Colleagues, where is your courage?
Sometimes I feel like I’m dealing with a bunch of wimps.
Wimps who cave in without a fight and who compromise their integrity for money.
Last week I wrote about a recent European Directive to combat late-paying clients. New, stringent rules have changed the game in favor of small and mid-size companies. No longer are we at the mercy of businesses and government institutions that made us wait forever to get our money.
Now, any Europe-based entrepreneur can charge interest if a bill isn’t paid on time (usually within 30 days), and add at least €40 (about 54 USD) to cover the cost of debt collection, should it come to that. There’s no legal obligation to send a late-paying client a reminder. It is expected that an invoice gets paid when it is due.
If this were to happen in the U.S. where I live and work, I would jump for joy. Every year, thousands of businesses go bankrupt. Not because their product or service stinks, but because they’re waiting to get paid. This new Euro-legislation aims to make that a thing of the past. Isn’t that a cause for celebration?
Some colleagues greeted the new rules with fear, disbelief and skepticism. One freelancer wrote to me:
“Those regulations are nice in theory, but I wouldn’t dare go after one of my biggest clients. It usually takes them 100+ days to pay me and I hate that. So, why do I put up with it? Because if I were to get tough on them, they’d hire someone else in a heartbeat.”
I asked him:
ted mcaleer says
Great blog as always… Naysayers, doomsday and Debbie Downer types, GET BACK! you have been outed by Nethervoice!
Mike Harrison says
Yeah, it does hurt, sometimes, when we stand up for ourselves and lose a client in the process. But it does make us stronger.
There is a client, one of many who found me on their own, who frequently has me do pharmaceutical reads. They told me right off that their payment cycles were 90 days. I spoke up right then and said, “Well, I’m sure you can understand, because I’m a very small business (just me), I don’t have the kind of cash flow I’m sure most of your other vendors have. So, I’d really appreciate it if you could ask your bookkeeping people if they could afford me a bit of consideration.”
Also, they don’t ask for a quote for each job. They offer $X00 per script. I can take it or leave it. I definitely take it: the reads are done via ISDN.
On one occasion they had some new material as well as several minutes-worth of revisions for previously-done work. What they offered for the revisions was quite low, so I politely pointed out my generous revision policy and that their revisions (client changes) were considerably lengthy, something for which I would normally charge $X.
They quickly accepted my rate for the revisions and we moved ahead and completed recording.
And not only did they quickly accept my revision rate, payment has been – quite surprisingly – *within* 30 days instead of 90 or later.
I don’t know whether to thank them for the consideration, or say nothing out of fear the early payments are a mistake!
Matt Forrest says
I try to be as accommodating to my clients as possible, and rarely have any issues with payment…but after it’s been more than 90 days, I’m at the point where I don’t care if I lose them as a client. If they don’t care about me, why should I be groveling at their feet? BT, I love your line “optimism is never a substitute for preparedness.” So true!
Paula Leinweber says
Thank you, Paul. Once again your blog is so encouraging and educational! I learn with every one I read. Especially as someone who is still in the beginning stages of her voiceover career, your experience and wisdom is really helpful. Thanks!
Dave Menashe says
Another home run Paul – thanks so much.
This is one area of the business that truly frustrates me. Most clients pay 30-40 days and I’m ok with the odd exception. However, around 50% of my VO income comes from my talent agent (and often for larger jobs) and I definitely can’t tell them that I want payment within 30 days! It’s often 45 days and sometimes over 60. But I never get paid until they receive a check from the client. I just have to bite the bullet there but it’s frustrating that my Union friends get paid within 14 days.
Paul Strikwerda says
Mike’s story tells us that it pays to bring things up with a client. Don’t automatically assume that the answer will be “no.” Just because a company has some “standard” policy or contract, doesn’t mean it can’t be changed.
Different agents seem to have different payment policies. One of my agents sends a check within a week. Another takes 45 days. In “When a client owes you,” I described the situation of a late paying client who’s hiding behind the fact that he hasn’t gotten paid yet by the end-client. How you deal with that depends on your relationship with that customer. Just remember that you made an agreement with the person who hired you and not with their client!
Steven Lowell says
In truth, everyone here who is simply…”afraid they might make someone mad”…needs to know that the companies out there succeeding NEVER think, “…but what if we make someone mad”. They just don’t because that line of thinking means one won’t take action without approval from the “audience”. But…you never know what works and doesnt work, until you try.
Paul, the one thing I have struggled with this year is to find out that so many people, who talk so much about what they want for the industry, barely have the backbone to make the decisions to make it happen. They dont stand up for what they believe in, and qualify that behavior with excuses, as if “change” happens without “action”.
I worked for companies in the past that were getting sued all the time, and eventually publicly condemned in media. Between those experiences and what happened in 2000 with Unions, combined with all the threats and garbage people say to feel important…
I looked at all of it and realized most people are full of ***t, so hold onto good people when you find them. If you have integrity and ethics, and the guts to stand by them…things work out. Integrity and ethics are worth fighting over, and also, losing work over.
It is hard to do…but sometimes you have to tell people to get lost. When you do it enough, you get a thick skin for it, and know when to do it. Eventually you earn respect…for yourself…by you.
There is no crime in having a backbone and fighting for what you believe in, if your morals and ethics are in check.
ps- I love what Europe is doing. I wish the US would follow suit, but that is another story…
Paul Strikwerda says
I’m with you Steven. I “attended” they very first online Membership Meeting of the World Voices Organization today, and I was shocked to find that in one year we only managed to attract 105 members… out of thousands of voice actors. I realize that almost every new organization starts small, but I was wondering: Whatever happened to engagement?
People complain about this and that all the time, and yet they fight their individual battles and are getting nowhere. Because we’re so unorganized and spineless it’s easy for clients to play us off against each other.
If we really want to bring about meaningful and lasting change, we better get some clout and help the World Voice Organization grow fast and furious. Who’s with me?
Alisa Beckwith-Ayilliath says
Another great blog Paul! Ultimately it comes down to how we value ourselves. I’ve raised my rates in recent months and all but one client agreed with the changes. One client questioned the cost when compared with a fellow VO talent who was working on the same project but charging less than half my cost. I explained how I assess my fees and gave several resources for them to review standard voiceover rates so they could see I was well within average cost. I also mentioned to the client the other VO was doing a ton of work for a cost well below standard. My standing firm on my rates paid off with acceptance of the rate and an increased volume in work. If we don’t stand up for ourselves, who will do it for us? Like you said Paul, we’re training our clients how to treat us.