No Deposit, No CakeCategory: General   Aug 22nd 2012  02:21PM   0

I require nonrefundable 50% deposits for all dates. Common scheduling policies are no surprise to anyone who ever held a dental appointment with a credit card. But success in my line of work necessitates uniquely stringent policies. For an upscale, low-volume companion, every canceled date has a domino effect.

I'm able to meet with clients (and thus generate income) barely half as much someone with a traditional (9 to 5, 40 hour work week) career. It's absurd to think an upscale companion would or could see clients 20 days a month when in order to do this unique work (do it well, anyway) it's more like 10 to 12 days a month. I never see more than one gent per day, so if I lose that appointment an entire day is lost. Unlike a massage therapist who sees 60-80 clients a month and can afford a few cancelations, one cancelation to me is 10% or more of an entire month's business. Also, the way my monthly schedule evolves determines how I plan the rest of that month, meaning once I’m fully booked (which happens more often than not) I have to decline all new offers, even for days I’m not booked.

For example, after booking 4 trips for the same month, I’m not inclined to schedule more than a random dinner date or two, since I must still find time for the rest of my life: my art (takes 10-20 hours per week), yoga, gym, hairstylist, aesthetician, massage therapist, mani/pedis, other grooming (it's endless, basically), shopping (and alterations), groceries, bank, post office, housecleaning (okay, paying my housekeeper), more shopping, car repair, socializing, familial obligations, reading, writing, doctors, dentists, and photo shoots.

A modern woman’s life is hectic, a companion’s even more so. Staying fit, healthy, informed, groomed and gorgeous takes time, effort and advanced scheduling. (My hairstylist needs 3 weeks notice, my dentist, 3 months. They're both worth the minor hassle of advanced scheduling, and so am I.) On the rare occasion a patron cancels, I lose half my projected honorarium as well as the new business I had to turn down for those dates and the dates I filled with personal appointments. Also, since my monthly marketing is based on how much work I’ve already booked, if I’ve tapered off due to a full schedule and then have a sudden cancelation, it's often too late to offset the loss.

There's more. The lack of deposit places all risk squarely on my shoulders as opposed to my client's. Since it is the client who initiates contact and makes a request (to reserve a block of my time), why would the risk automatically be my burden and not his? And since the deposit is a relatively insignificant figure to my (obviously wealthy) clients, it's illogical (and a little offensive) to make me carry the risk for them. My patrons get this. One of the traits that differentiates "patron" from "client" is that a patron goes out of his way to protect me from excess risk, stress, and undue burdens. Sometimes a brand new client has a bit of an adversarial attitude, afraid of being taken advantage of, he'll be adamant that I, not he, shoulder the risk. Sometimes even regular clients ask why I don't trust that they'll "cover" me if they're forced to cancel.

This policy is less about trust than respect and it's never adversarial; I do not work that way. I trust most of my clients and all of my patrons, a great deal. Anyone who seriously believes he needs to protect himself by withholding my deposit, has the wrong attitude to date me in the first place. In that way, this policy serves as a form of screening. Yes, I lose business from it. And yes, it's absolutely worth it.

Even clients new to professional companionship usually have enough business savvy to grasp my deposit policy. (One darling gent even told me, with a shrug, that due to frequent schedule changes in his line of work, he’d lost more fishing charter deposits than the average American earns in a year.) By anyone’s standards I am well compensated, but as a "one man band" my resources are limited. Factor in this career's incredibly short life span and it should be abundantly clear why I need every booking to count and every appointment to be covered.

Companionship may be of an intensely personal nature, but ultimately it's a business. It is my livelihood and sole source of income, by the way, I happily and routinely put back into circulation (see above or have a chat with my tailor). As a case in point, I once spent a small fortune on custom made window treatments that (through no fault of my own) turned out to be unusable. Not only did I lose my deposit, but I accepted delivery and paid the balance (minus installation fees) knowing full well they were useless to me. But with my interior designer’s reputation on the line, not to mention my own as a person of integrity, the decision was a no-brainer. In regard to deposits, my patrons feel the same.

I have tremendous respect for small business owners and won’t leave one hanging just because my circumstances changed. Likewise, my clients rest assured that if their job or an illness interferes with our date, I'm fairly compensated for damages. If a gent disagrees, he doesn’t have to date me. Who gets to eat his cake and have it too? Besides, my policies have been posted here for almost 2 years, but just to clarify:

     No deposit, no cake.

My word is my bond and I have $4000 worth of useless blackout blinds to prove it. My self-respect is priceless and I have the reputation to prove that too. Anyone who doesn’t live by the same ethic needn’t bother contacting me (unless he’s in the market for some never-been-used, custom made, window treatments).

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