Master the Business of Photography

 

Master the Business of Photography

 

Lesson Info

Ways Not To Suck At Customer Service

All right, welcome back everybody and how you guys doing? We're holding up ready? We got good energy, lots of ideas ready to go out there. I hope everybody's got good ideas you're writing in your workbook. You got a ton of ideas on where you're going in the next thirty sixty ninety, but we'll keep talking about it. This segment we're going to dive into how not to suck at customer service and so I didn't just want to put up customer service is not just about customer service, a buzzword we hear all the time customer service that's not good customer service that's really good customer service I don't hear any more about customer service I just don't want to suck at it at the end of the day, right? And I think there's ways to keep it simple, especially as one man operations one woman operations it's really tough sometimes right there's a lot of things that are pulling us away from providing good customer service and mostly I think it comes down to time and I'm gonna share with you just ki...

nd of my experiences for customer service as we've grown is a company both towards you as photographers and towards just my brides in general my clients in general how do how do we get better and better service? So here's what I want to talk about this segment first and foremost the customer is not always right contrary to popular belief we just throw out that term the customer's always right what the hell does that mean you some nebulous term you're telling me if the customers like I think you should give me fifteen hours of coverage on my wedding day we're going to fall back on the customer's always right I'll be there for fifteen hours no it's ridiculous that's not what we're going to do but you can't just tell the customer they're wrong there's a way to handle it I call it degrade gracefully so when some that's a that's a programming term right when you when you do when you're writing code and error happens in the code it can't just start the whole program crashes so you same thing here if you say no where there's ah conflict with your customer the whole customer service program can just fall apart on you and now you go from offering good customer service to just horrible where's that in between area that has to be something in between good customer service and just horrible customer service so I want I want to dive into that it's okay to say no can't say yes to every client request that comes in it's just not it's just not possible it is not humanly possible it's not most importantly financially possible teo say yes to everything that our clients want it's just not possible but how do we deal with that? How do we make it right? We're going to screw up if you think his business owners you're gonna hit one hundred percent customer satisfaction you are delusional at this moment in time I'm telling you you're going to screw something up every business in the world from the smallest organizations to the largest organisations screw up customer service! How are you going to make it right? I'll share share a quick story. You know, I'm a big star book's fan I'm always talking about starbucks. Well, this is starbucks by a single fallon, illinois I swear they have the worst customer service on the planet. It makes me bonkers every time I walk in there and I'm a stockholder, right? So right in my investment portfolio, I own starbucks stock. And so as a stockholder, I just I had it one day I just went nuts on their on their customer service feedback form, right? I'm like, yeah, I mean, we supplied it wasn't like yelling everybody irate, but I was just I let them have it. I'm like as a stockholder and as a customer, I cannot take walking into the store anymore and the horrible customer service that exists every time you walk into this store, I swear to you the line is from the cash register all the way out the door all the way out the door. Why have they not figured out that people are coming in to buy coffee in the morning? Did they not realise this? Add more cost your people at the cash register it's common sense and so twenty four hours goes by and I get a response from their customer support headquarters. I never thought I was gonna get response. You ever feel that way? You submit your complaint? You're like nobody's on the other end of this thing, right? And you're just screaming and you feel like you're just venting to event. And so I get this response back twenty four hours later and the woman says to me, so sorry to hear about your experience there we take customer service very seriously she goes, I've taken your feedback and I've passed it on to the regional manager in that area, into the store manager at this location she goes, I'm so sorry for the inconvenience. What I've done is put ten dollars a ten dollar gift card in your starbucks account for you to use next time, ten bucks that's all it took to shut me up and make me feel good. Ten bucks right? And by the way, when I submitted my complaint I wasn't looking for a free cup of coffee I just wanted something to change I just wanted someone to hear me and hear my complaint and is not what customer service is all about anyway, I don't think consumers really believe that we're perfect nobody believes that nor they looking for it they just want to know that somebody cares and someone's listening and usually when that happens it diffuses the entire situation. But if you don't respond to email, respond to phone calls, respond to complaints, things slowly start getting louder and louder until people feel like they have no other choice but to just go out there and put you on blast your starbucks there's enough good noise to overcome the negative noise, right? But when you're small business, that negative noise man is really, really loud right? Somebody writing one bad review about you too bad reviews about you it could be disastrous, so just keep that in mind we'll keep talking about it we'll talk about phone, email, some things that drive me nuts, an email all of us. Uh, well, I don't think I'm guilty of it I think a lot of photographers are guilty of it I'm gonna show you an even email response I got just last night when I sent an email to another photographer so really, really interesting how to say thank you to your client's going above and beyond and then how do you promote