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The VO BOSS podcast blends solid, actionable business advice with a dose of inspiration for today’s voiceover talent. Each week, host Anne Ganguzza focuses on a specific topic to help you grow your #VO Business. Featuring guest interviews with industry movers & shakers, VO BOSS covers every facet of the voice landscape, from creating your business plan to choosing the best marketing tactics & tools. So tune in, listen up, and learn how to further your VO career!

Jul 4, 2023

Are you ready to revolutionize your business policies and guidelines? In this episode, Anne and Lau dive deep into the importance of setting firm and consistent terms of service. They explore the world of contracts and documentation, discussing the significance of having clear terms and conditions, backing up legal documents both online and offline, and the role of cultural differences in client interactions. Anne & Lau are here to help you navigate the murky waters of friendships and business, emphasizing the importance of professionalism and drawing clear boundaries between work and pleasure. They discuss setting expectations with employees and clients, and how to balance paid work with volunteering or pro bono projects. Don't miss out on these crucial insights that will set your business on a path to success!
 
Transcript
 
It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premiere Business Owner Strategies and Successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a BOSS, a VO BOSS! Now let’s welcome your host, Anne Ganguzza.
 
Anne: Hey, hey everyone. Welcome to the VO BOSS podcast and the BOSS superpower series with my wonderful, lovely host Lau Lapides. 
 
Lau: Hey everyone. Woo!
 
Anne: Happy weekend, Lau. 
 
Lau: Happy Saturday. 
 
Anne: Yeah.
 
Lau: Love that. 
 
Anne: So, oh, BOSSes, our secret is out. Now, they know that we record on Saturdays because honestly, it's about the only time I have. to really record. But yeah, it's always wonderful to see you on a Saturday morning, Lau.
 
Lau: And now they know for sure we're absolute workaholics. 
 
Anne: (laughs) For sure. That's a six day a week, almost seven.
 
Lau: Can't deny it. 
 
Anne: Almost seven days a week. BOSS work. Anyways. Oh my goodness. Speaking of having to be a BOSS, Lau, this week was trying for me. As you know, I have multiple, and I always like to call them tendrils -- I don't know why I call them tendrils of my business. I'm sure there's a much more professional name for them. But the components, the other divisions, the other brands in my business, my VO Peeps, this VO BOSS podcast, my Anne Ganguzza Voice Productions. Well, I constantly have clients who try to, how shall I say, not adhere to the terms of service or the guidelines or policies that I have in place. 
 
And I will tell you that even though I've been doing this for so long, and I've created the policies much because I've been doing this for so long, and I've run into every single -- I'm so sorry, I couldn't make it to my session today because… or I'm sorry, can I get that discount? I forgot to sign up under my membership ID. I'm sorry, can I just get a refund? No guys.(laughs), I'm gonna say, I have terms of service built into everything and guidelines or policies for a reason. And I think it would be a great time to talk about that, Lau, because as business owners, we need to really set forth policies so that we can run a business. I mean, it is expected that you run businesses so that you can make a profit, not lose your money.(laughs). 
 
Lau: And I really do think that ignorance is bliss sometimes. Meaning we can all live in a blissful place. I forget what they call it. There's a legal term for that. But because I don't have the knowledge and I don't know what it is, I can't be held to that. I don't know if plausible deniability is that, but anyway, we'll have to look that one up. We'll have to ask our attorney friends on that. Plausible deniability.
 
Anne: Thank you for that big word of the day. Plausible deniability. 
 
Lau: But that's a biggie. 
 
Anne: Yeah.
 
Lau: That's a biggie. Like, please excuse me, I didn't know. 
 
Anne: Yeah. 
 
Lau: Or please excuse me. I didn't see it. I didn't read it, I didn't catch it. And I think there's that huge gray zone in there that business owners have to really take a step back and say, okay, now we don't know if it's true or not. Literally we don't know if they know it or they don't know it. We only know what they're communicating to us. 
 
Anne: Right, right. 
 
Lau: That we have to make these judgment calls all the time. based on the knowledge of that client. Is this someone I know? Is this someone I don't know? You know, we kind of have to be judges in a courtroom. 
 
