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Taking Care of Business
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Old February 20th, 2007, 10:21 PM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Jackson, TN
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Planning my video business...

Just seeking some advice... I'll try and be as brief as possible: I have been in video for about 12 years (6 in TV news, and the last 6 doing freelance shooting, editing, and producing) For the last couple of years I have not been seeking new work, but just doing projects here and there as they find me... spending more time with the family. I am going to really get back into it sometime in the near future. My goal is to have my own office space with 2 edit suites and a small studio/set with chromakey, etc., get the yellowpages ad and also market myself with a demo reel to a lot of former clients and contacts that I have built up over the years. (probably doing everything from corporate stuff to commercials to music vids, etc.) I feel good about being able to attract business. Here's the twist: I am also thinking about having another side to the business: Renting AV equipment. So, I would rent plasma screens, projectors, a dv camera or two and various other production items like tripods, lights, a jib, etc. My thinking is that I would have 2 revenue streams: Video production and rentals. BTW I would not rent out my camera (Canon XL H1) that I use for production, but would have one specifically for that along with a panasonic and sony. Anyone have any advice? Should I just stick to what I know... video production? Anyone had a rental business before? What are the pitfalls? Insurance? Theft? Equipment abuse? If I am going to do rentals, do I need to streamline it to either AV stuff (plasmas, projectors, etc) or video production gear and a final cut suite... but not both? I think the AV stuff would be easier and less problematic as I could set up and tear down for clients myself or hire someone. Thanks for any advice.

PS, I have quite a bit f equipment to buy as I am STILL using my XL1 and G4 450Mhz (upgraded to 1 Ghz!) from the year 1999. I will get a new HDV cam (probably the XL H1), but I'm not buying anything before NAB.
Scott Lancaster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 21st, 2007, 01:34 AM   #2
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Ahh...where to begin. There can be a lot of money in rentals, or it could cost you your business. Insurance is very high. You need to have some way to recover your gear, such as a credit card deposit from the person renting. Not everyone is willing to do that, but all they have to do is not show back up with your gear. I would shy away from the camera rental thing. Projection is a good business, but you'll need at least 2 of everything in many sizes. Get some nice professional projectors, fastfold screens, lots of video cable, and make sure eveyrthing is in a case. The studio thing sounds like a good idea - what you have described sounds exactly what we have.

Instead of straight rentals, try to market it as more production work instead of rentals (a provider if you will). That way people aren't picking up gear from you. You go set it up, stay if need be, then tear it down when the show's over. That way you can take care of your gear rather than have someone trash it.

The biggest thing is finding out who your competitors are and what the market is like. I know there are a buttload of production companies based out of Nashville, so do your homework. I do know that many of them are big time, so the small to medium events may be where it's at for you. We've been in business for 12 years now, and we have found a great nitch in our market doing school and corporate work. But it's taken 12 years and around 80 hours a week to get here, and we still have a long way to go. Equipment changes, needs change, people change. Treat your clients like gold, make sure you cater to their wants and needs, not your own. Take a poll when talking to people and ask them what kind of gear they are looking for. Buy your product based on clients needs. You can get some great deals on equipment out there, but don't get sucked into buying a bunch of gear that's going to sit on the shelf.

Also, establish some relationships with some of the other companies around your area. That way, when you don't have something, you can go cross rent it from them. You may not make as much money, but do a good job and you have a new client, so next time they need it, they'll come back to you.

I hope you have a ton of money to sink into this, cause it's not cheap. Get a good employee or two. Someone that has a pretty good understanding of how things work (someone with common sense). There's lots of good people out there that are reliable and hard working, but you gotta dig. Hiring a young guy (early 20's) that's respectful and isn't a complete dumbass is a good way to go because they won't expect too much, and won't be completely set in their ways. That way, if something ever comes up or you have a couple things going on, they can help out.

I could go on and on...But I will see what some other people have to say.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 08:19 AM   #3
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Boulder, CO
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it's not that easy to have two income streams, if you're using the same equipment for both production and rental. moreover, that means marketing two products to two different target audiences. if your production takes off, you won't have time for that. that's been my experience anyway. i have an editing office and a separate studio space that i thought i would rent, but due to the production volume, i've had no time to market that space at all, and now we've moved into it to the point that i don't really care to--more trouble than it's worth, for what studio space rents for. that's my experience, to date.

my second piece of advice would mirror kit's--if you're undercapitalized, you'll be in trouble. the first year is full of unanticipated costs, even if you make a nice budget and business plan, add another 30-50% (and that's conservative) to your expectations.
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