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Taking Care of Business
The pen and paper aspects of DV -- put it in writing!


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Old April 28th, 2006, 01:22 PM   #16
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If you have a contract that states clearly what the policy and time table is and they signed it that's the end of the discussion: that's reason you have a contract. The answer to the client is a polite but firm: "my contract clearly states that finishing the video could take up to x months." Delays are a normal part of projects of this kind and they are part of the business as they are in many others.

Contracting for example. I remodeled my house about a year ago. It takes as long as it takes. My contractor was very good, communicated well, did excellent work . . . but you could never, ever pin him down on a date for anything . . . and I would hire him again in an instant.

It took me a long time to realize that the thing one has to be prepared to do is to screen clients very carefully and say no to jobs that look like they are too much trouble. This may mean you have to raise your rates and just give up on clients looking for cheap. This is not a business in which a low-cost high-volume business model works.

When I hired the architect for the remodel it was clear that he had learned this lesson -- he was the one interviewing me for the job, not so much the other way around, and that's when I knew I could work with him.
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Old April 29th, 2006, 02:46 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House
See my above post. Why in the world are you suprised that somone planning what to them is a very important event and offering to give you a signifigant amount of their money would be upset at being told they're needs are insignifigant? That's what you're telling them when you tell them that your other clients must come first. As new corporate business comes in do you just keep pushing the wedding client's work onto the back burner? Is there a time when you say "We have to get this out" even if it means turning down a corporate booking? As a consumer, my business takes priority over any clients that come to you after I do regardless of who they are or how much they're paying. Once you accept my business, that's it, engraved in granite, and I expect you to make my project priority one before any subsequent new business that might come in to you.
Hey Steve, thanks for the insight. Funny thing is is that this is what youre saying is that im trying to achieve. In the past (pre2005) things were swweet with a turnaround of less than 8 weeks.. were tlaking long form edits here with at least 4 bookings a month... but with a serious illness from april last year, which literally put me out of work for about 7 months, not only have the delivery times suffered, but so has the bank balance.
The hadest thing now is getting back on track as irrespective of how good the work might be, people wont care about that as the only thing they will remember is how long it took for them to get it. Then when they do get it, their expectations are much higher as they consider how long they had to wait.. so its a catch 22.

I totally agree that i do need someone to lend a hand, but thats not going to happen for at least anther 12 months until im back on my feet.. the business model analogy is a good one, as this is pretty much what is happening here, and those that do this by day, can see how it can affect the workload.

Moving onto deliveries, the thing to note is that lets say i book 3 budget and 2 upmarket jobs. All in the same month within a 3 week period. As an example, the budget would take 50hours tops each, while the big budget ones are anythign between 100 to 150hrs.
Now before i can even get to the last job for that months period, those 150hrs for the budget jobs must be delivered first. Irrespective of how much they paid.. BUT, if a corporate job comes in, the world stops while THAT project is delivered, which could be anything from 10 to 200 hours.. who knows... and thats the point here.. is that we DONT know... This industry doesnt have the predictive behaviour to be able to asy to a client it will take no more than X months..
Now moving back to the wedding clients.
Lets say that in between these 3 fast food weddings, we had the corporate job, and now its time to get the a la carte jobs out. by the tmie i get to the LAST one, hundreds of hours have already passed. Now in the real world, this could mean anything beteen 2 to 3 months before anyone can even review the footage.. Throw afew other factors in there, such as filming, preparation to film, consultations, accounting, marketing and sales, correspondance and everything else which pertains to the basic runnings of a business and youve got a hellofalot of work, for not that much pay. Considering the investment made, the skills and knowledge which is being hired for the day, and during post produciton, weding videography is probably the lowest consideration for weddings. Its not something which is seen as a necesity, therefore, people do not consider it to be as important as lets say photography, couple that attitude with peoples lack of understanding as to how much work is actually involved, and there is potential for trouble if your late.
Now some peoles attitude in thinking the less they know the better off i am, but i am different to that. I tell them EVERYTHING. From Go to Whoa i try to educate my clients when we meet, and when i direct them to my website, and when i literally go over teh contracts with them. No shit, i now sit with them for no less than an hour at a time and go over the contract and explain things to them, even though the contract itself is written in lamens terms.
Now even with this, they dont seem to want to understand what theyre getting themselve into here. Sure my work is good, but im not out to make a name for myself, im not trying to win awards and im not wanting to be the best. Im not trying to boost my ego and im not trying to win anyones approval or prove my worth to anyone.
I want to be differnt, yes, but i dont care about being the best. To my clients, i AM the best else they wouldnt have chosen me over everyone else they considered. To me thats all thats important.
With this, THIS is why i am hired. Price comes secondary to that. To me THIS is what is important, not the cash.. If cash was THAT impotant id be going back to music videos and docos.
So with the contract firmly in place and the client educated to the best of my abilities, these problems persist and THIS is the issue.

