In my video production business, clients really don’t even know how many people I actually have working for me. The mystery is what makes it great. Is he a small company or a really big company? No one really knows. All they know and really care about is that I deliver – and deliver better than most if not all of my local competitors who are fighting for the same level of project.
The cool thing about tapping in to subcontractors is that you can expand and shrink your business based on customer demand. Good subcontractors are out there so keep looking.
I encourage you to study the business model of a small general contractor that builds high-end residential homes. The general contractors are the ones who are the “experts” and who spend all their time interacting with the customer and making sure the subs are doing their individual pieces of the puzzle to the customer’s satisfaction. Without actually laying bricks, installing sinks or whatever, the builder can manage dozens of homes being built at the same time.
They simply drive around town all day checking in with their subs. Keep in mind that most builders have plenty of experience laying bricks, they just know that they can only lay so many bricks in a day – resulting in a finite level of revenue. It’s normal for a small general contractor to generate millions of dollars per year using this model. I’m not saying it’s that easy for us videographers but it is relatively easy to exceed the six-figure mark each year using a similar approach to running a video production business.
There’s a reason why managers and sales people make the most money in our society. It’s definitely an art but either skill set can be learned by pretty much anyone if they are willing to spend the necessary time to study it.
When working with my subs, I make sure they know their responsibilities, my expectations and my desire for perfection. The strong survive and the ones who can’t hang are not asked back to the table on future projects. This approach pretty much separates the wheat from the chaff and I’ve been able to build a strong nucleus of subs doing it this way.
If your clients are happy, and your equipment is in good working order, I wouldn’t worry about upgrading your gear just yet. In this economy or any for that matter, cash flow is supreme. Guard it like you may never make another dollar and you’ll be way ahead of the pack. I think you’ll find though that as you start to reach out to various subs, you’ll be able to affordably shoot your videos with just about any type of 3 chip camera you want and you can even edit everything at the highest possible quality settings. Leverage other people’s investments on your projects so your clients get the best benefit for their dollars.
Regarding a step you can take towards this, I suggest that you write down every step in your production process from the very minute after you get a signed contract. You need to include everything in this list.
Step 1 – Set up project kickoff meeting with client
Step 2 – Invoice deposit
Step 3 – Research client products/services, etc.
Then, go through and look at each step and ask yourself which steps only you can do. If you want to take control of your video production business, consider finding people to handle the steps that take time but just about anyone can do. Afterwards, go about finding people to provide those services for you at the best rate you can find. A mistake I made early on is that I felt like people wouldn’t do this work unless I paid them between $15 and $20 an hour. I soon learned that it’s possible to get quality work by paying anywhere from $7 to $10 an hour based on the task. These are non-expert tasks mind you.