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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old May 12th, 2005, 09:06 AM   #1
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Assurances

I've read several threads that basically outline the need to collect full payment prior to filming a wedding. But I've read conflicting articles (including some companies) for couples basically saying "never pay in advance" because of the potential for fraud. (The scenario in which we ask them for hundreds if not thousand(s) of dollars and then the videographer bolts town with their money.)

I realize the main way to handle such eventuality is usually contained within a contract. I realize the general argument can be applied where I can give the customer assurances that if there is an agreement between us - that if I do not fulfill the services I've agreed upon, that they can litigate this in civil court.

So my question rests in how to handle the customer's concerns that their videographer isn't going to bolt town with their $1,200 payment and not get a shred of film.

Ideas I came up with: sign up through the better business bureau, chamber of commerce and reputable organizations like WEVA so as to bolster the image that we are anchored and there is an assurance, a trust that we are not a scam, a fraud or some other incorrigible looking to prey upon those that simply want the $$ and leave town..

Any other thoughts or ideas as to combating customer reluctance and fostering b/g trust & assurance?

-Michael
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Old May 12th, 2005, 09:42 AM   #2
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Well... the obvious would be a pay as you go situation. 30% deposit, 30% on day of shoot, 30% on delivery of content.

That's how I do my normal business... but I've never shot a wedding so I don't know how often it's done in that context. Still, that should give you both a comfort level of low exposure balanced with commitment.
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Old May 12th, 2005, 10:00 AM   #3
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Post number one!

I've been a wedding videographer for 3 years and have had no issues with payments. This is how I handle it... I get a 50% deposit when they book the date and I collect the final payment on the wedding day. If you collect the final payment on the wedding day obviously the B&G have no reason to suspect your intentions are to flee town, especially when you are standing right there before them on their wedding day. And if you collect your final payment on the wedding day there is plenty of time for the check to clear before you deliver a final product.

What if there is an issue with the payment? Remember you have what they want - their wedding video! And they won't get it until you've be remunerated. Simple. Out of 40 or so customers I had one check bounce and it took about 6 weeks to finally get paid. It was no big deal.

-Craig

Last edited by Craig Terott; May 12th, 2005 at 11:57 AM.
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Old May 12th, 2005, 10:46 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Alvarez
Well... the obvious would be a pay as you go situation. 30% deposit, 30% on day of shoot, 30% on delivery of content.
Can I have all the extra 10%'s?
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Old May 12th, 2005, 12:01 PM   #5
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yeha, Rich - who gets the remaining 10%?
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Old May 12th, 2005, 12:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael McGruder

So my question rests in how to handle the customer's concerns that their videographer isn't going to bolt town with their $1,200 payment and not get a shred of film.

Any other thoughts or ideas as to combating customer reluctance and fostering b/g trust & assurance?

-Michael

Hi Michael,

We have been collecting full payment in advance for nearly 6 of 9 years. The first 3 years, we collected on the day of the wedding. That got old, as we tried to chase down the bride, who redirected us to her dad, who said that mom had the checkbook in her purse, who couldn't find her purse and would look in a minute which turned into 10, 20 30 mins. Nah.

We tried collecting payment after the wedding, upon pick-up, but that got to be too stressful when the couple ran out of money and avoided our phone calls, AFTER we did all the work. Again, nah.

We were burned in those first 3 years (more than once) and finally decided to do the pre-payment thing. 30 days prior. (Used to be 14, but too many brides missed that deadline, so we changed it.)

TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION:
Over the years there have been couples & their parents who have expressed concern or trepidation. First, to justify pre-payment, I offer this: "We are providing a customized service that is measured mainly in time. There is no resale value for what we do; therefore, we must make sure we are compensated for our time - an intangible 'product' that can't be retreived once it is gone. We spend 60-80 hours on every wedding we produce - after the wedding day. That's a lot of time, so before we invest that much time, we make sure we are covered for it.