Noone is treated any differently apart from the delivery times and lack of communication after teh fact, however even with this, during the shooting schedule meetings, all clients are told that they WONT hear from me unless i need something or unless im on the last legs of the edit. I send updates every 12 weeks if i have the time.

Heres a story
To date, i have 1 client who i have waited upon for over 9 months (I kid u not) to get back to me regarding music. I have copped abuse and slanderous comments from them when in fact its ther obligation to provide me with as much information as possible. Even after copious emails, phone calls, and letters, i am still waiting and they got married in march last year... Thats just one example...
Now itsa conditional requirement of teh agreement to provide either a music CHOICE (including song title and artist) or the music itself. I wont accept Genre's or any choices THAT broad.

Anyway, At THAT time my turnaround was 3 months.. they would have it by June if they got their act together, but instead of doing that, i continue to wait and cop abuse from them... theyd rather complain as opposed to actually teling me what they want (which again, is all contracted and clearly explained to them prior to signing... and xplained again when we meet, and on teh day (i remind them) and every time the subject comes up)

Hell on my application forms, theres a place for them to fill in the gaps. its not that difficult to fill in the blanks.. but the tendencay to complain seems to be the dominating nature of the consumer as opposed to looking at what theyve agreed to do for me, so as i can service them.
Its a 2 way street.
Conditional requirements are just that. Conditions which need to be met prior to completing a specific task. For me, its info and music and if they do not meet those conditions, i cant do my work. Its that simple.
End of story, but thats jsut on example

Its a very difficult subject, and ive had my contracts rewritten by a professor of corporate law (whos the father of a friend of mine, so i saved thousands which was very lucky for me). I did this to ensure that i am protected and not put at risk by anyone.
And if it means that in the end, i have to throw the contract in their faces for me to protect my business interests, so be it.
Now some ppl may think that this is wrong, but the contract isnt there just for me. Its also for them to be assured of a quality product as it details specific requirements for each task as the task itself is basd on their production requests. This is a personalised service, so it has to be done this way.
From planning to shooting, to audio, to wireless microphone usage and sound checks even u get my drift. etc etc it all detaile for them to let me know of any specifics.

So what were left with is consumers who are driven by emotion and the mentality of "wantin the best for this one day" and this is totally understandable. But above all else, they also need to realise that theyre going into an agreement with a company which has tried to educate them on the way they do their business.
If they sign and believe that theyve been hard done by, they should have done what most clients do and read the agreement before signing.

only 5% of clients are this wacked out I say wacked out as most who DO complain are the ones that havent met their conditional requirements in the first place.

So from here.. who knows.. will it change?? no... of course not. Can we protet our business' Yes we can.. but only after learning "the hard way"
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Old April 29th, 2006, 06:09 AM   #18
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heres another one...
its 9pm on a saturday evening, winter is setting in so theres no shooting today, so im editing.
My phone rings (JUST NOW.. which is what has prompted me to write... ) and its a client who has recieved their wedding videos, however ahs replied with about 150 differnt "changes" none of which take away from the actual piece, but require a certain amount of work nonetheless.. now in my contract it clearly states 5 days to review the material to bring up any technical issues which may arise.. THIS client has had their video for over 7 weeks...

