Happy Photography Clients Equals More Income
When a customer or client has a good experience with your studio they tell two people. When they have a bad experience they’ll tell ten people, so the odds are not in your favor. There are lots of other of these kinds of “rules” that affect your profitability: A prospect must encounter at least 18 “impressions” of a studio before they’re converted into a billable client. 80% of the gross income of a studio is derived from 20% of its customers. If you don’t believe these rules apply to you then you’re an exception. In speaking with owners of both large and small studios, they’ve agreed that these “rules” are true for them.
How we handle client complaints is sometime more important that the quality of our photography. Bad news travels fast but word about a bad photography shoot travels at Warp 9. We all try to do a good job but on some day’s we’re Francesco Scavullo and other days we’re Frank N. Stein. Correcting problems is an important component of the eighteen “impressions” a photographer must make before a prospect becomes a client. Some of those impressions happens when you deliver photographs and the client isn’t happy? Recently, this happened to a photographer I know and here’s how it was handled:
They asked for a face-to-face meeting with the client to review the images and go over her problems with them. At that meeting, he found out what was really bothering them. The truth is that the work wasn’t bad. It wasn’t as good as a similar assignment the studio had done a year ago but was within acceptable levels of professional performance. Because this particular client spends a lot of money, they agreed to reshoot several — but not all —of the setups. They also discovered that the real reason the customer was unhappy was that they preferred working with a different photographer from the studio and that’s why it was decided that this. person would handle reshoot. This client had been a source of many referrals and my friend wanted to keep it that way. Reshooting was cheaper (out-of-pocket costs were low) than loosing a valuable client. The client was impressed that one of the studio’s owners cared enough to meet with them and work out a way to solve their problems. So what’s the big deal, you say, anyone would have done the same thing? The difference is that I would do the same thing even if a client spent very few dollars with me and has never referred an assignment.
Making impressions begins with knowing your capabilities and who you are as a photographer. When a prospective client calls me, instead of being ready to shoot any assignment regardless of whether I have the proper equipment or expertise, I’ll refer them to a photographer who can do what they need. Most callers are astonished at this and before I hang up, I remind them about my own specialties and ask when them to call me when they need those particular skills. I want to make sure that this impression has been favorable and that, over time, when they’ve accumulated the other seventeen or so impressions they’ll remember me. Movie buffs will recall this is the same kind of customer service “What! Macy’s is sending people to Gimbles” exemplified by the classic film “Miracle on 34th Street.” Every now it works the other way. No too long ago, an aerial photographer sent me one of their clients who needed some shots made on the ground.
Joe Farace is the author of “Studio Lighting Anywhere” that’s available in all the best bookstores as well as Amazon.com.