BUSINESS AND MARKETING: Business and Marketing Forum Business and Marketing Articles

Running your Business - The Hard Decisions

COW Forums : Business & Marketing

<< PREVIOUS   •   FAQ   •   VIEW ALL   •   PRINT   •   NEXT >>
walter biscardi
Running your Business - The Hard Decisions
on Sep 27, 2007 at 12:17:33 am

So while I'm preparing my 3rd entry of my 4 part trilogy about Running Your Own Business, I ran into another difficult life lesson a few moments ago. Turning away a project due to a bad miscommunication or a potential manipulation.

For several months I have been talking to an out of state producer about assisting with some color correction on a project. It was supposed to have happened in August, but kept sliding down and the last we left it was probably the week of October 1st. With as busy as the shop has been, it hasn't been in the front of my mind.

So today I get an email that the client is planning to drive down first thing Monday morning and get started. There's problem number one. I said "the week of October 1st looked good" in August. I didn't say "October 1." Of course my schedule has changed drastically since August and the week of October 1 is not very good anymore for another project.

I probably should have stayed in better communication with him over the past six weeks, but it has been a bit insane around here. But I figure out a way to squeeze him two days in the shop and then we hit another snag.

I'm looking through all my email communications and I don't see a price quote in there from me, so I check with him to see if I did send a quote. I'm told in an email that I quoted a number on the phone that is less than I have charged for about 7 years now. I figure he must have heard me wrong on the phone, and at first I'm willing to let it go. But after considering it further, discussing it with my partner (the wife) and the work he is expecting, Color Correction in Apple's Color, we came to the conclusion that we simply can't take on the work for that rate.

For one, the rate is far below anything I would ever quote anyone. I honestly hope he mis-heard me on the phone and isn't trying to manipulate the rate based on something I said on the phone. All of our quotes are always sent via email or regular mail in writing for this very reason.

Two, it will completely disrupt our production schedule including some very major broadcast clients.

It's a hard decision but one of things I do preach is knowing when to say "No." In this case it's a worthy project, but we can't squeeze something in that will cost us money and cause us to potentially miss several other deadlines.

So I'm left in a difficult position, but from his emails I also understand that the editing and primary color correction has gone better than expected where he is. So it sounds like he will be covered just fine, even without our Color session.

Just wanted to pass along another life lesson. Sometimes it ain't fun being the boss.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
http://www.biscardicreative.com
HD Editorial & Animation for Broadcast and independent productions.

All Things Apple Podcast! http://cowcast.creativecow.net/all_things_apple/index.html

Read my blog! http://blogs.creativecow.net/WalterBiscardi


Return to posts index

Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Running your Business - The Hard Decisions
on Sep 27, 2007 at 2:05:37 pm

[walter biscardi] "Sometimes it ain't fun being the boss"

Sometimes?

Man, I hate being the boss.

Like a lot of folks here, I started as a one-man-band company. A couple of years later when we got big enough to start needing full-time employees, one of the first positions I hired was that of "General Manager"... I found the very best and smartest guy I could find and hired him to "be the boss." I kept the title of Creative Director and make all the creative decisions, but he handles all the quoting, billing, client wrangling, paper pushing, hiring and firing, and all the stuff that made "being the boss" unpleasant for me.

Of course, as president of the corporation and majority owner i'm still the real real boss, but it sure is great to have someone you can rely on to take care of a lot of the burden.

I'm a control freak, so it's very hard to give up any power. For example, we mostly do broadcast commercials and in addition to shooting I used to edit everything myself. When that got to be too much for us, we went out and hired the very best editor we could get our hands on... and now he edits the majority of stuff we do. It was very very hard to let someone else cut my projects at first... but when I finally realized that my editor shared my same vision (and actually is a much better cutter than me) it became easier to let it go. It was the same with the business side of things... once I finally let some of it go, I found I was much happier... and could just concentrate on directing my little thirty-second movies.

Of course, I joke that Phil our GM has been embezzling from me for years. Not true, of course... he is the most painfully honest guy I know, and I do keep tabs on him and everyone that works for us. Ya gotta.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






Return to posts index

walter biscardi
Re: Running your Business - The Hard Decisions
on Sep 27, 2007 at 5:34:21 pm

[Todd at Fantastic Plastic] "When that got to be too much for us, we went out and hired the very best editor we could get our hands on... and now he edits the majority of stuff we do. It was very very hard to let someone else cut my projects at first... but when I finally realized that my editor shared my same vision (and actually is a much better cutter than me) it became easier to let it go."

That's such a key. Never hire anyone who's as good as you or not as good, try to find the best people. I'm very lucky with the editor I have working here as he's fresh out of college, but is so incredibly good at telling stories that I can just trust him with any client to take care of their needs. And he does it as well as or better than I do.

Surround yourself with good people and you just look better for it.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
http://www.biscardicreative.com
HD Editorial & Animation for Broadcast and independent productions.

All Things Apple Podcast! http://cowcast.creativecow.net/all_things_apple/index.html

Read my blog! http://blogs.creativecow.net/WalterBiscardi


Return to posts index


Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Running your Business - The Hard Decisions
on Sep 27, 2007 at 6:14:54 pm

[walter biscardi] "That's such a key... try to find the best people."

Yep... and treat them very well,and if there is any way possible for God's sake pay 'em what they are worth... and enough to keep them (if they turn out to be worth keeping).

