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INCOME & FEES
When Your Voice Over Client Makes A
Mistake & Wants A Redo, What Do YOU Do?
February 2, 2015

By Rob Marley
Voice Actor

I love helping a business shape its ideas into something that will bring them additional business. So when I'm presented with a dilemma over helping out a business that has made a mistake, it can be very troubling for me.

For example ...

I had recorded a project for a client and submitted it to them far sooner than we had originally negotiated (which is great, because their deadline got changed and they needed the finished audio ASAP.)

I believe very strongly in under-promising and over-delivering whenever I can, so even with the revised deadline, I was still able to deliver  sooner than they expected.

The invoice was sent, and as far as I was concerned this job had been put to bed. 

THE WRONG SCRIPT!

The next day, I was already on to my next set of projects when I got a panicked email from my client. Apparently there was some kind of mix-up and they had sent me the wrong script.

They asked me if I could "do them a solid" and record this new script and send it back to them as soon as possible. 

Mistakes can and do happen. We've all had them. And I know that if the mistake was something I had done, I would bend over backwards to correct it.  Even when the mistake is not my fault, I'm usually more than happy to oblige. If it's a small change to the script, I'm happy to record the changes in the effort to keep the client happy (and make myself look like the rockstar voice over that I am).

But this wasn't a simple change to a 30-second commercial or a 2-minute web video. This was a 3,000-word eLearning project that had taken about eighthours of work to record and edit. And now that work had to be tossed out and re-recorded with a completely new script.

WHAT DID I SAY?

If this were a close friend of mine, I'd have no problem saying out loud what I was thinking at this point:
"You want an entirely new script recorded...for free?"
"You want two scripts for the price of one??" 
I spent quite a bit of time trying to come up with the right words to diplomatically explain what my bull-in-a-china-shop brain was screaming in my head.

I explained to my client that throwing out the old script and starting anew would not be something I could do just as a favor, and that I would have to charge for a full day of work. 

BE A PRO

As a voice over professional, you have to be willing to stand up for what you believe in and accept the consequences for your beliefs. I accepted the fact that I may end up losing the client in this process, but I simply wasn't willing to put in eight hours of work for free. 

Be willing to do favors, but be wary of being taken advantage of. 

Be true to yourself, your voice and your business. Be a professional.
--------------------
ABOUT ROB

A Los Angeles native, Rob Marley is an accomplished voice talent, producer and writer, now living in the hill country of Austin TX.


Web: www.MarleyAudio.com


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Comments (14)
Guy Harris
2/6/2015 at 1:05 PM
I hear you Rob. Run the business like a business, but next time really make the initial conversation clear about sending the 'right' script.

Yes they made a mistake, but as David said, you just never know what their next job might be. Definitely use the phone. In this world we rely too much on emails and texts which never convey the tone properly of what we are trying to say.

Not sure what editing software you use but there are some really easy ways of working when it comes to saving files individually. Not sure how you are set up, but a 2 screen set up is actually worth investing in.

Or shrinking the editor and having the script on the right (on one screen), use a short cut key to "save selection' and copy and paste from the document into the editor's file name.

Some might read this and question the cost of buying another screen but, it's a business and you need to invest. If it saves you 5 hours then it's paid for itself 3 times over already.

If anyone wants some tips, please get in touch. Google VoiceoverGuy.
David Menashe
2/4/2015 at 11:01 AM
Ultimately you have ended up losing what could potentially have been a good long-term client. So what you've ended up with truly is a lose lose.

All the comments I have read make sense. This client could have been a royal pain in the butt going forward. Or they could have been a client that helps you to pay your mortgage, go on vacation or buy that shiny new piece of equipment.

In the heat of the moment I would've probably acted the same way that you did. With the benefit of hindsight and time to think about it, I have better solution. Firstly, a phone call rather than an email. It's much easier to build a relationship when speaking to someone.

Then (after an explanation that this goes against what you've always done in the past) an offer to redo the job for them at 50% of your regular rate. If they turn that down, they really are idiots. If they accept your offer, you may have a good long-term client. Win-win :-)

Going forward, they could've been awkward to deal with. In that case you could have fired them later. In other words, why didn't you give them a chance to be a good client?
Chadd Pierce
2/3/2015 at 5:10 PM
"Be willing to do favors, but be wary of being taken advantage of."

Perfect summary!
Jessica Fields
2/3/2015 at 10:42 AM
Good for you, Rob! Nobody needs repeat clients like that, anyway. It's not just 8 hours of work for free. It's a day away from my family or a day I can't accept and be paid for other work. I like to make it clear to my clients that studio time is scheduled for a job (although it's my studio, that's time management). Tying me up from other work, they'll have to pay for. If I want to 'be the nice guy', I give them a reduced quote and tell them it's for studio time only and that I'm waiving usage fees.
Rob Marley
2/3/2015 at 7:13 AM
To answer some of the questions:

1 - it took 8 hours to complete the project because every paragraph of the 3000-word file had to be edited and split into a different audio file. Each one had to be named and numbered. That took a lot longer to cut up than expected.

