Rich Tozzoli detours on his Continuing
Adventures In Software to
ponder the right way to put one
over on clients.
Putting it bluntly, the thing that
keeps us all in this business
is income. Sure, we hopefully
love our work, but the bottom line is
you need to keep the red lights glowing.
Looking back at my own career,
and speaking with several long-time
industry pros, there are a few common
themes that pop up when it
comes to working continually. One of
my favorites is that of over-delivering.
Somewhere along the line, and
I’m not even sure where, I learned
to deliver above expectations with
every job I do. That means getting
the job done at a high level, no matter
how much time it takes. Not just getting
the job done, but getting it done
right. Delivering that product to the
end client on time and on budget—
the same client that will pay you and
keep the red lights glowing and will
then come back to you year after year.
In analyzing most of my work, it’s
from just that—repeat clients. Be it a
5.1 mix, sound design job or writing
music for television, I’m lucky to have
a variety of friends in the biz who
bring me work. That’s because when
I take on a project, I make sure I’m
personally happy with the end results.
That means I’ve given it the classic
110 percent. Were there times I didn’t
do that? Looking back, yes. Did I
pay for it? Yes. Not only was there
some odd dropout towards the end of
one CD (remember those?) project,
but also they printed 1,000 of them.
Ouch. It came out of my pocket. You
can be damn sure I’ve QC’ed every
single mix since then. Just the other
day, I did a 5.1 mix, and when finished,
I imported the six multi-mono
files into a 5.1 session and sat there
and listened to every second of it.
When I delivered, I noted this mix
has been QC’ed and is good to go.
I felt that 110% sense of confidence
that this was not coming back.
Aside from over-delivering in our
business, you have to be able to take
what my good friend Paul Antonell
calls a beating. When I call him up to
check in on what’s happening, we talk
of jobs in the level of beatings they
are. A Tremendabeating is just an easy
job. Then there is the Stupendabeating,
and finally, the Meglabeating. As
owner of Clubhouse studios in Rhinebeck,
he’s seen and been through it all.
He’s taken untold amounts of Meglabeatings.
But he can take them all, no
matter how difficult the client (oh, the
stories he has). Bottom line is, he’s a
pro, he delivers every time at a high
level and sure enough, gets a lot of
repeat customers. Over-delivering pays
But over-delivering should not
just be for those of us that actually
produce/mix/engineer. We expect the
companies whose products we buy to
over-deliver, too. We pay good money
for them, and for the most part, are
happy. Their over-delivering is often
not seen by us. That means countless
hours designing, testing and building
the gear. Of course, this could apply
to both hardware and software.
Believe me, I appreciate that
things like my Massive Passive turn
on every time—years later—without
as much as a blip. My NHT Pro
monitors are 10 years old, and I never
think about them. My Grace 906
just works, every day. I appreciate
that the software I use rarely ever
crashes, and that the plug-ins I use
sound amazing. A lot of work went
into making sure our user-experience
is as smooth and flawless as possible.
A lot of over delivering has to happen
in order for that to happen.
Yesterday, I was at breakfast at my
favorite restaurant before we started
our session. I order just about the
same thing every time—chamomile
tea in a pot and a bowl of oatmeal
with blueberries. The tea came out
in a teabag/cup, not loose like usual.
The oatmeal had strawberries on it.
My friend didn’t get his eggs until the
end of the meal, and they gave us the
wrong bill. No joke. Big deal? Not really.
They were busy, and we called it
a meltdown. But we’ve noticed that’s
the case when this place is busy. They
set the expectations of a quality meal
with great tea and coffee, and did not
meet their own standards. They didn’t
deliver as we expected. They surely
didn’t over-deliver. Guess what? We
didn’t go there for breakfast today.
We’ve all hopefully learned our
lessons. It’s worth it to go the extra
mile and do it right. If you want to
get that job out early, and are thinking
of taking a shortcut, don’t do it.
Step back, take a breath, and think
about your customer. They are paying
you for 110 percent. They are paying
you to over-deliver. So do it, and rest
easy. They’ll be back.