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-   -   How do you protect your wedding clients? (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/wedding-event-videography-techniques/536657-how-do-you-protect-your-wedding-clients.html)

Chris Harding March 25th, 2019 06:42 PM

How do you protect your wedding clients?
Hi Guys

We have just had the biggest wedding videographer here shut down and forced into liquidation by the tax office leaving a trail of destruction ! Shoots as far back as October 2018 have not been delivered and brides that have paid between $5000 and $6000 up front for video/photo packages have little chance of getting any money back! The moment you start playing in the big league and hiring staff and drone operator etc etc (all their staff lost their jobs of course) and demanding big deposits if things go wrong there is no way you are likely to recover financially unlike the solo operator who works from home and normally has small or no overheads

How are brides protected from the bigger operators or do they just hope they are financially sound???

Steve Burkett March 25th, 2019 07:26 PM

Re: How do you protect your wedding clients?
Hi Chris,

It's no more different than if any vendor or even the venue goes bust. There are insurances couples can take out that will cover their losses if the worst should happen. I think many do, as their Wedding is a lot of money. It also covers late cancellation due to any severe illness that could preclude the Wedding taking place. Bit like holiday insurance really.

As for the Videographer, the biggest you are, the more likely you'll be checked up by the Tax office. Especially if you're employing people. I admit my paperwork isn't as organised as it should be, but if anything I tend to under value my expenses in my tax return. Just to be safe in case I've added something I shouldn't.

There are advantages to bring a solo operator.

Danny O'Neill March 29th, 2019 11:37 AM

Re: How do you protect your wedding clients?
Couples should always get wedding insurance. It can be as little as 50 here in the UK.

We've been audited. They found nothing just like we told them and it really isn't fun. Costs us a fortune to have the accountant produce all the bits they ask for.

Never mess with the tax office folks. They will always get you. Pay your taxes!

David Barnett March 30th, 2019 02:48 PM

Re: How do you protect your wedding clients?
Surprised that hasn't happened. There's a number of photo/video companies in the states, a good amount are close to national. Did work for a few of 'em, one wouldn't surprise me if they do close down. Just unorganized, not even contracts for me to sign just emails & texts & ship it off.

There was a wedding dress company that shut down, Alfred Angelo which must've been fairly big. Brides were left outta luck. On the news some showed up banging on the doors as their wedding were near, & I think the stores had some in stock. Davids Bridal also filed bankruptcy but I think just restructuring, no orders were affected.

Chris Harding March 30th, 2019 06:28 PM

Re: How do you protect your wedding clients?
There is virtually no regulation here for wedding suppliers! You buy a camera and voila, you are a professional wedding videographer. This guy started off on his own and then moved into hiring freelancers so he could do multiple weddings every week ...He was given a final demand to pay his outstanding sales tax debt of $378,000 (it's supposed be be paid monthly as it's money you collect for the tax office) He ignored it and continued trading ..in fact when he was closed down last Monday by the tax office he was still taking both full payments and deposits from brides just 2 days earlier knowing full well he could never deliver!! It's said brides who have paid and either not received their media or even had their wedding amounts to a $400,000 loss and little chance of getting anything back!!

Steve Burkett March 30th, 2019 08:33 PM

Re: How do you protect your wedding clients?
To be fair, being caught by the Taxman is an honour shared by many large companies, some actors and well paid TV Presenters too have been caught out. Even Amazon and Google have had their share of large tax bills. Fraud is another thing large legitimate companies can be held accountable for. Regulation isn't the issue. There are rules and the guy broke them. Hence why the Tax office shut him down. Okay there are no Professional qualifications needed to be a Professional Videographer, but I assume this wasn't the problem here; more the methods he used in running the Business side of things.

With any Business you need no qualifications to run one. There's no test, exam or criteria to launch one and yet there are rules and regulations per Country in how you manage your Business. Plus most of us have a contract that regulates our service with a customer. Assuming couples booking him signed a contract, there should be something in there like a return of deposit if the guy fails to deliver his service. I have something like that in mine. If he does and fails to do so, then the couples affected can make a claim. It doesn't mean they'll get their money back. But it could lead to a small claims court.

Ultimately some Insurance can help, but the couples have to be careful the contract they signed allowed for money to be returned if service was cancelled. If the contract is obviously dodgy, the Insurance Company could back out of fulfilling a claim on the basis the couples were reckless in their choice of Videographer.

