When freeloaders attack

The ‘Vendor Client’ video has been around for some time. Apparently it attracted over half a million viewers in its first 14 days, being posted some years ago and it’s still going strong. One the reasons is that its message resonates as strongly today as it did back then – particularly within the freelance and SME environments.

That message is – you want the service, you value the service, you need the service, someone is providing you with an expertise you don’t have – then don’t be ordinary – pay for the service. Straight up.

‘We didn’t budget for this’, ‘Cheaper at the Taco stand’, ‘I’ll pay for the highlights next time, just throw them in for now’, ‘I’m not making any money on this either, you gotta help me out… this is not a challenge, it’s an opportunity’, ‘I can cover your hard costs but that’s as far as I can go’, ‘Show us how you did it so we can do it inhouse next time’

A quick straw poll among the FACTOR team and with our highly valued strategic vendor partners reveals that we have ALL experienced these scenarios in the video more than once in our working life. And it’s not simply a question of reasonable fee for service, nor positive cash flow (and in the process not pretending to be a bank by extending unsecured credit) – it’s also about just plain common courtesy and acceptable business etiquette.

Here’s the video if you haven’t been fortunate enough to have seen it yet.

Still better to laugh than weep.

Scrolling through the comments attached to this YouTube clip, you get a real sense for the frustration that comes from this type of toxic vendor/client relationship. 

“I don’t have any money, but it will look great on your reel.”  (Thought it's missing the part where they don’t pay the invoice for three months because it’s “company policy!"

Here's another: “What do you mean I need to pay for this addition? I already paid you once for that project and I paid a lot of money.”

Look, the reality is simple. If someone pays for a service or a product, they are customers.

But when payment is made as agreed, and on time, they transform into highly valued customers that you’ll move heaven and earth for. If they do not pay, or short-pay, quibble after an agreement has been reached, then they are indeed a lot of things, but a valued customer they are not.

Furthermore, if they are just speculatively seeking endless quotes, pitches, designs, ideas without any intention to commit and pay – well, they definitely aren’t clients. They are freeloaders you just happen to be talking with and – if you choose – subsidise with your own speculative-driven efforts. But that’s another matter.

Ask anyone in this industry and they would agree that it's not unreasonable for vendor partners to expect to be paid fairly and in a timely fashion for their contributions, their time and effort, their creative strategic or tactical services. Conversely, clients should expect the expected level and quality of service or product they have contracted for in return. Let’s not be haters, people – let’s just be reasonable and aim for a win-win situation everytime.

Darren Kerr is a founding partner at FACTOR168 Creative Events Company 

The Client Vendor Video is the product of Scofield Editorial 

For more on getting better value in events, see here

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