What Does the WRONG TrivWorks Client Look Like?

Team.building.activities.New.York.City.jpgTeam building activities New York City

I started this morning feeling great. Fresh off a break after a whopping nine corporate trivia events across the country last month, I decided to set my alarm for even earlier than my usual 5:15am wake-up, and hit the gym.

Now, this is a bigger deal than it sounds. You see, I haven’t had one minute of exercise in the past six years. Why? Well, I have a 4-year-old and a six-year-old, if that helps explain anything…

Prior to having kids, I was something of a gym rat; I hadn’t yet taken TrivWorks full-time doing corporate team building events in NYC yet, and my “real job” was working at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, a prestigious nonprofit community and cultural center. It also had a gym, which as an employee I was given free access to – and work out I did (you can read another article I wrote about my insane working out days by clicking here).

Anyway, once my wife and I had our first baby, everything changed. No more sleep, no more free time, no more energy, no more will to stay in shape.

Just survival.

When the second baby arrived seventeen months later, the clock basically reset itself; now we had TWO little kids who weren’t sleeping through the night, which meant – you guessed it – we weren’t sleeping through the night, either. I can’t go to the gym unless I get an uninterrupted nights’ sleep, so that was pretty much that.

It was only very recently – I’d say within the last six months or so – that our kids FINALLY started to sleep through the night consistently, meaning I could once again think about getting up early and being productive before sunrise. I used to enjoy waking up early and getting stuff done, be it work or working out. But with the interrupted sleep, it’s just way too hard. For the past couple of months, I’ve been able to get up nice and early, and work on putting together trivia for corporate event entertainment activities for my clients.

But I’ve been itching to try working out again, so…

This morning, I finally did it. For the first time in six years, I woke up at 5am, threw on my gym clothes, and went to the gym. I stretched out, hit the elliptical machine, cooled down, stretched again and then headed back. When I got home, I felt like a million bucks.

That is, until I opened my Email…

Back up a bit to last week. I had received an inquiry from somebody looking for a company trivia team building activity in New York City. She was looking to entertain 90 people, and pretty quickly, no less – the event date was only three weeks away. She also warned me that her budget was low.

I replied that while we were tentatively available and could possibly do it, I needed to know her budget in order to determine whether or not it would be feasible (while I DO offer a discount non-customized team trivia for corporate package, as the industry leader in this unique group bonding idea TrivWorks is still a premium brand, and I can only come down so much with respect to my pricing). She told me her budget was probably in the $3-4K range – not a whole lot, when you figure that works out about $33-44 per person, well below the competitive rate for customized interactive corporate event entertainment in NYC. But I put together some options for her to review with her colleagues, and sent them along in a nice customized proposal document.

By the end of the day on Friday, I finally heard back – great news! We’d been given the green light to proceed, and I should A) draft and send over a contract, B) arrange an emcee/event staffing, and C) send my list of recommended venues for NYC team building. I promptly did all of the above, and then shut down my office for the weekend.

This morning, after coming back from the gym, it dawned on me that I hadn’t yet received a confirmation of receipt from this client after sending over all that information on Friday evening. I fired off an Email.

Ten minutes later, I received the following reply:

Hi David,

Unfortunately we are canceling the event due to scheduling conflicts. I appreciate all your help.

I was stunned. This made no sense; “scheduling conflicts?” I called her up.

She said that they had decided not to proceed – no reason given. When I reminded her that she had said just Friday afternoon that she was definitely proceeding, had asked for a contract, venue recommendations and for me to reserve staff, she kind of stammered a bit, then said something to the effect of, “Well, it’s just not going to work within our budget.”

Ah. Now we’re getting somewhere.

I asked her what her budget was, since she had told me originally it was $3-4K. Can you guess what she said?


Now, it’s one thing when a prospect says to me at the BEGINNING of the sales conversation that they’ve got $800 to spend on a 90-person event. Had she done so, I would have politely but honestly stated that I couldn’t accommodate to that budget – which works out to just under $9 per person. Let me ask you: what kind of experience can you buy in New York City for $9? Can you go to a Broadway show? A sporting event? A concert? A movie? Even a FREE event costs you money to get there; by my calculations, the only thing you can really do in the Big Apple for nine bucks is take two rides on the subway – one on the way to your free event, and then one on the way back.

But no. This conversation didn’t happen during the initial inquiry. It happened AFTER I’d explained my pricing structure, AFTER she’d told me her budget was much higher, AFTER the exploratory call, AFTER I’d put together a customized package, AFTER asking me to draft a contract, schedule staff, and send my list of recommended venues.

Basically, she completely wasted her time – and mine.

Why am I telling you this story? Why am I committing most of this blog post – which I’m writing while I should be sleeping prior to tomorrow’s crazy-early wake-up, by the way – to documenting a frustrating incident which happened to me?

In short, I’m doing it because I think it’s a story that needs to be told.

Trivia team building and corporate party entertainment is a pretty niche area, and not everybody truly understands what it is I do. When describing the services I provide, I often like to use the analogy of cars. I view TrivWorks as a premium car dealership; my cars aren’t cheap, but they are of excellent quality, and the customer service is top notch. When a potential client is considering walking into my “dealership,” it’s critical that that customer knows what type of brand he or she is dealing with, BEFORE they step foot through the door.


If a customer is looking to buy a low-cost used car, then I’m not the right dealership for them. There are other dealers out there who have a far more economical product line, whose cars are lower quality and customer service is far less involved and responsive, but who have the lower prices to match. There is NO way I will ever “up-sell” a prospect in the market for a used car to buy one of my cars – it’s just not going to happen. My product is designed for a certain segment of the corporate events entertainment market. I don’t mean to sound harsh or snobby, however the fact of the matter is, by coming into my dealership, the customer seeking a discount product is wasting both of our time (Follow this link for another article I wrote recently on why some clients actually shouldn’t hire TrivWorks).

The challenge I face here, of course, is that TrivWorks is NOT a household-name brand like the luxury cars I fancifully equate myself to. People seeking entertainment suppliers for company team building events in New York typically don’t know my brand’s name until they A) find us in an online search, B) read about us in trade, consumer or social media, or C) are recommended or referred by someone who DOES know who we are. It’s up to me to project and communicate the fact that this is a premium brand; if prospects like the one described in the above story still come knocking on my “dealership” door, I don’t blame them; I blame myself.

That is why I felt it was important to shine the spotlight on today’s incident. Yes, it made me angry and frustrated, and yes there’s definitely an argument for not bringing it out into the open like this, where I run the risk of appearing petty, bitter and no a little bit snooty. But you know what? If by writing an article like this I help further define and differentiate my brand from the competition, to help bring in the right customers and point the wrong ones in a more appropriate direction, then that’s what I have to do.

Would you like to go for a test drive?

For further reading, I recommend this article: www.forbes.com/sites/ianaltman/2017/02/07/when-turning-down-a-customer-is-the-best-thing-to-do/#653089b94440

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