Video Production Business Tips – Are You Losing Profits When You Screen Calls?

In the few years of being in the video production industry, how often do you screen your calls?

I’ll guess that you screen them every time the phone rings and if you don’t recognize the phone number, you let it go to voicemail. After all, if it’s an important call, they’ll leave a message right?

But what’s the cost of letting it go to voicemail?

Advertising Agencies, out-of-town video producers or corporations that need to book a videographer right away often won’t leave a message. And if they do, by the time you call them back, they will have already booked another shooter.

In the past week, I’ve let two such calls go to voicemail and both actually left messages regarding the immediate need for a videographer. I checked both messages a couple hours later. When I called them back, both had already booked other videographers.

I thought to myself, “Holy Crap! Really? They booked another videographer that fast?”

Yes.

By not answering the phone when they called, I lost close to $3,000 in sales on what sounded like incredibly simple shoots.

After kicking myself in the tail for a few days because I know better, I vowed to always answer the phone when I don’t recognize the number unless I’m in a meeting or in the middle of a shoot.

Today, I received a call from an “unknown” number. At first, I thought this is just another sales call and I don’t have time to deal with it. Then, I remembered the pain of losing an easy $3,000 last week so I grabbed the phone and answered it.

The person on the other line said, “Hi, I’m Mrs. Corporate Client in California and I need a videographer to shoot highlights at a 2 hour event next Thursday night and to edit the footage into a short news-style package. My budget is $2,000. Can you help me with this?”

After a brief conversation and a quick contract, the deal was done.

That might be the quickest $2,000 I’ve sold in a really long time. Seriously, it took ten minutes to close $2,000 in business just because I answered the phone.

The point in all this is that many clients who are calling you from out of town don’t want to spend a lot of time researching and comparing rates between several video production companies. They simply don’t have time to deal with it so the first warm body that answers the phone wins. Period!

Sure, they may glance at your website to make sure you are qualified but in a lot of cases, the only credential they require is that your website popped up on Google when they searched for “corporate video” or whatever for your location.

Now, most of these callers will have an idea in their head on how much they want to spend for your service. If and when they ask what your day or half day rate is, tell them that you usually handle these types of shoots for $X amount of dollars. Then follow up quickly by asking, “Does that work for your budget?”

If they say, “Yes”, get to a point quickly where you can send them your contract. If they answer, “No”, ask, “What budget do you have in mind? I’d love to work with you on this so we may be able to work something out.”

Then, if they come back with a number you can live with, book it. If they are too low then it’s up to you whether you want to turn it down or take it.

Just remember that in today’s economy, a bird in the hand is better than two in a bush. I think that as long as you can cover your costs, you should strongly consider taking the deal. After all, it’s money flowing into your bank account and you’ll have the opportunity to win a client for life.

They won’t hire you all the time, but if they ever need a video production company to shoot something within a few hundred miles to your studio, they’ll call you first. The lifetime value of that client has potential to be very profitable.

BOTTOM LINE: Answer the phone. You can always hang up if it’s a sales call but there is a good chance you’ll lose business if you let potential clients go to voicemail.