Everyone in business knows that cutting costs increases the bottom line, but focusing only on the bottom line can be problematic, especially when hiring a production team.

Here are our top 10 things to look for when hiring a production team when it comes to the bottom line:
  1. Make sure each proposal is offering to produce the same kind of video. Do the proposals match the criteria set forth in the RFP? Are they to produce the same length video? If so, move to number two. If not, figure out why one company is different. Is it because they are suggesting an alternative that will enhance the project or is it because they are cutting costs too (and quality)?
  2. Do the proposals all offer the same number of production days? This determines how much footage you can get. This affects how the video is edited in the end and how much is available for your footage archive for this project and future use.
  3. Do the proposals include the same travel budget? If they are going to the same location, it should be fairly comparable or able to be adjusted to be so. Travel is a tough one to budget since it changes. We recommend budgeting travel separately so you can clearly see the production budget vs. the travel budget.
  4. Do they list the equipment they will use? Is it comparable? This is a big question and tough for those outside the industry. If one company is using professional equipment that will future-proof your video (i.e. using the latest technology to give the best quality video given current standards) and the other company is using out-dated technology the footage will look dramatically different. The newer equipment may cost more to produce, but the footage will have a longer shelf life (i.e., not look dated as quickly). This could save you money in the long run.
  5. Do the companies list the number of editing days? This will show you how much time they plan on cutting the footage. Oftentimes this is where video companies cut their budget and then charge overages when it takes more time. Make sure the editing time is comparable between proposals. It’s a red flag if one is significantly lower than the others. Proper editing takes time. A cut here could significantly alter the outcome.
  6. Do the proposals include the same services? For example, does one include sound mix and the other skip it? This is another quality issue. Sure it is cheaper to dump sound editing, but it is also the easiest way to look amateur. A good sound mix ensures the volume is even throughout the video and that ambient noise is tempered. It mixes the various elements—voices, music, ambient sounds—so it blends and is pleasing to the ear.
  7. Are there other things missing from the cheapest option? Consider this a red flag.
  8. Does one of the proposals include something different? If so, what? Perhaps that production team noticed a need no one else did. For example, perhaps they noticed the shoot would take place in a room with lots of windows. These may need to be tempered to protect the look of the footage. Ask why there is a difference if you are not sure what it means to the production. The extra cost may be worth it in the end.
  9. Do the proposals offer a similar creative approach? If not, what are the benefits of each plan? A good concept is worth a bit more in the budget. A bad concept can tank a project or at best flatline it. Neither of which is good for the bottom line.

A Bonus Point

Take a good look at the core of the proposals. Decide which concept works best for you. Look at the budget, but know that if you like a specific company that matters more. Now we’re not saying to pay more, but to go back to the one you like best. Reputable production companies should include an offer to negotiate terms and budget if they get the project. In creative fields, it can be difficult to compare projects. It is more about concept and approach than it is budget. Good production companies know that and are willing to look for cost cutting measures after the fact. You may ask why it’s possible to cut costs after the fact and why they don’t cut to begin with and it’s a fair question. The answer is that until the kick-off meeting, it is tough to finalize a concept and create a strategic plan for a project. We find that RFPs are rough guidelines and not a great reflection of what is truly needed. Once we meet with a client and nail down a concept and the details of the project, we find it much easier to trim the budget without trimming quality.

More information from the client equals better management from the production team. A reputable production team will be able to work with a client to ensure all parties are treated fairly.

For more tips on hiring a professional production team, see our white paper on the subject. We know there is a wide range of quality in this industry, as there is in any creative field. Protect yourself and your project. If you have questions about how to do that, call us. We’re happy to offer advice.