Q: “I recently lost a large corporate event because the clients said they would implement my ideas with their volunteers. I know I’ve lost weddings because I’ve revealed too much (or not enough) during an initial consultation. How do I convey that my experience and expertise will take care of their concerns without telling them either exactly, or in general, how I will accomplish their tasks when they ask ‘How will you do that?’ in response to my ‘We’ve taken care of similar issues in the past’ or ‘I’ve already got a great plan to take care of that.’ I don’t want to be rude in saying, ‘That’s what you’ll be paying me for’ or ‘It will be all spelled out once the contracts are signed.’ I don’t think ‘trust me’ works either.”
– Kathi R. Evans, AWP™, All the Best Weddings & Celebrations,
Toms River, N.J.

“It is a slippery slope. There are two ways to handle this. First, make it clear up front that you get it. You understand their vision. Give them just enough to get the job, but not enough to give away the kitchen sink. Second, you could have your attorney come up with a rider that you have clients sign at the beginning of the consultation that makes anything you give them proprietary. The document should also have language that prevents them from sharing your proposal or bid from any third party, including but not limited to other vendors. Then, if you find that they utilize your ideas, you have legal room to maneuver. Check your state laws regarding intellectual property in this area before you do it, and make sure you comply with the law.”
– Donnie

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