Manage Risk With Freelancers & Juniors
Using freelancers or hiring junior staff with downscaled capabilities is a really smart move for some agencies either in transition to increase size as the business grows or to accommodate account losses and a business downturn. As Head of TV in agencies for many years, involved in wider agency operations, and as a business coach, I can see there are pros and cons with how freelancers and juniors are utilised and have learned how to minimise risk with the issues that arise.
Freelancers work on day fees and overheads can build up. Hire by project.
Costs for pitching and budgeting work accumulates as a cost to business. Hire someone who will quote and pitch on the basis of payment on win.
Freelancers don’t have overall business accountability and work job by job.
Senior people work on the job and do menial tasks at a high head hour rate when distributing the tasks keeps the overheads per job down. You need the infrastructure in order to do this.
To get the administration support a production department usually needs an internal team and often their costs are not recouped. Ensure that production assistants and administration staff are factored into the jobs and the clients pay. Often these costs are not billed, even in retrospect to recoup time in quoting and admin to figure out what needs to be done on the job. These are a cost to business and unless you’re tracking these you’ll be going backwards. (a) ensure a share of production staff are covered in overheads and (b) ensure time sheets capturing all tasks to jobs
CREATIVE IS NOT THE WAY TO JUDGE A GOOD PRODUCER
Their showreel looks great and the work is fantastic – but are they good business people who know how to keep your budget on track and make money for the people that hire them? If they’re not fully accountable then they are setting unworkable precedence for the future which gets everyone in trouble and ultimately does a disservice to clients in the long run. Ultimately the creative on the showreel is actually the responsibility of the creatives that the producers work for. Don’t be mistaken that a good producer is judged purely by their reel or you could be in for a shock at reconciliation time.
SKILLSET MATCHES TASKS
Some think that producers are just producers. There are so many different kinds of producers and even within each speciality there are degrees of skill involved in each. Having worked in agencies, film companies, post production, visual effects, motion design, some digital and also some event productions I can assure you that a project manager in one doesn’t translate well to all other categories without doing some time in the role and fully immersing. I’ve seen many near misses with producers crossing into fields they’re not experienced in and they have no clue abu
Senior producers are not always right for simple jobs either in that they’re an expense across the board or they’re not engaged fully because of the lack of challenge or the tasks uninspiring. One producer doesn’t fit all.
Some producers purely do what is asked of them – they make what you ask without thinking about what you really need. There’s no initiatives and many are not concerned with a truly integrated solution. Choose a producer that has skills across platforms, some strategic skills and experience in different platforms.
LONG TERM SUPPORT
Freelancers work for the project and that’s all. The administration tasks like asset management and rollovers stop after the job.
Inconsistencies when regulars not available.
They all have their own way of working.
Processes go out the window.
Don’t have the understanding of the business objectives and client knowledge.
Don’t have your business objectives in mind – growing your income streams, providing volume purchasing, training your team, matching producers with creatives based on style of work and culture fit.