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Support Contract?

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Scott CarnegieSupport Contract?
by on Aug 21, 2009 at 4:13:39 pm

Film Festival Company A hires Web Company B to put together an on-line film festival website. Web Company B hires me to rip and encode numerous videos from DVD to Flash for the website. I also put together a tutorial document so that Company A can do it in-house in the future. I go to company A's office to go over the tutorial and give them some training in the software used. This was all covered in my agreement with Web Company B.

I also transferred to Company A my license of Sorenson Squeeze (I had an extra) and trained them in how to use it after their initial software didn’t work so well.

Since then Company A had some problems with workflow and certain videos not working, so it would be crunch time and I would encode the videos for them myself and bill per video. That is all fine.

Often times I have helped them over the phone with technical issues related to the hardware and software they've used in ripping and encoding, and a few times going down to their office to help them. This additional support has not been paid and I never had a direct agreement with them about ongoing support. I'm doing it for them and will continue to do so at the current level to keep good relations with the client.

Would it be appropriate to negotiate a "support" contract of some sort with them at this point, per incident? $25 if solved over the phone, $50 if an office visit is needed? In the future I know to have this built into contracts, but since this morphed as me being a sub-contractor to dealing with them directly a formal contract never really came up with Company A.

Hope that makes sense.

Thoughts?


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Richard HerdRe: Support Contract?
by on Aug 21, 2009 at 5:55:29 pm

Standard maintenance & support contracts are yearly fees. You can measure response time and call back time.

Example:
Tier 1: $10,000, call back in 2 hours, can be onsite within 24
Tier 2: $7,500, call back same business day, can be on site within 48 hours
Tier 3: $5,000 call back within the week, on site per schedule and travel costs.

Since a $10,000 lump sum is quite a bit of cash, you can get monthly payments, even pitching them as "interest free" as some incentive. Example: $10,000/12months is $833.33/month. You would need to (a) get a contract for maintenance and service agreement executed and (b) send monthly invoices.

Also, if they pay month 1 and 2, but not month 3 and they need you for month 4, you need to figure out how you want to deal, here.



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Scott CarnegieRe: Support Contract?
by on Aug 21, 2009 at 6:29:15 pm

That might be excessive considering how often I get calls from them, which has been maybe one every two weeks, and I've gone down there 3 or 4 times.


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cowcowcowcowcow
Nick GriffinRe: Support Contract?
by on Aug 21, 2009 at 6:36:10 pm

I would bring the subject up with the powers that be, posing it as a problem and asking them to provide a solution. Explain that this has developed into more of a commitment than either of you had anticipated, that it has the potential of displacing some of your other work, and ask how they would like to handle it? If you don't get the response you need you could then be the one to ask if it would make sense for you to bill by the hour for your services. Keep it light and non-threatening and most people will do the right thing.



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Richard HerdRe: Support Contract?
by on Aug 21, 2009 at 7:10:03 pm

I'm sure Nick's correct and he's talking about the negotiation process.

Here's one more thing to consider:
If you work 40 hours per week, for 52 weeks, that equals 2080 hours. $10,000/2080=$4.81/hr. That's not even the US federal minimum wage! $10k/year to be a virtual employee is a bargain. You're saving them a pile of money and deserve to be paid.


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Mark SuszkoRe: Support Contract?
by on Aug 21, 2009 at 9:23:05 pm

Do you want them to put you on a retainer? X-amount a month for all you they can eat?


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Chris BlairRe: Support Contract?
by on Aug 22, 2009 at 1:45:22 am

I'd buff your feet with a loofa and fix you breakfast in bed every Saturday if you'd provide that kind of service to me.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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cowcowcowcowcow
Bob ZelinRe: Support Contract?
by on Aug 22, 2009 at 9:32:57 pm

Richard,
you live in fantasy land. As I write this, I am emailing back and forth with one of Creative Cow's best known people, supporting him FOR FREE on the weekend. He has been a good client in the past, and when he moves his company, I know that I will be hired to build his new facility. In the mean time, he is in trouble, and I am helping him FOR FREE. In New York, and in Florida, I have kicked AVID's behind (via their clients) by giving FREE SUPPORT (phone and email) and have a loyal following. Of course, I charge a lot of money when I actually have to show up, or do real work (other than talk on the phone). If I was to tell this gentlemen (who most of you know) that I want 10 grand to talk to him because it's Saturday, I would never hear from him again. But because I am helping him, I know that he will be a loyal client. You can say "well, if you count in your hours that you are giving him free help, make sure you figure that in when you do bill him, and figure out what you are actually making". I don't think like that. I do my job, I charge real money, and I help out my clients on the phone whenever they need it (better than watching TV) - and I have a large loyal client following.

Just my opinion.

Bob Zelin




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walter biscardiRe: Support Contract?
by on Aug 22, 2009 at 11:45:48 pm

Damn straight you're engineering the new facility! Since we brought you on board the efficiency of our facility has gone through the roof and all the support you give is well appreciated. It is great to know that I can ask a question and you're there, just like we're there for our clients day in and day out.

I'll further say that's why I purchase from my VAR for just about everything we need even though there are times I pay more than if i went through the lowest priced internet vendor. That vendor can't offer one on one support like David Strupp and WH Platts can.

They pick up the phone when I call with questions, just like you do on a weekend when you'd probably rather be watching TV after all.....

