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Build a High Volume Senior Photography Business

Lesson 37 of 39

12 Steps to Creating Life Long Clients

Matthew The Body Kemmetmueller

Build a High Volume Senior Photography Business

Matthew The Body Kemmetmueller

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Lesson Info

37. 12 Steps to Creating Life Long Clients


Lesson Info

12 Steps to Creating Life Long Clients

So let's, get into it I want to go over what we're going to cover and there's going to be twelve weighs twelve things you need to do to make lifelong clients you can tell him big on lists it's been a re occurring theme throughout this workshop I'm going to go into talking about how you can turn use your high school seniors as a gateway session, get him in the door, start using these clients for more than just the high school senior session I'm going to recap this course and I want to talk about the things that you need to do to make it work for you. Okay, so first things first creating lifelong clients, you have to do what you say you're going to dio it's that simple, like if you can't cover the basics of what you're telling people nothing else matters. If I tell you, I'm going to give you images that look like what's on my website and I fall short of that I failed if I tell you your stuff is going to be done on a certain day and it's not I failed. So what you guys need to know is that...

as you're working as a business and you're trying to provide services to your clients, you simply have to do what you say you're going to dio don't make outlandish claims that you khun do a job if you're not if you're not capable of it don't put it out there don't put the expectations out there that this is something you can do if you can't make sure that you're you're hitting home runs if you say you can you have to make a personal connection like I'm I'm big on I'm trying to be friends with my clients but I'm also big on making sure that it's not too friendly I think that you need to make a connection so that these people like you they have to like you they have to like the business they have to like the experience once you do that once you make it personal it becomes much more than just a business transaction cable with that said don't go to the extreme and become best friends with your clients because then the business lines are heart are not as to find a swell so make a personal connection but you got enough friends stay with her friends but be personable taken interest in their lives like ask about them one client one client who cares about one so who cares about what I average on one session if I shoot your family every couple of years and I shoot all your kids and I start shooting their weddings let's talk about that revenue stream one session isn't isn't it like we're trying to make life long clients okay, I have to go beyond what they're expecting so when I tell my clients their stuff is gonna be ready in two weeks, we'll oftentimes get it done earlier if we tell our clients they're going to get thirty images, we deliver thirty six if we tell our clients we're going to be at the chute at two thirty there too doom or than they're expecting and this is something that needs to transcend across all parts of your business like it's it's not just it's, not just doing what you say you're going to dio it's it's doing more they gotta like you just say what you're gonna dio and a little more and when you do this with your clients, you're establishing a baseline and we talked about this a lot in the first day light your business is is a direct representation of you when you start exceeding expectations, you're establishing a baseline of excellence like I I don't know I know some of you from before I don't know all of you but cold I mean you're better than normal, you don't want to be average, you're better than that, you don't want to just be okay. You're going to run a great business in doing mohr than what's expected is how we start establishing that as what you can expect when you work with me and if you were gonna be a lifetime klein and that's what you want you need to understand their expectations you need to educate them to yours as well ok, I had a friend who got hired to do a session when the client came in and said I want to do a high key session I want to do this like it's going to go on a on a brochure so I needed to super high key lighting and we want the background pure white because they're going to clip doing clipping mask on it and put it on brochure and they came in and they did the session and he crushed it it's exactly what they wanted it's a fifty five year old woman and when you have the super bright light behind your subject there's a little bit of hair that looked not as thick as it would in a regular portrait she complaining got upset and there was this huge issue in this huge disagreement over something that really was just failed expectations what she thought she was asking for or what she was asking for it wasn't what she needed and even though he did his job perfect the pose was great the lighting's exactly what they asked for the retouching is wonderful it was a failed moment because the communication and delivering what your expectations are that broke down so when you're having when you're trying to establish who's going to be your life one clients you need to make sure that you're communicating they're communicating to you effectively what they need and you are communicating to them what what you need like and if you're going to need more time to do their job can't communicate that with that explain it to that and as long as those as long as that the communication communication the the expectations is clear it's gonna be a much better relationship right? Customer's always right no they are you know they aren't there but if you're going tohave a lifelong client it's kind of like what we were talking about with the high school senior sessions when I was saying you always have to let the kid I feel like he has a say in a session now whether they do or they don't whether they want to take that stand and say yes, I want this or they just feel ah level of uh, ownership because they're giving the okay you need to give your clients let him have the win, let him feel like they're winning something it doesn't need to be you don't need to throw in the towel and I'm not saying that if somebody calls you up and complaints like the last example where she was wrong she got what she ordered I'm not saying you need to refund your money and take it and just accept that, but if you're trying to achieve lifelong clients you need to let them feel like they went and like I'm serious when you when you have a business phone were for forty years and you do eight hundred ninety five sessions you're gonna mess up there's gonna be one problem that will happen and it's going to happen to you it's absolutely going to happen to you in your business don't get excited you aren't a failure it's not going to destroy your business your mom still loves you is truly though remember it's it's you blow them away with your response