payment

Not You, Me!

Do you ever listen to the Taylor Swift song “You Need to Calm Down” and think she is singing directly to you? I can’t be the only one. So as proud as I am to be a working mom running my own small business, I would be lying if I told you I was always able to separate my feelings from my work 100% of the time. I think when you are as passionate about your industry as I am about voice over, remaining detached and having good perspective all the time can be a challenge. Why does staying calm matter? Regardless of the business scenario at hand, as voice over actors we need to remain calm in order to cultivate and maintain meaningful client relationships.

Two Interactions That Got My Wheels Turning This Week

This week I had not one but two instances where I nearly lost my cool. In both cases, I was fortunate that in the time that I was venting to my family that is home with me, each issue came to a positive resolution and each time it gave me pause that I should have been calmer in my reactions.

The first instance involved a collections issue with a client who typically pays after the 90 day mark. I typically do at least one commercial per quarter with her. The terms of my work is that I expect payment NET 30. My process for collections is that clients get a friendly reminder at 30 and 60 days out. When it hits 90 days they get a letter from my lawyer. This particular clients is a pleasure to work with. She is not demanding, she is clear in her direction, and she is delightful. She just always pays late. Always. So this time the letter was sent at 90 days. Typically she responds by paying promptly. Things are, however,  different now. The letter got no response. By day 105, I was very upset. I felt that after our long relationship, some communication was warranted even if she needed to let me know that she needed an extension or a payment plan.  In my head I was playing out multiple scenarios, including contacting the end user and posting in our Facebook VO Red Flags Group. Then, around day 110, she responded to my lawyer with a lovely email that she had been out of the office due to the pandemic and issued payment. Done. She also wrote a nice note about how excellent my work is. So all of the time I spent thinking about how she was doing this maliciously, it was all in my head. I already knew going in that she pays on the slow side, and because of the pandemic it was slower. The take away here is not to presume to know what clients are thinking or to get emotional. Staying calm and dealing only with tangible facts without freaking out is clearly the best way to preserve long term client relationships.

Another interaction involved my reaction to client feedback for a roster I’m on. This particular roster does not pay in the high end of rates, but they are typically easy to work with and send a bulk of work. For me, one challenge that I have is that instead of just emailing me bookings, the upload all voice over assignments through a web portal. Anyway, a commercial came in for a client I have done work for before. All communication with the producers in this roster is typically through the portal. In general the reality in the voiceover industry is that there is not a lot of human interaction and when you get feedback without inflection it’s possible that there can be more or less to that feedback. My natural tendency is to jump to conclusions and become emotional. I learned this week, upon receiving repeat bookings from this roster, that unless I am told explicitly that something is wrong, everything is ok. I think when we want so badly to make our clients happy, and so rarely get any feedback at all, it is easy to have these conversations in our head. In the end, it is better to remain calm.

Finding My Inner Zen

If we have ever met in person, you would pick up right away that I do not have a calm, relaxed energy. Having spent much of my adult life in New York City, the frenetic vibe of the city always suited me just fine and if anything I thrived feeling that pulse. I will say that recent life during the pandemic has made me want to take things a little slower.  Now that I am home with my family 24-7, remaining calm seems much better than getting bent out of shape over every little thing. If I let the small stuff get to me, this pandemic would be impossible to get through. I am trying to actually live by the advice I give my children. And of course, by the brilliant lyrics of Taylor Swift:  “But I’ve learned a lesson that stressin’ and obsessin’ ’bout somebody else is no fun…You need to calm down, you’re being too loud.”

If  You are a Professional Voice Over Actor, Be Professional

As a full time professional voice over actor, I am well-aware that my clients have options, so I want to make it really easy for my VO clients to work with me! I consider my business model to be client centered, I put their needs first, and try to put myself in their shoes always. Whether they are video production companies, eLearning content providers, or agents, I want them to trust when they book me that the experience will be seamless because I want to make this as easy for them as possible. Why? I want them to come back over and over again, so I want to be their go to voice in my vocal range.  Outstanding service is what sets the bar higher. Pristine audio is a given. It is assumed that the sound matches either our demos or the audition we have sent in, so the way to stand out and have clients keep coming back is to give them what they need and make the experience a delight! Here’s what I offer every time:

Rush Jobs and Fast Turn Arounds

I assume when you hire me that you need your audio back as quickly as possible. Typically when you cast me in a project, you will immediately (my average response time is 9 to 11 minutes) get my “Seal the Deal” email that confirms all the details. This will confirm the rate, the turn around time, and any questions that I may have about the booking. Unless you tell me when you send me the booking that you don’t need it for several days, I assume you want it as soon as I can get it to you. I often have people contact me about RUSH jobs and tell me that they need it “right away.” To me, that implies they need me to stop what I am working on and record their project. For that I add a $50 RUSH fee. Otherwise, I typically will have your job back to you in four to six hours.  If it will be longer, the exceptions are if I am on location somewhere and I let you know. Always. Right away.

Weekend Hours

I am happy to work on the weekends if you need something. I also have clients in different time zones around the world, so sometimes they send me something on a Friday but it does not get to me until Saturday and for them to have it on Monday it needs to be done on the weekend. No problem! I understand that you have a client on the other end who needs what they need, and I want to provide you with the finished audio. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me on the weekend if you need something. I am very passionate about my work and happy to do it!

Live Sessions at their Convenience

As a professional voiceover talent and gal who loves playing with gadgets, I am happy to provide my clients with multiple options for guided or live sessions! I offer Source Connect, ipDTL, ISDN, Skype, and Zoom. I have even had clients just ask me to put them on speaker phone. Whatever is easiest for the client is fine with me! I want my clients to feel at ease so that they can simply communicate what they want and have the finished audio that they need. That’s it. If you ask me if I have a favorite? Sure, but at the end of the day, the client has to be at ease and feel that they had the session they wanted.

Invoice Their Way

After I deliver the finished audio, whether I have self-directed or had a live session, I send an invoice immediately. I know some folks wait until Fridays. That is not my practice. I send an email delivering the finished audio, typically via drop box, with a summery of the audio, and in that email I describe the multiple ways I happily accept payment because I want to make it easy for my clients. I take credit cards, paypal, Zelle, checks, wire transfer, and more. Now, I have more and more eLearning clients that have specific invoicing protocol. This is fine! I simply send their invoice their way! The point is to make it easy for the client as I can adapt.

Be Client Friendly

In an industry where clients have choices, customer service matters! I want my clients to know how much I appreciate every opportunity, and I want to make it as easy as possible for them to work with me. I think back to times I have had to buy a gift for someone and  hesitated because of the wait at the store or how long it took the clerk to wrap the gift. At the end of the day, I want my service to match the quality of my audio: outstanding is the only option.