3 IDEAS FOR BETTER SERVICE
Make it an event.
When clients come in to see their images, make it an event. Offer drinks, snacks and whatever else you can think of to make them as comfortable as you can. All too often, when clients spend money, businesses tend to take it for granted. What better way to say thanks for their business than by spoiling them?
Consumers want to spend money, but more importantly, they want to spend money with someone they feel appreciates their business and ultimately makes them feel special. Spoil your clients, and they will reward you with their loyalty.
Business is not guaranteed to any of us. Create an experience for your clients and give them a reason to spend with you.
There is nothing worse than not being able to get ahold of a company. With all the tech surrounding us, there is no reason to not be accessible. I understand that we all want a certain level of being off and unplugged, but when you are a sole proprietor, you have to be on and connected at all times.
Earlier this year, I went on vacation. We had something blow up in the business while I was away. Unfortunately, I had to deal with it. It’s part of what we have to do as entrepreneurs. Clients don’t care that you are on vacation. They want access, even if you just tell them you are working on it and will get back to them. Just that little bit of contact tells them you care.
Turn off those damn auto-responders. No one wants to get an email back letting them know you are on vacation or that you check your email only every other day. Check your email at all times, be plugged in and communicate with your clients. They will love you for it.
When it’s all said and done, follow up with your clients. Don’t just take their money and run. Consumers are loyal when they find a business they love. Why are you loyal to Starbucks or another favorite shop? You keep going back for more. There has to be a reason. Give your clients a reason to keep coming back.
After every wedding, we send our clients a handwritten thank-you note before they have ever seen their pictures. After we deliver their pictures, we follow up with them to make sure they love every picture. It’s a level of service that is not difficult to deliver, but for some odd reason, many businesses fail at this.
Take the time to follow up with your clients and give them a reason to refer you to their friends and family, and to keep coming back.
I hope this has been helpful. Customer service is a never-ending battle for most businesses, but it doesn’t have to be hard. With constant nurturing and some simple policies, you can offer your clients a level of service they won’t soon forget, and that they will be happy to tell everyone about.
Online Photography Training
3 tips to stand out from the crowd.
Establish your niche and style.
All too often, photographers try to be everything to everyone. That is one of the biggest mistakes I see photographers make. If you do that, you run the risk of becoming a generalist and worst of all, average. Sure, there are some photographers out there who are just great at everything they do, but the reality is most of us find our stride when we focus on one or two niches.
Ask yourself, what do you love? For me, I love weddings and high school portraits. Therefore, that’s what I focus on. If you go to my website, the majority of the work there will be focused on the kind of clients I am looking for. To that point, we have to figure out what our style is within the genre we are focusing on.
Are you looking to be more traditional in your approach to photography? Are you looking to be more edgy? There is no wrong answer here. We are all artists and we all see the world differently. However, this is another area I see photographers make big mistakes. If a client visits your website will they get a clear sense of your style? Or is your style all over the place? If you are mixing traditional family portraits in with edgy street photography of a bride and groom in the middle of the street lit with off-camera flash then you are sending your clients mixed messages.
Offer more than just a DVD.
Today, everyone is a photographer. We already know this. And one of the biggest challenges for us is this shoot and burn mentality. You are actually doing your clients a disservice. What exactly are they supposed to do with those images? They don’t know how to print them. They don’t know how to edit them. They don’t know what would look better in their living room. And they definitely don’t know how to layout their own wedding album. Instead, their images sit in a drawer someplace and the very memories we were hired to create get lost forever.
Clients are coming to us for our expertise. That expertise isn’t just the release of the shutter. That expertise is everything that goes into the planning, photographing, and the final delivery including prints, albums, and anything else the client could possibly want for their home. Trust me, offer it and clients will spend the money on it. Give them the option to take the DVD and they will do that too. And you, will eventually go broke.
Create an experience.