I mean what part of voicemail "we are open during Business hours monday to friday" dont people understand??
On the contract, what part of "5 days to review the product and list any technical issues which may arise"

ARGH!!!!!!!

Oh now get this, this SAME clients brother got married 2 weeks before this guy.. and his brother (i kid u not) called me on Xmas eve, Xmas and Boxing day to get their videos. Now their faiths are different to my own, but COME ON... Respect is a 2 way street and some people just dont understand the concept of it...

Im through being a nice guy
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Old April 29th, 2006, 09:43 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Jefferson
...

Moving onto deliveries, the thing to note is that lets say i book 3 budget and 2 upmarket jobs. All in the same month within a 3 week period. As an example, the budget would take 50hours tops each, while the big budget ones are anythign between 100 to 150hrs.
Now before i can even get to the last job for that months period, those 150hrs for the budget jobs must be delivered first. Irrespective of how much they paid.. BUT, if a corporate job comes in, the world stops while THAT project is delivered, which could be anything from 10 to 200 hours.. who knows... and thats the point here.. is that we DONT know... This industry doesnt have the predictive behaviour to be able to asy to a client it will take no more than X months..
That's what I mean, Peter - that corporate job should not backburner the wedding jobs, be they big-ticket or budget. Que up the jobs in the order they came in the door and don't juggle the priorities around later based on the nature of the client. If the requirements of your corporate clients are such they need guaranteed priority service (and that may well be the case) then you need to decide whether you're a wedding videographer in the consumer market or a corporate videographer in the business market and drop out of the other market segment. But in the meanwhile, when a client of any sort comes in you should look at your present workload, give them an estimated delivery based on what you have in the que at the moment, and stick to it. Don't bump them down the list because someone "more important" comes in the door later. People who are current customers, who have signed a contract and given you a deposit, are more important than any new projects that come along regardless of who the new clients are - without exception. Jack & Jill BudgetWedding are no less important than Bob & Sally DeluxePackage are no less important Ford Motor's 2007 Australian ad campaign once you've accepted their money and made a comittment to them. If you want to give priority to Ford, don't accept the wedding bookings. (Or expand your operations and staff so you can do both at once).

Quote:


Noone is treated any differently apart from the delivery times and lack of communication after teh fact, however even with this, during the shooting schedule meetings, all clients are told that they WONT hear from me unless i need something or unless im on the last legs of the edit. I send updates every 12 weeks if i have the time.
There's a source of the problem, right there. They have a project that to them is very important and it's fallen off the edge of the earth, swallowed up by a black hole. Months pass with no word - that would drive me absolutely NUTS as a consumer! He has my money, has he absconded to South America, been hit by a truck, abducted by aliens? The customer is doing you a favour by giving you his business - you're not doing him the favour by accepting it. No personal offense intended but IMHO you're treating them very shabbily and showing them a great deal of disrespect by dealing with them in this way. "I don't have time" isn't an excuse - it takes an insignifigant time to make a phone call every few weeks or so or drop them a note or email with a status update and budgeting for it is just as much a part of the cost of doing business as is tape stock or camera repairs. People are actually quite understanding IF they are kept in the loop and constantly updated. I spent 15 years in airline customer service - people get a lot less upset at "That flight is delayed and will arrive at 1600" than they do at "That flight is delayed and we have no information yet on its arrival" and the same thing applies here.

Quote:
Heres a story
To date, i have 1 client who i have waited upon for over 9 months (I kid u not) to get back to me regarding music. I have copped abuse and slanderous comments from them when in fact its ther obligation to provide me with as much information as possible. Even after copious emails, phone calls, and letters, i am still waiting and they got married in march last year... Thats just one example...
Now itsa conditional requirement of teh agreement to provide either a music CHOICE (including song title and artist) or the music itself. I wont accept Genre's or any choices THAT broad.