Anne: Yeah. 
 
Lau: Now that I think about it.
 
Anne: We do. 
 
Lau: Right? 
 
Anne: And I need to stop beating myself up trying to figure out a polite way. Well, how should I put it? Because whenever I get that request, and I'm like, I could not have listed it in more places in my website. I could not have spelled it out or sent you email reminders enough. And I think what it is, I feel assaulted, or I feel hurt that maybe they're not paying attention, or they're not listening, or they're trying to take advantage. And I'm going to say, in terms of policies and guidelines, every time you sign up for a mailing list, or every time you have a client that you sign a contract with, do you not read that contract? 
 
I mean, if all of a sudden your voice is being used in perpetuity, and you didn't know it because you didn't read the contract well, I don't think that the company's gonna come back and say, well, I'm sorry. Oh, let me take that off. No, I think that we have to be BOSSes and be able to really set those guidelines. So for every client that you create that's a new client, or even old clients, make sure there are contracts and guidelines in place. 
 
Lau: I agree. 
 
Anne: So that you can get paid fairly and compensated for your time. 
 
Lau: Yeah, I agree. And I think that your clients that are running clients that are really credible, because you know them, you have some history with them, you have time, that's a discussion that you can have if you see fit that there is a real excuse, there's a real reason why something is going awry. If it's someone brand new, someone that you're really not familiar with, right, we always, I always jump to the assumption that they either know and they don't care, they didn't take the time to look at the material, or they may intentionally be pulling something. And so I just kind of go through those scenarios super quick in my mind, and then I just land on something, and I go with it. Because I do think the bigger your business gets, and the more complex your business gets, the more problem solving and decision making that you have to make. 
 
And sometimes yes or no answers don't always work based on the relationship you have with the client. So I'm with you all the way. I think that establishing early that you have policies that are there for a reason — I would also give people the reasoning behind the policy as well. So whether you do it in writing, whether you have a disclaimer, whether you have them opt in or sign something, I think it's so important, because you can always rely on that. One thing my dad always taught me is, think of your work as a legal document at all times. 
 
Anne: Yes. 
 
Lau: So if this were in a court of law, how would it be viewed? Do you have something physical in writing? Is it there? And does it say what it needs to say? And so oftentimes that's gonna stand on its own versus a verbal agreement or what you're just saying to someone. 
 
Anne: Yeah, absolutely. And it can hold up in court if it needs to, right? So BOSSes out there, what is it that they need to establish in terms of, what are we going to be sending to our clients or our new clients? I think that some form of written communication, documented is absolutely necessary. An email can serve as a contract, an actual contract can serve as a contract. And very clearly within that document should be the terms of service. What can that client expect from you in return for this deal that you've negotiated or this job that you've negotiated? You can expect to receive audio files in MP3 format within 24 hours or 48 hours or for this attached script. 
 
And I think it needs to be spelled out specifically for first-time clients, even more so. And it's easy to do that, I think, for first time clients to just have everything already in -- I have an email kind of attachment that I send Jodi Krangle, I know she, God, for the longest time, she attaches the terms of service or she's got a terms of service right on her website. And I also have terms of services on my independent websites as well. But she's had hers forever, and it's great. And it's what the client can expect when they hire her for a job. “You can expect my very best work. You can expect that I will be delivering files to you in wav format, blah, blah, blah.” And it just steps it through. And it's a really wonderful way, I think, to cover yourself and your business in case things go awry. And I always say this, like, I probably said this multiple times, but I am so proud in the 16-plus years that I've been working that I have always gotten paid. I'm gonna knock here on --
 
Lau: See, that's amazing. 
 
Anne: — wood. 
 
Lau: That is amazing. I'm amazed by that. To not get burned once or twice is really a feat. 
 
Anne: Yeah.
 
Lau: You're doing something right. That's great. I'm glad too you talked about emails, because there was a day when email was too new, it wasn't a valid form yet of a legal document. Now it's absolutely legal documents. So you really gotta keep your folders and make sure you don't delete them by accident. Because like if you're in Gmail and you're doing a string and you delete the string, it deletes the messages in the folder. and then all of a sudden your legal documentation is gone. So I always say keep paperwork. 
 
