Saturday, September 5, 2009

Negotiated Value

I keep seeing this hilarious video pop up on photography blogs poking fun at the negotiating tactics of art buyers when dealing with Photographers. If you haven't seen it take a couple of minutes to watch it before you read where my twisted sense of humor went with it after I stopped laughing... I'll wait.

Funny wasn't it? The business photography side of me is officially nominating that video for an academy award, it's brilliant. However, the start-up business side of me started thinking about shooting it from another angle to shine a little revelation on a couple of other things I see popping up on photography blogs lately. Since I lack the skills and equipment to literally create a comparable video I'll just have to share my alternate script and let you your mind fill in the scene as you read.

So here is the scene: Two men in suits walk into the restaurant and the one in the lead asks for a table...

"Excuse me sir, before we seat you, is this a business or personal lunch?"

"What difference does it make?"

"Well, we charge more for commercial use of our menu items."

"Ok, well, to be perfectly honest it's business, but how much more is that going to cost me?"

"It depends sir, we can either have our waiter monitor your conversation and charge a small royalty fee per topic discussed or we can charge you an exorbitant 30 minute licensing fee and you can discuss as many topics as you want in that time frame."

"But it's the same food, how can you justify those charges?"

"It's a proven fact that eating with a client establishes trust that often leads to higher profits. We feel that we should be entitled to some of those profits since you are using our menu items to gain that trust."

"What? Where did you come up with that idea? The restaurant across the street doesn't do that, and their food is cheaper."

"Yes, we know. They've been undervaluing the business lunch model for years. Some feel they are wrecking the whole industry but we're not concerned. They will be gone in a year along with the rest of the dollar menu vermin plaguing the industry. It's a non-sustainable business model you know. Chefs and waitstaff should never be undervalued like that."

"Undervalued... Chef's? Isn't the average dollar menu cook just a high school student with a fancy spatula?"

"No, they are food artists and should be pricing themselves accordingly."

"Well, the restaurant across the street doesn't have a dollar menu but there is an hour wait and we don't have that kind of time so I guess we're stuck."

"Very well sir, if you will just sign this model release, we'll seat you right away."

"Model release? What the heck is that for?!"

"We'll be tweeting and posting videos of our staff serving you lunch today to illustrate our fabulous service and chic clientele. It's all the rage you know."

"So you're essentially planning to use me in your marketing right? Do I get paid for that?"

"You're a funny man sir. That sense of humor could really take you places in this business. We have an opening in our waitstaff intern program if you are interested."

"Waitstaff internship program? What's that pay?"

"Pay? Ha, again with the humor... It's an internship sir. You will be trained by some of the top talent in the business. Our interns are lucky we don't charge them!"

"You don't pay them?"

"Well, there's a small salary for the one's who've proven themselves but the real value is in the education."

"But doesn't that undervalue them?"

"No, working cheap undervalues them, working for free under a trained professional teaches them how to value themselves correctly."

"Really? I learned how to do that by going out on my own and busting my tail for chump change until I figured it out and built a big enough client base to start charging what I was worth."

"Ah, I see. No formal training then? That would explain why you lack the sophistication to understand our business model. I'm sorry but we are a business lunch restaurant catering to real business men. Perhaps you'll find the dollar menu across town more suited to your taste."

"Yes, perhaps I will. Then again, I'm a businessman and it sounds like there's a lot of money to be made here. I'm starting to think I might just open my own restaurant. I cook at home all the time, how hard could it be?..."