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talk about quoting process!

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Greg
talk about quoting process!
by
on Feb 15, 2007 at 11:37:48 pm

Hi all,

So I get this request for bid in my email from a local Convention and Visitors Bureau. ARE THEY KIDDING? How can any reputable production company place a bid on this? How would you handle this? I wrote a note back basically stating that there is not enough information to provide an accurate estimate. Following their request below, are there answers to my note sekking more info.


Invitation to Bid Digital Video Production
Convention and Visitors Bureau


Job Description : Digital Video Production

Quantity : Three videos shot on location in *** ***** **** County including all voice over, music and talent (if any).

Running Time : Three to Five Minutes

Usage : Unlimited usage of video, including B role in any media, such as: online, CD, transfer to film and/or VCR.

Timing : Produced within 30 days after approval of final contract date.

Rates : Must be all inclusive of talent (if any), voice over, music, distribution and usage rights.

References : Three references from destinations, CVB


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John Davidson (fomerly JNeo25)
Re: talk about quoting process!
on Feb 16, 2007 at 3:20:13 am

I can't really see anything wrong with it - am I missing something? If you shoot everything yourself, pay talent non-union $500, use Soundtrack loops to provide music or buy cheap music for it, vo with a non-union guy ($300-$500).

Mostly you'll be shooting convention centers B-Roll, Family entertainment (beach scenes), adult night life (clubs, not strippers), etc - won't that cover what they're looking for? The business and convention folks want you to do this so I don't think you'll run into clearance issues for buildings, etc.

They'd need to pony up some flow, but if that's what they want then hopefully they can afford it...

Good luck!
JD

John Davidson____ writer | producer | director____http://www.magicfeatherinc.com


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Steve Wargo
Re: talk about quoting process!
on Feb 16, 2007 at 8:53:45 am

Bid at 3 days of shooting with XXX to be charged for extra days
Bid no talent host at $500 for 1st hour and then std rate for OT
Bid 5 days for post and plan on 2 months for decisions by their panel of production experts who will always find something wrong with everything just so they can appear to know something which they don't. But, they will probably stay at a Holiday Inn Express the night before your meeting so they can earn PhDs
Bill for an entire day to build the streamers off of your master file. Plan on guessing what they need because the guy in charge of web hosting will never return your call because he doesn't want you to find out how stupid he/she is.
Most of the time, it is illegal for gov't entities to pay ahead so plan on months to collect your money.

I'd put it at $7500 to $9500 with lots of restrictions, clauses and late payment penalties.

We quit bidding on this type of work years ago because of the morons that are asking for the bids. If we do happen to throw a number out, it's very high just to cover the ulcer medicine.

good Luck Greg!


Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona

It's a dry heat!


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Cowdog
Re: talk about quoting process!
on Feb 16, 2007 at 1:26:43 pm


[Steve Wargo] "Bid 5 days for post and plan on 2 months for decisions by their panel of production experts who will always find something wrong with everything just so they can appear to know something which they don't. Plan on guessing what they need because the guy in charge of web hosting will never return your call because he doesn't want you to find out how stupid he/she is. Most of the time, it is illegal for gov't entities to pay ahead so plan on months to collect your money. We quit bidding on this type of work years ago because of the morons that are asking for the bids. If we do happen to throw a number out, it's very high just to cover the ulcer medicine."

Mister Wargo, I swear I'm glad I wasn't snuffling around in a bowl of kibble and beer or I'd uh shot beer out my nose laughing so hard when I read this.

Too funny, and all the more so because of its acerbic reality.


Yer pal,

Cowdog

visit my homepage




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Mark Suszko
Re: talk about quoting process!
on Feb 16, 2007 at 4:43:42 pm

I have done large projects with less info to start with. One of the commercials I did, the client just drew me three stick figures on a bar napkin, and that was the script AND storyboard. They adored the final product, said it exceeded their vision and was the best they'd ever had. Witht he right people, there's a level of trust that they are creative and capable of fleshing out a skeletal proposal.

