of the sacrifices you will be making, detailed in my list above, you’ll still be losing time and very possibly money, if they cancel and forfeit that deposit.
Moreover, it’s advisable to get the client to purchase your airline ticket, to reserve and pay for your hotel accommodations, and to avoid digging into your own pocket for these expenses.
The more items they pay for, in advance, the more of a “deal" you really have.
If they’re not on the hook until you arrive, you’re in jeopardy, not only based on a potential cancellation or costly postponement, but also because they can enjoy your speech and then take forever to pay, or stiff you, altogether.
International engagements, in my experience, are much flakier than domestic ones, and you cannot imbue your sponsors with the ethics that you can expect to find in operation closer to home.
Suing someone who is out of your jurisdiction is costly, at best, and certainly impractical if you are a continent or more away from each other. Moreover, when all is said and done, you might not win your case!
So, get as much of your fee and expenses as you can, in advance. Considering all of the preparation and sacrifices you’ll be making, it’s the only reasonable thing to do!
Dr. Gary S. Goodman is the best-selling author of 12 books, over 700 articles, and the creator of numerous audio and video training programs, including “The Law of Large Numbers: How To Make Success Inevitable, " published by Nightingale-Conant-a favorite among salespeople and entrepreneurs. For information about booking Gary to speak at your next sales, customer service or management meeting, conference or convention, please address your inquiry to: email@example.com .