Budgets can surely be a headache, but they are an important pillar in the success of any event. A client’s budget is a crucial step in the designing and conceptualization phase of the event. It considers: the realistic expectations the client has about the event, the planning and time spent leading up to the event; the look and feel our clients want their guests to experience; and the different types of technology (production value) we can use to provide that great experience. As the service provider, budgets are as equally important to us as they are to you.
Our best customer has a budget that they are willing to share. This allows us to immediately determine the event’s desired outcome and enables us to quickly provide options that work for the client financially. In return, the client receives information that supports their decision on whether or not we are the right fit for the job.
Every event can be done, with any budget. The quicker you can determine the proper A/V company that can work with your budget, the quicker you can get to work on the outcome. What could be better!?
But, some clients have no idea what their budget should be. Their end customer may not have told them. They may not have a comprehensive idea of the cost of equipment/labor. Or, they are looking for an A/V company to give them options.
It is no secret that it can be difficult to navigate “budgets”, so I decided to meet with our account managers to ask a few questions about their experience when it comes to event budgets.
What is the least and most expensive job you have worked on this year?
Take a look at the breakdown below:
With over 500 jobs completed in 2022, we’ve experienced everything from small social events to multi-day corporate events and festivals. The scope of budgets we work with is incredible, ranging from a little over $1,000 to well over $200,000. This is a testament to our capabilities and willingness to work with a wide variety of clients.
How important is a budget when working on a job?
When I asked the account managers this question, I received an overwhelming “Very Important!”, and it is. As I said earlier, a budget is the foundation of any event. It helps us understand what’s important to the client and the experience they aim to give their attendees. There are many ways to execute the production of your event. And many ways to get it done. We often tell our clients it’s like driving in a car, you could choose a Prius or a Maserati. They both get you to where you are going, but the experience is completely different.
Starting with a thought-out budget allows you to determine if the Prius will do just fine, or if you are going to need the Maserati for this one. Your willingness to discuss and plan your budget will determine how easily you arrive at an adequate and desired solution for your A/V needs.
To help narrow that budget down, we often ask questions like: Is your goal to make your event look like a high school football game or the Super Bowl? Are you looking for something functional or does this need to impress your CEO? Does this need to look like the Emmys or are you ok with the basics? Sometimes it’s helpful to think about the event from your attendees’ perspective and the reason you’re hosting the event in the first place. If you’re hosting a fundraising event and asking your attendees to donate money to a cause, you’re going to want to give them a great night, which means the budget may need to take that into consideration. If you’re hosting a monthly board meeting that just needs to be functional, the budget can be less of a concern.
How often do clients bring a budget to the table?
When asked about the percentage of clients that come prepared with a budget, all of our account managers agreed that about 60% of clients do. The other 40% that don’t, are usually people who either don’t know the cost of putting this kind of event together or are missing a lot of important details from their boss/client.
It is important to note that market segments play a large role in budgets. For example, Amelia explained that when dealing with social events (weddings, private parties, celebrations), many people are unaware of the cost of lighting and A/V services since they have little experience ever planning this kind of event. We take pride in our ability to walk our customers through their options and ask the right questions so that we can give them what our costs will be. We don’t want to build a quote that is not realistic for the client and needs to be reworked. Kyle explained, “sharing a budget does NOT mean we’ll milk it for all it’s worth, it just means we can get you a workable quote much faster and be respectful of the client’s time”. If you truly don’t know your budget, we’ll start with determining your objectives and then provide a general price range. Once a range has been provided, it almost always helps you decide how much you’re willing to spend, and which elements of the production value are most important to you. Then we can recommend which elements will give you the most bang for your buck. This will help alleviate any sticker shock and provide expectations for both parties.
How often is a client over/under budget?
Our account managers explained that it isn’t often that a customer comes to us with a budget that is significantly over what it would take to execute their event. Most of our customers come to us with a realistic budget for what they ask Synergetic to do.
On the other hand, we find that about 30% of clients come to us with a budget that isn’t quite lined up with what it would cost Synergetic to produce. We will always be accommodating to clients that are under budget by offering cost-saving options that still make them look good and accomplish their basic goals.
What is the process of quoting a job?
Our account managers will always be our client’s first point of contact. Communication between the account managers and our clients helps our team learn more about the event from a 30,000-foot view. Once the basic information has been gathered, the account manager will create a quote with a project manager. When the quote has been finalized, the account manager will send it to the client along with suggestions for enhancements, or ways to scale back if the quoted price is coming in higher than the provided budget. Our team will build the quote based on our experience and what we think is needed to accomplish your goals and objectives for the event. We would rather build the job correctly, than cut corners to meet a budget while potentially sacrificing the outcome.
Is the quoted price set in stone, or flexible?
Amelia, Kyle, and Sara Beth all answered that quotes are flexible. Amelia stated, “we will always try to be as accommodating as possible and respect the client’s financial restraints”. A large factor in flexibility is how early the client reaches out and the event date. For example, let’s say a client reaches out about an event that takes place next Friday. In this case, the flexibility of the quote is tight, as the demand for labor and gear that day is already high. Typically, the months of March-June and August-November are busy for the event industry. It is recommended by our account managers that clients reach out 60-90 days prior to their event, or as soon as they have confirmed dates. Even if you don’t have all the details yet, it’s key to put the date on our radar.
Budgeting is an essential part of the AV industry, and by following best practices, you can ensure that your projects stay on track and run smoothly. With a clear understanding of the scope of the project, a realistic timeline, and a well-planned budget, you’ll be well on your way to creating successful and profitable events.
We hope this read provided useful information on how to navigate event budgets and insight into our experience working with them. We believe the most important takeaways are:
- We work with small and large budgets alike.
- Having a budget makes the quoting process quicker and more accurate.
- We encourage you to be open about your budget. Our goal is to not milk it for all its worth but to provide an accurate quote while respecting your time.
- Many clients come to us without a budget, but at the minimum, knowing their goals for the event and a monetary range helps move the process along.
- Meeting your financial restraints matters to us.
- We will give you options and welcome your candid feedback.
- If possible, you should reach out 60-90 days before your event begins or as soon as you have confirmed dates for more flexible pricing.