Steven Shea April 1st, 2019 08:13 AM

Re: How do you protect your wedding clients?
I've seen it happen to a few people in my home town, and I definitely worked with one company who obviously had cash flow problems and trouble managing things.

I think what happens is these groups get big hearty sums up front, feel rich, and forget to plan for doing the actual work down the road. All of a sudden they have a ton of editing to do, with no more money coming in. They get overwhelmed and things crumble.

Paul R Johnson April 1st, 2019 11:08 AM

Re: How do you protect your wedding clients?
I know the wedding video industry has a very business friendly set of standard processes, but these should actually protect the business, not wreck it. You do a bit of work, take quite a large amount of money, and then months later, deliver a product. To the client, this is very risky, and I'm surprised that the procedure has been allowed to continue without some kind of insurance like we have for travel agents, making sure if they go busty the client is compensated.

I've got to have a new flat roof on my recording studio and edit suite. It is going to cost me 3000. The builder might possibly ask me for an advance payment to cover materials, but he doesn't get the balance till the job is complete. Not when the old roof is off, and the new one ready to go on in a few days - but when the job is done. In the video wedding industry, the client is expected to pay up front because, I understand, many clients hate the result, or cancel the wedding, or even get divorced before the product is complete. That's problem for the video firm, I get it - BUT - the client has the opposite risk. They pay upfront for a product that may never arrive, or be dire. Both parties have a risk - so why is the risk not shared? Insurance could be good, but while possible for the business, probably not for the client.

The business model that the wedding video people use is totally biased in their favour. Rates are high, delivery time very unpressured, no trust required from the customer whatsoever. They pay, they wait, they eventually get a product.

Maybe some kind of escrow system would work? The client pays up front, but the video business don't get the money until the Jbh is done. In the case of non-delivery, the client gets their money back. If the video firm don't get their last payment or similar, then the money in escrow can be theirs?

Trust is a two-way process.

Steve Burkett April 1st, 2019 03:36 PM

Re: How do you protect your wedding clients?
Paul, alas you're speaking in ignorance. The main issue for us is that our work is seasonal and confined to certain days. Hence if we allocate a day to a client, we are refusing work to other people. Hardly an issue for your builder. Therefore we must protect ourselves. Also the value of our work depends on the marriage being a success. Again, does a builder suffer such a loss if the Groom sleeps with the Brides Sister.

And you speak as if you can't be conned by anyone other than a Wedding Videographer. I've been let down by builders, solicitors, car mechanics, to make but a few; who have still demanded payment, waving the terms of the contract they have effectively made. Same goes for any industry I deal with.
I had to once take a company to court over not honouring their own contract. Doing to their customers much the same thing this Videographer I imagine did. Being greedy and asking for money not earnt.

And what the hell do you mean, video guys working to an unpressured time. I took no effing holiday last year due to workload, under a lot of stress to deliver on time with a workload per Wedding considerably higher than previous years. My rates are reasonable and competitive. Yes I ask for money upfront as couples can invent issues and problems to delay final payment or in some cases let the matter drag for years. Once the Wedding is done, couples are less likely to pay. Venues and others who work the Wedding Industry make similar demands for the same reason.

I take on Weddings and agree a flat rate per hours worked filming but editing time can vary and depend on how much of the day needed continuous filming. Making a full length video as little as an hour long or as long as 4 hours. I had all kinds last year and it doesn't depend on hours covered. If they have singers or dancers or a magician, and they want the material in full, I have to deliver. Adding time to a Wedding Video and my editing at no extra cost.

Plus my contract makes it clear that no delivery means money back in full. There's a risk then, but no more than any other service. But at least not a costly one to the couple if I hold myself to my own contract and refund as agreed, should I fail to deliver. In fact many clients pay me even earlier or in monthly instalment, as they wish to remove all costs prior to the Wedding for peace of mind.

TBH my contract has worked more in clients favour. Until recently I have had couples cancel even a few weeks before with only the 50 deposit lost. I meanwhile lost a whole day of income, often where I received other enquiries and turned them down to honour a booking I ultimately lost. So I've now changed my contract to ensure I get full payment even if I am cancelled close to the Wedding. Do I want to impose this, no. But bad clients make things worst for everyone and its standard practise across the Wedding Industry.