I did consider re-recording and editing the script, but because I had spent the entire day editing and cutting up the various audio files, the thought of doing that again was past my "nice guy" threshold.

2. It does appear that I've lost the client. They "unfriended" me from LinkedIn and I haven't heard from them since my last email telling them that their favor was going to cost them. It's very likely that I would have had repeat business from this client (this particular job was the second one I did for them) but there was no way this re-do wasn't going to take me most of a day to fix - for free. And that was just something I couldn't do.

It's one of the toughest things I've had to do as a voice artist, but if you are running your business like a business, it's the only thing you CAN do.
steve hammill
2/2/2015 at 8:28 PM
Union gigs make this situation easier because all signators know the rules...or should. When you are on your own, you are the mean, greedy VO.

I too, am wondering about the outcome - as well as why 3000 words took 8 hours.
Fred Humberstone
2/2/2015 at 7:54 PM
Rob, I agree 100% with your decision. If this had been a long-time client with a successful payment history I may have cut them some slack. But if you start doing big favors for new clients they will get in the habit of expecting big favors all of the time. You know the client expects it when they say, "You did it for me last time!" Don't open that door if you don't want the client to stick their foot in it and keep it open.
Fran Tunno
2/2/2015 at 6:28 PM
I agree wholeheartedly. Great advice.

This just happened to me today. Client changed the copy after I'd already recorded it. It wasn't my fault, so I asked to be paid for both scripts and was. As they say, "Ask and you shall receive."
Guy Harris
2/2/2015 at 5:13 PM
Hey from the UK,

Just to contribute from someone doing these daily and how I deal with them.

Firstly I agree with a lot of what you said in how you deal with it when it happens. However during the initial stages of communication with the client I make a point of saying "so, once you have your final approved version of the script, let me have it and I'll voice it for you"

So, by putting that line you've told them your fee is based on that 'final' script NOT the 'wrong' script. I have found that in 90% of cases the client has offered their apology and expects to pay again. It's at this point I decide if I charge them or not.

On a 3000 word script you may want to charge something or you take the hit and voice it knowing your client will be pretty damn grateful and your likely to get repeat business from them and next time, for sure, they will check their script.

Client retention is the key to winning in this business. I did a nice q&a with Bill DeWees last year with some tips to help you win clients and progressing in this industry.

I notice you mentioned 8 hours to voice and edit a 3000 word script? That's a whole day on 1 script? I just wondered why it took you so long. It should take 1 hour to 1.5 hours for 3000 words. What are you editing on? tape? :-)

It would be interesting to know if others have similar turnaround times for that length of script.

If so, I am thinking I could do a master class on speeding up audio editing.

Regards

Guy Harris
VoiceoverGuy
"there is lots of work out there, you just gotta know where to look"
Larry Wayne
2/2/2015 at 3:10 PM
Rob...like everyone else, we are waiting with baited breath (whatever that is) to hear whether or not you still have the client!

Stuff like that happens...we all make mistakes. If it were me, I probably would have let them know as diplomatically as I could relate in an email that the labor required was substantial and in the interest of continuing the relationship, I will be glad to re cut at a reduced fee. Each party giving a little may save the day for all involved!
paul payton
2/2/2015 at 1:07 PM
Good story and outcome. I have two questions:

Had you waited till closer to deadline, would they have sent you the right script or did they not know until they heard it?

You never reveal whether standing up for your professionalism cost you the client. How did that go?

By the way, I too would have told them it was really a new job, since the fault was theirs, but since I got a head start on it (without checking?) - although why would one check if its a repeat and reliable client?) I might offer to shave a small percentage, perhaps 5-10% at most.

So, please, what was your outcome?

Thanks,
Paul
Bill Nevitt
2/2/2015 at 11:47 AM
Hi Rob:

You hit the nail right on the head; I seriously doubt that, if you had said "do me a solid and give me your next job without audition, also, at my pre-set price," their reaction would have been exactly the same. Just because we're voiceover artists doesn't give clients the right to assume they can be "walk-over" artists. Money talks & "baloney" walks. Good call.

Bill
Susan Manhire
2/2/2015 at 8:49 AM
Gratefully, I have never had that dilemma, Rob. Like you, I have done a retake or two without charging extra. This, however, is a different situation, and I would be inclined to split my normal fee with the client. That feels like a win-win for everyone. Best, Susan
Debbie Feldman
2/2/2015 at 8:29 AM
BRAVO !!! How dare they try to pull one over on you? There are people out there that want something for nothing. Glad you stood your ground. I'm the same way in my business. If a mistake happens on my end...it's fixed...GRATIS !!! Someone dropped the ball there and probably should be fired. How can they send you the wrong script? Loved the article. Thanks.
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