7 Types of Clients you Should Avoid

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    • #43360
      Luis Maymi LopezLuis Maymi Lopez

      I found this interesting article that talks about 7 types of clients that should be avoided. In my personal experience in the video production world I have stumble upon at least 5 of this clients. In my opinion the worst and most common in the video business are the “cheapskate clients”, which are not willing to pay for your hard work and expect a lot of things for less.

      I would really like to hear how Videomaker community deals with this type of clients. Any awful experience? Any advise for the video business newbies?

    • #181946

      As much as we need and want the business, as desperate as we become for a bit of cash flow, it is important that we as creative professionals and as businesspeople determine and recognize our worth and be true to ourselves.

      There are certainly occasions when our individual economic situations are such that we are compelled to take whatever we can get simply to survive but survival isn’t always based on making a dollar. It is based on sustaining SOME level of value for ourselves and our industry by walking away from gigs, Luis, where people you refer to as “cheapskate clients” fail to understand or appreciate our personal, professional and business worth.

      Until more independent professional video services providers stand solid and not “give it away” simply because they’re either not concerned about profit, don’t realize that profit is important, or are simply videographers who don’t need to worry about price or value there will be difficultly dealing with this category. At some point we have to realize that this type of client is simply NOT worth it in the long run or short run.

      Bottom line is be true to yourself, your personal AND REAL sense of worth, your business needs and either hone your marketing skills to overcome such mentality, or walk away. Or, you can always refer such clients to others in the video business (we all know some) for whom business and profit are concepts to be ignored.

    • #181947

      “Avoid” may be too strong a word, but one type of potential client to be wary of is the company or agency which wants you to submit a lengthy proposal for a project they have in mind. Often the back story runs like this: the boss says to his secretary: Here’s what I want done. Find out how much it will cost.”

      So the secretary emails you and asks you to develop a proposal. You spend several hours figuring costs, calling back and forth with your contact to attempt to firm up vaporous details, and lining up people who will be your sub contractors — audio, graphics, etc., — and never hear from the contact again.

      Why? Because the secretary is in the middle; she has no decision-making power and, once she has turned in all her facts, it’s the boss who calls the shots. And all he cares about is what it will cost him. So he decides that his nephew will use the camera he got for Christmas to do the job, the details of which the boss still isn’t clear about! And chances are the project never happens. You’ve spent several hours of your life working on a project for which you will never be paid a dime!

      Always work with the decision maker directly. It’s one of the first things I ask when approached, especially if the inquiry is from a governmental agency, where you’re typically dealing with a committee: “Who is the boss?”

      Shooting things at schools fall into this category. Find out the specific person who will be approving what you do and who will be paying you. Don’t accept “It’s coming from the PSTA” or “The choral club will be paying you.” Have your contract signed by the person whose name will appear on the check. It’s him or her that you have to please, and it’s this person, not you, who will have to negotiate with the rest of the committee.

      Finally, you only have one thing in life to sell and that’s your time. Make it clear from the outset with any client that you’ll be paid for any time you spend on the project. Have a contract that spells this out in detail. If you have to drive half an hour each way to get to the client’s office for meetings, and you’re expected to spend a couple of hours discussing storyboard, that’s three hours of your life that you could have been editing or shooting. Have all of that time spent covered in your contract.

      Being a nice guy is part of being professional. So is getting paid for the time you spend with a job. I can be incredibly accommodating with even the most difficult client so long as I’m being paid by the hour.


    • #181948

      I dunno – Avoid is a good word for some wannabe client’s.

      I just turned down one clown who wanted me to take his 10-12 hours of wedding footage (three cams), capture it, edit two videos – long form and highlights then author & burn a DVD – and his budget I was supposed to do this for (drum roll) – $150 (he had lots of work for that price).

      I may not have been 100% kind when I turned him down.

    • #181949

      Jack, that’s some really great advice, thanks for sharing.

      birdcat, I know what you mean. Some people really don’t appreciate the amount of work that actually goes into something like that.

      I think that a cause of this is that the hardware and software needed to do a decent DIY job are getting cheaper, which means people value the work of a professional less. They’re thinking “oh I could do this myself and he wants me to pay $400 for it!?” but they don’t really realise the difference between a professional job and an amateur job.

    • #181950

      Two class of people fit into all 7, Real Estate agents and lawyers. no joking, I have had to deal with both classes and EVER one of them hit one of more of those 7. I avoid Real Estate agents and lawyers like someone with TB.

    • #181951

      Leave it to me to find ‘Client #8’, the one who drops your service so they can pay 3x as much for less than what you gave them under the auspices of ‘getting better value’.

      That happened to me a while back. I had a client who not only paid well, but was a regular after my co’ revamped their training program. A change in management brought the usual ‘let’s see if we can get something better’ routine. I put in a bid based on years of knowing what the client wanted, needed and would end up asking for. With all that in mind, it was still as they said, “A very competitive bid.”

      Still though, they decided to go with a big outfit far across the state and paid nearly 3x more and got less than what my company gave them. Not to mention, we had all of their stock footage on file which they no longer had free access to. We also gave them large format framed photos of the best shots taken, screensavers and other stuff at no extra charge. The other outfit gave them squat and I’m told did a terrible job.

      You can’t get bent in that situation. It’s just part of the business. Now I’m dealing with outfits who want you to drive long distances and don’t want to pay mileage. It’s a tricky business, but like the others have said you can’t allow your circumstances to push you into doing a job that’s going to cause more problems in the long run for a short-term payout.