Then again if I cancel my phone contract, my Insurance or my rent prematurely, I pay an early close fee. So what's the difference between them and me. Well, the difference is, my contract has been, and still is kinder than theirs, not worse as you Paul would infer.

This situation referenced here by Chris is more the exception. A case of one bad Business being undone by poor practise. Hardly unique to Wedding Videographers and can just as easily be true of any Industry.

Chris Harding April 1st, 2019 06:33 PM

Re: How do you protect your wedding clients?
Hi Steve

Quite correct ..on the whole wedding videographers are honourable and even though they take upfront payments they do deliver the goods. To be honest this event we have just had is an isolated one. I have heard of suppliers pulling out days before the wedding and photographers who arrive with one camera, it fails so they go home but never a videographer!! Bear in mind that this guy started as a solo shooter and was reliable too. Where it went pear shaped was when he decided to hire freelancers so he could make more money by taking on multiple weddings each weekend. He never failed as a videographer, he failed as a manager!!!

Roger Gunkel April 2nd, 2019 04:29 AM

Re: How do you protect your wedding clients?
I have never been comfortable with up front wedding payments, for which I have often been criticised on this forum, so some of what Paul says I agree with, but I also agree with much of what Steve says.

I have never taken up front payments except on the rare occasion that clients have insisted and then I have only agreed to take a part payment. I have always preferred to take payment when the work is completed ready for delivery, to avoid a potential backlog of work to be done with no further payment at the end of it. I am also acutely aware that once payment has been made, the client will likely be on your case for delivery, not appreciating the time that editing takes.

I have always worked with a contract that protects us and the client, giving guarantees on the work being to the standard of examples previously shown, within the limits of the circumstances on the day. I also have cancellation clauses with a scale of payments according to the notice given of cancellation by the client and a guarantee to find a suitable alternative if we would need to cancel, or medical certificate in case of a medical emergency. Payment used to be made on delivery, but after a few clients adopted delaying tactics, we changed that to payment on completion of the work and receipt of our invoice. Payment has to be made within 7 days unless we have agreed any alternative in writing, to allow for genuine hardship. Failure to pay in the 7 days will automatically invoke a penalty clause on the contract which is an interest charged on any outstanding amount and is clearly detailed in their contract. No finished work is handed over until full payment has been made.

Last year was our busiest ever, and as Steve found, pressure was immense with no holiday and 7 days a week working. We normally quote 4-6 weeks delivery, however Claire was very ill at the latter part of last year and unable to edit and we had a complete failure of one of the editing computers right at the peak of the work. That meant me working single handed on one system and delivery escalated to 12-14 weeks. We contacted all affected clients and had absolutely no problems from them and indeed much sympathy, which was helped by the fact that they all knew we would complete as quickly as we could to get paid.

As Paul said, protecting your business is the top priority, but that can be helped by having a good relationship with your clients backed up with a strong contract that protects both sides.


Paul R Johnson April 2nd, 2019 04:47 AM

Re: How do you protect your wedding clients?
The only problem is that once you get into the mode of edit later, at your convenience you cannot catch up. 3 weeks for a doctors appointment, solved by phone on the day.

My video work means that the one organised this morning, will be shot on Tuesday evening, edited Wednesday and Thursday and the client gets it delivered on Friday. That's the deal (and probably for less cost than a wedding, I suspect!). The client pays NOTHING upon front, as I deal with businesses, and they get 30 day terms, which often go over, with no penalty for this if they are good clients. That is, I think what I mean by wedding people not being pressured, time wise. If your delivery timescale is a month or more, then a day off if you fancy it, or even a holiday is perfectly possible. You could work extra hard and clear the backlog - but there is no need to. Most of our work is entertainment based, so we will be heavily into audio and lighting too. A music video might take us a day to shoot, and three or four days of 9-5 editing, and often the income works out to not much above minimum wage if we actually worked on time. It's balanced out by other jobs that involve less time. Our work is very seasonal too, and often at terrible times of the night. I've no beef with the wedding industry for having a pretty good deal, but have to smile when they complain (as in these forums, where they often do). We often have to charge travelling days, which work out at around half the day rate, and clients moan about this, but it's how it works.