The same editor I was talking about, I probably pay him $10K (maybe even $15K) more more than I absolutely have to. But he is very happy getting paid very well and doing interesting work... he considers himself truly a part of the team,and as far as I know in three years he has never even thought about looking for another job. Our business is so transient, that's a very rare thing. Worth every penny.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






Return to posts index

Rennie
Re: Running your Business - The Hard Decisions
on Sep 27, 2007 at 6:23:34 pm

[walter biscardi] " I said "the week of October 1st looked good" in August. I didn't say "October 1.""

At this point I'd ask them which October 1st. they want?.... There's 2008, 2009 still available. Maybe they can take the scenic route! :-)


[walter biscardi] " I probably should have stayed in better communication with him over the past six weeks, but it has been a bit insane around here. "

Since he is the one who knows when his project is ready it is up to him to confirm. It's pretty obvious between 2 people when you are actually making an appointment, exact times to the minute are usualy specified as is the nature of work to be peformed and rates confirmed. Anything else is just tentative and should not be considered confirmed. When your schedule is sliding in months, follow up confirmations or re-bookings are in order with your outside contractors.

Another neat thing doctors and dentists adhere to is "no show" or "failure to cancel prior to 24hr notice" charges. Many people just don't seem to be aware of the value of one's time and come waddling in 45 minutes late with coffee in hand. Just a simple courtesy phone call to warn you they are caught in traffic or what ever would allow you to continue working on other things instead of shutting down and reconfiguring your set up for them only to have to wait. I've had a client for about 4 years now who is in the habit of calling me ahead about 2 hrs usually to try to bend my schedule back an hour or 2 and you know I actually don't mind. It often gives me some time to finish something off or maybe I'll just adjust my lunch break to accomadate him. Communication is the key.


Return to posts index

walter biscardi
Re: Running your Business - The Hard Decisions
on Sep 29, 2007 at 12:22:20 am

Good points Rennie!


Walter Biscardi, Jr.
http://www.biscardicreative.com
HD Editorial & Animation for Broadcast and independent productions.

All Things Apple Podcast! http://cowcast.creativecow.net/all_things_apple/index.html

Read my blog! http://blogs.creativecow.net/WalterBiscardi


Return to posts index


Nick Griffin
Re: Running your Business - The Hard Decisions
on Sep 29, 2007 at 2:57:52 pm

Walter, you are leading a truly blessed life if this situation is even in your Top 20 -- make that Top 200 -- of bad things that have happened during your business career or hard decisions you've had to make.

1) Have you fired a partner? Regular firings can be a nightmare. Firings where equity is involved get very complicated, very expensive and very ugly, very fast.

2) Have you ever been burned for more money than you make in a year by someone you used to trust? Someone who kept using the personal relationship so you'd just keep doing that next thing, and the one after that? (Man, did THAT one teach me a thing or two about survival.)

3) Have you taken on a client, researched and found good credit references, only to months later find out that your original instincts had been right and it had been their intention all along to screw you?

4) Or then there's the one about the big client, for whom you cut a special long-term deal and over the first two years realize that he's using the special deal to kill you, knows that he would pay much more elsewhere, and also knows that by virtue of doing so much work so cheap you can't afford to walk away.

There's a reason we oldsters develop a sense of what to do and what NOT to do. It's because we learned not to touch the stovetop when we think it's hot because all the warning signs are there. Please learn from us, kids. The stovetop IS hot and all of us on the masthead, in addition to many others here, want to prevent you from getting burned.

Now, just like the magazines, here's the answer key (at least as best as I have figured it out from personal experience):

1) Partnership agreements should be lengthy, complete and therefore expensive. When you pay a real business lawyer a lot of money you should get an agreement that makes divorce simpler, faster, and believe it or not, cheaper.

1b) Be the majority shareholder or be the minority shareholder and don't forget which one you are.

2) This one is so deep and so multi-part that I have yet to devise a defense for it. In my case it developed over 12 years and the only way I can view it that makes any sense is to rationalize that I was forced to give up a 10% discount at the end -- just nobody ever told me that 100% of the discount would come out of that last year's revenues.

3) It simply made no sense that this particular client, who had a close relative in the same business as me, would have any need whatsoever to use me. Had to be something wrong. Turns out that even with good credit and what should have been an otherwise solid business, they knew their ship was sailing towards bankruptcy because of an impending divorce. Lesson learned: when it doesn't smell right don't be shy about asking questions and digging deeper. Better to lose the lead than lose the time and money on something you could tell from the beginning made little sense.

4) Simple answer: don't put too many eggs in one basket -- especially when the company holding the basket knows it and is made up of the kinds of people who will exploit a vendor's problems for their own benefit. Along these lines, try not to do business with people who you wouldn't otherwise have as friends. (Tough to do sometimes, but these days I'm feeling extremely lucky in that area.)

Additionally, while long-term deals may be fine, avoid them early in a relationship. It's best to set various milestones for mutual review and re-negotiation. This is why strive we to have multiple clients and let the clients know it. This makes it much harder for one to hold you up and much less likely that any one can kill you. (BTW, this one deal didn't kill the company outright, but it was one of the leakier parts of a boat that did eventually go down.)

So Walt, here's some grist to help drive the mill of discussing "hard decisions."


Return to posts index

<< PREVIOUS   •   VIEW ALL   •   PRINT   •   NEXT >>
© 2017 CreativeCOW.net All Rights Reserved
[TOP]