You need to decide if you are up for the uncertainty and confusion you will get during production from such ill-prepared and inarticulate clients. If you are charging by the hour, their disorganization is your gain. Frankly, one reason the description is sketchy is they just want to know what time is is, they don't want or need to know how the clock is built. That's your job, educating and guiding them thru the process. If you feel they are worth the work, that is. Somebody needs to come up with a creative treatment and script, and if that is you, you need to bill apropriately for it. Walking them thru the treatment process saves everyone a lot of time, money, and grief, and makes it more likely the final product is exactly what they said and meant they wanted.

One guiding principle I go by is, no matter how many people give you "input", you only have to listen to one person; the guy what signs the checks. The "contact" or "liason" or whatever they call themselves that works with you directly comes with many agendas, some of which have nothing to do with you making a good product. You can bust your tail trying to please this rep, and all the other folks giving you "input" and critiques only to find out the finished work is nothing like what the Guy That Signs The Checks wants or likes. Be sure you know who you are working for, because it's not always the guy or gal sitting in the suite with you.


You should bill at least a third up front no matter what their stated policy is. Speaking of policy, one way to make this work for you is to write in an early-payment discount. Many governments have a rule that says vendors that offer a prompt payment discounts get paid first. Specify final delivery is contingent upon payment in full, without exceptions. Until then, all they get are dubs with time code window burns on them, or a screening at your shop. Do NOT hand over the finished masters until paid. Yes, they will scream and kick. Then they will go to the line item in their budget for emergency payments for things of this sort, and pay you.


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Greg
Re: talk about quoting process!
by
on Feb 16, 2007 at 5:04:54 pm

Thanks for your input. In regard to your Napkin script and storyboard, I've ad the same. But how do you fill out a bid that you will be held to without information? Government agencies usually accept the lowest bid,
I won't risk writing down a price without knowing exactly what that project will include.

Sure, their disorganization can be my gain if I can use change orders and keep modifying the price. But if they are holding me to my bid price, their disorganzation can by my demise.


For John, I pride myself on quality work for reasonable rates. Shooting this myself, and doing everything on the cheap would be a disservice to a client. Do YOU really operate this way?


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Mark Suszko
Re: talk about quoting process!
on Feb 16, 2007 at 6:03:14 pm

Well, if you break the project into smaller chunks, you can work to a set price yet protect yourself. Bid for the shoot by itself and the edit by itself and the initial consulting/treatment-script phase by itself. Or since they want to do three different pieces, bid just on one.

If they are unwilling to bend at all, and it looks like they want a full 3-ring circus priced for just the peanuts, without any well-defined direction, then maybe you should take the opportunity to refer these guys to your worst rival, and not take it on yourself. It's hard to turn down work when you are hungry and have bills to pay, but the few times I've turned down work I have not been sorry in the end.

In the end, they will discover, the easy way or the hard way, what something good costs to put together right. You could wait the thing out until they get a clue and come back to deal with you on better terms.



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John Davidson (fomerly JNeo25)
Re: talk about quoting process!
on Feb 16, 2007 at 9:37:40 pm

Hey Greg, I don't know you, your marketing size, or your situation because your profile is completely blank, so when I give you options on how this can be done, I'm basing it on several assumptions that I've got to make due to a lack of information provided. Can you shoot? I don't know. Are you in in New York, or Milledgeville, GA? I don't know. .

Regardless, you solicited the cow world for advice because you felt you needed it - which leads me to assume you're not pulling a crew of 40, shooting on 35mm and using Billy Crystal as host. I provided you with an option that could be done and IS done well by lots of small crews on a daily basis in small to medium markets.

"For John, I pride myself on quality work for reasonable rates. Shooting this myself, and doing everything on the cheap would be a disservice to a client. Do YOU really operate this way?"

(deep cleansing breath) Good luck with your project Greg!

John Davidson____ writer | producer | director____http://www.magicfeatherinc.com


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Greg
Re: talk about quoting process!
by
on Feb 16, 2007 at 10:38:10 pm

John, I'm not looking to argue here. I agree that you made assumptions based on little information. My market is a large one. I produce, direct, and edit mostly corporate videos for large corporations. We certainly have the capability of pulling a crew of 40, and using Billy Crystal as a host. However, I respect the opinion of my peers on the cow. I didn't realize that you can't be a seasoned professional and ask a question on the cow. Yes, there are many wedding video guys out there who would offer your suggestions to this client....and succeed in getting the gig. I'm not one of them.