Anyway, At THAT time my turnaround was 3 months.. they would have it by June if they got their act together, but instead of doing that, i continue to wait and cop abuse from them... theyd rather complain as opposed to actually teling me what they want (which again, is all contracted and clearly explained to them prior to signing... and xplained again when we meet, and on teh day (i remind them) and every time the subject comes up)

Hell on my application forms, theres a place for them to fill in the gaps. its not that difficult to fill in the blanks.. but the tendencay to complain seems to be the dominating nature of the consumer as opposed to looking at what theyve agreed to do for me, so as i can service them.
Its a 2 way street.
Conditional requirements are just that. Conditions which need to be met prior to completing a specific task. For me, its info and music and if they do not meet those conditions, i cant do my work. Its that simple.
End of story, but thats jsut on example

Its a very difficult subject, and ive had my contracts rewritten by a professor of corporate law (whos the father of a friend of mine, so i saved thousands which was very lucky for me). I did this to ensure that i am protected and not put at risk by anyone.
And if it means that in the end, i have to throw the contract in their faces for me to protect my business interests, so be it.
Now some ppl may think that this is wrong, but the contract isnt there just for me. Its also for them to be assured of a quality product as it details specific requirements for each task as the task itself is basd on their production requests. This is a personalised service, so it has to be done this way.
From planning to shooting, to audio, to wireless microphone usage and sound checks even u get my drift. etc etc it all detaile for them to let me know of any specifics.

So what were left with is consumers who are driven by emotion and the mentality of "wantin the best for this one day" and this is totally understandable. But above all else, they also need to realise that theyre going into an agreement with a company which has tried to educate them on the way they do their business.
If they sign and believe that theyve been hard done by, they should have done what most clients do and read the agreement before signing.

only 5% of clients are this wacked out I say wacked out as most who DO complain are the ones that havent met their conditional requirements in the first place.

So from here.. who knows.. will it change?? no... of course not. Can we protet our business' Yes we can.. but only after learning "the hard way"
You need to realize that you work for your retail customers - they do not work for you. They're your boss and you are here to service THEIR requirements, not the other way around. If you want to work in the consumer market, you must make the consumer's needs king and your meeting their needs more important than their meeting yours.
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Old April 29th, 2006, 10:42 AM   #20
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I disagree with Steve.

Before going out on my own as a "hybrid" I spent over 20 years working in higher end post houses eventually as a senior editor.

Many houses had various ways to handle lower budget clients. For supervised edits it was often called "2nd hold." You get the time and the great low rate IF the room is available.

Your job is to make a living first. You can't please any client if you can't pay the bills or your work yourself into exhaustion or burn out.

You do have to let those "2nd hold" clients know their status though. As I said, I always tell my wedding clients I do corporate work. They get a contract that reflects the delivery date based on the fact other work might come in. You need to be good with your estimates. As I said before if work seems to be piling up then target the raw video weddings to keep the income happening.

Potential wedding clients do shop around. There's a difference between the $5000 wedding video and the $2000 wedding video. Yes, some wedding clients don't know this. It is your job as a sales person to let them, in a positive way, what they're getting for the price. It might be simple editing with tasteful shooting. It might be spectacular editing but a long wait. If they present you a deadline they really want you charge them a rate that allows them the exclusive time. IMHO, as a hybrid, wedding videos pay a lower rate because you can flex the time. If the wedding takes a week to edit and they want it the following week then they're paying corporate rate.
The important thing is to be honest with your wedding clients and offer them perks for their patience.
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Old April 29th, 2006, 11:03 AM   #21
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"You need to realize that you work for your retail customers - they do not work for you. They're your boss and you are here to service THEIR requirements, not the other way around. If you want to work in the consumer market, you must make the consumer's needs king and your meeting their needs more important than their meeting yours."

I know you dont mean it to come out this way, but you sound as if you believe that i dont care about my wedding clients at all, which is not the case. THing to remember though is that although i provide a service, certain conditions need to be met. I have done what i could to for these particualr clients in retun all I ask for is information. Now this information is paramount to the work but in the end, if they dont provide how can i do the work?? Do i use my dicretion?? and what if they dont like my taste? do i allow them the freedom to get back to me 7 months later and ask for a re-edit..