testimonials? How do you ah are you getting testimonials from from your clients that should be all over your website they should be in a place where potential new clients khun see what old clients have to say we'll talk about how we're doing that and so let's talk about the customer at its core without the customer we don't have business it's that simple okay? And while it may seem that simple, no one lot of businesses seem to miss or fail on this point and understanding that the customer everything does operate around the customer not suggesting that means the customer's always right that's not what I'm suggesting what I'm suggesting is is that is our ecosystem we right our supplier of good or service the customers a consumer of that good or service we need that customer in our ecosystem we absolutely have to understand the customer who are client is we have to stand there wants their demands their dollars where they're spending their money we have to understand all that because without it again there is no business it doesn't exist however the customer is not always right and I was up in new york I was at the store and in this I saw this on the wall I walked in and I posted it on instagram and they had the same it said, uh the customer is not always right and I'll translate it to me the customer is not always right, salvador cicada photography is not always right but it's through our differences that we build a cohesive relationship something like that that resonated with me. I walked in and I saw that unlike that is freaking brilliant, right? Because that is the truth of it the customer is not always right we're not always right without it out, but through those differences that's how we build ah, cohesive strategy that's how we build solid customer service that requires you to listen you gotta listen to what your customers air saying, right? Just not one complaint I'm a big eighty twenty rule guy I'm never going to move when twenty percent is where things were falling never all too often jonathan, we were talking about this uh, this morning at breakfast you said things happen on I panic to a certain extent when I don't know the answer to something right? That's just one off this one off thing happens and I don't know how to handle it, so I revert back to bad habits all of us are guilty of that, right? Because this thing happens, we feel uncomfortable, whatever it is, we revert back to old habits that's the twenty percent focus on the eighty percent everything you do by the way eighty percent if something's happening eighty percent of the time that's either a good thing or a bad thing so when we're talking about negative customer complaints if the same customer complaints coming in eight out of ten times you've got to change you've got to adapt but if the customer complaint comes in one time right I had a bride tell me one time she's like you're being very difficult to work with I'm like why she's like well you're trying to control my timeline that's literally the first broad if ever had complained about us trying to give her help on her timeline right? We talked about the timeline in the previous segment that exercise I take my brights through I would say ninety nine out of one hundred when it's all said and done thanking me for doing it but this one bride really was offended that I was trying to control her timeline I'm going to change what I'm doing no she's just not a fit, she writes, so I'm okay with that I'm going to try and solve that problem for I'll back off it's your wedding day we'll do whatever you want just tell us where to be what what time be there but I'm not gonna alter the way I run my business based on that one complaint and so that's what I'm trying to get through to you and it's a mindset right and so ultimately we've got to change our mind set when we're dealing with clients all too often I think his small business owners we hate dealing with pain right? We hate dealing with complaints it's uncomfortable I don't want any especially artists right if you're an artist you don't want anyone to be mad at you you want everyone to love you you want to live in this perfect world where there's just you know harmony, harmony and beautiful music playing right that's not the world that's not the real world the real world I live in it's really noisy outside there's traffic everywhere people are pissed off people are screaming at each other live in my world being more of a pessimist stop being such an optimist right I have to train my team this way my tree my team right I've got all these creatives on my team and they're so optimistic about everything it's just this is really good this is great oh this is awesome right know I need to get you more to the it sucks this is garbage this is crap it's socks look for what's wrong stop looking for what's right? What what's right is easy it really is that's what we do we're artists so we can easily find what's right with something but if you start moving towards more of a place of pessimism right, you start seeing things a little bit differently, you start seeing things through the eyes of your customers. Think about it from the customer's perspective. Do they ever complain about the good things? God, you guys are just really pissing me off. You return my phone call in fifteen minutes? Who do you think you are? Nobody ever says that it's almost stupid, right instead there you have to look at what's wrong what's broken what's going to break and that's the part. If you truly want to be a good entrepreneur, you have to start looking right for those pain points on looking for those things that are going to just bring everything down like a house of cards, and you'll never figure it all out, by the way, because I do really think I'm an optimistic person when it comes to business, right? I see opportunity everywhere I'm not that this is the part that struck most entrepreneurs struggle with I'm telling you to be pessimistic. Well, if you're pessimistic towards a business opportunity, you'll never move. You'll keep saying that'll never work that'll never happen that's not what I'm encouraging you do. I want you to be optimistic as you're looking for opportunity, but pessimistic when you start looking at that opportunity, ask yourself what could go wrong with it. It's a weird mindset I don't know how to explain it but I'm hoping this makes sense to you that's the only way you'll grow your business in