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johnsabbath d'urzoflat rate or hourly
by on Oct 26, 2008 at 5:35:39 am

i have a client that starting to nit pick on everything i work 5 hours and want to pay a fraction of that.
i do hourly with this guy for the last few years, i started off as a flat rate then he saw i work fast then he wants an hourly and we have been doing hourly for years now. he gets an invoice with the hours totaled up, most of the jobs come to about 20 hours or so. know he nit picks and say this should have taken so long after he gives me alot of changes to do. how do i resolve this. do i keep hourly and inform him along the way of hours spent. or do a flat rate that includes a only so much changes? and if i do hourly how would i charge for rush charges, every job is a rush. and do i collect deposits, he never gives deposits but lattly i have been collecting c.o.d if not the day i release the job with in a week i will get the money.
what are some good steps to take so he is not surprised about the bill at the end. what are you guys doing and what are your terms? do you also charge for overtime or rush jobs for regular clients?


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johnsabbath d'urzoRe: flat rate or hourly
by on Oct 26, 2008 at 5:42:15 am

can someone include some good terms for a contract for hourly and or flat rate, how should i approach the job as it comes in, what are some good steps to fallow??



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walter biscardiRe: flat rate or hourly
by on Oct 26, 2008 at 1:15:37 pm

[johnsabbath d'urzo] "what are some good steps to fallow??"

first off, if the client nit picks and it annoys you, stop working with them. Seriously. Those type of clients are not worth working with, especially if you have a long term relationship with them and they know your work. If they think you should be working faster, let them find someone else to work with or do it themselves.

You never want to do a flat rate unless you have a signed contract that notes what the rate is and for how many hours you expect to work. Then you have a line in there that states how much it will cost for every hour beyond that.

Something like: "Based on the information provided by the client, I will edit this project for $X. This rate anticipates no more than 20 hours of work based on the current information. If this project goes over 20 hours, client shall be charged $Y per hour for each additional hour."



Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

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johnsabbath d'urzoRe: flat rate or hourly
by on Oct 26, 2008 at 2:45:52 pm

i would have told him where to go! i need the money from his jobs and he is a pain in the ....
how can i make this work? there hasn't been any problems for 4 years and know he is nit picking. and he own's me some money for the last job that he makes up a story about to many hours spent. what is a pro approach to take?



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David Roth WeissRe: flat rate or hourly
by on Oct 26, 2008 at 5:35:37 pm

[johnsabbath d'urzo] "what is a pro approach to take?"

You really need to communicate with your client. Ask him what the problem is, and determine if the relationship can be repaired. A call like that is scary for anyone, because we all fear pain and rejection. Making that call is the professional and mature thing to do. It's like getting a cavity filled at the dentist -- anyone who's ever put off a trip to the dentist and ended up getting a root canal will tell you, a little pain today will save you from many days of lingering pain and fear over a much longer period of time.

Yes, making that call requires being brave, because you may hear some things you don't want to hear, but the fact is, avoiding that call doesn't ease the pain one bit.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.


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johnsabbath d'urzoRe: flat rate or hourly
by on Oct 26, 2008 at 5:57:41 pm

i will make the call, he owns me money from the last job and alot of money from the past. one of his clients went out of business and he should receive an offer soon and he will make me an offer on past money. but he still owns me for the last job a small amount (the one that he was nit picking on, said i took to long to do this and someone else would have taken less time, i dont think so there were 3 changes done to this job and i did it) well he just came to me with a new job the other day, i still did not talk to him about this job and did not start yet. what should i do when i call this guy can someone give me some pointers. thanks for everybody so far that replied to this post. i want to fix the relationship for a number of reasons , so i get more future work and hopefully a good amount of money for past jobs. what do you think. And how should I attack future jobs with this guy so there is no surprise at the end?



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Timothy J. AllenRe: flat rate or hourly
by on Oct 26, 2008 at 8:38:43 pm

The best way to fix the relationship is to come to an agreement that benefits you both. It sounds like what you need is to get paid within a reasonable amount of time. (If a client is slow to pay - a "reasonable" amount of time would be upon delivery of the master.)

If they have problems with the amount of time that it's taking to get the job done, you have a few choices, but the main thing is to make it clear to them how long you expect it to take and how much you are charging for that amount of work. Then, keep them informed on where they are on their "time budget". This keeps them from requesting changes that might not be as important if they know that it takes them over the original estimate, but it also protects you from getting into endless revisions for no extra pay.