No here in aus, the market is obviously very different to most. As Video is an afterthought.
Corporte clients allow prices to be what they are, the dicrimiatoin between the 2 is open to the client before they book. This is my point. The delivery times, again, is open to the client before they book.
THIS is my point..
the fact of the matter remains that despite what i do with regard to deliveries, they complain. Now if i was to Only service wedding clients, id be shootign myself in the foot, as for my own business the corp work is whatkeeps me afloat. Despite what peope think, the market is not big enough here to warrant boutique prices, even though id love to do one job a month at 5k a pop, its just NOT going to happen.. sure there are clietns that pay that much for a job, but that same 5k can be gotten with a corproate client in half teh time.. if i then ditch the weddings, im shooting the other foot as my regualr bread and butter work is gone.

Like i said, its a fine line, and as I mentioned, educating the clients and making sure they understand the business' position within the industry HERE, is what is done before they decide to go forward. 99% of people i meet book though. Hell i know companies which take over 18months to deliver... and they ONLY do weddings.. I hear what your saying about updates etc, however i have found that it causes more problems as the email ping pong continues.
Thing is when i do update the client, i advise them EXACTLY what were up to. I hide nothing and this is where the misconception of being hard done by arises, as you mentioned people believe youve taken off or whatever... but again, i hide nothing.. and thats my whole point.
Like i said, in the past, there havent been issues, recently though, people expect u to drop what theyre doing EVERY TIME they want something, which in the real world is not possible. Sure id love to sit and chat with them for 3 hours about their wedding video... but im not going to. Ill chat for half an hour or so, but 3 hours here for this client, 2 hours there for that one... etc etc and it keeps going, this time eats up and then things get further behind.
Its not just about Corp vs Weddings, its not about prioritising one division over the other. Its about the fact that people are advised of all this, agree to it, then do a backflip.
They KNOW that there are certain consitions of teh wedding services which have been openly discussed with them, then when it comes to actually dealing with those limitations, if they ever arise, they dont like it. But again, its all been said before and written in a contract.
And that again is my point here.. Most of the clients are good with all of this and to be honest, as i said, its only the ones that HAVENT done what THEYRE supposed to who are the ones to complain... when in turn, the ball is actually in their court for them to hit back to me, then when i get it, i have what i need to finish THEIR work. Theres no scamming here..
To most clients its Black and white and concise.. Ive had people commenting about me on bridal forums menttionng that im so detailed, they couldnt keep up with their notetaking. It wasnt a whinge, it wa a compliment as for THAT particualr thread on said forum they were talking about not knowing about services theyre paying for...
Either way, my clients understand what i do and how i do it, Its written for them to sign.
Its also teh only way for them to have my product, produced in the way i produce it, at the price i offer it.
But to the very few, well.... i'll just be repeating myself here if i keep going..

I think the biggest issue here with this thread is the actual point which is being made. Not the business model flaws, its not flawed when its done openly.
The business model works as it has done so in the past and it works with 99% of the clientelle who book. Theyre happy.. MORE than happy that they got a product of this calibre at that rate.

And that again is another point.. the client KNOWS that to get something like this elsewhere, theyd be going to a noob (for that price), or to someone who cant be trusted or who DOESNT offer a contract (youd be surprised),
They also know that to get something like this from another pro company theyd be paying at least 30 to 50 % more than what they do with me.
This again comes down to the fact that they know what the conditions are before they fork out any cash. But to them, they see theproduct vs $$ and toss up the conditions and then STILL go forward with me. Whos doing who a favour, who knows.. i see it as going both ways...

Whether its the money or the product which has pushed them who knows, they dont tell me.. but i do take note of their responses and for the most part, its about the work.. else they would have gone for a smaller package.
Hell if i DID charge more, i could hire someone else, but right now, thats not an option.
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Old April 29th, 2006, 11:09 AM   #22
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Peter, as per whacked out clients. I've had my fair share in my facility days and on my own. That's why we have contracts. If they get 5 days and that time expires, you're done. You can be nice about but it's now entirely your discretion.

