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Old June 20th, 2012, 09:59 AM   #16
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Re: The art of quoting for new clients.

For now at least, I price the on location work as half day or full day (using my hourly rate to calculate). However, for work done in my at home studio/office, it's an hourly rate. I'm not packing, transporting, unpacking, repacking, transporting back home, a lot of gear.

Plus, I use a program that tracks time, along with generating estimates, and creating invoices.

It's necessary to qualify your clients. Since I work from home, a lot of the inexperienced clients mistakenly think at first that what I charge is my salary. So I ask them, "Is what your company charges the customer your salary?" Then we have a short discussion about low overhead, not no overhead.

It's like going fishing. Not every client is a keeper. You throw back fish that are too small. You throw back the trash fish too.
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Last edited by Roger Van Duyn; June 20th, 2012 at 10:10 AM. Reason: clarification
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Old June 20th, 2012, 12:00 PM   #17
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Re: The art of quoting for new clients.

I think that asking about the budget is mandatory.Its helps when it comes to managing the expectations of all parties involved. Also keep in mind that it is possible to lose business if your quote is to low. The client may start to wonder if your actually capeable of doing the job.
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Old June 20th, 2012, 06:29 PM   #18
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Re: The art of quoting for new clients.

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Originally Posted by Kevin McRoberts View Post
I have a day rate below which it doesn't make sense to work. I quote 100-200% above that (depending upon schedule and flexibility that week), state a willingness to budget depending on production budget and goals, and then await a counter-offer, and don't accept any counter-offer that's below the base rate.

If I quote the base rate, I wind up having to hunt for more and more clients, none of whom are willing to move above that base rate ever in the future. If I quote high but won't negotiate, I lose out on work. If I quote high and they say "sounds great!," then life is a bubbling bowl of mirth and glee.
Thank you Kevin. A good way of looking at what to charge and how,
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Old June 20th, 2012, 06:32 PM   #19
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Re: The art of quoting for new clients.

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Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
Just out of curiousity, how detailed was the "quote request" - I'm sensing a sort of haphazard planning (as in "we shoot next week") on the part of the client?

Sounds to me like this was something on a short timeframe/lo-budget shoestring sort of "plan". Was this by any chance for a cable TV ad where you may have gotten beaten by "the house"? Just a couple things that come to mind...


It doesn't hurt to clarify what the expectations/budget are, of course everyone wants champaigne on a beer budget, right? SO some massaging of expectations may be needed, but no sense in wasting time on someone who has a max budget of $500 for a $1500 minimum job - for future reference, you may want to evaluate ways to "qualify" the client up front before wasting time quoting...

One other possible eventuality is they may go with a "lo-ball" bid, find out what they get for that isn't what they'd hoped, and re-ring your bell... so may be worth a polite and professional follow up?
Thank you Dave,

Yes it was a fast and furious request. 4 days before the gig with a weekend in between.

And yes they admitted at the start they didn't really know what they wanted. The requests kept changing, as did my quote in response and I know they just ran out of time so went for the cheapest without having time to come back to me.

By the way, the "winner" had been hired by them before and so there was a level of familiarity about this whole deal as well.

It was for a govt department.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 11:33 AM   #20
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Re: The art of quoting for new clients.

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Originally Posted by Josh Bass View Post
So I see a few of your price hourly. Most around here do a half day/day rate.

I'm curious, with you hourly folks: do you ever find that clients try to negotiate down after the fact ("Hey Joe, I see you billed us for six hours shoot time on Tuesday. But really, that first hour was us just walking through the set and then you setting up, you weren't really "shooting", you know?, and then that last hour was you wrapping up gear, so that's not really shooting, you know? Oh, and we spent half an hour waiting for security to clear us for entry into the building at the start of the day, so let's subtract that time too.. .") Anyone ever get this? I always feel like I could get into this with hourly billing ("how do we know you didn't take an extra hour lighting just so you could bill for it?").

Seems like with half day/day rate, it's very clear: if we go past five hours after my time of arrival, rate goes up. Up 'til that point it's what we agreed on.

