Now I'm going to start this off with saying that I've never been to school for business or marketing, I don't have a degree or any special business accolades... But what I *do* have are happy clients, a sustaining business, and a *general* sense of organization.
Owning a business can be stressful, and if you’re like me and you already deal with issues like anxiety, it can seem downright daunting on some days. But being a business owner is one of the most full-time of full time jobs, so you have to find a way to deal on those days.
I’ve written a 3 part mini blog series on how to deal with four major topics:
General Good Business Practices
In the paragraphs of all 3 parts you will find advice on how to deal with clients, how to make your business life feel a little more organized, productive, and healthy, suggestions for tools to make things easier, and pricing.
In today’s blog post we’re going to address the overall topic of how to deal with Clients.
Having good customer service is arguably the most important thing you could do for your business. This seems like common sense, but after being in photography forums and Facebook groups for years, I’ve seen a surprising amount of bad customer service stories, or stories where the photographer simply didn’t think to do something simple that would have made their client’s experience exponentially better.
Set Proper Expectations
Most of the issues that I read about can be boiled down to one simple concept: Set proper expectations.
This goes for *everything* you do with your clients. Make sure they know your full price list and what they’re getting into, before they book. This doesn’t mean you have to have it displayed on your website, or that you have to send it fully in an email or run over it via a phone call. Whatever your pre-booking method is, just make sure that before that retainer is paid, and that contract is signed, your clients fully know what to expect from your service, product offerings, and pricing.
There’s nothing in the world worse than sticker shock or that email from a client telling you they’ve changed their mind about their purchase, because they felt pressured to buy more than they could afford, due to not being aware of pricing.
Make sure your clients know what your contract says. Don’t leave it up to them to read on their own, they won’t. When was the last time you read the terms and conditions portion of any service, software, or product you’ve purchased? We’re all guilty of it. I don’t read them either, so why are we expecting our clients to read our long contracts before signing? I always go over the contract with my clients before asking them to sign. I verbally condense it into laymen’s terms, but if they have a question about something, we’ll go over the actual text and I make sure they understand and are comfortable with everything.
Always be upfront about your creative process, your shoot workflow, and your turn around times. This might sound insane, but before your client books, make sure they like YOUR work. In this digital age everyone and their mother has a digital camera and some app or piece of software that can add pretty filters to their photos. Because of this a lot of inexperienced clients will assume that since you’re a photographer, you can do (or want to do) anything and everything they ask, and will shoot and edit according to their specifications.
Go over your website with your clients. Make them point out what they love about your work. Make sure they’re down with the way you shoot and edit, because if they’re not, everyone is about to find themselves having a bad time.