Anne: Yeah. 
 
Lau: Do both hard copy online, back it up. have it, have it, have it. What we do is a letter of understanding or a letter of agreement. So they sign that.
 
Anne: Statement of work. 
 
Lau: It acts like a contract. It just says, hey, give us these amount of business days to turn this around. Here's the format is gonna -- just like what you're saying, all of that is in front of people so that they don't have the guesswork of that. 
 
Anne: Yeah, right. 
 
Lau: And then once in a while, there's a question or two, and sometimes I run and I add it right into the letter of agreement. Because I didn't think of it and it's important. Or it's an update and it's very, very important to have it in there. So it's also important that you are updating your legal documents. And I would look at those every three to six months. Like I would not let that go a year, because in a year, so much happens in our industry that you just have to put in there -- 
 
Anne: And follow up on them. I mean, you've signed a contract. Don't let it be the be all, end all. Even if you've worked with your agent and you expect your agent to take care of that. No; follow up on every contract that you signed in. And you know what? People may make fun of me that I never delete an email. But that is one of the reasons, Lau, that I don't delete emails. So I always have a trail of my client relations. And so if I did a job 10 years ago, I can do a search in my Gmail for that client, and I will have that job. I'll have all of the documentation. I'll have everything in a folder, the contract signed, and like you said, I back up my backups. And that allows me to always have recourse, including audio files as well in case a client comes back to me years later and says, hey, can you update this? Or we need a new something and you've gotta try to match your files from what you've done before. 
 
So I definitely feel that if you're upfront and you are present and you're really with new clients, enforcing that right away, it's not gonna be such an issue as if you've had, let's say, clients who like all of a sudden are kind of maybe slipping a little bit or trying to maybe take advantage. And then it gets to the point where I sit there and I go, oh my gosh, how am I gonna say to them, no, you need to pay me. Why do I always feel so stressed about that? And even after all these years, I mean, I still feel stressed. I'm sorry. No, I cannot give you a refund. You are going to have to pay for that. Yeah. 
 
Lau: Well we talk about this all the time. I mean it's a combination of being women. It's a combination of our generation. It's also a cultural thing. You know? You and I are part of certain ethnic minorities that are very much about caring and giving and pleasing and cooking and doing and providing, which is not a bad thing. It's a wonderful quality to have as a coach and as a business owner. But you can get a little carried away. You have to have a very fine line that be careful, if you go into the friendship zone with clients and there's always that fine line, ‘cause iIf you do that and it feels good to do that. At least to me it does. The paperwork can get a little muddy. The services can get a little muddy for us, the water.
 
Anne: Excellent advice. Excellent advice. 
 
Lau: You have to be very careful of that, like just keep it straight in your mind. that you've got a structure, you've got a service, you have to be paid for that. And if you're gonna be friendly outside of that, okay, but that doesn't dismiss this. Now you're feeling bad, is that guilt that many of us have for not providing or making someone uneasy or whatever, not coming through in the way we thought they wanted us to? We have to separate that. Like we have to objectify It just --
 
Anne: I have stop. I have to stop. I don't know why I go through it all the time. 
 
Lau: You have to not do that. We have to not do, we can't emotionalize transactions because when we emotionalize transactions, we give it more worth than it's worth. It's a monetary transaction for a service. It shouldn't be an emotional heart wrenching thing.
 
Anne: This is not personal, it's business. And I like that you said watch out when it becomes friendship, 'cause a lot of times if you have a relationship with a client, especially for a long period of time — and I've had clients for years. And I've had students for years too. And sometimes when that gets closer to more of a friend level, then it's kinda like, oh, come on. Can you let that slide? And my recourse is, and I think any BOSS can say this, my recourse is, hey, it's nothing personal. It's a business. I need to run my business. And if there are feelings that get hurt, I mean honestly, so be it. Because right now I have to look out for my business. It's just the way that it is. 
 