I'm not saying the wedding industry is easy, or stress free - I'm sure it isn't, but it IS well paid, and has flexible delivery times that we could never ever use - we'd have no work. If you want to drive hundreds of miles, finish regularly at 2am, and have clients on the phone two days later - try commercial video for VAT registered clients, and not happy couples who have no real clue about what they could ask for?

Chris Harding April 2nd, 2019 05:54 AM

Re: How do you protect your wedding clients?
Hey Roger

Yeah I have seen you being slammed for your terms BUT they are your decision! I have a photographer mate who takes $100 booking fee and the balance on delivery and if you change your mind before the wedding he will also give you your $100 back, no questions asked.

If you take full or even partial upfront payments and don't put them into some sort of trust account yes, you can end up using all your upfront money prior to the wedding day and end up feeling like you are working for nothing!! but then again our new live stream format omits the editing phase totally so we more often than not get paid in full and go and do the job a week or so later ....As we have downsized to doing mainly ceremony only, much smaller amounts are involved and way shorter working times too. If I was still doing the full bridal prep thru to the end of reception I would revert back to the 1/3rd on booking and 2/3rds 2 weeks prior to the wedding ..I have been burned too many times by people not paying on delivery. We used to do 1/3rd booking, 1/3rd 2 weeks before and the final amount on delivery and I cannot understand why people would agree to a $2100 wedding shoot, pay $700 when they book, $700 2 weeks before and then NEVER pick up the media so $1400 of their hard earned money is wasted and they have nothing!!! I still have a couple of DVD sets that are over 5 years old sitting on my shelf!!!

Roger Gunkel April 2nd, 2019 01:17 PM

Re: How do you protect your wedding clients?
It sounds to me Paul that you have no real conception of the wedding industry. A typical wedding for us would be to start loading up at 8am, allow an hour to travel and park, arrive at the Bride's hair and makeup around 9-10am shoot without a break of more than a few minutes until 9-10pm then another hour to drive home. The footage is then transferred to the editing computer, from 3 or 4 video cameras, 2 sound recorders and 2 stills cameras. That takes about another hour, then all the batteries are put on to charge ready for the next wedding, which is often the following day at the weekend. We can't start the editing of the video until we have received all the information and music that the couple require and never start until after they return from honeymoon in case us or them have any questions. This means that we frequently have a queue of up to 4 weddings after the season starts.

I'm not sure where you get the idea that we edit at our convenience as we need to push on to get work out as soon as possible as any delay means the queue gets longer. Typically at the start of the editing season, we work every day that we are not filming to get the first weddings out, which means with filming that is 7 days per week. We then try to keep the editing to a level where we can have at least 1 day per week off, however last year, with losing one editing system and illness, we had to work 7 days per week from July until December. Hopefully, this year we can keep up with a deliberately reduced level of weddings and get some time for some sort of holiday later in the year.

When I read that you film on Tuesday evening, edit on Wednesday and Thursday and deliver on Friday I can see who has the easiest job. If you can take all my hours of footage and edit it and process hundreds of photos all in two days, then you are a far cleverer man than I.


Paul R Johnson April 2nd, 2019 02:42 PM

Re: How do you protect your wedding clients?
I understand your position Roger, but your workflow seems pretty similar to mine - and I can keep up with the editing. I just don't see why wedding editing timescales appear to go on for weeks, and sometimes months.

You're quiet right in that I don't understand weddings, just the perceived processes. I didn't;t know, for example that there are seasons - so I assume your first wedding has a fast turnaround, then the second lags a bit and then by the time the next wedding comes around, you've not finished one and two and the delay gets longer. I hadn't considered that. Most of my delays come from the paperwork advancing before we shoot. Getting confirmation of positions being cleared, satisfying ticket labelling rules at some places - re: the recording. Actually getting to talk to lighting, sound and staging people. We can be anywhere - so sometimes travel is just crazy. Just organising one that I've discovered is nearly in Wales when I thought it was an outskirt of London! Perhaps we're lucky in that our only post-shoot delays come from music people, who got through the pre-edit roughcut with a fine tooth comb, to spot errors. At the moment - our only real delayed project is where the client cannot decide on the titles for each section - everything else being done.

We too have multiple cameras - usually 2-5, but it's multicam so the edit for a 45 minute event isn't too long. As for photos? Thankfully they only rear their head in a few projects we do.

I'm still uncertain of the really long timescale that appears to be standard? Surely this is something that could be reduced? This would be beneficial for all the involved parties?

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