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Screening process or reference check?

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by EricWatkins, Jan 15, 2008.

  1. EricWatkins

    EricWatkins Active Member

    Do any studio owners have any process that they use to keep majorly undesirable clients out of thier studios? I'm just wondering as I am planning on opening up my project studio to the public next year. My studio is in my home and therefore, it's that much more important to me to not bring in people that I dont want around. The only ideas I have so far, aside from a contract in general stating the general terms of agreements, would be a certain amount of money down, and maybe personal or professional references. I guess my biggest worry would be someone coming in to basically case the joint. Ideas? Thanks.

  2. taxman

    taxman Active Member

    Downpayment works. You should also make sure you have adequate insurance that covers equipment used in a business. Regular homeowners won't cover your gear, and a homeowner rider will probably not cover equipment used in a business.
  3. AwedOne

    AwedOne Guest

    Would that hold true for gear used for hobbyist, non-commercial use? I mean one could easily have $20k in home theater equipment, or a $30K Steinway grand piano. I just always assumed that anything not generating income was household contents.
  4. taxman

    taxman Active Member

    Most homeowners and renters policies cover contents, but contain significant exclusions for things like jewelry, cameras, artwork and musical instruments. Coverage for these items can be added by obtaining a rider to the insurance contract that lists the specifici items covered, and appraised value. Of course, there are additional premiums for this. I don't think anyone could steal a piano, but you have to worry about fire and other casualty.
    Equipment used in a business generally cannot be added to a homeowner policy, but must be insured separately. I used to cover my instruments under my home owner policy with an appropriate rider. The coverage did not extend to gigging.

    You should check with your agent. The rider is not expensive. I think jewelry is the most expensive coverage, because it is easy to lose.
  5. EricWatkins

    EricWatkins Active Member

    I've actually got the equipment covered right now under a seperate business policy. Of course, once I get the studio up to snuff this year, I'll need more. But it's really very reasonable at the moment. It adds up to less than $500 per year for half a million liability and covers about $25,000 in equipment. It's kind of a weird situation though because the liability is for my HVAC company and the equipment coverage is for my studio.

    Anyway, thanks for the response. I was almost thinking of making an application form for clients to fill out before they ever even come over, so I can perhaps tell how serious they are and also get them to sign to the terms of agreement beforehand.
  6. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    You'd be surprised how very little it adds to the premium to upgrade to $1 Million in liability. Just FYI, most of the halls I work in require a minimum of $1 Mil on liability insurance. Just food for thought.
  7. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I don't know how practical this is in your particular situation, but when I had a commercial studio and took in bands at night, I made a practice of a couple of things:
    A) I took a 20% deposit and ran the check ASAP. No clearing, no recording. This is done after I've done (B)...
    B) I would visit the group at at their rehearsal place. I'd make notes about certain things, like license tags on motor vehicles. Are they up-to-date or expired? How do the band members conduct themselves in that setting? Illegal activities, high alcohol consumption,excessive smoking,lots of hangers-on, etc. can mean trouble in your room. I ended up having to inspect and Xerox all drivers' licenses of anyone entering the room. This occurred after the theft of some very nice mics. It was a necessary evil.
  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I did the same thing moonbaby - I would take every single persons' driver's license upon entering the studio and photo copy it and have them sign in on a log sheet for the studio.

    The funny thing was, I would tell everyone that the alarm system would only allow 1 person to enter the building to turn off the alarm - any more and it would immediately trigger the silent alarm. It was at this time that I would have everyone hang around outside and I'd take their driver's licenses in and photo copy them and disable the alarm.

    I also made every person turn off their cell phones and put them in a pile on the desk in the control room. This allowed me to keep people from casing the place with a camera phone acting like they were talking to people on it.

    Restrooms - I had a camera (Axis Communications 207 - here) mounted just outside the restroom entrance. I've found that most people would try to steal things or case the joint while "using the bathroom."

    Having the camera pulled up on a laptop in the room made people very aware that I meant business. (BTW - the camera costs around $300 and is WELL worth it! You can broadcast the video over the internet as well as keeping the ip on the local intranet and take snapshots with it too.)
  9. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    I got a call a couple of nights ago from a complete stranger that did not identify himself. He wanted to know two things 1) what my street address was and 2) what kinds of equipment did I have. It scared me a bit. We have a security system that is on 24/7 and we have done a security audit with our local police department and implemented everything that they suggested but phone calls like this one really do scare me.

    I have never felt physically threatened by a client but a couple of times a client will show up with "extra" people and that always get my heart beating faster. One time late a night I had four college aged students show up at my door. They wanted to do some mastering here and drove out from the East Side of Cleveland (after doing some clubbing) to see what the place looked like. I was somewhat reluctant to let them in but I was younger and somewhat more foolish so I let them in to have a "look around". It turned out well and they have since become good clients but it was a bit scary at the time. I have also had artists who bring extra people along and those people sometime do some wandering while I am doing the session. They can't get very far and the only thing available to them is a bathroom and kitchen and the rest of the facility is closed off with a sliding wooden door (which makes a lot of racket if moved).

    One client brought his wife and two month old son to the session. He said his wife was the baby sitter and his manager. She asked if their were some other place that she could go and relax while we were doing the session. I really did not want her wondering though the rest of the facility unsupervised so I said no especially since there was another door to the outside that I could not see. A couple of minutes later I smelled something awful and turned around to see her changing the babies diaper. While I sympathize with her needed a space to change a diaper doing it in the studio was just plain wrong and bringing a two month old to a mastering session was not very smart. I finished up the session with the client and sprayed the place down with Lysol after they left.

    I have thought about cameras but then the problem is my attention would be on the cameras and not on what I am being paid to do. I don't collect cell phones but I do require that the clients give me a home address and a check of their driver's licenses maybe a good idea. I had one client that brought someone else in with him and the person went into what looked like an Epileptic fit and we had to call the EMS. They responded quickly but were not happy that they could not get their gurney into my studio and told me that they would have to take the doors off and the trim off the doors and I told them "no way" The person refused treatment and they left. We finished up the session and the client and his friend left. It was after they left that I noticed that the person who was ill had thrown up all over the bathroom and I had to clean it up and disinfect the whole place.

    After these events happened I was much more careful and much more watchful and I guess it has made me somewhat more paranoid.

    Good topic.
  10. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Even though I don't plan on being open to the public, I really like the ideas presented so far.

    I think the idea of photocopying the DL's and the sign-in/out log are GREAT ideas.

    The other thing I'm considering is a video surveillance system. In talking with several knowledgeable folks about them, for exterior camera's, you need a high enough resolution camera to read a license plate.

    As far as qualifying clients... either a strong referral from a previous client, and/or going to meet them has been working for me pretty well so far.
  11. Greener

    Greener Guest

    "I don't think anyone could steal a piano"
    Check this link.

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