this area so yes we love this opportunity what could go wrong you with me and the reality is clients or super demanding very finicky overreaching and they've been trained to squeeze in this day and age clients are so used to putting pressure on you toe lower your price it's not just photographers it's everywhere now again it comes down to a mindset if a client walks into louis vuitton they're not haggling with louis vuitton sales person is that the weirdest thing in the world they will walk into louis vuitton by three and I'm talking about our brides are clients my brides my clients they're walking into my studio they got a three thousand dollar back on their shoulder for thousand are back on their shoulder they walk into louis vuitton sometimes they're not even asking about what the prices and then even if they asked what the price is there's no haggling there's just literally no haggling in louisville tom and when you think about haggling with somebody it's like going to a garage sale you ever go to garage right? You go there and you're like you know they got this little thermos out there and you go you know how much depending on what answer comes back has nothing do with price by the way. They could be like this is five cents they could probably say it's free you might still haggle with him depending on how the answer right so depending on how that answer comes back you're gonna read instinctively their response and like a shark in water you're going to jump all over that you're going to pounce all over that if they're like it's about ninety cents I'm all over that shit even me I'm gonna haggle with him right in the ike how about fifty just instinctively because they made it sound that way how much is this? Ah that's a dollar it sound like there's any room wiggle room in there doesn't sound like there's a I'm being I'm making a declared of statement is a dollar but his photographers is artist when you get into your sales room you're like um you know kicking yeah well you know these really cost us a lot of money and you know it doesn't care how much money this cost you your clients they certainly don't care on so you've got to make declarative statements you have to stand behind your process you have to stand behind your price and you have to believe in it if you don't believe in it that customer is going to smell it like blood in water ok you've got to just go here's how much it is well is there anything you can do here? Unfortunately there's not done you've got to believe in that if you just start, not really what does not really even mean not really means maybe really, because when you say not really, I'm still jumping all over that because there might be that one percent chance that really? What about when they give you the answer? Well, typically screw typically I don't want to hear about typically right now is a typically what are you going to do for me? So you can't use those words when you're having conversations with clients? Well, typically we don't do anything right. Great. Well, this isn't a typical situation. So what do you do for me? That's my mindset when I'm having conversations, I do it to people just because I love watching sales process, by the way, right? I've got twelve years of sales training when I was at microsoft. I'm now in this business eight years selling right whatever it is I'm selling I love watching people sell I love when I get cold calls on the phone of people selling right, sir, I'd like to talk to you about your mortgage rates. I'm like, yeah, go for it what you want talk about well, uh, I totally threw him off their game. They have no idea what to say right there. They're waiting for me to either hang up on him or something like that, and then they start taking me through this spiel, I'm like, dude, is that your best sales pitch? They don't know what to do with it, right? Because they're not they're trained to read a script that has knowing motion in what they're doing. They're robotic sales is not robotic, sales is about connecting sales is about relationships, sales is about becoming the trusted advisor, right? I've talked over and over again about you know, I get asked all the time. What books do you read? How to win friends and influence people is probably one of the best books I've ever read in my career. When it comes to just relationship building that's the part you gotta understand the trusted advisor is another book I'm always advocating. The starbucks experience is another book I'm always advocating thes air three books that have shaped our business, and if you haven't read them, stop making excuses down with the books and read them their easy reads. But everything I'm telling to you, I'm telling you right now, is fundamentally from those books and just understanding the relationship. As it pertains to sales because when you have a relationship with someone, you're not selling your not selling isn't interesting when we go to trade shows you photography trade shows and they're doing their pitch right? You go by booth and they're doing a pitch we have the best presets in the world check out these presets will make her skin green yes, it's awesome! You want green skin, right? They start taking you through this pitch and you're watching this, you know you're being sold to you don't trust anything this person's telling you when I'm in those environments, I don't even ask them for more information because I don't believe a word they're saying, where do we go for information to our peer network, do we not? I see it all the time in the forms. Hey, anybody checking out ex company who's using it? What do you think? Go. You see that on facebook all the time, right? Hey, I want to look at this tool. What does everybody think? Go alright, go! And then all the time I hate him, I love him, they're good, they're bad and you start getting your peer feedback we're more willing to listen to our peers people we trust that we are willing to listen to any marketing collateral, any sales pitch, why it's all about relationships that to me is service that's the kind of service I'm looking for right? The person I can trust we can push back we can say no it's okay to say no to our clients you have to say no sometimes where they're going to keep taking advantage of you and that's what I'm advocating here I'm not saying they're not necessarily right we just have to be willing to say know where is arnaud? You're not going