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Author Topic: Ideas for Finding Work in Regional Town  (Read 1324 times)

Jeff Lelko

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Re: Ideas for Finding Work in Regional Town
« Reply #20 on: May 30, 2020, 11:20:18 pm »

Dude. If there's no "Party-Tyme" rental house in this town that's where I would invest. Buy tables, chairs, tents, stage, and all that. You can start small and grow it over time. Keep the sound gear because wherever there's a tent rental there's going to be a PA and probably lighting rental too.

Hi Lee, I second this.  Sounds systems are generally easy to come by particularly in the weekend warrior and bar band scene for ridiculously low money.  Tents, tables/chairs, pipe & drape, staging, etc., are generally immune from the hobbyists since it's not a "fun thing" to own.  Somehow the fascination with bedroom line arrays doesn't translate to spending money on ten dozen tables...  Along the same lines, I agree with the comments about lighting.  Lighting is something that has really built my business over the past decade.  I'd wager for probably every 10 sound system providers (band/hobbyist and local level) only 1 or 2 of them can provide proper lighting to go with it.  I can equip events with everything from modern moving lights to authentic vintage "disco lights", and this flexibility lets me take jobs that many others in my area can't.  I have a colleague that's made crazy money with just a half-dozen 10w full-color lasers...  Find a niche and run with it!     

I also second the comments about relationships and networking.  It's difficult and expensive to do everything 100% yourself.  Yes, I can "DJ"...in the sense that I can play music.  If the client needs a real DJ there's a company I work with for that.  Making announcements?  I can do that too, but if a real emcee is needed there's another talent pool I regularly hire from.  It goes both ways as well.  When that same DJ company needs a sound or light system that's beyond their current offerings then guess who they call?  When done right  these relationships can be mutually beneficial and tremendously lucrative, so that's where I'd be looking.  Good luck!
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Lee Wright

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Re: Ideas for Finding Work in Regional Town
« Reply #21 on: May 31, 2020, 12:06:25 am »

Hi Lee, I second this.  Sounds systems are generally easy to come by particularly in the weekend warrior and bar band scene for ridiculously low money.  Tents, tables/chairs, pipe & drape, staging, etc., are generally immune from the hobbyists since it's not a "fun thing" to own.  Somehow the fascination with bedroom line arrays doesn't translate to spending money on ten dozen tables...  Along the same lines, I agree with the comments about lighting.  Lighting is something that has really built my business over the past decade.  I'd wager for probably every 10 sound system providers (band/hobbyist and local level) only 1 or 2 of them can provide proper lighting to go with it.  I can equip events with everything from modern moving lights to authentic vintage "disco lights", and this flexibility lets me take jobs that many others in my area can't.  I have a colleague that's made crazy money with just a half-dozen 10w full-color lasers...  Find a niche and run with it!     

I also second the comments about relationships and networking.  It's difficult and expensive to do everything 100% yourself.  Yes, I can "DJ"...in the sense that I can play music.  If the client needs a real DJ there's a company I work with for that.  Making announcements?  I can do that too, but if a real emcee is needed there's another talent pool I regularly hire from.  It goes both ways as well.  When that same DJ company needs a sound or light system that's beyond their current offerings then guess who they call?  When done right  these relationships can be mutually beneficial and tremendously lucrative, so that's where I'd be looking.  Good luck!

Thanks Jeff (& everyone else).   I'm getting so many great ideas.   The small amount of lighting that I have been doing has been quite good.   I bought a little 1w full color laser, a UV & some great little pinspots to go with my LED pars & fogger that I've had for years & they've been useful & have much faster payback that the sound gear.   Also as mentioned I've got in some chairs & tables which have been good too.

Steve-White

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Re: Ideas for Finding Work in Regional Town
« Reply #22 on: May 31, 2020, 01:47:46 am »

Getting started up again myself.  For the DJ system I invested in uplights as they are very popular and as good at they make things look will stay that way.  I did a test garden wedding job with them that was a night wedding/reception.  Lit up a gazebo and 7 or 8 large oak trees around the gazebo.  Battery LED WiFi uplights, 3 per tree and 12 under the large gazebo - looked real nice - customer was pleased.

You'll figure it out.
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Luke Geis

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Re: Ideas for Finding Work in Regional Town
« Reply #23 on: May 31, 2020, 04:27:55 pm »

You say that there is not much left in it after paying a constituent to run things for you? That indicates to me that you are undervaluing your business. You should at the very least make money on the equipment rental. I know most companies charge enough for labor that my expense is of little consequence. And they should be able to make a couple of bucks off my work. That's what keeps the value of the service up. If you make money because your employee does good work, you hire them more, offer them more money, and still make margins.

