Greetings and Salutations dear readers,
I wanted to tap into the minds and experience of the VoiceOver collective and ask a question that sometimes bothers me. Is it just me or has working in the voice over industry sometimes made you feel like you are a fishmonger in the local market.
Whether its during a communication between a client or an agent proxy I find that sometimes the haggling can get tiresome and somewhere along the line I decided to get very very stubborn.
I am sure that the Global financial crisis (a gift from the last US president as far as I am concerned) has caused some serious financial belt tightening. The ripple effect from this crisis has devastated thousands of companies and has caused the laying off of possibly millions of people worldwide.
The Net 30 Incident
The concept of Net 30 is pretty simple:
Net 30 is a form of trade credit which specifies that the net amount (the total outstanding on the invoice) is expected to be payment received in full 30 days after the Goods are dispatched by the seller, or 30 days after the Service is completed.
I was introduced to the term a year or so back when I decided to develop my voiceover business from a national to an International endeavor. Before that my only experience with delayed payment is when I worked with several freelancing companies in Toronto (design related) and the policy was that they paid you biweekly as long as you faxed in your time-sheet before end of day Friday. Of course in my regular job we get our salaries at the end of the month and that can also be considered net 30 except that its a fixed position and not a freelance job.
The very first international client I worked for was extremely nice and I give them much credit for encouraging me to take further steps toward establishing my VO business online and go global. They were also the first firm to introduce me to net 30.
In all honesty I hated the concept. I much preferred the envelope of cash that one gets after a successful studio recording with production companies locally. The ability to take the cash out and immediately put it in your pocket … tax free and instantaneous… is really quite gratifying.
As my network of International clients grew… so did my exposure to different payment policies. Needless to say my favorite was the instant payment via Paypal… although the transaction deduction really ticked me off … at least until I started adding a markup specifically for clients who wanted to pay me via paypal.
Post Financial Apocalypse
One specific client was by far my favorite… because they sent me the most jobs and always paid me the fastest. They always had the highest priority and I would often go above and beyond the call of duty to keep them happy.
But then the crisis hit… and one day I got an email telling me of their revised method of payment. Now instead of instant payment… my choices where Net 60 or go fish.
So I get paid 60 days after the fact. Pretty freaking ridiculous. Their justification was that their clients where paying them late so they would be paying me late. In anycase… the jobs from them decreased and it wasn’t much of an issue since my other clients still had a more reasonable payment policy.
The reason I bring it up is that increasingly now… more and more clients are using the global financial crisis as a reason to pay me late. The translator I work with also told me that many of her clients from Europe are starting to change their payment policy to that effect.
If you ask me… That’s just Bull Crap.
Zen and the Art of Haggling.
I’ve never been much of a haggler. I basically go to a shop… look at their prices… if they have something I like I make note of the model … and go around to similar shops and find the best price deal. But I never go up to the salesperson and tell him that I would buy their product if they gave me a 5, 10 or 15% discount.
My first real brush with haggling was during my Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca… before the Hajj started… I went there a few weeks prior to the Hajj and basically lived in Mecca for a week or so. During that week I observed on several occasions some of the other Pilgrims (I can’t really say that without hearing John Wayne in the back of my mind saying it) haggling and successfully bringing down the price of some product in the bazaar on the outskirts of the Holy Sites there.
Within a week I was a pro… and by the time I went back to egypt… I was a master. In Egypt … where men generally don’t haggle… I was able to do it on several occasions and leave the salesperson dazed with wonder at what just happened.
Of course when a client decides to contact me directly for a voice over job and treats my voice as a commodity (which technically it is) that he can get anywhere else… I used to worry about losing the job to someone else… and end up hating myself for doing a time consuming job for next to nothing.
A year into this… and something in my head clicked. I’ve been in the VO business now close to 15 years and if they want to hire someone else to do it.
But I’m not changing my price. After all the financial crisis has hit me just as hard as it can hit you. I’ve seen a drop in booking, I’ve seen a rise in equipment cost. I’ve seen a sudden stretch of my financial liquidity.
Of Course I am well aware that the money is as good as in the bank with the net 30, 45 and 60 policy… but still it does mean I see the return on my work a month or 2 later.
A Foundation For Negotiation.
I’ve considered dropping all those Net 60 clients. I really have. But its not practical. They are still paying customers and whether I like it or not I did agree when I did that I would accept the Net 45 or Net 60 payment policy.
But I did find a way out.
It’s quite simple. With new clients I don’t accept anything beyond net 15. In fact It seems that there is an existing work around to the whole Net 30 concept that I wasn’t aware of.
It’s something along the lines of this:
Net 30 terms are often coupled with a credit for early payment; e.g. the notation “2% 10, net 30” indicates that a 2% discount can be taken by the buyer only if payment is received in full within 10 days of the dispatch of the goods, and that full payment is expected within 30 days. For example, if “$1000 2/10 net 30” is written on a bill, the buyer can take a 2% discount ($1000 x .02 = $20) and make a payment of $980 within 10 days.
See I didn’t know that. I just accepted the financial pitfall that I fell in and sat on the edge of the proverbial lake and lamented myself.
In effect you can accept new clients with net 30 but introduce them to the concept of %15 10, net 30 and make the appropriate markup so that if they do wish to delay the payment they pay more and if they wish to pay sooner you get what you wanted in the first place.
Having said that… I still wouldn’t go for new clients with net 30 policies.
In fact I’ve started to renegotiate my fee with all the companies I used to work with to make up for an increased cost of living… and a delayed payment policy from almost everyone.
And if they don’t like it… Well then I’m sure they can go ahead and find someone else that fits their needs and that also has my skills, meets his deadlines and provides excellent customer service. It’s a simple matter of know your self worth.
Tapping into the VO Collective
This article came out a little longer than I anticipated but if you think back to the first paragraph in it you’ll remember that I wrote this article mainly to give my thoughts on the matter as well as find out what you guys think of these recent changes in payment policy and what your experiences are.
I’d greatly appreciate any and all input you have.