when you mess up if they ordered the wrong print and they call you up and they say hey uh I order image number five and you sent me number it image number seven do you say uh sorry do you want to keep five? Oh no okay, we'll order it's could be couple weeks I'll give you a shout and then you order number seven and you give it to him in a box and say bring me back number five what do you let him keep five order him seven get him something else pay a rush fee and delivered to their door you messed up and there's times that that will happen in anyone's business and it's not the fact that you messed up that's going to ruin a relationship with a client that's the act of messy not isn't necessarily the deal breaker how you respond to it can can mean so much so think about it I shoot ah high school sports and I got in a situation a couple years ago two years ago where they asked me to shoot the hockey team and they were on a really, really accelerated deadline because they had to have the image is done so that they could turn him into the program but they still had unfinished tryouts so they said we got thirty two kids that are going to be in the team but we got thirty for kids that are still trying out I showed up on picture day and I said, okay, they said, so we need to take a picture with thirty two kids in it then we need you to take a picture with thirty four kids in it then we need to take two pictures with thirty three because they were gonna have one with bill and at one with john in it so they wanted all the combinations okay, I should have said no, I should have said that's not how we're going to do it. We're just gonna shoot all the kids. One kid might be in the team picture to make the team or I should have said we're to shoot the team picture with everyone we know that's made the team and I'm sorry that bill wasn't in the team didn't make the team by the time we did the picture that's what I should have done I was trying to do great customer service so I said yes and they ordered the picture there then the selection came through and they said hey we need the picture with bill innit I printed the whole team order with wrong kid my fault it's my fault I didn't give myself a good system though to do it I screwed up so now I have printed a whole team wrong and I got a call from the school they said you know it's the wrong kid and I said so we're going to work the next day we reprint the whole team we have the in house lab so like we got in at nine a m and it was out the door delivered to the school perfect and ready to go whole bag got lost the second set of orders never showed up I know we did it I know we delivered it that's not my fault but now I have these hockey moms and dads that are angry because they haven't gotten their order you know it took a couple of weeks it's you know it's a couple weeks get the first ones those were wrong now I've turned the order out again and they don't have it so now I'm uh it's been a siri's of mistakes whether it's your fault or not I thought how can I keep this customer this is a big account for me so what did I do? I went and I took every single kids individual portrait, I cut it out, and I made a sports poster for me whether he ordered or not and in care, putting eleven by fourteen sent him over to the school with a note that said, I'm so sorry that your experience wasn't great, we're going to do better next year, and that cost me time, and that cost me money, but it made sure that I blew them away. That shows them that I value your business that shows them that even though there might be some hiccups and working with us, I want you as a client, I'm going to do the work you need me to dio to keep you happy and it's at this point in the segment, I know we've talked a lot about profit and bean business minded. This is when we're dealing with lifelong clients were dealing less with, um, it's less with your earning growth, it's more with with keeping your clients there and that's what I had to dio all right, you sure you have a consistent face, your brand? And this is something that I have struggled with a little bit, and I really love that we have a great crew right now with our boudoir line, but I've had some turnover. And my boudoir photographers and so we have been doing the business for three years and I've got a woman that comes in every year and she said three photographers and every photographer did a great job on her session a single bad session, but it's not how you keep a lifelong client if they come back every year. It's someone new. So when you grow your business to the point where you're having employees, when you grow your business to the point wants more than just you make sure that you treat him nice, treat them like you want to treat your your clients, be friendly, not too friendly, treat him good, make sure that they hang out cos that keep their employees have better customer satisfaction ratings. Okay, look a costco have like no turnover, they treat their employees great, everyone stays there and I've been to costco like ten trillion times and I've only had one grumpy person in my whole life there we're having a work there because they treat him well, so make sure that you're having a consistent face. If you have assistance, if you have office, people try to minimize that turnover just try to make him want to come back to you, okay, like there's, no shame in doing special sales for your favorite clients there's no shame in calling them up and said hey haven't seen you in a couple years we'd love to have you come in and getting updated family photo that's okay to dio but we're doing is we're striving to make them them want to be there through all these interactions were reminding them we're giving them reasons to come in we want them to be lifelong clients they're sending a hot all clients are gonna be lifelong clients so what I'm going through I'm telling you guys snacking applied everyone um you have to be picky about how you're going to pursue his lifelong client okay it's it's not everyone and in fact I uh my dad had a customer that came into the studio every year and he and his uh hand his family his wife and their kids came in around they were jewish so they came in for holiday cars that came in and did one eight by ten of their family and they ordered fifty holiday cards every single year and I'm like ten years they came in one eight by ten fifty cards like clockwork and my father have been doing their work for so long and the dad loved my love my dad so much they had a great relationship so the first year that I was their photographer I did things a little bit differently I tried to make sure that they were having a good experience because the nine to five hours didn't work for them and so I stayed late for lifelong client. You make exceptions. So I stayed late and I shot their session. Now what? They had been used. Teo wass. Twenty pictures of two different family poses. Right? Couple opposes bunch of images. They'd pick one. When they came for my session, I shot the family in three different groupings. I shot mom and dad alone. I shot dad with the kids. I shot mom