Thursday, April 14, 2005
We've been talking to people who are local organizers for Meetup.com (no link provided) groups, and many were enthusiastic about scheduling their groups to meet at the Cracked Cauldron when we opened. It was a practical match - they needed meeting space, we needed customers and would have space once we opened. Our prices would make us an affordable location for practically all their members.
Meetup.com decided to charge the organizers of these small groups $19.95 a month for the privilege of volunteering to create these groups, schedule meetings, advertise them, and provide content. Not a year - a month. That's over $230.00 a year.
Many of the group organizers I know have stepped down from the position and some groups have disbanded off of Meetup and chosen another online venue instead to reform under.
You know, $15.00 - $20.00 a year is a reasonable amount to seek for forming groups, if the service provided some real services and benefits that weren't provided by several other existing free or nearly free services, but I can't imagine what services would be worth over $230.00 a year. We're talking higher fees than most ISPs charge for internet connection - and that's a tangible service.
The real lesson here for us at the Cracked Cauldron is to be sure that our prices reflect the tangible real services we provide. It's more than the really good and tasty food we'll be offering: meeting space, courteous and prompt service, cleanliness, comfort, entertainment, and the good feelings that come from giving back to the community in tangible ways (feeding the homeless, providing resources for the homeless, supporting local farmers, artists and performers through buying locally, and providing a venue for local artists and performers).
We can charge slightly higher prices on our food for these tangible and real services. But we can't go overboard. In our dollar-savy society, with consumers pinched by ever increasing fees and taxes, it's a fine balance between what we offer and what our customers will tolerate.
We can justify our prices. And as long as we can continue to justify our prices, our customers will willingly pay them.