Friday, April 1, 2016

What to consider if you're thinking about...switching agencies.

At some point in your child’s modeling career, you may start wondering: is it time to find a new agent?  Assuming you’ve been around for a while, booked some jobs, and now know the process, you may wonder if you have the right fit with an agent.  This is very common.  In fact, almost everyone I know has either had the thought cross their mind (even if only for a few seconds) OR has switched agencies.  If you’re at that point, what should you consider before you try to make a change?  And then, if you decide to make the move, how should you handle it?
Part 1: Should I switch?
If you’ve been a loyal BizzyMama reader, you know that I often suggest that you think of this stuff very much within the context of a business decision.  I live within a mile of two grocery stores, a Target, and a Walmart.  I go to Stop & Shop and Target while my wife goes to Price Chopper and Walmart (well, she’s into Target as well, but she WILL go to Walmart and I just don’t.)  Now follow me for a moment here: the Stop & Shop is more expensive, but it’s newer, better lit, and cleaner (in my opinion).  I’m also a creature of habit: I drove across town to go to Stop & Shops in my previous two homes, so imagine how happy I was when one opened near me!  I get their, as I call it, logic – how they have things laid out.  My wife “gets” Price Chopper logic, likes the prices, and can find her favorite yogurt there or whatever.  We make these choices based on different things: someone may like the cashiers better at one store or shop at any store based on the price of sale items.  I hate the parking lot at Walmart, but find Target’s to be pretty civilized.  My preferences are my preferences.  And: I’m talking about businesses here.  If I had a bad business experience, I would probably change my store.  And that’s what you should be thinking.
But: can you get FOOD at both grocery stores?  And cat litter at Target and Walmart?  YES.  You’re really going to have the same outcome at either place.  So when you are wondering if you should switch agencies, here is probably the ONE THING you should be very realistic about…and it’s probably the LAST reason why you should switch agencies…I’m going to put it first but number it really low on the list.  It’s really important to know this one and really important to say it should not be your #1 consideration…
#654:  "My child isn’t booking with this agency."
The solid agencies in each major market generally get the same opportunities.  They generally submit any kids who fit the breakdown, and they generally operate their submissions and bookings the same way.  This is why they are the solid agencies…they have built up their reputations with clients and casting directors by doing good business and doing right by their talent.  If they didn’t…they wouldn’t be able to survive in the business.  And, furthermore – perhaps most importantly – I really only know of two (that’s TWO) kids who booked more when they switched agencies (and I know a lot of kids and moms!).  There are really not many “grass is greener” stories to share with you about booking…so realize that different agencies don’t mean more jobs for 99% of kids.  (If I’m wrong about this, write to me so I can change my statistics!)
So what should you seriously consider?  In no specific order…
Do I work well with the people who contact me?
Does the agency’s system of sending out castings and bookings make sense to you or do they leave you with questions?  Are they professional and courteous, as you would expect, for example, when you call your pediatrician’s office?  Are they too formal or too casual for your style?  Do you know who is contacting you or is the staff really inconsistent?
How is the “fit”? 
This is very similar to the previous question, but maybe takes a little intuition to figure out.  How do they respond to me when I call/email?  Do I get the right “vibe”?  (This assumes you are calling/emailing/etc. a reasonable amount and not asking every other day why your kid didn’t get casting X or are holds out for casting Y?)  Sometimes people consider the warm fuzzies…or the organization…or the precision…it really depends on you.
What is our contact with the person “in charge”?
Some agencies are operated heavily by their owners, some have long-established agents who handle a division, and some have one or two junior staffers who handle most of the day-to-day booking.  You don’t necessarily need to have regular contact with some head honcho, but you should have a sense of who runs the show – which will give you a sense of HOW that person runs the show.
How is the money end of things?
Do checks come in a timely manner?  Does the amount paid equal what you were told the job would earn?  Is the accounting clear?  When you do your paperwork on April 14, does it all make sense?  If you do need to chase down a payment, is the agency helpful and do they keep you posted?  Do things get deducted from your checks that you don’t understand?
Do I like the fact that this agency earns 20% on my kid’s jobs? 
And we circle back to the whole business thing.  Does the agency want to book you?  YES, because that is how they make money.  If you think your kid is probably going out for the jobs you’re hearing about FOR YOUR KID’S EXACT BREAKDOWN, and you like the interactions you have with the agency, I would say: you really have no need to change.  If you are stuck on #654, wait.  Take a few (weeks’ worth of) deep breaths.  Don’t get hung up on names or who is on their roster or what works for that other family.  Focus on the business.  I’m not going to start going to Price Chopper just because my wife does.  If Stop & Shop starts getting shabby or I start getting the wrong change or rude customer service, then I would probably look around at other stores.  But I’ve got an embarrassingly large number of years of Stop & Shop loyalty under my belt, and I’m not going to give that up just because they were out of my raspberry swirl Greek yogurt the last two times it was on sale.
To sum things up with my “greener grass” analogy: most parents who have switched agencies and were happy with the switch did it because of the fit and the business model.  Most parents who switched because of the opportunities/bookings were not as happy with their move.
I’ll save the how-to for the next post…I’ve had a headache all day and I am going to chill out before my daughter gets home from school.

Thanks for reading!  As always, feel free to comment here, on my facebook page (The Bizzy Mama) or via email, at  You can also check out some kid and pet pics on Instagram @theBizzyMama.  And, for some reason, I don’t tweet.

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