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John Davidson (fomerly JNeo25)
Re: talk about quoting process!
on Feb 16, 2007 at 11:08:49 pm

Well now you know. Seasoned pros - not allowed.

It's all WD-40, duct tape, and a cellphone camera in my shop!

John Davidson____ writer | producer | director____http://www.magicfeatherinc.com


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Greg
Re: talk about quoting process!
by
on Feb 16, 2007 at 11:27:35 pm

Have you thought about hosting the COWmedy Club Lounge ? You're wit is just so over all of our heads.


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John Davidson (fomerly JNeo25)
Re: talk about quoting process!
on Feb 16, 2007 at 11:41:57 pm

I've thought about it - but I'm just not into all the drugs, women, and booze that posting in the lounge leads to.

Wait, yes I am!


John Davidson____ writer | producer | director____http://www.magicfeatherinc.com


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Cowdog
Re: talk about quoting process!
on Feb 16, 2007 at 11:51:57 pm


Yes, we're all animals in the COWmedy Club Lounge.

Yeah, you have to be careful in there, I hear that some of the animals there are on catnip.


Yer pal,

Cowdog

visit my homepage




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klaus
Re: talk about quoting process!
on Feb 27, 2007 at 4:00:34 am

(Greg) "My market is a large one. I produce, direct, and edit mostly corporate videos for large corporations. We certainly have the capability of pulling a crew of 40, and using Billy Crystal as a host"

Sounds like you're doing some pretty high-end stuff, Greg. Do you have a web site? Would be a great opportunity for a smaller time operator such as myself to check out some of your work.


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samotnud
Re: talk about quoting process!
on Feb 17, 2007 at 6:57:06 pm

Unfortunately, most of us have dealt with clients who won't tell you how much their budget is, if they want talent, what they hope to accomplish with the finished product or anything else regarding details. Usually this is because they don't know themselves. Maybe this is their first time ever doing a video and they have no idea how much it really costs. They can't tell you how much they are willing to spend because they don't know how much to be prepared to spend. Or maybe the person who is requesting the bid is doing the job handed down to him. "Hey Joe, go get me a bid for doing a couple of videos," says the marketing director. Either way, it is very frustrating.

At this point if I decide to pursue the work (have I eaten in the last week or has it been a month?) I create something for them. I put together a very brief outline of a concept and cost. I become proactive. This is what you need, this is how to communicate it and this is how much it will cost.

Usually one of 2 things happens at this point. 1) They will realize they are not prepared to spend what it really takes, or they do not have all the elements on their end lined up and are not at a stage to move forward. Or 2) they will start giving you the info and details you need. "I like your idea, but this is what we had in mind... we'd rather do it this way... that's exactly what we want, you're awesome."

We've all heard "I don't know what I want but I will tell you when I see it." this could very well be one of those.

Hope this helps.

It's ALL ball bearings these days.


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Brian Mills
Re: talk about quoting process!
on Feb 17, 2007 at 10:45:54 pm

Deja Vu! I just had a client experience IDENTICAL to this one! They wanted to know how much a 2 minute video would cost. Period. I had to tell them that it all depends on what you want to see inside of those 2 minutes: one location or ten? One talent or twenty? Cranes? Dollies? It could all be yours...if you pay for it. Their eyes glazed over and again they demanded a simple base price. I walked.

Moral of the story, if they want you to come up with an AL INCLUSIVE price, you have to make an ALL INCLUSIVE quote. Include contengencies. It will be really high. But then your a## is covered when they ask for all of these things, and, most importantly, YOU GET PAID for your troubles.

I once (and never since) agreed to a nebulous, all-inclusive quote without spelling out the specifics, and by the time the dust settled, I had produced/shot/ edited a 3 day out-of-town shoot and pocketed $100! Needless to day, the client was THRILLED with the final product, I, on the otherhand, was not a happy camper.