Not knowing your pricing structure ( don't need to know either ) you should be getting around 10% of the retail cost of the gear for rental and if you do day rate costs for labor, then you should at the very least be asking for $450 to as much as $750 or more if you wish. If it costs $95 an hour to have work done on your car, then asking $55 an hour for specialized labor to do sound is nothing. If you pay your freelancer $350, you better be making that and at least another 25-50% more. Larger legitimate businesses are charging roughly double what they pay for a freelancer. If you send a dude out with 4 speakers and two light trees for an 8-10hr. day, you should be easily able to break $1k in charges and draw roughly 75% of that in profit. $750 for a day isn't bad income for not actually doing the work. This assumes $50 per speaker, mixer, wireless mic and amplifier, and another $100 per light tree a delivery charge, and a $450 labor charge. You have $500+ just in rental, another $150 in delivery charges, and you should make another $100 off the labor, for a total of $750+. Your freelancer will make $350 and if you are generous and he does a great job, you will have a little leftover to pad his hands some more and pay to feed them. If you are working 2-3 days a week with no need for extra labor, you should be making $2k per week even after paying insurances and actual expenses. That's roughly $100k per year.

So you are either not very busy at all, or you aren't charging enough? Like I said earlier, I can break $15k in a month and I am working out of my garage. I have a business license, insurances, and a company truck. These days not so much..... ( COVID FTW )..... You should have no issues if the competition is low and you are charging a good value. If you are doing $150 ceremony systems with an operator, you are doing it wrong. The photographer is making $500 to $1k an hour, the florist got $2-5k at least and the caterer is charging $75 or more per plate. So why should you be getting $150 to actually make the presentation possible? You shouldn't even be getting up off your couch for less than $350 for just showing up and you should be making roughly 10% of the retail cost of the equipment in rental fees. If you are doing a short, quick 2 hr. show, sure you can do hourly, but you better be charging at least $50+ an hour. You can't be in two places at once, so if you are blocking out a time when you could potentially be elsewhere making money, you need to get paid for the potential loss of work. Delivery charges help as well. That vehicle costs $ to register, insure, maintain, and eventually replace, it is not an asset if it doesn't make money. The van or truck is a required tool for the delivery and execution of the gig, so it too should be an expense to the client, not an expense to you. $75 - $150 is a pretty standard delivery fee for stuff you can move in a truck or van.  If you freelance to another company, you should be making $350 per day just for your labor. If you make enough calls and press hard to get gigs, you should be making money hand over fist.

I do not do dry rental stuff just for the record. I do not like sending out my gear unattended for the little money it creates. If you are only getting $150-$300 for rentals that go out for one day it is just too risky if things get damaged. Even if you charge a security deposit ( which you better be!!!! ), it is still not high enough return for the risk. The trick is getting the client to pay for your time and the gear. Make delivery, setup and strike/pickup a requirement and have a charge for that. You can still save the client money and make more yourself and reduce the risks a little. If the client wants you to spread delivery and pickup over two days, extra charge. Anything that can potentially risk losing the equipment for other work is a cost to the client. After hours and late-night pickups, extra charge. A DJ is making anywhere from $250+ per hour and they charge overtime beyond contracted hours, so why shouldn't you? $15k a year is less than $300 per week in revenue!!!! I won't get off my couch for $300 and I sure as heck won't let $3k in gear go out for that much without some good reassurance.

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Lee Wright

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Re: Ideas for Finding Work in Regional Town
« Reply #24 on: June 02, 2020, 08:27:08 am »

You say that there is not much left in it after paying a constituent to run things for you? That indicates to me that you are undervaluing your business. You should at the very least make money on the equipment rental. I know most companies charge enough for labor that my expense is of little consequence. And they should be able to make a couple of bucks off my work. That's what keeps the value of the service up. If you make money because your employee does good work, you hire them more, offer them more money, and still make margins.

Not knowing your pricing structure ( don't need to know either ) you should be getting around 10% of the retail cost of the gear for rental and if you do day rate costs for labor, then you should at the very least be asking for $450 to as much as $750 or more if you wish. If it costs $95 an hour to have work done on your car, then asking $55 an hour for specialized labor to do sound is nothing. If you pay your freelancer $350, you better be making that and at least another 25-50% more. Larger legitimate businesses are charging roughly double what they pay for a freelancer. If you send a dude out with 4 speakers and two light trees for an 8-10hr. day, you should be easily able to break $1k in charges and draw roughly 75% of that in profit. $750 for a day isn't bad income for not actually doing the work. This assumes $50 per speaker, mixer, wireless mic and amplifier, and another $100 per light tree a delivery charge, and a $450 labor charge. You have $500+ just in rental, another $150 in delivery charges, and you should make another $100 off the labor, for a total of $750+. Your freelancer will make $350 and if you are generous and he does a great job, you will have a little leftover to pad his hands some more and pay to feed them. If you are working 2-3 days a week with no need for extra labor, you should be making $2k per week even after paying insurances and actual expenses. That's roughly $100k per year.