I know, I know. Some of you don't do half days. Point still applies to a full.
That's why a good approach to hourly billing is to charge "portal-to-portal," the clock starts to run when you leave 'home base' and includes the travel time to the location (and returning) plus all the other things you mention. It's not the time when the camera is running, it's the time spent doing everything involved with the shoot. Time spent in setup is time that can't be spent earning money elsewhere, product out of the inventory if you will, hence is billable just like cranking the camera is..
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 12:22 AM   #21
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Re: The art of quoting for new clients.

Maybe it's different where you are, but if I tried to bill portal to portal here I would be laughed off the phone/out of the office/etc.

And I understand that. . .if I'm an hour away from the shoot location, why should they have to pay for that? That's not their fault.

I think time of arrival on location is fair (as opposed to portals or from when you start setting up). If it takes two hours to get through security somewhere, that's something someone on the client end should have anticipated and dealt with. If I have to wait around for 5 hours between interviews (true story) because things weren't well organized, that's on them.
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Old July 2nd, 2012, 10:39 AM   #22
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Re: The art of quoting for new clients.

Josh, I still charge half-days and full-days on the production side. Half-days are around 50% higher than what two full-days would charge, since I could almost never shoot two half-days for separate clients. Last week I was even asked to split a half-day into two 1/4 days for the same price as a single half-day. When I mentioned set-up/strike time and travel, it made sense to the client why I couldn't meet that expectation and we negotiated a quarter-day rate.

As you can imagine, this is because of a scheduling conflict on their end, and it seems that the day-rate and partial-rates clearly put the onus on the client to schedule efficiently. I'm certain that if I charged hourly, there would be less potential $ coming my way, and everyone on-set would be looking at their watches instead of trying to maximize their investment. When I'm on-location, I'd just as soon be shooting something for the client instead of waiting around, and the day-rate structure sure seems to make this happen.
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Old July 2nd, 2012, 12:00 PM   #23
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Re: The art of quoting for new clients.

My travel time is on me. I go by When is crew call? OR What time do you want to start shooting and I back it out from there. I always figure at least an hour before the shot starts for call time. So for example, lets say it's a simple seminar. They're starting at 8:30AM and run until 4:00PM. OK first off it's day rate. Second, I want to be there at least 1 hour before start. I actually get there a bit earlier so I can park, load in, have a cup and not start sweating but for SIMPLE 1 camera, plug into the audio board no sweat seminars an hour is generally more than enough to do all of that. I don't play around. Get setup, have another cup, bathroom break, get set behind the camera. So I'm on the clock at 7:30. A 10 hour day and I'm off the clock at 5:30PM. This includes any downtime, strike, load out, whatever happens. It's less money for the client to pay me day rate than to pay hourly since they get a break on the day rate compared to the hourly times 10. Pretty standard in the industry. I almost always figure an hour of travel time in the greater Chicagoland area. You have to know the traffic though. I've gone downtown and left my place at 6AM to get there before the highways get all bottled up and thats for an 8:00AM call time. I'd rather sit around for an hour than be 5 minutes late. Obviously if I have to travel out of the area (another state, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan then it's figured differently).
Lots of ways folks figure their time but around here, it's most common to start with call time and go from their with travel time not being counted as part of the day.
Of course every situation is a bit different so flexible is the key word along with knowing the area and how long it takes to get to where you need to be and how long it's going to take to setup.
If it's not a seminar type gig or involves multicams or a crew of more than 2 than timing is different but for the most part it's as I stated. It's worked for me for a lot of years at least around here.
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Old July 2nd, 2012, 06:43 PM   #24
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Re: The art of quoting for new clients.

People around here seem to generally do their half day as two thirds, rather than half their full day. Btw that applies to labor only. Gear is always full day just like a rental house. Also gear doesnt get OT, only labor does. Although ive been thinking about discounting gear too on half days to make the rates more distinct from each other.
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Old July 8th, 2012, 10:19 AM   #25
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Re: The art of quoting for new clients.

