There are so many voice over studios, voice over service providers and vendors in the Internet. How can you limit your search to the well established companies that are suitable for your voice over project?
This article is not about how to choose voice over talents. This article is about how to choose long term voice over vendors for large, complexed and/or multilungual voice over projects, that take significant human, technical and management resources for a quality project delivery within strict deadlines for highly demanding customers.
Here’s a list of 15 rules to keep while choosing a voice over service provider:
1. The target language rule
Always look for providers based where your target language is. If you need a voice over service provider for multiple European language localization, look for European voice over service providers. If you look to localize a foreign language in American English for the US/Canada market, look for voice over service providers in US or Canada. Of course, if you get a better deal from another vendor in another localion, that always counts but you should always first try looking for providers where your target languages are.
2. Review their website
The vendor’s website makes the first impression on the company. If the website is cheap, with poor or almost no content, that indicates that this company might not have sufficient resources for demanding jobs. Take a look at their list of customers’ page. No such page? Or if there is, what kind of companies are their customers? Are they the same business level as your project is? Do they have experience in the same voice over field as your project is? If yes, ask for a proof.
3. Verify the company and the business address
Do not approach companies that have only online submission forms for quote requests and don’t state their company name, address and office phone number. There are tools like Wayback Machine where you can check how long this domain has been live; there are also governmental and local business associations where you can ask for information on that company. You can also check the position of their websites in Google on targeted keywords like “voice over studio”, “voice over services”, “voice over vendor” or other, depending on the vendor profile you need.
If this company is nowhere to be found in Google search results, that means the company is probably small and with a lack of human resources to market their own services. Could they handle your project?
4. Check Google for a feedback on their services
Google indexes forums and if you search the name of the company, just take a look at the search results and see what other people’s experience with that company is or what other websites are saying about this company. Generally, if there is a negative feedback or you can’t find anything, try looking for another vendor.
5. Answering the quote request
How fast do they answer your quote request? If it takes 3-4 days to get a vague reply at an early project stage, how long would take them to complete the project?
6. Look at the details:
The company blanks they use, signatures, business language- details can tell you a lot about the company, their business level and how they have organized the process, their resources and experience.
7. Quality communication
If nobody is picking up the phone at their office and you cannot get in touch whenever you need, that means this company is either too small to handle a quality customer communication or doesn’t treat their customers with the proper respect. Either way, you should turn to another provider. Serious companies have a dedicated project manager assigned who is 24/7 available to the Customer both by e-mail and phone.
8. Similar experience
Ask for a proof of similar experience to your voice over project. Voice over field is a very broad area- commercial voice overs, TV content dubbing, e-learning…these areas are so different not only from voice talent and performance aspect. The process for each of these types of voice over projects has different goals, structure, organization, management and execution.
9. Quality audio and talent performance
Review their audio equipment-both hardware and software. Are their studios acoustically treated? Request and listen to their audio samples, evaluate the voices and talent performance. Refer the samples to your customer for approval. Are you satisfied with the quality? Is your customer satisfied with the quality?
10. Partnership understanding
Serious vendors have a partnership understanding and tolerance towards their customers. They are aware that they need to support their customers in order things to workout for everyone. If you don’t feel this vendor as a partner in this project, if they only want to make money out of you and don’t really care for the final outcome of your project, these are not the people you can go on a long way with. Complete the project and move on with another vendor. Companies with serious business attitude provide solutions rather than selling services.
11. Project process
It’s pretty often that no matter how much you try to clear the project up before start, many new things appear on the run. A good vendor should stay in constant communication with the Customer and when a problem appears, they should address it immediately. You shouldn’t judge the vendor by the problems that come on the way, they always do, but on how fast they address them, their ability to solve them on the run and pull the project off within the deadline.
A good voice over service provider should keep track on the specifications for the project from beginning to the end and most important to be able to keep track on the changes that appear on the run.
Ultimately, you will judge the vendor by their ability to complete the project with the provided and updated specifications within the negotiated project deadline.
12. Project delivery
Project finalization and delivery is the most important stage of a voice over localization project. It’s often underestimated but the real pros know that the more they get close to delivering the project, the more they should stay focused and double check everything. Serious voice over companies have a quality control set up on each stage but having a quality control level at least before delivery is crucial. If the final project you receive is far away from what you requested and needed, that means this vendor doesn’t have a good project management and sufficient human resources to track specifications and deliver the project in the requested manner.
13. Exit strategies
If you are a language localization manager, the risk of assigning a task to the wrong voice over vendor is constant. In order to protect your Customer and your project, you should always have a back up plan:
- Negotiate with at least 2 vendors at the same time
- Always keep a second vendor on hold till the project is complete
- Protect your project with your contract- describe in details what you are paying for and what happens in the different possible scenarios that the project might fall in.
- Request your customer’s approval every time you can before you move on.
14. Payment methods
Payment methods like Western Union or Money gram are not serious for business payments.
These are great companies to send money fast to your family and relatives but not for business. They are not accepted as official payment methods from tax authorities and if the vendor requests such payment options, you should ask yourself if this company is legitimate, if the invoice they send you is legitimate and how would they declare these incomes anyways.
Company billing is a company within the company itself. Finance requests a competent, separate department or at least an employee to handle all financial needs of both customer and vendor. If they have problems meeting your invoice requirements, you should evaluate how this affects your company’s image for the tax authorities.