BTW, if they don't agree to the high-yet-realistic quote and they won't spell out a VERY SPECIFIC guideline of what they want, RUN AWAY. You are better off without them!


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Steve Wargo
But seriously...
on Feb 18, 2007 at 11:16:09 am

When we get a non detail request for quote, we usually try to get them to the studio and start showing them samples of other things we have done till they yell out "That one. I want that one!" Then, we tell them how much "That one" costs. Or, you can explain to them that they set the price and you simply accomodate their budget. It's just like buying a house or even a car. If you were to call a realtor or visit a car dealership, the first question is "What price range are you in?" Imagine if you said "I want a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house on a 12,000sf lot but I'm not going to tell you how much we want to spend. " Around here, that could run from $150k to millions of dollars. Or how about "I want a 4 door car with leather seats". Are they shopping for a Saturn or a Mercedes? Most clients will think that you'll come up with a price that will eat their entire budget, and that's exactly what you should do. We'll also ask "How much do you want to spend" and then "How much can you spend?", two entirely different questions.

However you do it, the info they provided will give you a range to work with. Give them a high and a low and say this: "You get what you pay for, and... You don't get what you don't pay for." It's up to them, not you.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona

It's a dry heat!


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Ron Lindeboom
Re: What a great line, Steve...
on Feb 18, 2007 at 2:36:49 pm

[Steve Wargo] "...you can explain to them that they set the price and you simply accomodate their budget. It's just like buying a house or a car. If you were to call a realtor or visit a car dealership, the first question they'd ask is "What price range are you in?" Imagine if you said "I want a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house on a 12,000sf lot but I'm not going to tell you how much we want to spend. " Or how about "I want a 4 door car with leather seats". Are they shopping for a Saturn or a Mercedes?"


Nice comments, Steve. I've never used that line but I can see where it puts the onus on the client to clearly elaborate what they want and are willing to pay. Straight up, on the rocks, thank you...

:o)

Ron Lindeboom


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Greg
Re: But seriously...
by
on Feb 18, 2007 at 7:06:35 pm

Ypp, I've used the car and house analogy many times myself. But in this situation I have received a request for a bid. There's no client meeting. The numbers you put on the bid are the numberrs you must be willing to live with.


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Steve Wargo
Re: But seriously...
on Feb 19, 2007 at 5:08:28 am

Got it. In that case, I'd fall back on my earlier proposal of figuring your real time and costs and add about 3% for company profit. Thinking back, about 10 years ago, I had an opportunity to bid on a project that was not government related and we submitted two bids. They actually took the higher bid because they saw that while it could be done cheap, all they were getting was a cheap job. Actually, what you have to do is be fair to both sides. If possible, submit a page explaing how you arrived at your price, taking everything into consideration. Also, explain what you will do for them after the job is done. Tell them that you will not hold copyright to the material and they are free to do what they want with it. In the above situation where the client took my higher bid, during the last meeting before the contract was awarded, the client asked us "Why should we chose your company" (We were bidding against the biggest company in town), my wife turned to them and said "We will treat you like family. We will put your needs above our own. We will take care of you." We were awarded a very lucrative five year contract.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona

It's a dry heat!


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Steve Kownacki
Re: talk about quoting process!
on Feb 21, 2007 at 12:50:58 pm

We used to get RFPs like this and most of them turned out to be a search for a 2nd or 3rd bidder when the company already had selected a vendor - it was used for checks and balances. In their vagueness, you actually HAVE to give them creative ideas as well. If you are using talent, you must elaborate on why that would be beneficial. If you're bid includes a jib, you must show them why the budget warrants it. You'll end up writing a 4-5 page proposal... I'm really surprised they didn't include the line "all submissions and creative concepts become the property of XX and may be used at our discretion."

On bids like this, you have to determine how much your time is worth and if you really have a chance at or want the job. If you're going to spend 2 or 3 days on the phone, in a meeting, collecting demos and writing a proposal, are you going to recoup that on the job? And if you lose that time, can you make it up on the next job? That's somewhere between $1000 and $1500 of time spent that needs to be compensated for.

Steve


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