I always ask what their budget is up front.
I tell them I need to know if they are looking for a quick web video or all the way up to a full Hollywood production style. I can do both and anything in between, I just need to know what they are looking to do.
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Old July 8th, 2012, 10:33 AM   #26
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Re: The art of quoting for new clients.

Quote:
I always ask what their budget is up front.
It depends on the client type but that can intimidate some clients. Experienced clients might have a budget in mind.
Some clients have no idea and their throwing out a number might reveal that. Embarrassing the client isn't good.
Some clients assume if they'll give you a number that you'll target the entire amount. They may prefer hearing whether you're over/under and accept under or negotiate if over.

Of course you may want to know what number they have in mind but it's best to get them to reveal that rather than force it up front in SOME situations.

As per my previous post, I listen to the client first and then, based on my evaluation of them, I decide how I'm going to handle the "reveal."
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Old July 17th, 2012, 11:36 AM   #27
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Re: The art of quoting for new clients.

I've always found it quite effective to provide two quotes to prospective new clients (on larger jobs at least), one that caters to exactly what they want/have scripted, and a secondary proposal that suggests a few smarter approaches that will simplify the shoot a bit and save them money that way whilst still getting their story/message across.

This tends to help bring out the discussion of exactly what the client wants to achieve from the shoot, and from there you can sit down with them and help them decide on exactly what they want, and run them through what that will cost.

Because the process is more inclusive, I find I hear back from a much higher number of prospective clients than I do from sending out a single figure.

Detailed cost breakdowns are also really important, production is such an expensive business, I find if you don't provide an explanation as to where all the various costs are coming from, you can often scare a client away (even when you're quoting on low margins).
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Old July 17th, 2012, 08:27 PM   #28
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Re: The art of quoting for new clients.

Funny you say that. I just did that, sort of.

Anyway, I was wondering what you think of the phrasing "what were you thinking of budget wise?" or "what did you want to spend?", something a little less predatory than "how much do you have"/"what's your budget". . .kinda asking what they WANT to spend vs how much they have. Really the same question, but a gentler approach.

I get a fair number of inquiries; very few turn into actual jobs. I realize some of this is because instead of networking or word of mouth, these people come to me from ads I have on several sites, stuff you'd find by Googling "houston videographer" or something. I'm sure this attracts a different type of client than getting your biz via word of mouth, etc.

Point is, I'd like to find out earlier if these people are way off on their expectations vs budget. What do you think of the above phrasings for finding out? I realize from their viewpoint it may sound greedy, but we can both avoid wasting each other's time and end things right there if I find out as early as possible that neither of us can accomodate each other budget-wise.
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Old July 18th, 2012, 02:08 PM   #29
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Re: The art of quoting for new clients.

Since my last freelance project I decided to come up with an Initial Meeting Agenda which includes budget. I will send this to my clients prior to meeting. This way they don't seem thrown off by having to think about these things and I'll be sure to have all the information I need to draft up a formal proposal/contract.

In terms of budget, I think they key word here is budget "range" and then offering them 2-3 different options that meets their highs and lows as well as outline what they get for their money. That way you don't seem like you are milking them for all they're worth and can negotiate by adding or eliminating services. As for half/dayrate, mine is 4/8 hours from arrival on set and will travel up to 1 hour/60 miles. Beyond that I will billed separately based on mileage. I also have a full time job, I don't include my commute in my hours and the company policy is 100 miles so I think my policy is reasonable.

I posted my Initial Meeting Agenda on my blog but of course this is a general agenda and it should be cater to clients on a case by case basis. Please check it out. I'm still and will always be refining my process so any input you can add would be greatly appreciated.

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Old July 18th, 2012, 02:38 PM   #30
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Re: The art of quoting for new clients.

Short version of what I do:

"Here's my number for what I'd like to do for you: $1,923,230.12.... if that's in a different ballpark than your budget, let me know what you have to work with and I'll put together a different option in that range."
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