Several of my very wealthy friends were walking through a parking lot together many years ago. These men had annual incomes ranging from $500,000 to millions. Near the back was Hubert, the richest of the group. He was the founder of their company and their mentor. In the 80’s, Hubert was the first man in his company to make over $3,000,000 in a year and later went on to start his own company.
As they neared their very expensive cars, Hubert bent down and picked up a quarter. As he held it up, he asked the other men in the group if they had not seen the quarter on the ground. Their answers were either that they hadn’t noticed it or hadn’t deemed it worth stopping to pick up because after all, as one man said, it was only a quarter. Hubert looked at them all with disbelief and said “The day I step over money is the day they put me in the ground.” Perhaps there’s a reason he was the most successful of the group.
It was Benjamin Franklin who is credited with the quote “Time is Money” but I have most often heard that quote repeated by people who have much more time on their hands than they do money. I think Hubert would agree with me when I say that Time is Time and Money is Money. I have been in sales for a long time and if there’s one thing I’ve learned it is how to tell the difference between Time and Money.
At our apartment photography company, we determine our prices based on the amount of time and effort that a particular job will entail. We publish guidelines on our website but those prices are often negotiable based on many factors such as our current work load, our travel schedule, the volume of tours a particular client is ordering at a time.
We are working with a ministry that has an extremely limited budget. I explained to them that if we could do a virtual tour for him on a Saturday before we leave town for a large out of state job, we would do the tour for 1/4 of our normal price. It is a win/win situation for us — he gets a high quality virtual tour and we get paid on a day when we would otherwise be sitting home watching television. Now keep in mind, we are going to sleep late that morning and be home in time to watch the University of Georgia football game that evening.
It’s true that we will invest our time to do the job at a greatly reduced price. We will have to pay for gas to drive to the job. It’s true that we will then come home and have to process the job and create the tour. And yes, we will have to pay for the hosting of the tour. But at the end of that day, we will have more money in our pockets than we did when we started the day and frankly, Greg will be processing and building the tour as he sits beside me on the sofa watching the University of Georgia football game — which is where he was going to be anyway!
I have blogged before that a business with no income is a hobby. It’s true that we are in business to make money and as your business grows, you have to weigh the value of your time. But I have to laugh when I hear people say that it’s not “worth their time” to leave their house for less than a certain amount of money. Until there is someone willing to come to our house and pay us for sitting home, we will consider ANY job no matter what the price.
The key is to weigh the cost. We don’t turn down full price jobs to do discounted tours and when we do a discounted tour, it is with the understanding that we will schedule them around our other customers. I also spend my time talking to and encouraging new virtual tour providers who call me for advice on how to grow their virtual tour business…but I schedule them for times when I am in the car between jobs or on the weekends when we are home relaxing – not during peak phone calling hours.
We rarely want to lose money on a job although we look at the big picture. If the job is one that could open other doors for us, is for a ministry that we want to support financially or a new business we want to encourage, we have no problem making less than our normal price or even doing the job for free sometimes.
We have been blessed in our virtual tour business and we love to give back…whether it is of our time or money. To end with another quote by Benjamin Franklin,
“For my own part, when I am employed in serving others, I do not look upon myself as conferring favours, but as paying debts. In my travels, and since my settlement, I have received much kindness from men, to whom I shall never have any opportunity of making the least direct return. And numberless mercies from God, who is infinitely above being benefited by our services. Those kindnesses from men, I can therefore only return on their fellow men; and I can only shew my gratitude for these mercies from God, by a readiness to help his other children and my brethren. For I do not think that thanks and compliments, tho’ repeated weekly, can discharge our real obligations to each other, and much less those to our Creator.”