with the kids. I shot the kids alone. I shot the kids. They shot the kids is a group of kids. Individually. I shot all of these images and they were great. So they came into order and they said we can't come in and order we can't do the ordering session with you. We wanted just email in our order from the order catalogue and they said, okay, that's fine. I don't like to do that because I like you to be there and go over it with me and make sure we're on the same page. But he sent them the order cattle. All right, they say they emailed it and I price out their order and they send them an invoice. I was like eleven hundred bucks. They ordered a sixteen by twenty of their family they ordered eight by tens of all their boys they ordered five by sevens of mom with the kids and dad with the kids the order prints of mom and dad alone they ordered a lot way more than they ever have but they were upset about the price and they said well why what is their price where we had eleven arbus we've never spent eleven hundred bucks it was the same price and then we had the year before you just ordered a lot more and so they said we want a discount but at this point I started feel like I was being taken advantage of and I realized at this point that they were no longer my lifetime clients that I'd been working really hard to please these people and it simply wasn't what I could do so we talked about messing up and blowing him away I printed the whole order printed everything that's sixteen by twenty well he sent me an e mail he said cancel the order we want one eight by ten and fifty cards so I printed everything and I boxed it up and I wrote a letter and I said you know what? You've had an amazing time at the studio and my family thanks you for your loyal uh for your loyalty to our business but it's clear that I'm not the right photographer for you anymore and I would hate to tell you I would hate for you to be able to say that I held your images hostage with outrageous pricey so I'm going to pay for this order to thank you for your years of loyalty but I'm going to ask that you go somewhere else and man my heart was beating when I gave him that eyes that here's jen's phone number no no I it was it's it's a parent you are not going to have all of your kinds are not going to be lifers and all of your clients are not going to be worth it there's going to be a point where you're gonna have some clients that are going to push it where you need to say I'm sorry you know and so although this isn't something you should be running to don't be afraid of it don't run from it and know that you're gonna have some clients that are going to go to you and you're going to do a great job you're going to kill him with kindness and they're gonna be happy with their images and they're gonna book with the guy next door next year that's okay all right and groups to escape one all right, make sure that your day ones always feel special the people that get you where you go like where you are remember them the guys that came to you when you didn't have a portfolio, the customers that invested in you when there wasn't really ah lot there those are the guys that that that that's what your business is built on it's really easy to be like I have my base we're killing it we got this and I'm going toe focus on expanding my business I'm gonna focus on what I can do in other markets because my bass is great can't do that you need to continue to make sure that your day ones the people that started coming to you that built what you built your business on always feel special soon as you start neglecting them it's a massive mistake in your customers will be loyal to you but as soon as they don't feel like you're loyal to them they're out and they leave with a little feeling a little bit jaded so you coming? Sure that you focus on this don't get don't get complacent when you're searching for new accounts don't start thinking that you can get away with doing less because someone's been coming to you for a long time remember to be a resource for your clients like you you possess a skill set that they don't they're coming to you for something your it's like not to make it more than what it is like I don't want to make it weird but it's kind of like this way with a with a boudoir session it's almost like you're going to a doctor something you're you're exposing yourself, you're vulnerable you're going to a place and you are relying on them to be the expert. You're coming to me because I'm the guy with expert photography that's showing you what I can do, so my job to make you always want to come back to me to be a resource to you, explains stuff here, clients they don't understand, like, make sure that you expend there's no such thing is over communicating, and don't assume that your clients understand what you're talking about don't assume that your client knows what a gallery wrap this these people don't understand the things that we do and it's easy for us to think that and lose focus on being a resource for them, explained them what high rez vial is, what a web violence explained to them copyright loss be their resource toe understanding, professional photography so kind of going off of that subject. How do you deal with clients that come in and look? You're pricing and then say, well, I can go toe costco or whatever, and the print prices are so much cheaper mean, what what's your method for educating them on why your products are better or worth, I guess, have that perceived value that there well, that's, an easy one if it comes to how I respond to someone calling me up and saying like, well, your eight by tens this much and I get it for this much at costco absolutely you can you buy the digital file? Yep now you take your digital find go to costco one thing you need to understand is that all of the prints we print are one hundred percent guaranteed if you don't like the color if you don't like finish if you don't like anything with your print I will take care of it one hundred percent guaranteed now if you want to pay me for the digital file and you take it somewhere else, go ahead but I'm not responsible for what your prints come out like because I can tell you what our machine is calibrated at I can tell you how we color calibrate to where we print and I can put my name on that but I can't tell you what the eight fifty and our employees at walgreens did that morning so if you want to go and do it have at you pay me for the file I'm happy my files are priced at a point where I'm okay with that but also no no and I over communicate with them that if you buy your files and you go somewhere else I can't I can't tell you what it's going to be so that socks that sucks I'm sorry now, if they asked me to compare myself to another business if they say, why is kenneth mueller photography charging this when I can go to joe schmo photography for a third of the price? I simply say this I'm sorry, but if you're asking me to speak intelligently on someone else's pricing that's something I can't do, I can assure you that our pricing is competitive within our market. We've done the research to charge