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'Good' ... 'Fast' ... 'Cheap' - Which Traits
Describe You? The Choice Is Yours ...
August 13, 2014

Note: The author is a featured speaker at the VOICE 2014 convention in Anahem, CA, August 27-30, 2014.

By Joe Thomas
Voice Actor

There’s an old project management saying:
Good, Fast, Cheap – Pick Two
The implication is that it is impossible to have a project that embodies all three qualities (good, fast and cheap).

Using this saying, we are faced with the following possibilities:

1. Good + Fast - with the cost being high
2. Good + Cheap - with the delivery time being long
3. Fast + Cheap - with the quality being low

I’d like to include a "Pick One” option, which would add these to the mix:

4. Good - high quality, regardless of time and cost
5. Fast - speedy delivery, regardless of quality and cost
6. Cheap - low cost, regardless of quality and time


As a voice actor, I am acting as an independent business owner. This gives me the freedom and the responsibility to determine the quality of my product, the speed of delivery, and the pricing.

However, in reality, the choices I have made in my business do not allow for all six options.

"Good” is a given. Quality is an essential component of my finished products. I would not lend my efforts or name to anything that is sub-par. The rest of the project is dependent on this trait. Quality is not negotiable.

"Cheap” doesn’t live here.
I don’t provide bargain-basement pricing, no matter how much time you give me, or how little quality is called for (see above). Lowering prices just to get a job tells others that I do not value myself or my product. The pricing I give is competitive based on the job and the market.

"Fast” refers to speed of delivery.
I see this as a function of the amount of work needed to make a quality product, married to the other projects that are on my current schedule. I do make every effort to meet customer deadlines, including working odd hours and weekends.

But there is a minimum amount of time needed for each job to be completed and still maintain quality standards. You can’t cook a 25-pound turkey in an hour by turning the oven up to 5,000 degrees.


These leave me with only two real options:
Good and Good + Fast
Both options provide a high-quality product, competitive pricing, and delivery speed based on the work and my schedule.

If a fast delivery is needed, and it is possible given the project and my schedule, then I will adjust my schedule to accommodate, with no price adjustment. I see this as a way to show good faith in the possibility for future work, rather than an opportunity to raise the pricing.


So, what happens when someone wants a discount, or needs it faster than I can provide?

I will politely refuse the work and refer them to other providers. It’s the only honest solution, and is "good karma” in the long run. Hopefully they will appreciate both the honesty and the referral.

How do you run your business?
Joe J Thomas is a voice actor in Los Angeles specializing in characters, accents and impressions for animation, video games, ADR, commercials and promos. In his spare time he dabbles with graphics and animation, and uses his prior skills as a programmer to devour new tools and applications and bend them until they break in funny ways. His weekly blog, Joe's Dump, gives mental health professionals free research material on a regular basis. He will also be a featured speaker at the VOICE 2014 convention in Anaheim, CA, August 27-30, 2014.


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Comments (3)
Christian Rosselli
8/13/2014 at 4:12 PM
Words of truth and a great reminder to us all about setting the bar higher and creating better standards in each of our businesses. I remember when I first used Google Adwords and actually used the keywords "fast" and "Cheap" in the campaign-- never doing that again!

Jim Conlan
8/13/2014 at 9:58 AM
Over all, Joe, this is good advice. In particular, talent new to the business needs to be reminded that if they offer themselves at a discount (in hopes of being remembered in the future for more lucrative projects), they will likely be known as the "discount talent."

The Elephant in this Room, however, is the mass of discount talent that persist in encouraging clients to hope they can get it "good" and "cheap." Sadly, there is very good VO talent out there these days who are willing to work cheap. Thus, the bar drops lower and lower.
Jason Culver
8/13/2014 at 8:38 AM
Words of wisdom, thanks Joe.
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