Two weeks ago I posted part one, "Customer Service", of my three part mini blog series "How to Business When You're Not Business Minded." I covered topics like setting proper expectations, over promising / under delivering, and giving options instead of saying "no".
In this blog post I want to cover how to concentrate your business practices, so that you're feeling less flustered and more focused.
Being organized is one of the things that instantly makes your business life a lot smoother. Organization comes easily to some people, and to others it’s a lot of work. But wherever you fall on that spectrum, it’s well worth it to try and stay as organized as humanly possible. You’ll have less headaches and an easier time dealing with clients.
Studio Management Software
The first thing that I would suggest is to find a good CRM (customer relationship management) software. There are a TON out there, and each has a different set of features and benefits, which means that some will be more appealing to you than others. I hesitate to say that one in particular is THE BEST, because it really depends on the type of business you’re running and what you need your CRM to do for you.
The one I currently use is called Sprout Studio (www.getsproutstudio.com). It allows me to keep track of leads, contact information, shoot workflow, contracts, invoices, and host proofing galleries and album proofs. It also tracks revenue and expenses, but I admittedly don’t use it for that at all.
If you’re at a point in your business where you’re starting to gain multiple clients at once, or you’re just overwhelmed with not every really being sure where in the process you are with a client, a program like Sprout will help you immensely. I log on every day and see my to-do lists for the day, as well as what’s coming up for the week, and if there’s anything past due. It helps me be able to decide what to tackle first so that I get back to all my clients in an orderly fashion, and everyone stays happy.
A few other CRM options to check out are:
There are even more than that, those are just all of the ones I have tried out myself before landing on one that I felt was most beneficial to the way I run my business.
And what's even better is that most (if not all of them) have a free trial you can explore to really figure out which one fits you best!
When a client emails you an inquiry, don’t start your response to them from scratch every single time. You’re not only wasting time, but energy by doing this. Have a template response ready to go.
I have templates for initial inquiries, meeting reminders, session reminders, order reminders, etc. I always make sure to address my clients by name, and to answer any additional questions that they may have had that aren’t already answered by my templated response. But having the skeleton of the email already pre-built, saves me A LOT of time, stress, and mental power.
In addition to having pre-made email responses, make sure you have pre-made price sheets (or starting price sheets… or whatever information you like to give your clients prior to booking), and save them somewhere easily accessible. This way you’re able to present your brand in a professional way, and are also not having to write things out over and over.
Make A LOT of notes
I mean a lot. Think you've made enough notes? You didn’t. Make more. lol
Seriously though, once you’re juggling a few clients, especially if a few of them take a little more time to get back to you in between interactions, it’s SUPER helpful to have notes to reference along the way. You’ll be able to see when the last time you spoke to someone was, whether it’s time to follow up, and specifically what you chatted about. You don’t have to go digging through your email to remind yourself, because all of your client notes will be in one spot. In your CRM of choice that you totally went out and subscribed to after reading the Studio Management section above. ;)
Make notes after sending an email about what you said in the email. Make notes about your client’s response to your email. Make notes about the phone call with your client. Make notes about anything you need to research or accomplish before your sessions with the client.
MAKE. A LOT. OF NOTES. <3
Have a Morning Routine
Not a morning person? Me neither, dude. Me neither.
I get up, I make a cup of coffee, I play a few rounds of Overwatch, and by the time I’m done with that cup of coffee, I’m awake and ready to tackle the first part of my work day.
The first thing I do is go through my email. I check to see if I have any new inquiries or communications from existing clients that need to be addressed. After that, I switch over to Sprout where I check my “Past Due” list, my “Due Today” list, and I take a peek ahead at the rest of the week to see if there’s anything I can move up on the schedule. Once I'm through with that I may blog, or I may go straight to editing. This part of my schedule varies day by day, but I actually go a step further and loosely schedule out what I want to work on each day, week by week.
Your morning routine might be completely different. It doesn’t matter in what order you do it, or how you approach it, as long as you have a fairly solid, frequent, morning routine. It’ll give you a sense of mental organization and help you to keep calm as you chip away at your tasks for the day.
Next Time On the Blog…
Those are a few organizational tips that I use frequently that work well for me. One of the other things that I do, that I didn't really touch on, is carry a notebook with me everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE. It helps me with random one-off thoughts while I'm out doing something else. It helps me to see part of my to-do list written somewhere tangible that I can make additional notes on or cross off (who doesn't love crossing off to-do lists with a pen?). You may love white boards, cork boards, or a particular app on your phone or computer. Everyone's organizational methods will be different, because everyone's brains function differently. But what is important is that you find what works best for YOU.
If you have any questions about anything I wrote above, or you have tips that you think might be helpful to your fellow photographers, I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below, or feel free to shoot me an email!
The next blog post in this series will deal with maintaining good mental health while running your business, and will also go over some general good business practices. Stay tuned until next time!
Thanks for reading!
Emily McGonigle Photography is a Franklin Senior Portrait Photographer, and can be contacted for booking inquiries here.