what we need to do to remain in business. Things are goal is to be here for years to comes that I can take great pictures of your next son and your kids, weddings and your grandkids and I'm trying to be here forever and our pricing is competitive to the marketplace, but if you're asking me specifically to comment on joe schmo photography, I can't do that intelligently and there's no shame and I don't, you know, don't get in a fighting match about it, you won't win, you are going to argue and explained it's not a commodity. You come in here for a session, my session is going to be different than hiss and it's going to be different than hers and it's gonna be different than anyone else you go to, so why are they priced that way? I don't know are they gonna be open in five years? You know, and uh are they good? Do they have a lot of money invested in gear? Are they shooting with but, you know, they shoot with a junkie camera, they shoot with a kit lands do they know how to light that they spent ten years trying to perfect this craft? Do they goto do they watch creative lives? Do they go to w p b? I do they goto imaging? Are they actively involved in? I don't know, I know what I do. Oh, and this is the price that we're at. And so if you want to experience this, this is where you're going to be a smile, a lot of smiling but it's but it's, it goes way, way back also to what we were talking about the validity in the speed like the speed in the connection you have affects how valid that statement is. So if someone asked me that and I do answer and the answer and I'm I'm not a dad, but I see my dad voice well, wells on no, I do answer in my no nonsense so what's up, and if people are really trying to pry shop you like that, if they're really trying to hammer you on that, like it's it's generally going to be a lot of work for this is that completely unrelated? Besides, I'm good so I'm gonna step away from this but we talk to you about a client that I turned down before he ever became a client so I had somebody call my studio and they said hey I want to come in and my niece needs to have a seat intercession done and you are my daughter needs coming every senior pictures down I said okay great and he goes my niece I was on the cover of your brochure last year oh nicole and he's like yeah it's all great I remember nicole session was wonderful we did the get me out of here we went to the arboretum it was great it was fun it was great experience now what we did is we used to always say if you refer someone to me you'll get free five by seven okay I'll do that all day long who cares but what we notices if you just say if you refer someone to me you get a free five by seven what was happening was they come in and they'd say oh you did joe's photos I know jo I told joe to come here so you have to tell us when you book I don't want you to play oh I found out that my friend was also going there if you really referred someone I want to reward you but I didn't want to get in a position where she you're giving out free five by sevens so this mom had said that someone called late she came into our ordering session she saw a picture we had out of another kid's session that we had done and then she said, oh, I referred them I want my free five by seven and I was like, well you didn't even bring it up you don't even know about it until you saw the print so I told him like I can't really do that like you have to they have to say it when they book and I'm like, you know, I'm sorry I can't do it and she was like all right, fine and she she went away so this her brother calls me and says I need a book from a daughter all right? Because my sister said that you didn't give her free five by seven last time and it's all give her a free five by seven because you're telling me that she referred to you and he goes and you're gonna give her one for the last session to or else we aren't booking with you over the last three days you people may have noticed I don't take too kindly to being told what I'm going to do with my business and he says you're going to do this, he told me very matter of fact you're going to do this and I said no, I'm not and he said, yeah, you're going to do this, you're going to do this and he was really it got like this weird aggressive tone and that the whole vibe was off it just wasn't it wasn't clicking and I thought to myself, man, I'm gonna have to deal with this guy when I shoot his daughter I'm gonna have to deal with this guy when he picks up his proof book I'm gonna have to deal with this guy when he places his order we'll have to deal with him when he picks up his order and I didn't want to do it I thought this is not going to be worth it so I told him in the middle of this is the first conversation is that you know what? I don't think I'm the right photographer for you any less and he goes, you're gonna walk away from two hundred dollars guaranteed sailing like it's actually four hundred dollars here indeed sail but yes, yes, yes, I'm gonna walk away from that because I would almost pay someone else for hundred dollars to deal with you because you are going to be way more headache than you're worth and when you when you when you get to that point it's a really free moment when you realize that you don't have to take every job that comes in front of you and it's a really uh it's a moment that you know, you like hulk out afterward, you're like I could fight a lion like let's go like you get crazy about it because you just feel like it, sze, but know that it's the right thing to do know that not all clients, even if they're going to pay your average, are going to be worth it. There are some clients that are going to give you red flags right out of the gate that I'm gonna be so much of a hassle to deal with. I don't want to deal with you and so those air, not lifelong clients. So um, yeah, and like brainstorm ideas with your clients, talk to them about things they can do with their images, even if it's things that are going to produce you zero revenue going back to being a resource, talk to them, spitball with them, inspire them, help them make them know what they can do it's like like, work with these people so that they want to come back to you, you're their resource, they can't they don't want to go to another photographer because you're the guy who walked him through how to do it. Be grateful they got other options like I'm I'm sorry, eh the best of the best photographers I know amazing photographers in my market, there's more than one and, truth be told, you can get the same work, the same level work that you get from me, a comparable price point from a lot of people. And even if you're the best of the best there's, a hot of the best of the best. There really are there's, a lot of people doing work and there's. Nothing that's, so absolutely unique about you being a photographer, they could find another one. Be grateful, say thank yu mean it. Ask him how you did, like, don't take your clients for granted, because they'll do the debt and then your, then that you can't figure out why. Don't assume that you got it. Be thankful that you did.

