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Old October 23rd, 2009, 10:11 PM   #1
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Potential client wants past client's phone numbers

I do weddings. I have a potential client who wants some of my past clients' phone numbers to ask them about their satisfaction.

To me, this is a boundaries issue. I don't feel right releasing my valued client's contact information to someone who may or may not hire me. To me that's selling them out.

Yet the potential client is a big CEO, and perhaps this is common practice. I told her I'd think on it. Thoughts?
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Old October 23rd, 2009, 10:22 PM   #2
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I've been in that position and here's what I say and do.

"I can't release the numbers of my clients to you BUT I WILL call them and ask their permission to do that. However should they ask me not to I will ask them to call YOU. Is that fair?"

If they insist and I've had a few, I further explain that I wouldn't release THEIR number either as I feel that that would be an intrusion into their lives that the former client might not wish to indulge in. 99% of people understand that and the other 1% hire someone else.

BTW, even my corporate clients sign off in my service agreement that I can give out their name and number to potential clients.
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Old October 23rd, 2009, 10:37 PM   #3
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I think it's only natural, in a way. They most probably saw that "manifestly inadequate" wedding video from the UK on the news and quite rightly want to double-check that you are legit / able to deliver.

Also, CEO types are used to having to perform "due diligence" as a normal part of their business lives .... so it's ingrained in their thinking. They'll also understand the privacy issue and will note your professionalism in the handling of client information (and hence their own).

Do the ring-ahead for permission (per above posts) and I'm sure they will be okay in the end.

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Old October 24th, 2009, 05:09 AM   #4
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That's what is known as asking for references <grin>, something a wise consumer is always advised to do when purchasing any service, so there's nothing in the request that's untoward. There's some obvious privacy issues involved so one should obtain permission from the prior clients before passing their contact information along but other than that, I don't see it as anything unusual or giving rise to concerns. Your prior clients ARE happy with your work, right?
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Old October 24th, 2009, 09:51 AM   #5
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Yes, they're happy.

I'm starting to feel like I'm brokering the sale of a home though. I understand due diligence, but I've this potential client has cost me several hours of work and just emailed me (#13) that she wants a second *set* of demo DVDs to review. I've already given her over 30 paragraphs of references, customized and re-customized packages for her, drawn up a custom contract, uploaded specific archived content online for her, talked on the phone at length. So now that she wants to call my happy clients I'm thinking sheesh, do I cut bait? What if she calls them over and over? I'm feeling demoralized by all this. I want to say, "If you trust me, lets move forward. If not, let me refer you."
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Old October 24th, 2009, 10:02 AM   #6
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I think they have got more than enough to establish whether you are any good or not. You've put in enough time on this already, based on your last post. Any more and you're really going to be losing money before you even start the job.

Furthermore, what if this sort of time-soaking behaviour continues throughout the project and the sign-off for the deliverables? I'm beginning to wonder if this potential client is worth the effort.

Definitely don't send an extra set of demo DVDs. You're not here for entertainment. They can figure it out based on what they have already.

Andrew

PS. For purely bonus points, ask them for referrals for people they have done business with in the past to establish whether they (the potential client) have been good to work with (or a PITA), pay their bills on time, etc ... You should call some of their other contractors for referencing purposes?
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Old October 24th, 2009, 10:16 AM   #7
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at this point you have to ask yourself, is the job worth it? I understand a client wanting to get references and seeing other work but from the desrpition of what you've done til now, I would ask her simply "now that I've done everything you've asked for are we going to go ahead or not?"
Simple direct and to the point. IMO you've done more than I would have and as stated above it's starting to cost you money.
As they say 'Fish or cut bait'.
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Old October 24th, 2009, 11:53 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dana Salsbury View Post
Yes, they're happy.