Lau: I also think too, the timing of that is really important. So I was notorious for the first half of my business — because I was an actor for many years turned into everything, director, producer, coach. When you're an actor, you're never trained in the protocol of the difference between your creative life, your business life, and your personal life. Everything is just --
 
Anne: Jumbled together.
 
Lau: — in there together, in there. Jumble, jumbled. So a lot of our relationships, a lot of my closest friends are my people. They're my coaches, they're people I work with, which I love. I love it. But it causes a problem in that the clear lines of delineation of like, you are offering a service, I'm paying you for service, then it's done. And then we can still be friends, has to be done upfront. Like you have to set the stage and set the standards upfront and make sure it's okay. Especially if you have a more personalized relationship with that person. 
 
Anne: Yeah. Yeah. 
 
Lau: Right? Just say, hey, I'm paying you for this hour where you're a guest, whatever. Okay. Is this amount of money good for you? Is it right for you? Yes. It's great. Good. Put it in writing. Done. Done. 
 
Anne: Exactly. 
 
Lau: Let's go back and have our friendship. I think that's the respect that we wanna have. And it's also very difficult tightrope for a lot of people to walk. So when you're in doubt, I would say keep business and pleasure separate, if you can. And with the few people that you're very, very close with and work very closely — like you and I are friends, right? 
 
Anne: Yeah. 
 
Lau: But I mean, if you ask me to do a service, if I ask you to do a service, I wanna be able to pay you for that. 
 
Anne: Yes. Absolutely. 
 
Lau: I wanna be able to respect your time and your knowledge.
 
Anne: And absolutely. And we've discussed doing projects together, and both of of us respect each other's business enough to say, okay, let's see how we can make this work in a business sense. And then once we're done with that, that's it. We're done. So we respect each other enough to know to come at it as a business. And we both are business owners long enough to know that. 
 
Lau: And that's kind of a gift, isn't it, Anne? 
 
Anne: Yeah, it really is. 
 
Lau: Not a lot of people can do that.
 
Anne: I'm very appreciative and grateful. 
 
Lau: We're very nuanced in that way to be able to have close friends. Some of my coaches now that work at my studio are 30-year friends. 
 
Anne: Yeah. 
 
Lau: Like friends and like family. And I'm very careful. I wanna make sure I do the right thing. I wouldn't pay them for their time. I want it to be going great. I don't wanna say, oh, they're friend, they'll take it for nothing. They'll take it for less. They'll -- be careful of that because then you run the risk of corroding the business relationship and the friendship. 
 
Anne: Sure. Yeah. And I was just gonna say, employees, like your coaches and my employees, it's one of those things where, yeah, I mean I've had, gosh, I've had employees for I believe over 10 years now. And so that's a long time to have employees. And so you do get close. And I always have to approach it -- I think Gary Vaynerchuk said it, but it's something that I always kind of figured out. Like no one will ever be more excited about your business than you. Right? 
 
And so when you have employees, like your employees are not gonna be more excited about your business than you. And so therefore, if you have problems with employees, right? Let's say you need to maybe fire an employee or you need to talk to them to say that your work is not up to the standards or the way it used to be — that is always a tough thing to do. But I think you have to do it because again, it is a business. You're paying for a service. And if that service is not being fulfilled, then you have to be able to be BOSS enough to talk about that and not feel like you're jeopardizing a friendship. 
 
Lau: That's right. And you have to delineate very fast the difference between pro bono expected volunteer work, which is set up that way and work, which has monetary compensation. I mean, that's where my husband came in handy years ago because I was an artist who -- I was a director and I was directing for years, like directing for free while I was doing every-- teaching, and at a certain point he said, and luckily he's, he's a CFO, he's an accountant. He said, what are you doing? Don't you see you're giving away value and you're not getting it in return? And I said, I'm getting a lot of return. I love what I do. People appreciate me. I'm getting a lot of accolades. He said, no, no, no, no, no, no. I mean true value, like get paid. You see? Now I can't say that it's the difference between men and women, 'cause I think, you know, a lot of women are great and smart and think that way too. But it just reminded me that, oh, I made it very fluffy. I made it very gray. I made it very nuanced when it wasn't. It was like, I'm doing a job. 
 
