Tiering" the levels of service
I've heard about "tiering" the levels of service offered to internal clients. (Gold/silver/bronze, etc). Who out there does this and how do you tier your services?
Manager Creative Services
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
I didn't respond to this right away, because I don't have your *specific* answer... but seeing as nobody else has replied in several days, I wanted to ask; why would you want to treat the different internal clients "differently"? My shop is based on a revolving fund, so it's really mostly Monopoly money, moving back and forth between the same accounts, not like a commercial business. So I don't have a good perspective on your situation.
But what I've proposed before, for an in-house shop situation is, you don't charge anything for the service but you ration access by TIME. Edit time. Studio production time. Pre-production, script services, any tech help. Everybody gets x amount of free hours a month to spend for their divisions. You decide if unused time carries over or is trade-able between divisions.
But how I suggest it works is this: If client A's particular job exceeds the hours for the month, and others are waiting for their turn, you go to the back of the line to finish... or, you can"buy" more hours with a funds transfer, typically this would be a trade-out on getting more equipment. Or training. Because more equipment, or better training, if it's the right sort, makes the whole unit more time-efficient, so you can help more people for the same outlay. The clients soon learn to be more efficient in their internal processes, so as not to waste their hours unnecessarily. That's good for YOU.
A side benefit of the time-based rationing is, you can show metrics for how much work you are doing every month and what the overall demand level for services looks like. Whether it was several minor jobs, or one mega-job that took the entire department a month to handle, the hours tell the story better than just a tally with no context of how many productions were turned around.
Actually billing internal clients, or putting them on tiers, always struck me as a way to discourage them to use the internal services, and promotes competition from rival outside providers, or worse, it incentivizes the clients to start doing more of the work themselves, without you, and often with less than great results. None of that is good in terms of promoting the internal production office. Because you lose the justification for having one.
But I'm willing to entertain a different perspective.
I just had a client who did just that....basically it goes like this:
There is a project and three different treatment approaches with examples are presented. The Gold is the most expensive approach....might require a studio, actors, more setup and crew.
The Silver might be a simpler interview setup, with maybe still a larger crew etc
Bronze would be a very simple one camera look and feel with little graphics etc.
Again the examples shown should reflect why one is more expensive than another.
Within these three categories my client even broke them into two different budgets depending on some of the crew and gear and locations they might use....so Gold had two levels, Silver had two etc.
Seemed to help sell it upstream as to why one is more than another and it ended up that the client liked the top Gold approach best. Of course the example was James Cameron interviewing Steven Spielberg!
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
That's an interesting way to go about it. If you're telling them their project only rates a bronze-level service, though, does that provoke them into going off to DIY it without you? We once went thru a belt-tightening phase and a lot of the smaller clients stopped doing projects at all, or did really bad attempts in-house, rather than coming to us. I don't believe the projects were any less worthy of doing during that period, but they just didn't get done, and whatever problems the videos would have helped solve, stayed problems.
In real-world production, budget drives the choices made, of course. And you can be creative inside of any particular budget range, I will admit. If I know there's not enough money for a grip truck, or for pro actors, or for real world location shoots, I can start narrowing the creative options and thinking about how to maximize production value within the scope of what's valuable. in fact, I like that challenge, it's like haiku poetry, to be creative withing strict, small limits. Give me an unlimited budget, and I wouldn't know what to spend most of it on...
But the questions that start the ball rolling, for me, are: what's the problem, and can a visual communication piece solve that problem? I then would ask: how much is the problem costing, and how much profit is made or saved by solving it? Then the biggie: what percentage of that big number, in a dollar value, is it worth to them, to spend, nay; INVEST, to get that projected savings or profit?
That gets you to a number for what this is all worth, and what you might need to spend, and I like that approach better than arbitrary buffet menus which ask the end user to decide, in broad terms, how "good" his/her product is going to be. More of a bespoke approach, I guess.
I simply use different language. "Want a Cadillac or a Chevy? Cool, that's 5k vs 1k.
I simply explain I base bids upon hours spent. I lie about that too as my edit suite is quite out dated and slow. I don't place clients behind it. I just keep my rates competitive and make less money via spending more time than others would. Fine by me. While I use to make more money, I also had to wear clothes and stuff.
Zombie Thread warning. 😉
[Mark Suszko] "If you're telling them their project only rates a bronze-level service, though, does that provoke them into going off to DIY it without you?"
It's not that the internal client's project is only worthy of bronze-level service, it's that the internal client's budget only goes so far. All other things being equal, if the budget covers 40 man hours you'll get something better than a budget of only 20 man hours which, in turn, will get you something better than a budget of only 10 man hours. It's like trim levels in a car. The important parts never change (same chassis, same build quality, same warranty, etc.,) but the base-level model won't have the navigation system the mid-level model gets and the mid-level model won't have the fancy rims the top model gets.
The quality of the work doesn't change. The 'worthiness' of the project doesn't change. In my experience having some pre-made tiers as starting points just helps set realistic expectations of how much work can be done by X amount of people in Y amount of time.