How do you know when to pull the plug for an event?
Cathy : of an event.
Reid: Of an event This is business advice because I’m wearing my “Sex Geek Summer Camp” T-shirt, which means we’re talking about business for sex educators, work-shoppers and facilitators. This is Cathy Vartuli from TheIntimacyDojo.com.
Cathy : .com.
Reid: Okay when do you pull out Cathy?
Cathy: Actually, my very first event that I held outside of an engineering event. I was not sure. I was like, “Oh my God, the venue’s kind of expensive,” I was doing a welcome, meet and greet for Buck Angel and a VIP dinner afterwards. I was like, “Wow, I don’t know, this is a lot of money,” and you told me to figure out what my bottom line was and to figure out a date that if I didn’t’ have a enough sales by that date that I would have to tell “Hey, Buck, let’s cancel this event.” That was really brilliant because for me it was like, “I’m going to plow ahead no matter what. But how am I going to pay for this?”
Reid: What I call that is a kill date, or a kill number. Some people don’t like the word kill, so whatever you need to call it, cancel, whatever, make up your own word and own that. I use kill date. What I mean by that is, and why this is important, is if you don’t have that figured out, if by this date…
Cathy : I have so many people. What’s your break-even numbers?
Reid: Yeah. Which I, and everybody and different businesses, different kinds of overhead, you need to calibrate this differently. For me, what I’m looking for is, has the event paid for itself by a certain time, by a certain amount of ticket sales or sponsorship deals or whatever that is so that I know moving forward I’m making money from this point on like, the plane has gotten off the runway and is above tree level.
Reid: Why that’s useful, is if you don’t have that figured out…
Cathy: You’re just kind of in the dark.
Reid: You automatically go into, “We’re gonna make this work mode, no matter what mode.” That’s the kiss of death, because it creates more stress the closer you get to the event. What you want to do is design for yourself a way that the closer you get to the event, the easier it gets. The more relief, there’s always going to be a certain amount of “Ahh,” With any event. Then you higher an event organizer to do that for you. Which means, are you making enough money to pay your event organizer to handle the “Ahh,” and then you just have your normal “Ahh,” that you do whenever you do an event.
Cathy: And for me, for Buck Angel’s event, it went off great. We had such a great time, but knowing that, you know calculating how many ticket sales, actually dividing the cost by the number of ticket sales, figuring out how many more I have to have by a certain date I was getting experience and it was a credibility builder. This was when I had no, nobody knew who I was.
Reid: No one in Dallas knew who Cathy Vartuli is.
Cathy: There was no community really in Dallas at the time. It was a way to build community, build credibility, meet some really cool people, and learn. So I will willing to actually take a loss if I needed to, but I wanted to have it managed. I was like, “Okay, if I lose a thousand dollars on this event, I’m still feeling like I won.”
Reid: So it was like a thousand dollar course, crash course, for you to learn all this stuff.
Cathy: Right, and I learned so much stuff. For me, at that time, I was willing, like you can decide that, “this is a huge credibility builder, and maybe I’m wanting to build momentum the first year, it might be okay if I loose a little bit of money.” You can calculate that and it doesn’t have to be that “I’m break-even by three weeks before or I’m just pulling the plug.”
Reid: Yeah there could be an emotional break-even. It’s the, “We have to make this work no matter what,” that creates a whole thing that is not good for your reptile brain, it’s not good for the people that work for you, and you start anchoring. If you don’t fix that, you know change it, every event starts to be like that for you which means you burn out faster and then we loose a good sex educator or workshop facilitator.
Cathy: Which is sad. A couple things to look at is when you’re signing with venues, see if you can get a cancellation date. Like, “If I cancel a month ahead, can I get my money back, or most of money back?” The restaurant I worked with they said, “It’s five hundred dollars whether you come or not, but at three weeks you have to pay for the food, for the dinner.” So I had some leeway on that. Some places won’t do that and you might be out that money, so you might decide if you’re going to have to refund tickets too, you might actually be losing more money. Keep that in your calculations.
Try to find ways to make sure that if you cancel the event you can just refund tickets. I had a cancellation policy. There was the off chance Buck’s plane wouldn’t be there, or he might of been sick, he’s unable to attend. I made sure that said, “In the rare event we might have to cancel, I will refund your tickets or we will try to reschedule.” I had that written, that gives you a little bit of freedom too.
Reid: This is really, this is stuff we talked about at camp and in SG3. You’re always educating, always be educating. “Abe!” Always be educating and educating your attendees what to expect. Again, not all of them are going to read everything but if it’s there, the ones who do, trust you more because not they’re like “Oh in the rare event that Buck’s plane gets cancelled,” or whatever, they know how it’s going to happen next. That will start to build, because you’re building a relationship with people, they start to trust you in a world where so many educators don’t tell them what happens next and then they get surprised and then they’re dissatisfied because you weren’t managing expectations or concerns and then, why are they going to come to your next event? For you, building a reputation in Dallas…
Cathy: And starting a community was-
Reid: When nobody knew who you were, this was really useful.
Cathy: Yeah, it was wonderful. I’m so glad, it actually came off fantastic and you hosted and we had a blast. And Buck’s amazing, it was great to have him in my home.
Reid: You made a friend.
Reid: See, business, bringing people together.
Cathy: But knowing what you’re exit strategy’s are when things are going great, that’s the best time to have them and know where they are because it makes you feel really reassured and if the wheel does come of, if Buck had you know had to fly someplace else for a family emergency or whatever, I felt covered.
Reid: Yeah. So exit strategies for your events, knowing what you’re kill date and kill numbers are or whatever word you use.
Cathy: And talk to the people, if you’re co-organizing, discuss that when you’re setting it up. Really important.
Reid: What are your thoughts? Leave a comment. Hit subscribe.