Anne: Right. 
 
Lau: There should be an understanding and then you should get paid. Unless it's volunteer. If it's volunteer, then you walk in knowing it's volunteer, you accept it and it's okay. That's fine. Right? But we're building businesses. 
 
Anne: Yeah, absolutely. 
 
Lau: How many times have you thought or said, I don't run a charity? 
 
Anne: Oh, in my head all the time. 
 
Lau: We give to charity a lot. But this isn't a charity. 
 
Anne: Yeah. I'm like, I don't understand people. I just don't understand people. Like what do they expect? Do they not read things that I — do they not read policies on websites? Do they not read emails? Do those clients not understand? 
 
Lau: Yes, yes, and yes. (laughs) 
 
Anne: And I'll just shake my head and just, yeah. 
 
Lau: Oh wait, can I add one more thing to that thought? 
 
Anne: Yes, yes please. 
 
Lau: And this is all the psychological stuff that we talk about. Okay. So whatever happens, happens; you either agree to something you shouldn't have. Someone burned you, didn't pay you, something happened that shouldn't have happened. I say, forgive yourself. Forgive that person and walk away a whole lot smarter. Not to say you shouldn't fight back or if you need to take them to court and it's fine, whatever. I'm saying psychologically, don't do the damage to yourself and rip yourself down and blame yourself and do all -- don't do that because we need to make those mistakes. We need to make those errors so that we can fix it. And we know how to run better and smoother and cleaner. If we didn't do that, we wouldn't really know. We would never really — there's no checks and balances, in other words. Right? So that's a moment of checks and balance. And don't get bitter. Get better. 
 
Anne: Ooh, I love that. Don't get bitter. Get better. I love that. Yes, I do. 
 
Lau: It's easy to get really like cringey and toxic. It feels so good to get like -- don't do it because your whole spirit of your business will go downhill if you start to do that. 
 
Anne: Yeah. I don't know. For me it's just like, don't be putting that toxicity out on the internet. Try not to spread that around. I mean, unless of course you're trying to get action from some company that's clearly done undone you some injustice. But I still say be careful.
 
Lau: Anne, it reminds me (laughs) — you remember way back when in the dating scene when you'd meet someone and they would just unload everything on you about their last relationship. 
 
Anne: And then I'd be like, okay. 
 
Lau: And be like --
 
Anne: Bye! 
 
Lau: And be like, I got, I gotta work a little bit. You start to hold it. You carry it, it gets in the molecules of your muscles. And then it starts to show in your business. So we have to be super aware of that. 
 
Anne: So BOSSes, emails, terms of service, make yourself a terms of service. There's lots of examples out there. You can just search for voiceover terms of service or voiceover statement of work or what else too is a great book, and I'm just gonna promote this guy 'cause I love Rob Sciglimpaglia, (Lau laughs) VO Legal. I love him. He's got templates that you can use. He's my lawyer and I'm proud to say that. He has literally been by my side through every contract that I've ever had a question with. So highly, highly recommend him. So make sure when you're working with a new client, you have those terms of service. 
 
On your website, it's a great idea to put a terms of service on your website. You'll notice that most companies do these days, right. And so if you wanna be seen as a professional service or professional business, then get yourself a page that has terms of service. Those are templates that you can get online, and you can have your web person throw one up on there. It's like it can be on the footer of your webpage, terms of service. And it's really simple and you cover yourself in that way. And if you happen to be selling online, if you have, like I have multiple places where I sell online, make sure that those terms of services are there as well. 
 
Lau: You took the words right outta my mouth 'cause I was just about to say, get a really great attorney. Like if you can get an entertainment attorney, even better. But have an attorney on your side, because you can take boiler plates off online, which is fine, but you wanna, you wanna know --
 
Anne: Sometimes you just don’t know.
 
