During the movie ‘September Issue’ I saw Vogue September Issue up there on the light box the whole publication and I thought wow. What if I had a beautiful big light box in the studio.
For many years my clients have said “can you put them all up together at once” which of course you do with digital viewing software. Then I thought no not a light box a wall of mounted images. So there they are all up there. I want to sell prints AND a CD. I believe in this day “We haven’t become a digital society we’ve become a give it to me now society.” So I’ve made the images for viewing so they can be taken on the day of viewing.
I retouch for viewing so essentially my images are print ready at the time of viewing. I like to sell/view within 10 days of my shoot. I have spent years in a portrait studio and seen many other studios, how they shoot and how they sell and the one thing I have seen and experienced is this – at the time of viewing when money is exchanged most studios including my own fall down in the turn around and delivery of their finished product. A simple fact that significantly changes your business.
You see when money has changed hands clients can start their demands, and rightly so. Money makes people funny sometimes. Photographers are not that good at the follow through, all of your business reputation is at stake in this final process and the faster you turn around your product and service the more referrals you get. That means potentially more than 50 percent of your future business is made here. So why do we avoid making this the most important part of the sales process?
My truth. After 24 years the most consistently I have failed my clients is in this final process.
Okay let’s look at the Cons.
What is the cost?
For me it is 25 times the cost of a 7×10. The Matts can be recycled the images can be used in a studio album. I will experiment with in house printing over the next six months to measure cost effectiveness. But I do not really want to print my own work I love having a pro lab that I can upload to and receive a package within four days. In Australia I use The Edge in the U.S I use WHCC any where else in the world I print and ship.
What if they want more retouching?
Then certain images may need more work that is a risk I will take, it hasn’t come up yet but I’m sure it will. I am sure that if this happens the majority of the images will still be ready to take on the sale day images paid for. A digital correction can be emailed before the reprints are finalised and then shipped or delivered asap. THis will take practise and there will be some bumps in the road but I believe I can refine this process and have clients paying me and walking away with an instant beautifully packaged service.
Will it hinder larger images being purchased?
If your goal is to sell large images then you may consider asking at the preconsult what would they like a wall print an album etc you see for me My best package is a 20 – 25 mount Seldex/Finao box. 11×14 matts 7×10 print with an enlargement of your choice 16×20 and a CD of everything you buy (high res no water mark) $3300 it is my goal to show 25 and sell 25. So this is perfect for my business model. So if you are going for larger wall studies then no this will not work for you I will let them sit with their Folio box and take there time to choose their wall portrait.
and yes the most asked question What if they don’t buy anything?
Well this is my experience. If you fail to sell a shoot you failed in the first half of the process, I ask these questions.
Did I connect with my client pre shoot (meaning did I set up most of this shoot via email) Were they connected to me as their photographer and were they committed to the process. (So easy to let this slide the pre consultation is one of the most vital points of contact in the process the more time you take here the more committed your clients are the more connected they are to you and the shoot process)
Did I ask my client how they wanted to be photographed? And listen and Did I deliver the service and images they wanted? I truly feel that most of the sales is done in the What can I do for you stage the rest is just living up to the promises you’ve made.
Did I educate my client on what we were creating and how much the finish product will be (So many people avoid this too)
Yes there is always an exception to the rule. But 99% of the time if I fail in one of these areas it is reflected instantly in my sales.
Finally if I connect/educate/deliver and then they pay me and I fail in the delivery then all that work was for nothing. If nothing else let this blog be a reminder to you to turn around fast and turn around with as much care and customer service as you can and watch your referrals double.
I am always trying to deliver in what I promise this makes me successful in business it is constant turning of the wheel and a process that I try always to refine, improve and succeed at. Your business reputation in the age of sharing social media is one of the most important marketing tools you can have. Strive to be better for your clients. So I forge ahead I entice I connect I ask I deliver and then I sell beautiful portraits. It is a game of averages, of consistency but mostly it’s a game of SERVICE. Worth a try?