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jcrash

Hold System Blues - Any work with out one?

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Lately I've been finding the hold system to cost me money. Without getting bogged down in too many specifics, I thinks its worked in my favor a total of one time where I was able to negotiate a higher rate because I was on hold for that rate. They still ended up screwing me out of time for how long the project was so maybe it wasn't a success after all. I'm wondering if people work without a hold system and if they still get work or if post houses don't even bother with them now or what? The only other advantage I could see using the hold system is having a vague kind of guess of a schedule for upcoming work. Though it's been very vague lately. Would love to hear peoples thoughts on this and if working without a hold system (more of a first come, first book) has worked well for anybody.

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If the USA 'hold' system is the same as the 'pencil' system (which is the terminology my UK clients use), I get all sorts of requests to 'pencil' huge chunks of dates, of which about 30% ever come to fruition, another 30% 'slide' to later dates and the rest are with solid clients who actually tell the truth.

 

I used to worry about lining everything up in an organised way, being careful not to tread on the toes of other projects, but now I say 'yes' to everything. Bring it on! To hell with overlapping 'pencils'! It all seems to work out in the end.

 

I'm working remotely by the way, so clients don't get to see the inner machinations of my project juggling.

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Not sure exactly about all this first second third hold stuff works but basically but when I was freelancing I would always say priority goes to the first concrete booking, So if you wan't to do a tentative booking sure but if I am offered something concrete in the same time frame I will call you and give you a couple hours to get back to me if you want to book me for real in which case you get priority, but you have a very small window to shit or get off the pot.

 

That's for onsite, if I am doing remote I more or less go with robertbowen's system. Schedules always get pushed and pulled.

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Thanks for the replies. I hear what you are saying anothername. Maybe I'm overthinking this a bit. I guess what I'm asking is that has anyone ever said "I don't do holds, just let me know if you want to book me." and has that ever worked out well for anyone or has it blown-up in peoples face and the places are just like "forget you". Or the other thing I was considering is that has anyone ever charged a hold fee? Like you can put me on hold for a month, but it will cost you a day-rate or something like that? I'm guessing most post-houses wouldn't go for that and just not book you.

 

(BTW not trying to bite the hand that feeds, or single out any place I dealt with, so I'm keeping this vague). I've been put on hold for places that have many freelancers on hold at the same time, which is smart of them... just trying to cover their asses, but shitty for the people they have on hold, most of which they have no intention of booking. Having a challenge system is supposed to help counter-balance a situation like that, but that has been kind of abused too. Where a person challenges a hold, then the project is iffy or get's pushed back and they can't book you. So you are left with nothing or trying to go back to original hold and look kind of stupid. I'm not big on putting a bunch of policies in effect that makes it harder or confusing to book me, but I certainly don't like being left with a hold that doesn't amount to a booking or a challenge that does the same. Talking about on-site work only here. I think my off-site work is pretty much just schedule juggling/overlapping like the rest.

Edited by jcrash

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I've mentioned the idea of hold's actually costing a fee to my colleagues and ofcourse we think it's a good idea, but to producers and companies, not so much. Companies really do abuse the hold system sometimes, I've had companies try and hold 6-8 months out. I just let them know politely that I don't do holds more than 3 months out.

 

If you've been challenged and your first hold releases to that challenge, you are essentially booked by said challenger. If the company says the project has been pushed than that's on them and they should either bring you in anyway to work on something else or pay your kill fee. I can not urge this enough, but freelancers really need to have a company sign deal memos outlining your schedule, project, fees, KILL FEES, etc. so you can cover your own ass in these situations. That said, do you really want to work for a company that books you and then says "oops the project's been pushed"? I know things like this can happen, so I usually let the same company only get away with it ONCE.

 

The hold system is def flawed, but at the same time, I think you'll be getting less calls to work if you outright said you don't do holds.

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i do all my work remotely. So i can't really comment on this with experience.

 

But in all honesty, i think everyone should stand up to the hold system, fuck that if it blows up in your face. To me it looks like you're just being raped, and someone is saying "if you don't fight back it'll be over quicker"

 

There is book or no book. Especially if you are earning similar to your spending... seems just like a death trap..

Edited by vozzz

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If you've been challenged and your first hold releases to that challenge, you are essentially booked by said challenger. If the company says the project has been pushed than that's on them and they should either bring you in anyway to work on something else or pay your kill fee. I can not urge this enough, but freelancers really need to have a company sign deal memos outlining your schedule, project, fees, KILL FEES, etc. so you can cover your own ass in these situations. That said, do you really want to work for a company that books you and then says "oops the project's been pushed"? I know things like this can happen, so I usually let the same company only get away with it ONCE.

 

The hold system is def flawed, but at the same time, I think you'll be getting less calls to work if you outright said you don't do holds.

Yeah, I will definitely change my hold policy to this. Seems like the most sensible way to handle some of the issues I've been having. Cheers for the reply! One question, is your kill a % of what you'd make on the project or a flat rate?

 

Vozz, I'd love to leave the hold system completely behind, but I think I'm not at the stage yet. When I have more direct clients and do most of my work remotely that will change to a "book or don't book" policy, but right now that just isn't my reality.

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is your kill a % of what you'd make on the project or a flat rate?

I almost always work on a day rate, if a company says they'll book me for 10 days and then part way through they say "we don't need you for the last 2 days", i'll charge them a percentage of my day rate for those 2 days. *edit - i'm flexible on this rule sometimes depending on the company/people i'm working for

Edited by oeuf

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So if you wan't to do a tentative booking sure but if I am offered something concrete in the same time frame I will call you and give you a couple hours to get back to me if you want to book me for real in which case you get priority, but you have a very small window to shit or get off the pot.

 

First book - first serve. Thats exactly how it works for me.

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People seem to be slowly addressing the hold system now. I decided a long time ago that I didn't want to work constantly, so I was in an ok position to experiment with new approaches to the hold system. I take the "hit me up when you want to book me" approach, but it's currently not for people who are trying to fill all of their days. I get fewer requests from studios that function like pump-and-dump factories, and still work with clients for whom I have mutual respect, which is real nice. I make less money this way, but I'm more energized when projects come along, and I have time to engage in my own ventures.

 

You can design your business however you want, to suit your lifestyle. Dumping the hold system increases client loyalty and quality of time spent, and likely decreases income. Kill fees, first booking system, etc., are all viable middle grounds. You really have to test some stuff out to see if you like where it lands you.

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There seems to be a related issue to the hold/pencil system, which is that certain types of clients like to book busy people, and when they're trying to reserve dates and a freelancer can only fit in a couple of days in 4 weeks time, one of which is a 'Sunday', this seems to appeal to some clients who like to think they're backing the right horse, and not using someone who's 'gone off the boil', as it were. And some freelancers seem to drum up a bit of 'BS' to create the appearance of always seeming busy for the benefit of these type of clients.

 

And in contrast to the caffeinated adrenaline busy guy who they like to phone, maybe Blinky's more laid back approach appeals to clients who favour quality over quantity. Some freelancers I know seem to be very chilled out and always have piles of time available, but seem to exude an aura that a job will get their full attention.

 

So dumping the hold system might work against someone who the former type of client gravitates towards.

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I have heard you always book yourself first then all other holds become challenges. So if they really want to book you they are challenging? Which; I guess makes it more serious? Yeah, I can see their side. They don't know if they will win a job, things move so quickly and they want to lock up the talent. But the cost of the freelance economy.

Edited by pixel_pimp

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