Why Don’t Hollywood Assistants Negotiate Salary?

negotiating, personal stories

Why don’t more Hollywood assistants negotiate salary?

Why don’t Mom n’ Pop Chinese restaurants think about the customer experience?

The answers are connected. And it took a trip to Dublin, Ireland, for me to put them together.

But let’s go back to the Chinese restaurants.

Why Chinese Restaurants Don’t Care About Customer Experience

The thing about Mom n’ Pop Chinese restaurants (one topic I feel qualified to discuss) is they’re a one-trick pony: (most) only compete on price.

They slash prices by dollars and sometimes cents, like a Wal-Mart, hoping to choke out competition while earning smaller and smaller margins. Meanwhile, ignoring many factors more important than price…

  • Quality of ingredients / quality of food 
  • Location
  • Ambiance
  • Service
  • Trust for the brand
  • Buzz from peer group

When Would You Happily Pay More?

I was in Dublin, Ireland for the holidays, and was shopping for a Pandora charm for my sister. I walked into the jewelry store, Field’s, on Grafton Street. Overhead, a banner that read “Baile Atha Cliath” shimmered like headlights on the freeway. Trinity College was a few blocks over, and the Brown Thomas (Ireland’s Nordstrom equivalent) window display chattered around the corner.

Baile Atha Cliath

Baile Atha Cliath – a long way of saving “Dublin”

Total time in Field’s? 10 minutes — and I emerged with a charm for my sister in a lovely green (of course) bag.


Field’s jewelry store on Grafton

In those 10 minutes, how often did price factor in my purchase?

Once, maybe.

If price wasn’t a factor, what was?

  • Location / Convenience – I wanted the charm and was walking in a central part of the city. This was the store I walked into because it was the area worth walking around. 
  • Time sensitivity – There was a deadline. I was only visiting for a few days and frankly didn’t want to spend all my time looking for a charm.
  • Trust – The store was clean and well-lit, the jewelry nicely displayed and everything organized. I felt comfortable.
  • Service – Just right – a balance between friendly and suggestive, without being pushy.

Price barely played at all in my decision — I would have easily paid more.

Price Sensitivity in Hollywood

The experience made me think about price sensitivity for Hollywood assistants in our day-to-day life.

Lack of price sensitivity hurts us when we’re:

  • Rushed for meals, or when we have no groceries. We eat out well (which is more expensive) or we eat out poorly (awful for the body). 
  • In social situations where social acceptance is more important than price (going out, getting drinks, etc.).
  • Forced into an apartment or living situation we can’t afford, but there’s no other alternative.
  • Stressed and overworked and we’ convince ourselves we “deserve” to splurge on ourselves.

How does understanding price sensitivity help us? We have to internalize the following ideas about price:

  • Price is never the deciding factor for anyone, 100% of the time 
  • Often, price isn’t a deciding factor at all (or at least, it’s the last one)

Why Don’t Hollywood Assistants Negotiate Salaries?

Because we don’t get into our bosses heads. We’re caught up in our own needs and wants, too busy thinking:

God, I really need this job… it’s not great and the pay sucks but I really just need to get paid…


The pay is awful and I think I deserve more but really I should just be grateful I have a job.  

(Of course, your work must create value, and you must back up that value with results. Then…)

Think about your boss’s price sensitivity. Think about what they really want: do they want the cheapest, lowest cost assistant out there on the market?

Or do they want:

  • To be done with the hiring process so they can get back to work? 
  • The right assistant – who may cost a little bit more, but is adding a ton more value?

Which would you prefer?


Photo Credit: Cayusa

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