"Also, we are a two-person operation. We do not have an accounting dept. - it's just the 2 of us doing everything and this is the easiest solution for us to keep track of everything. All Clients have the same payment terms, and therefore, we know if we are working on a wedding; it's paid in full and I don't have to worry about it. It saves a lot of time to get that out of the way, so I can concentrate on what we really love doing, and that's editing and producing wedding videos."

To reassure the couple, we do several things - we require everyone who hires us to come into our home studio and meet with us, preferably prior to booking. This demonstrates that we are legit - we have roots, we are not going to close up shop and move in the middle of the night. We are invested and grounded. Also, it gives them an opportunity to see all of our equipment and they realize we are the real deal and take it very seriously.

Also, we mention that we are part of a local wedding association and if we were to screw up, word travels fast. I often say, "We have been doing this for 9 years and in all that time, we have established a reputation. For us to throw all that hard work away just to not show up to a wedding or delivery a video would be foolish. We have a lot more to lose than the couple who doesn't pay us. If they don't pay, no one knows the difference but us. If we don't show up; everyone knows and we have much more to lose. Obviously the odds are in the Clients' favor." ( I try not to bring the idea of court into it.)

I have also, on several occasions, come right out and said - after giving all my reasons and reassurances: "This is our policy. If you don't feel comfortable with it, please do not sign the contract."

I'd say we may have lost 3 jobs over all those years b/c of our policy. Okay by me. We may have dodged a bullet.

There are so many reasons why we have adapted this policy, and I've mentioned a few above. But everyone has to find what works best for them. ALSO, much of what I stated works b/c we have been doing it for so long and we have the track-record to back us up. When we first started, we couldn't be as confident and adament. We had to bend a little to gain people's trust. So it's all very relative.

You have to assess your own situation and devise a game plan. For example - do you work out of your home? Can you use that as proof of stability? Are you a member of any local or professional organizations that can, in a sense, vouch for you? I guess the BBB is a good start, but I don't know that many brides refer to that as a reference. It certainly can't hurt, but having local support can be much more powerful. What about other professionals? Are you connected with other reputable vendors? How many years have you been in biz?

Find all your strengths and use them as justification and reassurance. Or if you are limited in those areas, start building them. You may have to be a little more willing to bend in the beginning, but eventually, you can set the rules and stand by them.

Best of luck.
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Old May 12th, 2005, 12:47 PM   #7
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This is the way I ask my customers to pay. I require a $300.00 non-refundable deposit upon booking. This seems to be the regular. Then one week before the wedding I require one half of the entire amount including taxes. So on a thousand dollar wedding after taxes I would require $500.00 dollars. Now I have $800.00 of their money without doing anything for them yet. I tell them that the remaining balance will be due when they ok the final copy and they will recieve it when the cheque clears. This allows the customer to feel that their satisfaction is guarunteed because I don't get the final installment until they say they like it. I have yet to have a bride that didn't like the final cut and tell me to redo it. I am also the only person in town that gauruntees satisfaction with this policy which helps me close a few weddings as well. I know personally my photographer wanted all the money before the wedding and my parents who were paying for it were taken back for giving someone $3000.00 without anything in return.
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Old May 12th, 2005, 12:58 PM   #8
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The missing ten percent?

That's should be obvious, it's my 'consulting fee'....!!!
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Old May 12th, 2005, 01:46 PM   #9
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For the last 12-15 years I've been getting 50% at the time of the agreement and the balance was paid on the day of. For the last 5 years I get the balance 2 weeks prior that way I can deposit the check. If they have a problem with that, fine. Pay me with either a certified check, cashiers check or cash on the day of. That hasn't happened since I started my policy of 2 weeks prior. For those clients that are uncomfortable with that I simply tell them that after almost 22 years in the business it wouldn't be very smart for me to take their money and run-after all they were probably referred by someone whose job I did in the past. Plus most people realize after planning the wedding that just about 100% of all vendors get their mony no later than the day of.
Years ago when it was new (videography) to weddings people would sometimes balk but not anymore. At least none that I've dealt with.
Don
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Old May 12th, 2005, 08:48 PM   #10
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What I Do

Hey,

I'm new to the business. I'm a college film student and have been working to get my own business off the ground over the past 2 years. I started out doing photo montages, and have done 3 weddings over the past year, with 9 booked for the summer. As of last summer, I set up a studio in a commercial district (Right next door to a dominos pizza). I'll describe my business and how I market a bit and then talk about how I collect my payments.

