"I need either a 48-hour day, or the ability to function on one hour's sleep. I'm trying to figure out which would be easier." For someone like Andrea Keating, who coordinates film crews throughout the world 24/7, that age-old entrepreneurial dilemma may yet see a solution.
Keating was working for a creative agency during the 1980s recession when clients began requesting local crews to lower costs. Her entrepreneurial light bulb went off. "What we [could do] was eliminate the unknown, the fear of who was going to show up on location," says Keating. Her Silver Spring, Maryland, company, Crews Control Corp., now represents 2,000 film and video crews, calling on them when clients need local crews for marketing, training or sales programs. The two-person crews-which all have 10 years of experience and have been screened by Keating-pay a 15 percent fee to Crews Control, and clients like CNN, Microsoft and Nissan save money by hiring locally. This strategy has led to a 97 percent client-retention rate, along with 1998 sales of $6 million and an expected $10 million this year.
"We're available to our clients whenever they need us," says Keating, who began her company in 1988 with a $10,000 investment. "I think the only way you can earn client loyalty is to give them everything-plus a little bit more."