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Watch out who's speaking for you

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Nick Griffin
Watch out who's speaking for you
on Apr 10, 2009 at 6:58:51 pm

I recently had an incident with a vendor over sales tax issue. The vendor's "accounting manager" claimed that we owed his company state sales tax for projects dating back several years. I argued that since 100% of our work was for out of state clients and the vast majority of the time we never even physically take possession of the finished work (in this case prints) instead having them ship directly to our out of state clients, we did not owe state sales tax. This is what I was told by my accountant and just verified with him.

The long and the short of it is this "accounting manager" (Notice how I put quotes around job titles for which I have little respect?) got pissy with me, threatening to "turn us over to the state tax authorities. " Incredulously I asked him if he was in fact making threats to a long-standing customer. He said that I was simply misinformed and owed the taxes. I told him to "have a nice day" (literally, just not meaning it) and hung up on him. When I called back to speak to the guy who runs the company the "accounting manager" intercepted the call and said that he was speaking for his boss and that I could take my business elsewhere. If this were true it sure seems odd since it's his boss who calls here a few times a year saying, "We're kind of slow. Do you have anything we can be doing for you?"

So the long and short of it is that once those of us with companies grow beyond being solo practitioners we REALLY have to be careful who is speaking "for us," what they are saying and, more importantly what their attitude is. If one of my employees was driving away customers, especially over misinformation, I'd be mortified.

Oh, wait a minute. Come to think of it, I actually had that happen once several years ago. Our "creative director" at the time, took on an "I'm smarter than you" attitude with the president of a client company telling him "Well we didn't think you could AFFORD to do it the way you asked for." Pity that this particular guy had grown up dirt poor in the Bronx, worked his was up and was, at the time, personally worth something in excess of $100 Million. He didn't take the comment or the attitude too well and within weeks we'd lost the client.

I really do think it all comes down to attitude. The people who work for us have to feel that they have some stake in the company and what they say and do with the people who pay our bills matters -- a LOT. Wonder if that "accounting manager" will ever figure this out.

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John Davidson
Re: Watch out who's speaking for you
on Apr 10, 2009 at 7:57:25 pm

Sorry to hear that. If only respect, talent, and common sense were all part of the same package....

Recessions are great for weeding out this type of personality.

Magic Feather Inc.

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Nick Griffin
Re: Watch out who's speaking for you
on Apr 10, 2009 at 9:15:01 pm

It was several years ago. The pain has subsided. My hope is that my former "creative director" is working in a WalMart somewhere. Nah, come to think of it, I wouldn't wish that on WalMart.

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walter biscardi
Re: Watch out who's speaking for you
on Apr 10, 2009 at 9:54:40 pm

[Nick Griffin] "Nah, come to think of it, I wouldn't wish that on WalMart. "

I would.

And very good post by the way. I've gotten a few phone calls from people who claim to be "partnering" with me in some sort of fashion. I try to be very careful of who I hire and part of what I look for is their phone voice and attitude.

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

Read my Blog!


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Marc Villarin
Re: Watch out who's speaking for you
on Apr 10, 2009 at 8:06:49 pm

I totally agree with you. Personally, I really don't like people who uses threats to get what they want, but I do try to give a cool-leveled head attitude and fix the problems before it could get any worse. The only question is how far can they go, before it becomes harassment. But one thing's for sure, when the project goes "DONE", and the client offers me another project, I usually think twice on accepting the project.

It's stories like these makes you think about people who you really need to trust.

In my years working as provider, one of the most important lessons I learn, is know who are the people you should be giving your trust to. I don't know about you but I do find it hard (sometimes) people who I could really trust, but I do manage to find good-hearted people.

It is true a good attitude will get you through the long run. We must be all saints for not giving into our own tempers when the client are in those "Moments".

Look on the Bright Side...

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grinner hester
Re: Watch out who's speaking for you
on Apr 10, 2009 at 9:44:03 pm

daaang, I hear ya man.
I get a call every now and again from someone wanting something free stating "Beatle Bob said you guys are partners."
When your best sales exec is a homeless dude with a mop top you know your onto something... god or bad.

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Steve Wargo
Re: Watch out who's speaking for you
on Apr 11, 2009 at 6:49:09 am

[Nick Griffin] "When I called back to speak to the guy who runs the company"

Did you send the boss a card thanking him for years of service and a "sorry we won't be using you anymore"?

Don't forget to ask if he knows anyone that can fill their shoes. That would be like twisting the knife (in the accounting manager).

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .

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