    • #181952

      @birdcat & Orrin, $400.00 is still too low to charge for doing the amount of work birdccat suggested. This is a growing issue here. I have two friends who come from multi-million dollar families. I did not goto their wedding due to personal issues with some guest. But they asked another videographer around here how much they would charge. Well the other VG was a close friend of the bride offered a most generous price of $200.00, they were going to do it at cost as a gift. She did not hire them. The bride told me this story herself as I handed her her copy of a 3 DVD set of a talent show I did at cost. She asked if she owned me anything and I told her no, this was may gift and many that got a copy (I made 110 copies) made donations. She told me she had no intention of donating because she did not ask for one. I was very hurt, not because she did not donate (I got close to $1,000.00 in donations) but because she put such a small value on the project. Someone on this thread said it best, with the cost of cameras so low and most people can now “burn” a home made DVD, they have no idea what WE do. I do not know where the direction of VG is going. More and more DIY’s who think they are pro’s are charging $100-$400 for a wedding DVD. I will be honest, the top most I can charge here in this area for a wedding DVD is $800 and that is not near enough. I have not created a new price menu yet because I am at a loss as to what to charge with all these DIY’ers. I have invested nearly $5,000.00 in my own equipment in the last few years and I am NOT giving away my work. For what birdcat was asked to do charging less than $800 would be giving away his talent.

    • #181953

      We’ve discussed the DIY’ers many times in the forums. I don’t lay blame on them. I blame we pros for having grown complacent during the transition from the days when only a pro could do this work to now.

      There are other factors which didn’t help like MTV and their initial reality-style shooting which actually came from them not hiring pros because they were too chintzy. YouTube hasn’t helped at all as it has elevated amateur video to acceptable status in most people’s eyes. Lastly, because of the easy access to good imaging equipment yeah anybody up to a point can get good images.

      The disconnect we pro’s are up against now is because anyone can shoot, everybody thinks they can. Baseball gear has been around for almost two centuries, yet nobody’s under the impression they can buy a bat and glove then walk out onto a ball field and perform at the pro level. Always on the forums we get the same question, ‘Why doesn’t my video I shot with my camera from S-Mart look like the stuff in the movies?’

      There’s this weird expectation because video and films are so commonplace that it’s easy to do. You would think people actually watched those ‘Making of’ videos on their DVD’s and get an idea of how difficult it is to make them. However, all they equate that massive effort to only what they paid for the DVD. ‘How come my Hollywood DVD costs $14.95 and you’re charging $4-6k for a 10-15 minute video?”

      What’s more aggravating is how DIY’ers can’t equate how much effort they’re putting into making those $150-300 videos and why they’re not making any money? But again, I put the blame on us pros. Somehow, we aren’t getting the point out. Too many folks are too busy getting gassed up by salespeople at S-Mart and they run out ready to tackle the industry with no training and so on. Pros could get around them if there weren’t hordes of DIY’ers charging forth like horror movie zombies.

      I work in an area that does not support my pricing either. The majority of my clients are from outside the area. I’ve invested way more than $5k in gear, software and more over the years. Fortunately, everything for the most part has paid for itself. What it’s going to come down to is you’re going to have to start casting your net farther afield.

    • #181954

      Let me state up front I AM NOT A WEDDING GUY. I do corporate/commercial/personal stuff.

      That said, I have done two weddings as gifts. Had I been charging for them, they would have carried a $3k-$5k pricetag, just based on the hours going in to them. The one I did last May had 8 hours of footage from three cameras (two from the ceremony only were fixed and on tripods @ one hour each, and six hours on my main unit between the preps, ceremony and reception). Then add in about 100 stills from others to be possibly added in, music and other asset selection, titles, color correction, exposure tweaking, etc… – My three vids (90 minute long form, 30 minute highlights and four minute trailer) plus the love story, with lots of edits, came in at about 100 hours of my time – at $50/hour you do the math ($5k).

      And another clown now offers me $300 for 6 hours of taping plus a long form and highlights video on DVD & YouTube all due in four weeks – I was less than kind when saying no.

    • #181955

      I’ve come to the point in my professional video career that after studying the market and my competition, the value of what I do and coming up with a range of fees and prices that I believe are fair (STILL less than what they really should be for services rendered and products delivered) wherever I may market & do business, I don’t do business with folks who don’t want to pay my prices.

      As much as I might need the occasional gig to get me over a temporary slump, as desperate I can get, I simply will not do more for less. If people seek my services then want to palaver over pricing, I politely tell them “these ARE my discount prices” and minimally ensure I can stay in business. My experience, portfolio, references and years of operation have established my worth, to me if not them and I cannot work with them or for them for less.

      Yeah, it’s a bitch to pass up business but if you’re in business to survive, much less grow or succeed (whatever SUCCESS is in your mind) then you HAVE to have a sense of self-worth, if not a sense of good, sound business judgement. Fees and pricing based on the rates you need to keep those cameras rolling and the bill collectors away, and put your kids through college (or help them as much as you can), feed the dog, pay the doctor, maintain repairs, buy your ice cream … much less acquire the BIGGER things in life you hope for.

      Beyond that, regardless of the fact that eight out of ten competitors will lowball you or you don’t get a gig because you do not “bargain” with the client, there are times when you just have to say “no” with or without the thank you for considering me.

    • #181956

      Birdcat/Earl. I have found a more “place like home” for me in my area that only 1 other company has reached into. And they are a television studio/cable provider. Video Adverts. On my site http://www.tasana-studios.com I am making the transition to focus more on doing video commercials. I have one that I did for an HVAC company due to be released in theaters this summer. The theater only takes local adverts once a year. I also designed the print ad for the same company. As soon as we get moved and I get the studio rebuilt I intend to hit the pavement and try to get some businesses to sign on to doing ads with me. I do not know exactly what kind of water I am swimming in, this is an entire new market, but the time involved from start to finish is a work day or two and the payoff for time involved is higher, although I have to grab more work. I am going to pull away from weddings, too many Uncle Joe’s with Walmart Black Friday cameras out there.

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