Lau: -- melt it. And you wanna make sure the language is accurate to what you do, you know, and not generic. It's gotta really cover exactly what you do. So it's worth an hour or two of sitting with a pro, a couple hundred bucks to say, yeah, you can say this. Yeah, you can't say this. Yeah. This is what this means. I think it's really worth doing that. 
 
Anne: And by the way, VO BOSS has interviewed Rob Sciglimpaglia more than once. Make sure you check out the episodes. I've got links to his book. I've got links to templates. And also with the new up and coming synthetic voice, I'm gonna say that there are companies, I work from the organization called the Open Voice Network. I'm on the synthetic voice study group. The whole focus of this group is to come up with policies and guidelines and standards for the AI community in working with synthetic voices. And so Rob has also been on a committee to help with that. And also I will give a shout-out to NAVA, the National Association of Voice Actors. They've got lots of templates and great stuff on their website. I've also worked with them as well with synthetic voices. And so there's lots of places out there that you can go for help. 
 
But I always say, yes, you cannot beat a lawyer because yeah, if you go get the template and you put it up on your webpage, sometimes that might be something that doesn't apply to your business there. So,it's so worth your investment to have somebody. And I think Rob, he also has his service where he's on monthly retainer, which is a new service that he just, yeah, put out. 
 
Lau: That's awesome. 
 
Anne: BOSSes, there's no reason why you shouldn't be prepared for when things don't go the right way, that you can be fairly compensated for your time and your efforts in your business. 
 
Lau: Yeah. I wanna throw in one more thought, Anne. If it's appropriate, make sure you're disclaimers are there and make sure they're accurate. So when you're qualifying your language, you're qualifying your business, make sure the disclaimers say exactly what they need to say because — and I know Rob would talk about this a lot — specific words like will and may are totally different things. I am going to do this with you and for you. I may do this with you for you. So there's a lot of open door words, there's a lot of closed door words that you always wanna have — I hate to say an out, it sounds negative. I don't mean it that way. 
 
Anne: No, I, I got that. Yeah. 
 
Lau: You wanna have flexibility and leeway in the language so when someone comes back to you and says, well, you promised me this, you guaranteed me this, you can say, I didn't promise this, and I didn't guarantee this. I said…
 
Anne: As you can see, and I'm constantly quoting my terms of taking screenshots of it.
 
Lau: And you rely on it, don't you, Anne? Like a little --
 
Anne: As you can see — yes. Like put a link. As you can see my terms of service on my webpage, or as per our previous email, you can see quote, here's where we specified the terms of the job. 
 
Lau: Yes. I got three words for you. And I'm not a lawyer and I don't give legal advice, but three words I love that come from my lawyers, my business, and I know you know this so much, look how excited I get — ready, ready? 
 
Anne: Yes. 
 
Lau: Ready? Subject to change. 
 
Anne: Ah, yes. Always. 
 
Lau: I just turned into Marilyn Monroe for a moment there. 
 
Anne: That's a lovely --
 
Lau: Because it's true. 
 
Anne: — lovely set of words there. 
 
Lau: It's life. It's called life. And you wanna be able to legally, do the best you can 100%. But just in case something happens, you don't wanna be on the hook. 
 
Anne: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Great, great conversation, Lau. I love it. 
 
Lau: Love it. So necessary.
 
Anne: BOSSes. Get out there, get out there and research and educate yourself on terms of service and go set up some terms of service. Get yourself a template that you can use in your email and something you can post on your website and yeah. Good stuff. All right. I am going to give a great big shout-out to our sponsor, ipDTL. You too can connect and network like BOSSes. Find out more with ipdtl.com. And also if you have a local nonprofit that's close to your heart, and if you've ever wished that you could do more to help them, you certainly can. I want you to visit 100voiceswhocare.org to learn how. You guys, have an amazing week, and we'll see you next week. 
 
Lau: Bye! 
 
Anne: Bye!
 
Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your host Anne Ganguzza. And take your business to the next level. Sign up for our mailing list at voBOSS.com and receive exclusive content, industry revolutionizing tips and strategies, and new ways to rock your business like a BOSS. Redistribution with permission. Coast to coast connectivity via ipDTL.