My flat rate contracts (weddings for example) are paid in full at the time of the shoot. I do not give them an option for review. They certainly can communicate if they generally do/don't want something though (by phone/email) if something happened in the wedding they do/don't want in there. It's usually "make sure you show as much of my nephew and grandma as possible" or "please don't show drunk uncle John cursing." If you give them time for revisions you either have to charge for it or raise your rates accordingly. Yes, I've been asked about this while editing the wedding even though the contract says otherwise. I tell them why I can't do this. I do offer to sell them DVDs of the raw video if they think I might miss something. If they want to come in and supervise the edit I simply offer the same rate as any other supervised corporate edit.

I've had corporate clients play games with time too. You have to have a contract or hourly game plan for that too. In my corporate contracts I note the time includes revisions. They go beyond that, they pay extra. If it's past deadliine I me be on to the next job. If it's open ended they're paying hourly.

I shot one budget commercial which exemplifies how a handle a time situation. Contract included shoot and edit time. Before the edit they decided they wanted more shooting. I told them that was x dollars me. They skipped it. They wanted me to record a voice. I said fine, it's part of the edit. They sent me a voice over instead. HORRIBLE! recorded at 8bit 11khz on a cheap toy computer mic. I told them why it wasn't usable. The spot was never finished. I was paid in full at the time of the shoot. The contract specified the time alloted for the job for both shooting and editing. They didn't want to pay more and I wasn't giving away my services. They got nothing for their money and it was their own doing. Sometimes that happens. If they want to finish the spot with what they have they can schedule the time. They paid for it. But they're getting the time specified in the contract unless they want to buy more.
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Old April 29th, 2006, 12:58 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Jefferson
...
I know you dont mean it to come out this way, but you sound as if you believe that i dont care about my wedding clients at all, which is not the case.
No, I understand that, but you *are* giving the impression that they are of lesser importance than your corporate clients because you delay their wedding edit when a corporate project comes in the door. I'm suggesting that they shouldn't be considered second class clients - the colour of their money is the same as that of your corporate clients and you should treat both client groups exactly the same, completing the edit on yesterday's wedding shoot before you start editing today's corporate shoot (assuming they signed their respective contracts with you in that same order) if you don't have the resources to work on both at once. IMHO, in general, scheduling the editing of a wedding project and of a corporate project should be done no differently than scheduling the editing of two different corporate projects you may happen to have in-house at the same time. Of course emergencies might arise that require you to deviate from that from time to time but I think that first-in, first-out should be the general rule irrespective of the nature of the client.

LOL - thinking about unrealistic client expectations ... the episode of "CSI" ("Crime Scene Investigation" - do you have it there in Oz?) that aired here in North America last week began with a murder occurring at a wedding. The victim, the groom's mother, was found tied to the rear bumper of the bridal couple's car and dragging behind as they drove out to start their honeymoon. Within 12 hours the wedding videographer was able to deliver the completed, fully edited, wedding DVD, complete with photo of the happy couple printed on the disk, to the investigators at the crime lab for their review. Wonder how many wedding clients will now think that's what they should expect?
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Old April 29th, 2006, 02:27 PM   #24
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Be fair Steve... How was the quality of the edit on that 24 hour turnaround? Just because Hollywood can do it, doesn't mean anything. After all, I'm still waiting for my flying car!
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Old April 30th, 2006, 03:40 PM   #25
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I totally agree with Steve's post (#19). I think he covered all of the angles really well in it. If I hire someone that is known for great work and proceed with the up front knowledge that it may be a while before it's complete for whatever reason, I can't really complain. However, if I know that I am number 3 in line and then I get pushed back because of another larger project that appeared after mine, well, I'm going to take my business somewhere else. These types of situations either need to be taken care of behind the scenes, transparently, or avoided altogether by simply knowing your limits and either hiring more help or just turning away the work. How could someone hold it against you for being honest and turning them away and/or recommending another reputable person or company to get the project done. I think they appreciate that, I sure would. You have to remember that they just want to get it done and the best experience they have will be remembered whether you actually did it or helped them find an alternative way to get it done. If you disclose the possibility of a person's project being pushed back if another larger project comes along and then they complain about it happening to them if/when it does happen, I have no sympathy for them at all!
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