Having an actual location and not working out of my home has helped my business tremendously. It gives Brides a really good feeling that I'm not going anywhere, and a sense that I must know what I am doing. I have found out that most of the bride's that I have booked... go to another videographer across town, meet with them, and end up coming back to book with me. Our prices are about the same, the other videographer offers 3-camera coverage and I offer 2 cameras. Brides really like my sound. Never under estimate the importance of recording a good sound track. I run dual system sound, and record 8 tracks of digital audio at the ceremony. I have also done 2 bridal shows, and a home and garden show over the past 6 months. The shows are great ways to get new leads. I actually booked a $1500 wedding at one of the bridal shows and at the home and garden show. I'm also on The Knot - so far it has kind of been a waste of money, but I'm going to hold out until I get some more positive feedback on The Knot's forums.

Now that you all have an idea of how new I am to the business (I'm only 20 y/o) I'll describe how I collect my payments. The first 50% is due at signing when they reserve their date by completing the contract. The remaining 50% balance is due 30 days prior to the date of their wedding. For all but two of my dates booked this summer this equates to two payments of $747.50. I explain why I collect the final payment 30 days prior, and I have yet to have a Bride question it. I tell them that the last thing they want to think of on their wedding day is getting me a check. They seem to agree.

I have a room set up like a living room in my studio with an 8-foot projection screen that I show my demos on. Brides think this is really cool.

Good Luck,

Matt Trubac
TruVision Studios
Matt@TruVisionStudios.com
http://www.TruVisionStudios.com
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Old May 13th, 2005, 12:46 AM   #11
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I think these are all good ways of dealing with payments. It's all a personal preference. I collect $500 before the wedding to lock in the date. (non refundable) then collect when the wedding is done. I have a hard time with the idea of collecting on the wedding day. That makes me feel slimy. + That is the last thing the bride should be worrying about. Usually, if you have good clients they would have set the money aside. I'm finding more and more they want to pre-pay just to get it out of the way.
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Old May 13th, 2005, 10:13 AM   #12
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with what i do, and the type of clientelle i usually have to deal with, youd be silly not to recieve payment in advance.

Like Jennifer, ive tried all methods and have been given the runaround. I also dont like the idea of carrying $2000 in my pocket thorughout a day of filming.. it would distract me and give me another thing to worry about when all i want to do is focus on whats happening..

as a business.. and within the industry in general, paying in advance is normal. I have a contract and if the potential client says.. "what if u dont show up" i say, you have my details there, and my business registry number, feel free to sue me..

I have had clients asking to see my whole library of videos before deciding.. and i dont have time for that shit so i say to them to tell me what they want within their own video and i will show them the closest thing i have to it..
from there if they dont like it, tough.. thres always another booking somewhere.. but i really dont have time for tyre kicking window shoppers who try to sweeten the deal when they get more from me than any other company as a standard practice.
These tyrekickers are also the same kind of people who call up every second day asking where theyre video is and its usually these people who whinge about the cost but are happy to pay a photographer over twice what they paid you.

Watch the client and dont be afraid to call them back a day later and tell them your booked, if ur not comfortable, you wont do a good job...
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Old May 15th, 2005, 09:18 AM   #13
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Thanks everyone

While I haven't completely mapped out exactly which policy I'm going to rely upon - I find it interesting how many variations is prevalent here. Obviously personal experience and subsequent clientele dictate the approach that works well for the community/market we work in.

Many thanks to everyone who posted!
-Michael
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