I'm starting to feel like I'm brokering the sale of a home though. I understand due diligence, but I've this potential client has cost me several hours of work and just emailed me (#13) that she wants a second *set* of demo DVDs to review. I've already given her over 30 paragraphs of references, customized and re-customized packages for her, drawn up a custom contract, uploaded specific archived content online for her, talked on the phone at length. So now that she wants to call my happy clients I'm thinking sheesh, do I cut bait? What if she calls them over and over? I'm feeling demoralized by all this. I want to say, "If you trust me, lets move forward. If not, let me refer you."
It sure sounds like you've done enough - about the only quibble I might have with what you've said is where you say you've provided "30 paragraphs of references." Testimonials that you provide are not really references unless they include identification and contact information so your prospective client can talk directly to them and hear straight from the horse's mouth what their experience was with you.
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Old October 24th, 2009, 12:02 PM   #9
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My 2 cents: If you haven't explicitly gotten previous clients' permission to hand out their contact info, don't do it. You CAN but SHOULD you? If I was one of those clients, I wouldn't appreciate being set up for "cold calls" from people I don't know without some prior agreement to that effect.

You can offer to provide this potential client's phone number to a list of previous clients and some of them may bother to make the call. If the potential client won't share her own number, "cut bait."
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Old October 24th, 2009, 12:07 PM   #10
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They include the full name, but not contact info.

Thanks guys. I appreciate your wisdom and support.
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Old October 24th, 2009, 12:33 PM   #11
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I have a 'Privacy Policy' that everyone signs along with a contract which simply states that I don't pass their details onto third parties or anyone for that matter. Only if requested by the law (court order required). However I ask for references or testimonials at the end of each job which they agree to have their contact details added. If I post on my website it’ll only mention their name, company name and a link to their website if they have one. For those on paper it’ll include postal address, phone and fax numbers as well as an email address. Some agree, some don’t (as long as I get a few each year that’s all the is needed).
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Old October 25th, 2009, 11:09 AM   #12
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My policy, I don't give out my client contact info to anyone.

In my case, the clients are usually corporate and I can direct them to their webpages especially if such pages show my work. That's exceptional though since much of my work is not featured on the web.

A client seem my demo reel and they meet with me personal and can judge my skills and my integrity. If they don't trust me there's not point in going further. If they ask for references then you'd certainly have a right to do credit inquiry as well as ask them for references to see if they pay their bills and whether they're "grinders."

There are unscrupulous posers who pretend to be clients inquiring about a job and are really fishing for lists.

In some cases I've been called by clients who want to use me as a reference. In THOSE cases I ask if they're willing to reciprocate so I do make exceptions.

Any potential client who asks for references will get an explanation that client contact information is something that I guard and I would do the same for them.
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Old October 26th, 2009, 10:13 AM   #13
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Some wedding sites do advice Brides to ask suppliers references. I would ask my client's permission of course and not just hand them the contact info outright. You can't blame Brides for being extra careful because of that UK fiasco.Just recently I have a limo driver bailing out of a couple ( couple was not able to do a park shoot and hitched a ride to the reception) apparently they got the limo guy from Craigslist.
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Old October 26th, 2009, 10:26 AM   #14
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Weddings might be a different ballgame given the client is already married, they're not likely to jump vendors. The problem can continue with references since one can certainly give out the phone number of friends who were never clients, who can articulate "satisfaction" in great detail.

A face to face meeting with client would be a good start and certainly meeting at the place where the editing would occur as well as giving the potential client the details on production/post production techniques uses (How do you handle low light shooting, multicamera shoots, setup time, etc.) can go a long way in giving the potential client a sense of security which is ultimately what they're looking for.
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Old October 26th, 2009, 09:01 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dana Salsbury View Post
I understand due diligence, but I've this potential client has cost me several hours of work and just emailed me (#13) that she wants a second *set* of demo DVDs to review. I've already given her over 30 paragraphs of references, customized and re-customized packages for her, drawn up a custom contract, uploaded specific archived content online for her, talked on the phone at length. So now that she wants to call my happy clients I'm thinking sheesh, do I cut bait?
Oh, my God. This sounds like the client from hell. Imagine how much fun she's going to be if she books you? I personally would be happy to pass on someone like that...
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