2022 our 25th year online!

Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 3 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments.
Over 100,000 members from around the world.
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Shop our online store for music lovers
SEARCH
Piano Forums & Piano World
(ad)
Pianoteq
Steinway Spiro Layering
(ad)
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad)
Wessell Nickel & Gross
PianoForAll
Who's Online Now
43 members (Anevsky, anamnesis, accordeur, 80k, bwv543, Carey, BarbaraC99, 13 invisible), 4,579 guests, and 297 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad)
Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Hop To
Joined: Dec 2018
Posts: 295
T
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
T
Joined: Dec 2018
Posts: 295
I worked out an arrangement with a piano tuner’s widow to pay her every time a customer books with me. She gave me all the files of the old customers (1500) people. I sent out postcards to all these clients last year and only got 50 to book from those cards. She called up 400 of the clients herself to notify them about the death and about 250 of those phones calls ended up booking with me last year.

Now the referral checks to her are getting smaller and smaller as less people book.

Now she’s ready to move on and is asking to change the terms of our original agreement. She wants to get rid of the phone line and doesn’t want it forwarded to me, as she just wants the business to end. I was getting several bookings a month from old referrals and customers calling her old line every week.

I received some prestigious recording studios and concert venues out of the deal that I see weekly. However there are a lot of not so great clients. Clients that were paying very low rates. And some very elderly clients I may never see again, but I paid her the full tuning referral fee for them. Also a handful of problem clients that didn’t work out all.

One of the big things about these clients is they were called yearly over and over by the widow to fill up the old tuners schedule. She would call them once a year for 20 plus years until the booked. I don’t operate with phone calls and just send out postcards. I haven’t tried cold calling her clients and I may never do it since I’m already so busy without doing it.

I would prefer to stick to the original arrangement because of the uncertainty of future referrals, but she’s asked me three times now to give her a final number.

My big question is how much do people pay for around 1500 clients? That could help guide me in coming up with a final number since I really have no clue what the value is worth for a piano tuning business.

(ad)
Piano & Music Accessories
piano accessories music gifts tuning and moving equipment
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 2,319
E
2000 Post Club Member
Offline
2000 Post Club Member
E
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 2,319
Greeting,s
I would't pay anything. I don't know what "arrangement" you have made with her, but if you have paid her once for each referral, I would call that even, otherwise, you are effectively beginning to work for her. If you are already so busy, the value of a deceased tuner's referrals is going to lessen every day. Just because a customer was a good customer for someone else, that doesn't mean they are good for you, and as your business increases, you either continually raise your prices or you begin going backwards.

We either shape our clientele or or clientele shapes us.
Regards,

Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 8,042

Platinum Supporter until December 31, 2022
8000 Post Club Member
Offline

Platinum Supporter until December 31, 2022
8000 Post Club Member
Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 8,042
Paying the referral keeps it pretty fair: you get a job, you pay a reasonable fee.
And the arrangement works in her interest too: the more she hustles to keep you busy, the more she makes as well.

But you've already seen the follow through is relatively low without her influence.

If she wants to change the arrangement, then the slate is really wiped clean for negotiations.

I've seen some numbers in the past for client lists, but 1) the one person I know who bought a list was disappointed with it (and he paid what the local chapter thought was the going rate for a client list), and 2) it's not worth as much as it was at the time her husband passed, because -- as you can see -- quite a few clients will have chosen someone else and/or not bothered to schedule any more. She's derived some of that value in the form of the current arrangement's referral fee. And so have you, as income. But the value of the "client list" has diminished, because that's what time does to these things.

How much is it diminished? Who knows? It's value is nebulous anyway (and buying a client list in the digital age is really old fashioned).

Frankly, if she sticks to the original plan, and the referral fee is payable indefinitely, she'd come out way ahead. But it's sort of worthwhile, because if she invests some time into keeping you busy, you both benefit.


She wants to do less work, and get all the money in advance.
And it also sounds like a lot of them are clients you don't want anyway.


I'd be inclined to give her back all the customer files and wish her luck. She's then free to sell them to anyone who wants them. And people are free to call you if they want to, like they can still call anyone they want to now.


A "fair" approach might be to calculate the rate at which the total referral amount is dropping: look at how much you've been paying, and figure out when it would hit zero. Total it all up, and then deduct whatever you think is fair for assuming the risk (people may not book) and because money today is worth more than money tomorrow (you're paying her early). Given the 400 to 50 disparity you noted, it's going to drop pretty fast.

Another option could be to figure out how much the ongoing studio work is worth to you, and offer her something for that, and tell her she's free to sell the client list.


Bottom line is that she really has few options. She can contact everyone and tell them she's "no longer working with you," but they're still free to call you if they want to, or not, just like now. She's begging you for a number because she hopes you'll offer more than it's worth. Otherwise she'd give you a number.


How to Upload Pictures
“If it sounds good, it IS good.” ― Duke Ellington!

Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 4,997
P
4000 Post Club Member
Offline
4000 Post Club Member
P
Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 4,997
It is assumed you have the agreement in writing...yes?

Many of us service only a small % of the actual cards in the file. We don't throw those useless names away because "we just can't do that". This gives a false sense of what "the business is worth". Happens all the time. Also, I've never heard of a "perpetual" arrangement in this business. One payment per person or MAYBE two...that's it. And a fixed time frame.

You might tell her that "in actual fact this has become more trouble than it's worth to me".

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

Last edited by P W Grey; 04/13/22 03:32 PM.

Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Joined: Sep 2014
Posts: 63
P
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
P
Joined: Sep 2014
Posts: 63
I don't have a "magic figure" for you, but I suggest you figure out what the phone number is worth to you, and offer her $XXX for her to transfer her number to a cell phone owned by you. No "forwarding" involved.
Now she’s ready to move on and is asking to change the terms of our original agreement. She wants to get rid of the phone line and doesn’t want it forwarded to me, as she just wants the business to end. I was getting several bookings a month from old referrals and customers calling her old line every week.


Patrick Draine, Registered Piano Technician (PTG)
Draine Piano Service
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 2,399
P
2000 Post Club Member
Online Content
2000 Post Club Member
P
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 2,399
My question to you: when a tuning client was referred to you, what arrangement did you have towards a subsequent tuning with that new customer? Were they going to contact you in the future, or still wait for Mrs. Elderly Tuner to contact them by phone first?

I tend to agree with Ed Foote: it's time for this to end, and gently. You have received plenty of referral work here - over 300 tunings in a year, it seems! - and I would assume the more serious of these customers will want to transfer their allegiance to you going forward. We don't know what percentage of each fee of yours went to her, but I hope it was less than 50%.

You could offer her a nominal amount to wrap up this arrangement: $500 or $1000, if you are feeling charitable. If she balks, you just walk away. At the end of the day, the customer chooses his or her tuner.

Joined: Dec 2018
Posts: 295
T
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
T
Joined: Dec 2018
Posts: 295
Update:

The widow decided to call off her request to come up with final number after reflecting on things. We are just going to continue with the original agreement till the end of the year and after that I owe her nothing. Seems like a time frame would have been a good idea in the original agreement.

She has the money going into a trust account and had to pay $450 a year to the accountant to file the taxes for the trust account. She also was emotionally drained having to talk to clients who were sadden by the tuner passing. She realized that getting rid of the phone and forbidding me from taking the number changes everything. I’m pretty relieved she saw the logic of all these things on her own and I didn’t need to negotiate with her. But I do feel like I this is too good of deal for me in the end.

The recording studio work brought in $10,000 worth of tunings last year and has boosted my prestige since they are iconic studios popping out records by big names. I’m still the same average tuner as before, but now new clients think I’m special when I can rattle off all the famous artists/albums I’ve tuned for in the past year. I paid her 50% of a tuning when a client would book with me. The recording studios only cost me 50% of the first tuning like all the other referrals, so there was a big imbalance taking on those studios compared to the other clients.

Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 4,997
P
4000 Post Club Member
Offline
4000 Post Club Member
P
Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 4,997
It's actually pretty rare for one of these arrangements to work out favorably. I suggest you count your blessings and keep your mouth shut.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8

Moderated by  Piano World 

Link Copied to Clipboard
Happy 4th!
Happy 4th of July
Happy 4th!
(ad)
Best of Piano Buyer
Piano Buyer - Read the Articles, Explore the website
(ad)
PianoDisc

PianoDisc
(ad)
Faust Harrison Pianos
Faust Harrison 100+ Steinway pianos
(ad)
Mason & Hamlin Pianos
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Yamaha U3 or equivalent upright
by Tom Ryshka - 07/05/22 01:35 AM
A comparison of two very different pianos!
by Joseph Fleetwood - 07/04/22 02:17 PM
Home Studio Recordings on Bosendorfer 225
by James Gordon - 07/04/22 01:39 PM
Looking for good online piano course for beginner
by mwsheeler - 07/04/22 12:12 PM
How do I measure latency on a Windows Machine?
by Bruce In Philly - 07/04/22 12:02 PM
Download Sheet Music
Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads
What's Hot!!
FREE June Newsletter is Here!
--------------------
Forums RULES, Terms of Service & HELP
(updated 06/06/2022)
-------------------
Music Store Going Out of Business Sale!
---------------------
Mr. PianoWorld's Original Composition
---------------------
Sell Your Piano on our world famous Piano Forums!
---------------------
Posting Pictures on the Forums
-------------------
ADVERTISE on Piano World
Forum Statistics
Forums43
Topics213,802
Posts3,205,422
Members105,714
Most Online15,252
Mar 21st, 2010
Please Support Our Advertisers

Faust Harrison 100+ Steinways

Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver

 Best of Piano Buyer

PianoTeq Bechstein
Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads



 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | MapleStreetMusicShop.com - Our store in Cornish Maine


© copyright 1997 - 2022 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.5