So you are either not very busy at all, or you aren't charging enough? Like I said earlier, I can break $15k in a month and I am working out of my garage. I have a business license, insurances, and a company truck. These days not so much..... ( COVID FTW )..... You should have no issues if the competition is low and you are charging a good value. If you are doing $150 ceremony systems with an operator, you are doing it wrong. The photographer is making $500 to $1k an hour, the florist got $2-5k at least and the caterer is charging $75 or more per plate. So why should you be getting $150 to actually make the presentation possible? You shouldn't even be getting up off your couch for less than $350 for just showing up and you should be making roughly 10% of the retail cost of the equipment in rental fees. If you are doing a short, quick 2 hr. show, sure you can do hourly, but you better be charging at least $50+ an hour. You can't be in two places at once, so if you are blocking out a time when you could potentially be elsewhere making money, you need to get paid for the potential loss of work. Delivery charges help as well. That vehicle costs $ to register, insure, maintain, and eventually replace, it is not an asset if it doesn't make money. The van or truck is a required tool for the delivery and execution of the gig, so it too should be an expense to the client, not an expense to you. $75 - $150 is a pretty standard delivery fee for stuff you can move in a truck or van.  If you freelance to another company, you should be making $350 per day just for your labor. If you make enough calls and press hard to get gigs, you should be making money hand over fist.

I do not do dry rental stuff just for the record. I do not like sending out my gear unattended for the little money it creates. If you are only getting $150-$300 for rentals that go out for one day it is just too risky if things get damaged. Even if you charge a security deposit ( which you better be!!!! ), it is still not high enough return for the risk. The trick is getting the client to pay for your time and the gear. Make delivery, setup and strike/pickup a requirement and have a charge for that. You can still save the client money and make more yourself and reduce the risks a little. If the client wants you to spread delivery and pickup over two days, extra charge. Anything that can potentially risk losing the equipment for other work is a cost to the client. After hours and late-night pickups, extra charge. A DJ is making anywhere from $250+ per hour and they charge overtime beyond contracted hours, so why shouldn't you? $15k a year is less than $300 per week in revenue!!!! I won't get off my couch for $300 and I sure as heck won't let $3k in gear go out for that much without some good reassurance.



Thanks Luke.  I really appreciate you taking the time to write this & especially to share numbers as that makes a huge difference.  It's taken me a day or so to digest this & analyse my own numbers.      For my city business it's set up as a joint venture.  The contractor owns the gear & does the work & I get 25% commission.   He's an excellent tech but I still have to do a fair bit of sales, admin, event planning & billing work.

So for this 1 hour corporate job pictured we charged $670 + 10% GST + parking ($858 all up).  My profit was $167.50 out of that.   Retail cost of the gear was $5,300 so we charged about 7%.  The contractor got $335 for his labour (deliver & op) & $167.50 for his gear.
 

So comparing my pricing model & costs with yours:
(see attached)

So the difference between my $167 profit with my model vs $735 with your comes down to:
1.  Higher billing to client
I think I could charge more especially with corporate clients.
2. Lower cost of contractor.
I think labour rates are a bit higher here.   The best rate I could get a good corporate tech is $300 even for an hour long event. Simple jobs I can a get a junior sound tech for $200.
3. Equipment Ownership.
This seems to be a big one.   In the past I've not been that keen to own all the gear because I thought returns were only about 5% & it wasn't worth the hassle but if it could be closer to 10% then it makes more sense.   Also see my figures below.


I did an analysis of the returns we got over 2019 on some popular items & it was actually quite good even allowing for repairs & losses.
(see attached)

Anyway.   Some good food for thought here.

Jonathan Johnson

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Re: Ideas for Finding Work in Regional Town
« Reply #25 on: June 08, 2020, 02:24:09 pm »

Offer a check for $1500 to a local charity, then say that you'd be available to do the sound for their gala or auction for a fee of $1500 and a banner advertising your services. Buy a seat at a table if necessary; that gives you the rights of being an attendee rather than just "the help".

Or whatever amount. You're doing this for "exposure" (yeah, I know, "exposure kills"), but by billing them, the charity knows what you would actually charge and it creates in their mind a reasonable value for a quality job, hopefully preventing the expectation that you'll always do this for free or a steep discount. Billing may also affect how liability is assessed.