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author.
Credits include multiple Emmy, Telly, Aurora and Peabody Awards.
Owner, Biscardi Creative Media featuring HD Post

Biscardi Creative Media

Creative Cow Forum Host:
Apple Final Cut Pro, Apple Motion, Apple Color, AJA Kona, Business & Marketing, Maxx Digital.

Read my Blog!

Twitter!


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David Roth WeissRe: Support Contract?
by on Aug 22, 2009 at 11:50:21 pm

Okay, now that the really big well-kept secret has finally been divulged for all the world to see, what pre-tell was the technological breakdown that only Bob could fix?

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, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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walter biscardiRe: Support Contract?
by on Aug 22, 2009 at 11:56:06 pm

[David Roth Weiss] "Okay, now that the really big well-kept secret has finally been divulged for all the world to see, what pre-tell was the technological breakdown that only Bob could fix? "

All I'll say it was an issue and Bob ultimately came up with a solution by just continually throwing out suggestions. That's what I love about Bob. He doesn't just give you one idea, he gives you about a dozen along with a lot of technical information that goes along with each one.

One of them worked and we're off and running again.



Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author.
Credits include multiple Emmy, Telly, Aurora and Peabody Awards.
Owner, Biscardi Creative Media featuring HD Post

Biscardi Creative Media

Creative Cow Forum Host:
Apple Final Cut Pro, Apple Motion, Apple Color, AJA Kona, Business & Marketing, Maxx Digital.

Read my Blog!

Twitter!


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Nick GriffinRe: Support Contract?
by on Aug 23, 2009 at 2:41:50 pm

Whew! Based on Bob's clues I would almost never had guessed that the client he was discussing was Walter. And having seen Walter's facility first hand -- even prior to the new machine room -- I can report that technically it is clean, cool and elegant. So much so that when I returned home I immediately began began cleaning up wires and bundling runs.

All that said, I think Bob is in a somewhat different business than Scott, the original poster. If it was a once in while question with large projects as a routine source of income, sure it can and should be comp'd, but week in, week out support and hand holding, that's a different matter. Scott, by his good nature, has been backed into the support business and needs to find a way to either get paid for it or shift it off to others without alienating his client.

As to asking for $10,000 a year, I don't think that will fly too many places these days. It's ALWAYS easier to get someone to agree to $833 a month because that gives the impression that they're only committing to several hundred dollars at a time.



[walter biscardi] "He doesn't just give you one idea, he gives you about a dozen"

Whether it's someone with Bob's depth or knowledge or other COW posters, finding solutions often comes down to a fresh set of eyes looking at a problem. In fact I think I have a permanent flat spot on my forehead from going "D'oh! Why didn't I think of that earlier?" We have a great community going on here and the more we can help each other succeed the better off we all are.



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Chris BlairRe: Support Contract?
by on Aug 23, 2009 at 4:56:32 pm

One thing I'll add is that while I agree with Bob's method of doing business and it's virtually the exact same model we use. Running your business that way DEMANDS that you charge accordingly when you do the paying part of the gig.

What I mean is, you can't undercut, underbid or leave ANYTHING out of your esimate/bid if you're going to provide the freebie help along the way.

One problem we run into is occasionally we'll bid a job with a first-time client that turns into a much bigger job AFTER they see the level of customer service, quality and speed they're getting. We're going through the right now with a client that did one small job...(that turned into a bigger job mid-project), and now a flood of jobs are coming our way from them.

When that happens, you have to IMMEDIATELY discuss the changes with the client and point out that the project specs have changed and that it means re-estimated the project and getting new contracts and P.O.s issued.

When we run into these situations, pricing and estimating on all of the work is a constant give and take with the client (who is thankfully understanding about it), because they keep "upping the ante" so to speak on content, quality etc...mainly because they realize how much more responsive we are than the people they used to use. On the first project, as soon as we started going overbudget, (mostly due to the client not providing work they promised to move the project along) we made them aware of the changes and extra work at every stage. They were actually appreciative of the way we handled it.

So...you have to set your pricing at a rate than can sustain all the little "extras" you throw into the mix, like being ready to help at the the drop of a hat. And...you have to continually be upfront about any changes in the project specs and discuss budget adjustments. What gets a lot of people in trouble is they're so eager to please a client, they blindly agree to whatever the client wants even if it's way beyond the scope of the original project, and they fail to discuss that if they're doing a LOT more work, they should be paid more money.

For some reason a lot of people are afraid to discuss money and budgets in meetings. I ALWAYS discuss it in detail and I also always immediately bring it up when project specs change significantly in the middle of a project. It eliminates a lot of problems and animosity down the road and I find that our clients rarely object to it, in fact, the opposite is true, they like keeping the issue of budgets up front.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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walter biscardiRe: Support Contract?
by on Aug 24, 2009 at 12:36:25 am

Just wanted to say thanks again Bob for your help yesterday. The show is well at hand and the colorist has been cranking all weekend.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author.
Credits include multiple Emmy, Telly, Aurora and Peabody Awards.
Owner, Biscardi Creative Media featuring HD Post

Biscardi Creative Media

Creative Cow Forum Host:
Apple Final Cut Pro, Apple Motion, Apple Color, AJA Kona, Business & Marketing, Maxx Digital.

Read my Blog!

Twitter!


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Richard HerdRe: Support Contract?
by on Aug 24, 2009 at 6:07:33 pm

No I don't.


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