to work the wedding for free and you're not gonna work a portrait session for free so if they're calling in for digital negatives let's say hey ah your competitors having a group on sale for forty nine dollars they're willing to do a three hour destination session for forty nine dollars and give us the cd of images but I really want to work with you what can you do what's your answer if you're humming in han on the on the phone you're really screwing yourself up no unfortunately we don't offer that our session fees or one ninety nine I can't speak to what my competitors aire doing of course, but if you're drawn into our work that's probably what you have to see that you're paying for right you have to be able to have that conversation and so the reality is you can't just say no you always say no why you're saying no and offer a solution why is that is the missing link for almost everyone I've ever dealt with when I'm coaching businesses and I'm coaching entrepreneurs the why is where they all struggle they say no, we don't do that great tell me why as human beings we need a logical answer for why that's not possible my saying anything that you don't agree with you guys air you guys as consumers use yourself is the consumer that's how I figure out stuff like this I just put myself in the shoes of the consumer why I want to know why tell me why that's the key part for example, I bought a new car I bought a new car my thing is I hate when the license plate is on the front of the car it's just screws up you know, I feel like the car manufacturers create this gorgeous work of art on the front end of their cars and now the boom they screw four screws into the front of my car and I get this ugly ass license plate. So when I went about my new car and like I don't want, I don't want the license plate in the front like all we have to we have to why? Well, he didn't know the answer because he doesn't really have an answer has just been trained to tell me that and when he didn't give me the reasonable answer I kept pushing on I go. Look, I know it sounds stupid, but I'm not buying this car if you put four holes in the front of that girl, I want no license plate there and he just froze. He had no idea what to say and so we had to walk away. Let me talk to my manager. Let me see what we can do. You can go talk to the manager he's gonna tell you something. No four holes don't put it there, get the sale. Sure enough, there were no four holes in the front of my car when I got it. Now, that seems like a dumb thing. I know. I'm just giving you an example, ok? Never say no always say why we're following up with why should say making sense. This is where all of you struggle, I promise you. All right, let's, talk about processing customer complaints. No way you can look at this. Is is it a customer complaint or is it a request just because they're making a request of you doesn't immediately turn it into a complaint. And so let's have that conversation and think about it logically it's either a customer complaint or request. At the end of the day we started off talking about this look for trends, anything that's happening is a one off you guys all know what I mean when I say it's a one off situation, okay, one ofthe situation means it's this outlier, if we're trending things right, you got all these dots from events if all the dots are falling into this high little cluster, that's your eighty percent. But then all of a sudden, somebody comes out and they're like, will you film? You know, will you shoot this and it's all all the way out here? No, that's not, uh that's, not what we're going to be doing. Okay, so that becomes the twenty percent to twenty percent we're not goingto overly react to don't overreact to that. Just watch it analyze it. Look for trans. So a trend for me when we first started out a staff parent albums in my packages. So in my top level package, my black label, what what it was back then in two thousand seven, two thousand eight had parent albums in it to establish value right? To raise the price out of that bride comes in she's like I don't want parent albums she was if my parents would want one albums, they could pay for it themselves, so can you take him out, how much what do you think my answer was? No I said no we can't take it out unfortunately I didn't quite figure out the why I just said no we can't do it she didn't go with that package I created a roadblock right? She ran into the wall and she said that's fine we're not gonna we're not gonna be part of it and so that was my fault so I had to adapt and that was no big deal if it happens once it's never going to get me off my game I'm just gonna keep doing it so I left my uh the parent albums in there but then bride after bride kept coming into the sales consultation and asking the same question if you take this out how much I don't want parent albums one former fashion rights never gonna be the same statement you gotta look for trends but the end of the day it was all about I don't want that product in there when it turned into seventy, eighty percent and I saw that trend we immediately remove that from the packages and now in our top package there's no parent album it's an interesting thing though now is the businesses continue to evolve I would say maybe two out of ten times brides are walking in and they go does this come with parents opened right and I just smile but I'm not getting off my game because that's the twenty percent now if you're not confident in what you're doing it's very easy for you to go tammi I knew we should've left karen albums in there and you understand what starts happening you start doubting yourself with everything you're doing because now you go I told you and interview her husband wife team it's even better because one person agreed one person didn't win the you're laughing because that's probably what heaven's review and jonathan aiken see jonathan coming to you now and being like I told you to leave it in there but what ends up happening is then you go ok, damn it, I knew we should have left it in here put it back in then you go into the next sales presentation it's in there and then somebody challenges it and now you're arguing with your partner again because you know I told you we should take it out and now it's in it's out it's in it's out it's problematic you're not sticking true to what you believe will work everything is about trends so never