Business Procedures

Over the last ten years I was the CEO of a small (read: two-man) production company called Telekinesis Entertainment. I left that position at the end of 2017 to go back to freelancing on my own.

During those 10 years I had this running note in Evernote that I would periodically update, which kept track of the “policies and procedures” that I would one day plan on putting into a New Employee Handbook, were we ever presented the chance to hire new employees.

While that dream didn’t quite pan out, the principles and procedures I collected are still valuable, so I wanted to make them public and present them in a way where they can be continually updated as I go forward with my new business and on future projects.

Many of these are film related, but my hope is that they can be broadly applied to whatever field you work in as well.

  • Always show up at least an hour before interviews in order to setup properly
  • Check all batteries and cards the night before a shoot.
  • Charge batteries at end of day for multi-day shoot
  • Double check that footage is on hard drive before wiping/formatting card. (Trust but Verify)
  • Eyes on camera during interviews.
  • Always monitor audio.
  • Confirm proper audio signal chain levels, especially wireless transmitters.
  • Check batteries and card level between each interview.
  • Do as much as you can for the client.
    • Buy the hard drive
    • Offer to help them understand file naming and structure
  • Go above and beyond is as many ways as possible. People remember the experience and how they felt more than they remember the details of what you did or said. Make them end the day excited and impressed.
  • Be responsive to the client. Try to never make them wait more than 30 minutes during the work day, and follow up first thing in the morning for any correspondence the evening before or over the weekend. You are not expected to respond after 5pm PST or on weekends.
  • Be protective of your time. We’re only asking that you do what it takes to make the client happy and help the project and business progress. If you constantly find yourself working more than 40 hours per week (other than on-set/production work) please let us know so we can find solutions to streamline your processes or find a way to delegate some of your responsibilities.
  • For long term project contracts, build in future rate increases, or points in the future where that can be discussed.
  • On every video campaign we go through as many different formats and styles as possible to explore the possibilities of the messaging. Look for ways to combine two genres like “bandwagon and funny” or “sexy and fearful”
  • Run the system. Prioritize it. Do it first, do it quickly, but make sure it gets done. Macros/micros. Take them seriously, it’s how the business grows. It’s how your department grows. It’s how you contribute to the future of the company.
  • Strive to make the company a place of honest communication and emotional safety and security.
  • Budgeting a video – add up all hard labor and equipment and food and location costs an multiply by 2 to get to a 50% profit margin on every video.
  • New client calls – ask “tell me about yourself/your business”. Feel out their personality then construct the rest of the conversation in those terms.
  • Ask: what are you resisting?
  • Have an active todo for each lead or project that you’re assigned to.
  • Ask clients: “a month from now, when this project is wrapped up, what would make it a success? What metric is that measured by?”
  • Have a monthly “parking lot meeting” (how do we go from plowing 1 lot per hour to two lots every 30 mins?” Look at every aspect of the business and find ways to increase efficiency, and therefore profit margin.
  • New employee after each increase of $200,000 for senior and $150,000 for junior employees in REAL revenue (net profit after contractors and rentals)
  • The 2.5x per employee is the Real Revenue number. Not gross sales. (You need to make 2.5X what you pay your employees in order to afford them).
  • Domestic flights – arrive 90 mins before departure to allow for skycap check in, taking cars to long term parking, getting into the airport and checkin.

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