THE BEST CLIENTS IN THE WORLD!
Published March 10, 2014
I gotta tell you: I have the best clients in the world. The Best!
Today I woke up with a touch of laryngitis. I probably should not have slept naked out on the porch last night. After all, it is still winter. In any case, I woke up to a full day of work – actually a full week of work – but I made Barry White sound like a Vienna Boys Choir standout. The voiceover business went on hiatus for me today.
There was nothing else to do but contact each client that I had a project scheduled for and let them know my dilemma. I dreaded those calls and emails.
I shouldn’t have worried.
My clients are AWESOME! All of them seemed to really care and were willing to give me a couple of days to get back. Even a client who had me scheduled for a rush job! One client, when I called him, as soon as I said “Hi,” broke in and said, “Don’t say another word! Go gargle and rest and don’t say another word until you’re back!”
Each one of those clients could’ve rightly said, “I’m sorry, this job has to be done today and I’m going to have to go with someone else.” Yes, that has happened in years past. Some projects are on that tight of a schedule! But today was different. Even the rush job said “Get well. We’ll just figure out a way to put this off for a couple of days.”
I was so blown away by a client who said it quite succinctly, “Dan, you’re our voice guy. Crap like this happens to everyone. We’ll work around it.” Of course then he laughed and said, “But don’t ever get sick again. Ever!”
I poured myself a cup of hot tea with lemon and honey, sat down in my easy chair (in my robe), and pondered my good fortune. I am so blessed. Yes, I’m blessed because I have good work and opportunities. Of course I believe I’m blessed by a God who helps me survive the business world as a small entrepreneur. But what I am so aware of right now is how blessed I am because I have the best clients in the world!
How does that happen? Certainly there are many factors to consider, but for our purposes, let me give you five things that I believe are fundamental to getting the greatest clients in the world.
1. I take the time to get to know my clients as they reveal themselves to me.
I’ve got clients that I’ve had for over two decades! Over 20 years! A lot happens in 20 years. You learn a lot about each other in 20 years. But you can also learn a lot about each other in 20 minutes. The point is that my clients are a lot like me. They each have a life of dreams, goals, and passions. And the more I get to know them, the more I love them…and their dreams, goals and passions!
I’ll never forget the time a client told me the story of having been bitten by a rattlesnake. He was out hiking in desert (his passion) when it happened. Who tells you stories like that? People who believe you are interested in them, that’s who. And yes, I was interested. Concerned and interested. So much so that he received a pair of snake-proof boots in the mail a few days later.
Two years later when I took a construction team down to Honduras to build a school, he made a generous donation to the school.
These are my clients. These are my friends.
2. Their project is incredibly important to me.
Of course it’s important to them. It’s their livelihood. I know that. And that’s exactly why it is so important to me. If I don’t give them my best work, I’ve said they aren’t worth my commitment and focus. But the truth is, they are worth it. Every ONE of them.
I used to tell clients how busy I was, and how I would try to get to their project as soon as I could. How arrogant is that?!?! The truth is, I’m only busy because my client has an important project to get done. They don’t really care how busy I am or about my other clients. They have no relationship with my clients and their projects. They chose me to voice their project because they believed I was the right choice. That makes them the right client! The right choice needs to treat the right client the right way.
3. They know I will treat them with integrity and honesty.
“Yeah, I know I quoted you $800 for this job, but that was based on my assumption that I was doing the entire narration. I didn’t know that some of the copy was actually the voice of the client. So, the rate is really $500.” That’s from a conversation I had with a client not too long ago. Even though my client had already signed off on the $800, it wasn’t a fair rate. I couldn’t charge her that amount.
If your client knows, believes and trusts that you are going to take care of them, and that you are going to act with integrity and honesty, you are going to build a lifetime relationship! I’ve learned that I can trust clients who trust me.
4. I will never give them second best.
This seems like a no-brainer at first glance, but it is actually much deeper than that.
I am stunned by new clients who ask me, “Before we sign off on this, if you make a mistake or the client doesn’t like the way you read a particular sentence, what is the charge to redo it?”
Seriously? Are there voice talents that would charge you to redo that? I don’t know of any, but I would like to so I can publish their names and blackball them from the industry!
No! My goal, and the goal of every voice talent I know is to give each client the absolute best product they can possibly deliver.
My clients need to know that. They need to know that when I am working on their project, that is all I am working on. I am totally focused on making sure it is the best I can do. That means that if the copy is screwed up, they get alts. If there is a better way to say something, I’m going to suggest it. Not as an insult to the copywriter or translator, but because all of us are human and miss things. My job is to make my client look good! Period!
5. Finally, I am part of a team.
This is one of the most critical aspects of a voice talent’s responsibility. I am part of a team. It’s my job as much as any other member of the team to make sure the message is represented correctly and successfully.
And by the way, I never have any right to mention or imply that I am working for a particular client unless that client gives me specific permission to include them in my marketing efforts. In the same way that a client expects confidentiality from a writer, a developer, or a producer, that client deserves my quiet confidentiality. I have government and non-government clients that require me to sign a non-disclosure agreement. I sign them, but really I would never reveal that information anyway. I’m part of the team. I have my client’s best interests at heart. I would never do anything to violate that.
They know that. I am part of the team.
So there you have my five things that are fundamental to getting the greatest clients in the world.
The great news is that as far as I know, almost all of my fellow voice talents agree, believe and practice this! There are a few charlatans in the group that cannot be trusted, but I don’t hang around with them! I’m far too protective of my industry to tolerate unprofessionalism and treachery. My experience is that the vast majority of voice talents are incredibly honest, hard-working people. I’m proud to be associated with them. And if I don’t fit the style or voice that you need for your project, call me! I’m happy to recommend any number of other voice talents that would do the job you need! By the way, I don’t consider other voice talent to be competition. They are fellow professionals, and our job is to get your job done!