What do you really believe you are offering your clients? Is it just photography? If so, you are missing a huge opportunity to be more than just a guy/girl with a camera. Clients are willing to spend money on photography, but you have to give them a reason to. They are looking for an experience, something they will remember forever. If you just show up take pictures and bolt, thats not really an experience, well, maybe it is. It’s a bad one.
Instead, look for unique ways to improve the customer experience. For us, it starts with that initial email. People hate waiting days for a response. We try to respond in less than 2 hours. How are your phone skills? Are you enthusiastic or just flat on the phone? What message are you sending to your clients when they call in? An enthusiastic “we would love to work with you” or a indifferent “we can’t be bothered either way”? This is all part of the experience.
In addition, we love doing small things for our clients that go a long way. For example, when they sign with us we ship them a bottle of our favorite wine. When they come in to see their pictures, we are excited for them and their family, we have champaign to celebrate their wedding and its a giant celebration.
These are just some of the small things you can do to stand out from the crowd. I am sure if you put some thought and energy into it, you will quickly come up with your own ideas on how to truly stand out from the crowd and set your studio apart from the competition.
Want more Online Photography Training? Sign up for Shutter Magazine – ITS FREE.
Check out these great deals on Press Printed BayBooksfrom BayPhoto.com valid through June 26th.
3 ways to better sales
Show it to sell it
We have all heard the rule, yet so many of us don’t do it. We have all sorts of reasons why – no budget, no space, or you just don’t think you need it. The reality is, there is no excuse. We are business people first and foremost. If we don’t make the investment in our business how in the world can we expect clients to invest in us.
For a second, think like a consumer. Would you buy something that you could not see? Would you buy a TV without watching one? Of course not, that’s why Best Buy has an entire section dedicated to showing off their TVs. Seeing is believing and as photographers we should know this and live by this motto.
This reminds me of a story in our own history. When we started out we didn’t have the space for a 30×40, but it was on our price sheet. Oddly enough, we never sold a single one in our first 4 years in business. Then we moved to our new space and the center piece was a 30×40 canvas. No lie, the very first week it was up, we sold 2. Coincidence? I think not.
Offer unique products
Everyone is a photographer, so what makes you stand out? Photography is only one part of the equation. If you want to charge a premium you are going to have to offer more than just a dvd of digital images to your clients. And while you may want to convince yourself that that’s all your clients want, I am here to tell you that’s not true.
What clients want are unique products and services. They are not going to pay a premium for a dvd or for average products. Look for unique products like metal, acrylic, and canvas as a way of standing out.
Once you showcase these unique products your clients will realize they have to have it. We want to offer our clients a complete end to end service. I want to ensure that my clients have a finished product in their homes to showcase for years to come. Offering these types of products makes it easy for them to see the value and spend the money.
This is an area I see many many photographers leave a ton of money on the table. Clients love to use their images to make an announcement. Think about it, why do they typically want the digital images? They want toprint graduation announcements, birth announcements, and save the date cards. Why aren’t you offering these? You are leaving money on the table and once again offering an incomplete service.
However, that’s not the least of it. You are losing out on a prime marketing opportunity. When we design cards for our clients using our templates (click here to see our collection of templates) within minutes we have a gorgeous card designed for our clients with our logo on it. Now, when they mail out those 150 announcements or save the dates, our logo and branding is tied to it – talk about free marketing. This is the double whammy. Not only are we making money on additional sales by offering an easy to create product, but we are now showing our imagery and how to contact us to a whole new audience.
Stop making excuses and get out there and look for ways to stand out from the crowd.
Be sure to check back next month – we will have more industry insight to help you grow your business.
Want more Online Photography Training? Sign up for Shutter Magazine – ITS FREE.
Check out these great deals from BayPhoto.com
Good through May 31, 2014!
15% off Clusters & Splits: FEST14CS
20% off MetalPrints (includes choice of Framing/Mounting): FEST14MET
30% off Press Printed Products (Cards, Calendars, Brochures, Bookmarks, etc.): FEST14PP
40% off Press Printed BayBooks: FEST14BAY