To have associates or not to have associates… that is the question

When we started our business Voila Cinematic 6 years ago, we ventured into the world of entrepreneurship with the dream of running a business relying solely on ourselves. We loved the idea of keeping things small and only having to hold ourselves accountable for the state of our business. We quickly found that with growth and success, our business model was changing. Alex and I could not keep up with the demands of a growing company and get sleep at night. We were working hours upon hours and we found that the very reason we began a business- to experience the joys of building our own schedule and having free time to do the things we love, had disappeared. Our business was running us and we were three years into a business and not far from total burnout.

In the end, we made a change. We decided to go with the two tiered model. We now offer Signature films by Alex and Associate films shot by our associate teams. While this model is not for everyone, it has worked for us. Here are what we feel are the keys to making the two tiered model work.

 Find good people and pay them accordingly.

Our biggest challenge has been finding good workers and artists who are not a threat to our business. Filming special events is a tricky business because you need people who are great at what they do, but they also have to be personable and represent your company well. And, they HAVE to be on-time (a huge hurdle for many “creative types”). Once you find these amazing people, you have to be sure that they are not going to take all of your ideas and contacts and start their own business. We have found a great group of shooters who have become like family for us- but it was not easy and we went through a lot of people to find them. We have found that in being fair and paying well we have built trust and they don’t desire to go anywhere else.

 We keep a close, close eye on everything going on.

My job outside of producing and meeting with clients is to be the liaison between the associates and our clients. I provide them with a detailed game plan every week (to which they must let me know that they received) a week in advance. It has all of the details for the wedding, times, locations, and even information about the couple and their desires for their film. From there, the associates shoot the event. They are then required to submit a wedding report on each wedding that gives us the details of the actual wedding. The footage is roughed and then once edited, Alex and I send notes to our associates on each wedding about their style, composition, things they can do better. We do this for each wedding. It can be monotonous but it keeps the quality up and allows our associates to have constant feedback- which they love.

 We train constantly.

We have training at least once a month that all of our associates are required to attend. We do mock set-ups, view films, address issues, and have a few beers too. It’s usually really proactive and fun too! Training is key. We send our associates to conferences and seminars to better themselves an they feel like they are growing as artists.

 Lastly, we appreciate them.

There are times when our associates make us want to pull our hair out. It can be very trying and a bit scary to trust others with your business, but in the end to some degree we rely on them. So, we let them know that they are a vital part of our business. We listen to their ideas and we put suggestions into practice. We let them borrow equipment, we give them time off when they ask, we bring them over for dinner and we say “thank you.” We have found that in treating our associates well and being appreciative of what they do for us, we have found loyal employees who are not just shooters, but friends.

Alex KarasTo have associates or not to have associates… that is the question