Collect Calls

One of the “joys” of being a talent agent, especially of the non-union variety, is the constant monitoring of the list of accounts receivables (aka money owing).  At the best of times, let alone during an unsteady economy, the Net 30 days on the invoice seems to be some very loose guideline for your average client.  The majority of clients do pay within striking distance of that 30 days and some who take longer, you get used to because they’re either major companies who are good for the money and likely have a 60 day bureaucracy, or they’re old clients who are predictably late but are reliable.  But there are those of course for whom it requires some aggressive collection techniques.  If this is the first time dealing with a client, sometimes it comes down to gut instinct in terms of whether to believe the bookkeeper really did just come back from vacation, or that he thought he mailed the cheque last week.

In my 17 years of doing voice work and now 8 years of owning a talent agency, I’ve only not been paid 4 times: Two bankruptcies, but fortunately in both cases, the amount owing was $300.  One client I have taken to small claims court so there’s still a chance to get some or all of the $$$ owing…And then we have a 4th client who “closed down” his business but appears to have restarted a new company, doing pretty much the same thing.

Here’s his old company – http://cenex.ca/main.html

And here’s the new one – www.phigroup.ca 

I like to taunt whenever possible.  I think it’s like shoplifting – to hire talent and not pay them for work completed.  If you’re talent trying to collect, be sure and threaten to contact your client’s client and do so if you’re still don’t get paid.  I learned long ago that you can say anything to anyone as long as it’s true.

My favourite phrase is “If I don’t receive payment by the end of the week, I am prepared to take legal action”.

In addition to going after your client’s client, I highly recommend threatening to have the commercial pulled off the air because in the non-union world, there is usually not a release form so they have no right to air it if the talent has not been paid. 

I am relentless.   We all should be, whether it’s $50 owing…or $5000.

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3 Responses to “Collect Calls”

  1. Patrick Says:
    January 28th, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Truly sound advice from a good man. Thanks for the great recording session the other day, Roger!

    In addition to your post, I wanted to mention that I use for my translation work often communities which enable their users to post ratings of translation agencies regarding their willingness to pay etc. One example is the Blue Board: http://www.proz.com/blueboard/
    I don’t know if anything like this exists for the voice industry though.

  2. Mitch Krayton Says:
    August 18th, 2010 at 1:00 am

    In this economy, a new client should expect some cash up front requirement. I ask 1/2 on contract, and 1/2 at the end of the day of recording. I also review the terms to be certain they understand a recut due to a flub on my part and a rewrite of copy on their part. At the very least I have my costs covered.

    Clients have to earn the right to get credit. Just like the kid graduating college with no credit has a difficult time getting the first loan. Credit is a privilege, not a right.

    I also find that the bigger the company, the greater the bureaucracy and the slower the payment. So I also accept credit cards (every line manager has one) for quick payment and then let them expense it on their own internal processes.

  3. sunset times Says:
    October 28th, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    In this economy, a new client should expect some cash up front requirement. I ask 1/2 on contract, and 1/2 at the end of the day of recording. I also review the terms to be certain they understand a recut due to a flub on my part and a rewrite of copy on their part. At the very least I have my costs covered.

    Clients have to earn the right to get credit. Just like the kid graduating college with no credit has a difficult time getting the first loan. Credit is a privilege, not a right.

    I also find that the bigger the company, the greater the bureaucracy and the slower the payment. So I also accept credit cards (every line manager has one) for quick payment and then let them expense it on their own internal processes.

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