Don't wait to talk with him about the new job, but make it clear that you can not start on it until he is up to speed on payment for the previous jobs.

By the way, it doesn't matter how long it would have taken someone else to do the job. If the agreement is by the hour, they owe you for the time that it took you to get the job done.





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Gary HazenRe: flat rate or hourly
by on Oct 26, 2008 at 6:00:42 pm

To reiterate David's point and to avoid future problems with other clients you need to clearly communicate with them. This doesn't mean waiting until the job is finished. I try to talk to the client about throughout the project to give him an update on the time spent on the project up to that point. It can be as simple as saying, "I wanted to let you know that I've spent about 20 hours on this project so far - are we still on track with the project budget?". This way if the project is exceeding the budget it can be addressed early on rather than waiting for the final invoice. Also it establishes a team based relationship were both parties are concerned with the bottom line. Finally it serves as a reference point should the client question the final invoice. If he asks " Did this project really take you 40 hours?" you can say, "Yes, remember when I told you we were already at 20 hours last week". The point of all this is to avoid the surprise factor when he's reviewing the final invoice. If he's well informed throughout the entire process there's no good reason for him to question the invoice.

All that said, some clients are "Grinders" as Ron would say. They will squeeze the last ounce of work out of you and pay you as little as possible. If this is the case it's time to find another client.



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johnsabbath d'urzoRe: flat rate or hourly
by on Oct 26, 2008 at 6:41:07 pm

do i give an estimate on approximate hours before the poject starts once i review everything? then tell him at the half way point after that tell him we have so much time left what do you want to do? well i think this is what you guys are saying. what if he i say this change will take about 3 hours and he says 2 then i guess i would do my best in to is that right? or what if the project is at the max and is not done but doesnt want to spend more money, then what? i guess the best thing to do is eliminate the surprise at the end. well he owns me money from the last job do i start the new one without money from the last one?



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David Roth WeissRe: flat rate or hourly
by on Oct 26, 2008 at 7:56:05 pm

[johnsabbath d'urzo] "do i give an estimate on approximate hours before the poject starts once i review everything?"

Yes.

[johnsabbath d'urzo] "what if he i say this change will take about 3 hours and he says 2 then i guess i would do my best in to is that right?"

If you're sure of yourself, your knowledge, and your skills, you need to tell him, in no uncertain terms, that he's mistaken and that you refuse to underbid a job, just as he can trust you not to overbid a job. Don't get emotional about it. Just be professional and factual. As with any negotiation, you must be prepared to walk away from the table.

[johnsabbath d'urzo] "he owns me money from the last job do i start the new one without money from the last one?"

No, don't start the new job. That would exponentially increase your exposure.

Recognize, this is a problem you've created, because you have clearly become afraid to lose the business. If you're afraid to collect from this client because you fear it may affect your ability to get new work from that client, you have no one to blame but yourself. Trust me, this client, who sounds like a grinder anyway, can sense your fear. It seems he has learned to play you like a Stradivarius. Quit playing the victim, tell the client what you need, and if he won't listen to reason, fire him.


David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.


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Mark SuszkoRe: flat rate or hourly
by on Oct 26, 2008 at 9:52:44 pm

Classic Grinder technique, keeping you off-balance with recriminations and subtle insults about your ability. You are being manipulated psychologically by this guy. You know best how many hours something is going to take, and you are working at the best sustainable pace already. And if he doesn't agree, tell him you'll call around and see if you can refer him to someone else who can make him happy ( preferably your biggest rival ).

This guy sounds like he worked in News before. There, the clock is your God, and every decision is based on getting done by deadline or faster. If you wanted to make something fancier but it will make you miss deadline, you just don't do it. You specifically sign up for those working conditions and agree to them when you cut news for broadcast. But this is not that. You're not doing news, you're doing something with a slightly freer time line.

"How long is this going to take?"
"As long as it takes."

or, the more classical reference, from "The Agony and the Ecstasy":
(Pope, glancing at ceiling) "When will it be finished?"
(Michelangelo, painting ceiling) "When it is done."
"When will it be done, then?"
"When it is finished".

