As the UK economy continues to wobble, controlling budgets and ensuring money is being spent prudently are at the top of every business’s agenda. But cutting costs without considering the potential consequences can often compromise quality, leading to major issues further down the line. From our own perspective, this is all about the safe and timely production of events, but the principle can be applied to pretty much every other industry. So, the big question is … what do event planners prioritise more: cost or quality?
There’s a temptation to think in terms of short-term deals rather than ongoing business partnerships, as many companies are looking for the cheapest price or the quickest sale, rather than aiming to build a mutually-beneficial relationship. Client-supplier conversations these days tend to follow the lines of: “We like what you’re offering and want to use your services, but we want you to skim X amount off the cost”. This probably stems from a misconception that a supplier’s initial quote includes a certain amount of wriggle room, but that’s simply not the case.
Exploring all the options
Suppliers are conscious of the need to be competitive and would be hardly likely to overprice their offer. We naturally want to arrive at the best solution for each client, but it can’t be done for a slice of the price AND still be delivered to a high standard. We’d rather say no to an unrealistic demand than jeopardise the outcome of an event that has been under-resourced. We understand the budgetary constraints that event organisers are under and we believe in the value of sitting down to explore all options before reaching a solution that satisfies all parties.
There’s no getting away from the old truism that you get what you pay for. In the world of events, cutting corners with elements such as health and safety, sufficient crew numbers and event-specific training can be catastrophic. We also know of cases where the decision to hire cheap labour has resulted in expensive production kit being broken by inexperienced handlers, and this has been followed by the discovery that the labour provider was uninsured.
Time is money
Over the years, we’ve been called in at the last minute to undertake mammoth tasks for clients, often where other crewing companies had been unable to meet critical deadlines, been poorly-equipped for the job, or even failed to turn up at all! In fact, Gallowglass’ reputation has been built on our ability to deliver in the most challenging of circumstances. One example was when we built two Olympic-sized swimming pools in record time. It took our 100 crewmen just 11 days to complete the build, which had previously taken 600 people 18 days. On other occasions, our ability to throw large numbers of well-trained, super-fit crews to meet deadlines where every second counted, literally saved the day.
Ironically, fixing event emergencies of this kind comes at a high price – and the very people who routinely shop around for the cheapest solution, can find their initial budgets being blown out of the water, while they’re faced with a lot of explaining to do when it comes to the debrief. They discover the hard way that cutting corners can be one of the most expensive (not to mention stressful!) practices in the business.
We’ve argued for years that, with labour costs probably representing a modest five percent of the overall budget, there must be far greater scope to make economies in the AV, lighting and other technical content, which takes the lion’s share of the production costs. Having the right team to pull it all together is paramount to a successful event.
In fact, one of the best ways of controlling costs is to plan event crewing from an early stage. With over 20 years’ experience of every type of event, we can advise our clients on the most cost-effective resourcing, often saving money on duplicated functions and helping to anticipate the very pinch-points that tend to put a strain on operational budgets. This level of background knowledge and expertise has a value that translates into the quality of delivery at the sharp end of the event.
A further level of speed and efficiency exists where we’ve been able to nurture long-term client relationships, based on trust and mutual understanding. Gallowglass provides a permanent in-house resource for a number of clients, and our crews are given a high level of independence because we’ve proved our ability to act as a member of the clients’ own operational teams. Among these clients are dock10, the UK’s largest independent supplier of studio services; Historic Royal Palaces and the Royal Albert Hall. Our business development team are as committed to ensuring these relationships continue to flourish as they are in seeking and building new ones.
Striking the right balance
Which takes us back to the original debate - what do event planners care about the most - quality or cost? It’s a tough balance to achieve, especially when Procurement professionals are essentially focused on commodity purchasing. It’s a shame they can’t apply the same thinking that they would give to having the roof fixed on their house, or their car repaired. It’s a foolhardy choice to opt for a quick patch-up job where the safety of people could be at risk, or where you may be confronted by bigger worries down the line as the cracks start to appear. So, before you plump for the cheapest option, why not sit down and explore the ways in which genuine savings can be achieved – at no cost to event quality? We provide event crew in Manchester, London or Glasgow, and we’d be delighted to put together a tailored quote based on experience and expertise - and one that places quality in event delivery right the top of the agenda.
Gallowglass Business Highlights for 2017