If you have followed my career at all and especially my business articles and postings on the Creative Cow Business and Marketing Forum you know that I preach that you always have to do what's right for the client. In today's economy, this is more important than ever, even if it hurts the bottom line for a job or two.
A few days ago I posted how I had to scramble to order a new DVD Burner for a quick turnaround of 400 DVDs to be delivered in just 7 days across the country in Arizona. This all happened because of a misunderstanding between me and my client. See we're working on one project that now has three deliverables. A Feature, Cut-Down and Short version of the same video with running times of about 65 minutes, 51 minutes and 19 minutes. The three versions are to be used in different settings from a company meeting to a public screening type of situation. When we started this project back in April, there was just one deliverable, the feature which had to be completed by a the start of a worldwide AIDS Conference in Vienna. We hit that deadline and the end client was very happy with the results. (in fact it was standing room only at the screening!) But as happens with many projects, the end client realized they could use a shorter version of the same presentation for meetings, conferences, etc...
So I know there's a screening in Washington DC on September 15 and in my head, I'm targeting that date for the delivery of the 400 copies. Got the timetable set, just going to call a nationally known DVD replication house, going to deliver on a certain date and the 400 DVDs will get to DC in plenty of time. There's just one problem with this plan. The DVDs actually need to be in Arizona on Sept. 8 for a different event.
That's 7 days earlier than Sept. 15 for those of you keeping score at home. My timetable doesn't work for that. In fact, the DVD Master wasn't even finished until yesterday morning, September 1st.
So the first thing I did was make a cup of espresso. I think better with a cup of espresso. Two cups sometimes even better, but never three cups. Three cups in a row definitely sends me over the jittery edge and that pretty much makes me useless. Then I washed the cup, always clean up after yourself my mamma always said. No, I don't call her mamma, she'll probably hit me when she reads this.....
At that point there was nothing else we could do except do what needed to be done to meet the client's deadline. The misunderstanding was mine. The client had clearly told me on several occasions actually that Sept. 8 was the deadline for the 400, not Sept. 15. I just got the dates mixed up.
As I wrote on this blog a few days ago, I put in a big order with TapeOnline.com to get everything we needed to make this happen and had it all shipped overnight. 450 blank DVDs, 450 full sleeve DVD cases and a brand new Microboards 7 DVD Burner. Why 450? Well bad copies, damage, etc.... Always order more than you need to be safe. We only had a dual DVD burner here in the shop that was in no way going to be able to burn 400 DVDs in time. Everything arrived yesterday and we already got 300 DVDs burned by the end of the day, only another 100 to go today.
We got to the DVD Cover and DVD Disc artwork approved by the end client, ran out to Staples to pick up another 2 reams of Legal paper for the laser printer and cranked out 200 DVD covers in the afternoon and we'll run the last 200 today. Everything was cooking right along yesterday until....... our DVD Printer went belly up
It's an Amtren FlexWriter IV that is supposed to be a Quad DVD burner (four burners) and DVD Printer. I have had a love / hate relationship with it since we got it. The DVD burner side of things really never worked properly and the company was a pain to deal with. The Printer we love when it works properly. When it doesn't work, it just doesn't work and then a few days later it magically starts working again. Yesterday it decided to just stop working correctly at all. It takes two ink cartridges and it seems it has stopped sending any information to one of the cartridges. We've replaced everything and it just doesn't want to print correctly. Now it's 5:30 in the afternoon on Sept. 1.
First thing I did, another cup of espresso. Then I picked up the phone and called my friend Lauren at TapeOnline again. We missed the overnight cutoff but tomorrow we will have a brand new DVD Printer that will easily crank out the 400 DVDs this weekend and the client will get their 400 DVDs on time, in Arizona, complete with full color printed sleeves, in cases, with beautifully printed DVDs.
I'm going to lose money on the DVD duplications. Quite a bit of money since I was not prepared to purchase either the DVD Burner or the DVD Printer. Actually if all we needed was the DVD Burner I would have just about broken even, but the printer is significantly more money. Who's going to pay for this? I am of course. I am not going to ask my client for any more money to cover the costs of the additional equipment. That's not his problem. It was my mis-understanding that led to the scramble here at the end to get the job done so it's my responsibility to do what's necessary to meet his deadline.
This is what I mean when I keep saying you have to do what's right by the client. I will not earn any money for this DVD job and in fact we will lose a significant amount of money on this one job. But we are meeting the needs of this client and ultimately his client. We are making sure that we keep our client looking good to ensure that they have confidence in us to get the job done and if my client looks good, we all win. After all if the DVDs were not delivered we should not expect any further work from the client. In today's economy we can't afford to lose any of our clients. I know it's hard when you have to come out of your own pocket to cover costs, but sometimes you just have to do it to meet the client's needs. Particularly if it's something that happened as a result of a misunderstanding or a situation created on your end. But I sometimes eat costs even if it's a client created situation, anything to keep the client happy and coming back for more work.
It's called "doing the right thing." My grandfather taught me this valuable lesson. Kind of wish more companies (my current bank especially) operated this way. Another way you can look at this is the old adage, "You need to spend money to make money."
And now we own the equipment and for all jobs moving forward, we have it in the shop. It will pay for itself in short order and in fact, we significantly increased our capacity to burn and print DVDs and BluRay discs. 400 or 500 DVDs in a single day will be no problem when we need that capacity. Sure the world is going digital downloads, but for the short term, DVDs and BluRay discs are still requested in large numbers at our facility.