Read it. If you do what we do, steal it – we did. But ONLY if you will live by it and plan to place it on your site, speak these words to clients, and don’t take spec work.
for prospective clients
What it says:
Dear Prospective Client
We understand your apprehension. We really do. Hiring a creative services company can at first seem to be a scary enterprise. There are many of us out there, and no one wants to make a bad decision. Both time and money are at stake. It’s totally understandable that you want to guard against every contingency of being burned.
At August Hour, we want a productive and profitable relationship as well. That means we both have to accept a certain level of risk and not expect the other to shoulder the whole thing.
You’ve never done this before. Not a problem. You’re shopping around for producers and designers in much the same way you’d buy a car: you’re hunting for the lowest price, the highest quality, the quickest delivery time, the most benefits, the strongest guarantees.
For buying a commodity, that’s a fine strategy. For contracting a professional service, you’re going about this all wrong, and you’re setting yourself up for some bad experiences. Weâ€™re telling you this in the hopes that you’ll be the one in a hundred who actually takes this to heart, avoiding the messy consequences of (what you see as) common sense.
First, expecting us to shoulder all the risk in this relationship is unrealistic. We can’t and won’t do it – like you, we have a business to run. Don’t ask us to work for free, to be paid only once you’re satisfied (a business practice known as speculative work, also known as “on spec”). Don’t ask us to work for you without an agreement, or without an advance deposit. Don’t ask us to drive halfway across the state to meet with you unless you’re prepared to pay our travel time and expenses.
Don’t ask us for a money-back guarantee based on your satisfaction, or on the ultimate financial results of our project. We have no control over what you do with the materials we provide, who you send them to or how solid your follow up skills are. We guarantee that we will do what we promise, when we promise, and how we promise. We vow to keep our word and honor our agreement. Don’t ask us to take the blame for factors outside of our control.
Someone willing to shoulder all the risks is someone desperate for work, and someone you shouldn’t hire. A person in that position will do and say anything to get your check.
But, then, how do you mitigate your own risk as a service buyer?
Well, you can’t get rid of the risk altogether. Life is risk. We assume risk every time we sign on a new client; short of requiring full payment up front, we have no ironclad guarantee that we’ll get paid in a timely manner – or at all. The world’s also chock full of crazies, most of whom think they’re sane. Right now, we have no idea who you are, what conditions you’ve been diagnosed with, or whether your meds are up to date.
Of course, you don’t know that about us, either. So where do we go from here?
Tell you what. Let’s talk. Send us whatever background material you have, a website address, your brochures, whatever, and we’ll read them. You look over our website, request our portfolio, check out our â€œworkâ€ section, read our manifesto (below), and ask for our rate schedule. Let’s take the time to actually know what each other is all about.
We won’t compare you to other clients if you don’t insist on seeing a portfolio piece that is exactly the kind of thing you want for yourself. You’re a unique business, and we do custom work. We won’t insult you, so don’t insult us.
We’ll take the time to really understand your business and what it’s all about. We want to know, we really do – beyond just being good business, weâ€™re also curious about what exactly you do. We’d love to hear your story.
Our rates are our rates, our terms are our terms – they reflect the respect we have for the work we do and the clients we’ve come to improve with that work. Don’t expect us to do work for free or at a cut rate while you get over your jitters. You should be able to evaluate our skills from our body of work; if you can’t, then it’s unlikely that we’ll see eye-to-eye on project development anyway. There’s no reason to ask us to do your work on speculation.
Likewise, we promise we won’t hit you up for full payment up front. We bill in progress, payment on term 10 basis. Likewise, you can contact us at any time and find out exactly where you’re at for work weâ€™ve done; you can also contact us at any time for an estimate before giving us the go ahead to work. We don’t mind – in fact, we want you to.
The reason? Because we’re sharing a risk here. We can mitigate it together, or deepen it apart. We can work in respect, or spend all our time trying to get the other to take on the full load. We can work with each other, or against each other.
Personally, we prefer working with you. We hope you feel the same.
John Evans, Owner, and the rest of the folks at August Hour