These sorts of events are often good for business networking, especially the ones that are attended by local business leaders. The local church youth group or party in the park not so much.

(Note that I haven't actually done this myself.)

Also want to point out to other readers that it looks like you're in Australia, so the local business culture and pricing may be a bit different than we're used to up here in the northern hemisphere.

EDIT: After rereading some of the other responses above, you might be charging too little. Sometimes people see a low price and underestimate your capabilities, so write you off or ignore you.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2020, 02:33:09 pm by Jonathan Johnson »
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Ideas for Finding Work in Regional Town
« Reply #26 on: June 08, 2020, 04:09:08 pm »


-I know what I'm doing & get great reviews
-I dominate Google.
-People tell me I'm very reasonably priced.


The last line item is what would have me concerned the most.  People's perceptions of what audio production should cost is typically WAY lower than it should be, especially for smaller events.  I don't ever want the perception to be that my services are 'reasonably priced' to someone that thinks prices should be well below what is needed to be profitable.  I'm very OK with customers having the perception that my prices are on the higher end of the spectrum, while at the same token know that when they hire me, they are getting above average levels of service.

As you move up on that ladder, you will get MORE referrals for customers willing to pay more than if you're just remembered as a middle of the pack or cheapest of the bunch sort of guy.  I've taken many a gig from the 'low price' production companies, and turned a loosing gig into something very profitable, because the clients put a higher value on the service that I offer at a higher price.

And as time goes on, you'll want to get tied more into annual gigs.  The sales process is much easier for a repeat client.  Just make sure you price appropriately, and increase prices a percentage each year.  Eventually, you should have nearly enough work to survive on the repeat gigs so that when the other events come up, it becomes gravy.
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Brian Jojade

Lee Wright

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Re: Ideas for Finding Work in Regional Town
« Reply #27 on: June 10, 2020, 03:56:38 am »

Offer a check for $1500 to a local charity, then say that you'd be available to do the sound for their gala or auction for a fee of $1500 and a banner advertising your services. Buy a seat at a table if necessary; that gives you the rights of being an attendee rather than just "the help".

Or whatever amount. You're doing this for "exposure" (yeah, I know, "exposure kills"), but by billing them, the charity knows what you would actually charge and it creates in their mind a reasonable value for a quality job, hopefully preventing the expectation that you'll always do this for free or a steep discount. Billing may also affect how liability is assessed.

These sorts of events are often good for business networking, especially the ones that are attended by local business leaders. The local church youth group or party in the park not so much.

(Note that I haven't actually done this myself.)

Also want to point out to other readers that it looks like you're in Australia, so the local business culture and pricing may be a bit different than we're used to up here in the northern hemisphere.

EDIT: After rereading some of the other responses above, you might be charging too little. Sometimes people see a low price and underestimate your capabilities, so write you off or ignore you.
Thanks Jonathan.   We have had a few good charity events.   They usually don't want to pay too much but that's offset by the fact that they do some quite big events.   Yes come to think of it, I did have someone say they were initially wary as our quote was the lowest.

Lee Wright

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Re: Ideas for Finding Work in Regional Town
« Reply #28 on: June 10, 2020, 04:02:44 am »

People's perceptions of what audio production should cost is typically WAY lower than it should be, especially for smaller events.  I don't ever want the perception to be that my services are 'reasonably priced' to someone that thinks prices should be well below what is needed to be profitable.  I'm very OK with customers having the perception that my prices are on the higher end of the spectrum, while at the same token know that when they hire me, they are getting above average levels of service.
Great point.

As you move up on that ladder, you will get MORE referrals for customers willing to pay more than if you're just remembered as a middle of the pack or cheapest of the bunch sort of guy.  I've taken many a gig from the 'low price' production companies, and turned a loosing gig into something very profitable, because the clients put a higher value on the service that I offer at a higher price.

And as time goes on, you'll want to get tied more into annual gigs.  The sales process is much easier for a repeat client.  Just make sure you price appropriately, and increase prices a percentage each year.  Eventually, you should have nearly enough work to survive on the repeat gigs so that when the other events come up, it becomes gravy.
Yes my city business does quite a few annual or repeat gigs & I love them because you already know what's involved so they take very little time to plan.   Also you know you can nail it.

Lee Wright

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Re: Ideas for Finding Work in Regional Town
« Reply #29 on: June 14, 2020, 09:28:47 pm »

I've taken many a gig from the 'low price' production companies, and turned a loosing gig into something very profitable, because the clients put a higher value on the service that I offer at a higher price.

Brian without giving too much away, do you have some examples of how this has worked?   How did you make the client perceive greater value?

ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Ideas for Finding Work in Regional Town
« Reply #29 on: June 14, 2020, 09:28:47 pm »


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