Class Description

The success of your photography studio depends on your business model, not your location. Learn the key strategies that have propelled a booming second-generation family photography studio for more than 40 years in rural Minnesota.

In this course, Matthew Kemmetmueller will show you how to set up your entire high volume senior photography business step by step — including successful sales tactics, shooting techniques, and efficient workflow practices. You will see Matthew’s strategies in action as he takes you through two live shoots from start to finish — each in under 90 minutes. Matthew will also teach you how to increase the value of your services, market directly to new clients, and create unique products that will delight your customers.

Whether you’ve photographed thousands of seniors or just looking to learn high volume tactics, this course will give you a comprehensive, replicable roadmap for multiplying your revenue.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Lightroom Start to Finish Guide

Order Catalog

Step by Step LR5 and PS Workflow

Keynote 1

Keynote 2

Jen's Design

Lightroom Templates for Ordering

Keynote 3

Syllabus and Keystroke Shortcuts

Order Catalog PSDs

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


a Creativelive Student

I decided to listen in on the free course of Build a High Volume Senior Photography Business w/ Matthew Kemmentmueller...I thought it would be good to have the skill sets even if I chose to do another photography forum other than seniors. And I was laughing thru the whole thing...he is one funny guy!! So, I decided to buy it...not only is this course full of great tips/advice/ and "did you know facts" but it's really informative and again, he is down right funny. I'm learning lots. Thanks for having him on Creative Live...this one is a keeper.

Diane Yvon

I absolutely loved this course. I am primarily a maternity and newborn shooter and to my surprise what I learned here applies to my current work as well as developing my senior work. I thoroughly enjoyed Matthews delivery of each topic as it was clear, precise, fun and non intimidating. I will watch this over and over and the course downloads were amazing! 100% satisfied with this course


Matthew's class is excellent! I watched it live, but decided to buy it since it's so foundational. I think his information and materials are excellent, whether someone wants to be "high volume" or not. I love how he continually drove the point home about how so many photographers overwork themselves and gave excellent ways to resolve this issue. CL does such a great job of covering the gamut in education of all types. Thanks!