Earlier today I went out for lunch with some friends and, having been shown to a table, was then given a multitude of menus by the waitress.  There was the Main menu, the Children’s menu (presumably for my daughter), the Wine list and the Daily Specials.  Fortunately, the friend I was with had noticed that on the Specials menu was an option for a Rib of Beef with winter vegetables and ‘jus’.  This saved me from negotiating the rest of the paperwork.   Ignoring the wine list I simply asked for a glass of Merlot, and hey presto lunch was ordered.

A few days previously, I had received a telephone call.   In fact I received several telephone calls, all from the same chap, let’s call him John, who was interested in recording a CD with his choir.  Of course there’s nothing particularly unusual in that – I get calls like that all the time.   The first time he called I was out and about so my wife took a message and emailed to me.  Responding to this message a couple of hours later I called the number given but there was no reply and also no voicemail.  Figuring my number should at least show up as a missed call I hoped the potential customer would call me back.  A day passed and I heard nothing so I tried again.  Once again, the phone rang and there was no reply of any sort.  At this point I figured I had made a reasonable attempt to call this person back and in the absence of any other means of contacting them crossed it off my to do list.

A few days passed and then out of the blue I got a call, from the same ‘John’ who had called and left a message some days earlier.  He came onto the phone initially quite cross that no one had bothered to return his call.   As you might imagine, I was already annoyed by this implication but, attempting to remain courteous to the potential customer, I apologised and pointed out I had tried to call him twice but his telephone didn’t give the opportunity to leave a message.  I did get a vague grunted acknowledgement of this fact and then moved on.

It then transpired that the caller was looking to record his choir of approximately 50 singers in a studio, singing along to a backing track.   Not wishing to waste anyone’s time I quickly pointed out that I do not run a recording studio but in fact a location recording company.  This apparently was not the response he was expecting and he got very cross and told me my company website clearly said we record choirs.   ‘Yes’ I said, ‘we do record choirs but if you read the second sentence on the website it also says clearly we record on location’.

Grudgingly the caller accepted this and then asked me to outline why a mobile studio was better than a fixed studio and wanted a full explanation of exactly how we would carry out the recording.   Furthermore he went on to tell me that he had previously worked at both Air Studios and Abbey Road Studios, so he ‘knew what he was talking about’.  By now, I had decided there was no way I was going to work with this complete fool but felt I should at least attempt to answer some of his questions.    I explained briefly the difference between a mobile studio and a fixed studio and then asked him for his budget.

‘I’m prepared to spend £300, as i want this done properly’ came the reply!   ‘Are you competitive’? he said…  Trying not to laugh at this utterly ridiculous proposition, and knowing that hiring Abbey Road Studios starts from around £7000 a day, I replied that I was extremely confident we could offer exactly the same deal as a fixed studio for that price.  ‘Oh yes?’ said the customer, clearly excited by this prospect.  ‘Yes’, I replied, ‘for £300 I can guarantee you that our recording will be totally silent’.  I then bid him a good day and hung up.

Sometimes, making an informed decision doesn’t have to involve checking out every available option.  It’s often more important to first ensure you have a suitable budget for the proposed purchase and a clear idea of what you are hoping to achieve or be supplied with.  If I go out for a pub lunch, I rarely read any further down the menu once I have located Roast beef and invariably don’t check the price.  After all, Roast beef in a pub is only going to cost around £15 which seems fair. However, if I had just £10 to spend on lunch, rather than demand the pub serve me roast beef, I would peruse the menu in more detail to find something to fit the budget.


Jules Addison is Musical Director for The BlueBellesThe Pewsey BellesCirencester Male Voice ChoirBlue Notes & Great Western Harmony.

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