Never charge a flat, fixed price for a job. Set an hourly and day rate, and whatever the time is, that's the cost. For a guy like this, who wants to put you on a stopwatch and buffet menu of services, switch to the day rate (a slightly higher day rate) and say that rate is all-inclusive, any and all services you do, whatever can be done in eight hours with a 30-minute lunch and occasional nature breaks where practical. Past the eight-hour mark is overtime at double rate, with a one-hour minimum charge as soon as you pass the eight-hour mark. Be prepared to lose the business when you negotiate, and decide in advance at what point you get up, pop the tapes out of the decks, put them in an envelope, and hand them to him, or you will always be his slave.

Finally, be reasonable when estimating. In a famous episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Scotty tells Chief Engineer LaForge to always inflate time estimates because bringing the job in early makes you look like a miracle worker. There is something to that. Not that you should lie and make ridiculously long estimates. But even if you know to the minute what a task takes in a perfect world, there is nothing in the world that guarantees that's how long it will really take. Build in time for things like the machine suddenly crashing and needing to be rebooted, for text to be spell checked and entered and positioned, for renders and saves to tape and the like. Captains and clients will always be demanding and try to shave time off your estimate, and if you give them the honest bare bones guess at the start, assuming no interruptions, what happens instead is that you get a rep for under-estimating how big a job is, and that is as bad or worse than over-estimating the time. And shorting yourself on time limits your ability to be more creative, to experiment a little to make a big improvement. If you're always working to the clock, you're not always going to give your best work, just your most timely.

I have a situation where, due to staff cuts I have to often be double-booked elsewhere when the schedule says I'm supposed to be editing. Now, the schedule was made assuming my butt would be in the editor seat the full number of hours, but that often gets interrupted these days to go deal with a live client, go out on a last-minute shoot or something, because I usually edit alone and it's easier to abandon the impersonal machine for a few hours than a live client. So I didn't get to actually be in the editing seat the original estimated number of hours. The editing project still has a due date though.

What to do? Generally, I have two options. 1: double the time to completion estimate next time, knowing that about half of the time budgeted for the job will be stolen away to put out other fires. 2: Rack up overtime after five when nobody's pulling me away from the edit, so I can catch up to where I wanted to be.

Both strategies work, but both have limitations. I have human and social limitations on how much overtime I can stand in a row. The wife and kids deserve a certain amount of my time, and my health requires a certain amount of rest or my skills and judgement degrade. Racking up too much overtime also draws irate fire from management. If I over-pad edit time too much, I hurt the production schedule by limiting access and then may have to explain myself when a project comes in several days early and there is slack time in the schedule that's not serving clients (or in a cash business situation, bringing in revenue). That would make me look like a malingerer or goldbrick. So there is a fine line to balance on. If the inflated estimate is chosen, generally I find or create something else to do to kill the slack hours that's still productive, like training on something, building something, cleaning up, whatever. Just don't make me label and file tapes:-)








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David Roth WeissRe: flat rate or hourly
by on Oct 27, 2008 at 12:13:31 am

[Mark Suszko] ""How long is this going to take?"
"As long as it takes."

or, the more classical reference, from "The Agony and the Ecstasy":
(Pope, glancing at ceiling) "When will it be finished?"
(Michelangelo, painting ceiling) "When it is done."
"When will it be done, then?"
"When it is finished"."


Reminds me of a classic golf story. As the story goes, an amatuer asked the great Ben Hogan for a tip. "Gee Mr. Hogan," he asked, "can you tell me how to make more putts?" "Sure," said Hogan, just hit your approach shot closer to the hole."

So John, when your client asks why it's taking you so long, you can always tell him, he's shooting too much footage, and his projects are too long.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.


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Mark EspinaRe: flat rate or hourly
by on Oct 28, 2008 at 11:21:22 am

My two cents.

Either put your foot down in a courteous and professional manner or just grin and bear it.

If you're too afraid to loose his business - he'll always have the upper hand and can pretty much do what he wants to do on you.

No matter how you try to 'fix' the immediate problems - you will always have a big burden compound on you in the long run. He will always try to skimp on payments, criticize and manipulate you to doing what he/she wants.

There is no changing this situation unless you are willing to walk away.

But if you can't walk awway, and if trying to find a better client or set of clients to replace what he's doing for you in terms of jobs and income is too hard or too risky, then just grin bear it and bow down.

You can't gain anything unless you are willing to loose everything.




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grinner hesterRe: flat rate or hourly
by on Oct 28, 2008 at 11:30:54 pm

I have found a flat rate gets folks in, gives me more freedom and allows me to charge a better hourly rate in the end as I get done much faster than with a client in the room.




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