Just say “No”

“If you choose the music business it’s a business, nothing less.” from Speak to Someone’s Heart Words and Music ©2012 Les Kerr

While I love the artistic and creative aspects of writing, recording and performing music, in order to make a living, I take the business end of it very seriously. To succeed financially you must treat your livelihood like the business it is, no matter how creatively stimulating and emotionally fulfilling your work may be. These thoughts may hit home with you, regardless of what you do or whether you are a service provider or a prospective client.

Fortunately, when people ask if I’m available to perform at a certain event, they are usually inclined to book me as a solo performer or with my Bayou Band. But occasionally, as in any industry or potential transaction, the deal will fall through for some reason. In those cases, I try to learn from the experience and go about my business.

This week, someone who had expressed interest in having my band perform for an event told me that because of upcoming budget restraints, it would not take place and our services were not needed on that particular date. I said, “Thank you,” and I meant it. The reason I appreciated hearing that “no” is because it was delivered in a timely manner and my fellow musicians and I were not left waiting for a definite answer. We could actively pursue or accept other events on that day without fear of conflict. And I’ll gladly work with this client again if they call me for something else.

Often, prospects resist delivering what they consider bad news to a vendor because they don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. And from the “music provider” end of things, I would rather move forward to schedule when and where we’ll play for you than hear that you can’t book us for your event. However, delaying the inevitable does no favors for either party. The prospect has to deal with the emotions and perhaps anxiety involved in politely declining and the vendor has to deal with the uncertainty of whether the deal will happen. Whatever your business is, I’ll bet you’ve had this experience.

Or perhaps someone has made an inquiry and you have responded, only to receive no further communication about it at all from the person who contacted you in the first place. That’s bad form and it shows a lack of courtesy. Think of this: if you are this prospective client and decide to use the vendor’s service later when you just “have to have it,” the vendor may think twice about working with you.

When people call me and ask about our fee for an event, I do my best to work with them. After all, I would rather play than not play. If we come to an agreement, I usually send a contract and everyone signs on the dotted line and the client knows what to expect and so do I. But if the fee or any other reason prevents the prospect from moving forward, the best thing they could do is “just say no.” Quickly. They can move on with their business and I can move on with mine.

Remember – no matter on which side of a transaction you may find yourself, a “definite no” is much better than a “possible maybe.”

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Text and photos copyright 2013 by Les Kerr


About Les Kerr

Les Kerr is a songwriter, recording artist, journalist and author originally from the Gulf Coast now based in Nashville, Tennessee. Learn More about Les at www.leskerr.com
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6 Responses to Just say “No”

  1. BRENT STOKER says:

    Don’t forget: 

    From M*A*S*H there’s always BJ Hunnicut’s “firm possibility of a definite maybe.”   


  2. Kathy W says:

    Great! My thoughts exactly. Rarely, but every now and then, someone will book a tour with me and simply not show up. It causes very hard feelings on my part as I have (1) gotten the boat ready, launched it, and wasted my time waiting for them–I’ll wait 30 minutes, and if I haven’t heard from them that they’re lost or running late, I call it a day–and (2) turned others away if their group would put me over my capacity. Of course, I would love to take people out, but it doesn’t hurt my feelings if they will just call me and cancel the trip. We don’t charge a deposit or a reservation fee, so when someone stands me up, I am left holding the empty bag. The last thing we tell them when we take a reservation is, “All we ask is that you call us if your plans change.” Simple but oh so hard for some people!

    • Les Kerr says:

      Thanks, Kathy. Well put. For private and coporate events, I do require a deposit and I have found that once that’s in place, the client rarely cancels. I appreciate your reading and commenting, my fellow entrepreneur!

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