get off your game if it's just that twenty percent and when I'm talking to you guys hear anybody I'm coaching one on one I always ask that question just come to me back south had this situation last week before you finish your sentence does this happen all the time or is it a one off you don't have to tell me what it is, and I think about it and I go well, it's it's a one off, okay? We don't have to talk about anymore, whatever it is, don't worry about it, it'll be okay when it becomes a trend and it keeps happening that's when I want you to spend time worrying about it, we got too many things to worry about his business owners. I don't need to be worrying about things that aren't really happening and aren't really a problem once we see that trend. Like I said, we have to adjust now, if you're paying attention, it can create an opportunity for you, that's the other thing, a lot of times we were looking at these customer complaints come in, requests come in and we're and we're just we're refusing to acknowledge him. Digital negatives is probably good example of something like this, so from a digital negative perspective, clients want digital negatives, right? Well, for the longest time, if you go back to two thousand seven, two thousand eight for me, I resisted it. I refused to do it, but request after request after request was coming in, I said, okay, it's turning into the eighty percent, the ninety percent now I have to adapt, and I did we had a digital negatives, so I no longer have to say no, we don't do that because you know why I couldn't come up with a good enough reason why? So when a bride would come in and say you are traditional negatives from the engagement session and I had to go no, we don't do that. Why everything fell apart, I didn't have a good answer for it. I can't just say no, no, because that's, the way we do it here, that's not a good answer that's actually a really bad answer, and I have to explain why we don't do it and the why I couldn't swallow as an answer, I just couldn't swallow it. I don't feel confident in my answer, so now I can say, yeah, we absolutely do offer digitally gets here in our black label package uh, that's the price point I can afford to actually let them go. It's a reasonable answer. She may not like the answer. I'm okay with that. But it's a reasonable answer and that's the key that's going to help you provide, I think a good level off customer service. Everybody with me questions we could how do you make it right? Man we're going all screw stuff up its inevitable if you don't think you're going to screw stuff up again you're delusional when it comes to running a business and I think earlier on I forget what segment was we talked about just the horrific stats behind customer service where we all agree that having a customer service ranking off eighty five to ninety percent customer satisfaction is a really good number that is a good number I would be happy if not if I had a ninety percent rating in customer service but then you realize we're doing one hundred hundred fifty two hundred shoots a year or let's just call it interactions customer points a year and when you start looking at ninety percent customer satisfaction you're looking at twenty thirty, forty clients a year that I've let down I don't want to let forty people down a year that would actually be disastrous to my business so how do you make it right is gonna happen people get upset you are going to drop the ball and we've done everything from add one client they had ordered a forty by forty framed acrylic from us you want to talk about heavy this thing was just in a box put foam everything you can imagine around this thing four shipments all broke shipping to him would arrive frame mangled send him another one I don't make money on this deal I lost money on this deal there's no doubt about it, we're to keep we had to keep sending it to him. Just everything kept going wrong with us there's, fragile stickers all over it right now. They weren't. They weren't necessarily angry at us because they knew hey, look, I'm when I'm packing jing it up. I'm doing everything in my power to get it to you correctly. But when the box shows up and there's a giant boot print from fedex on the center of the box that's march marked fragile, what can I do? I can't control I can't control that stuff, but I have to make it right. What am I going to say? That I'm sorry where we're done? We're not going to show you another one, and so where to keep shipping new product to him? It got to a point where I said, hey guys, I love you to death. I need you to come in and pick this up on your next time in town because they had moved to iowa. And so I said, the next time you're in town, I really need you to just pick this up, I said, because I can't get it to you it's clear, I can't get it to you without being damaged. They came in they picked it up they were very okay with picking up there very happy I was happy that wouldn't have been that wouldn't be good enough for me and so what I did was I gave him to free twenty by thirty canvases with that that's making it right I was already negative right? All of us have been there where we're losing money on a job and you start going I want the bleeding to stop I don't want to lose any more money but that's not good service you're being motivated by the wrong things you're being motivated by money and that's the wrong way to be motivated when it comes to customer service, customer service and income don't go hand in hand all the time right there they actually are opposing forces and so you've got to realize because it's short term you're thinking short term at that moment I'm thinking long term long term if I want to give my clients good service and take care of them it's going to cost me money and so that's why we did it we came to free twenty by thirty prints or campuses right? And they were very, very happy with the end result because I can convince him that too now come in through town their home for the holidays to visit family and they picked it up that's making it right um I find that clients tend to get most upset when they feel like you're not listening that's when it escalates, isn't it? If you're listening to them, you won't see a whole lot of customer complaints on line. You won't see a lot of customer complaints for salvador cincotti photography online because we listened to him, we try to help them every once in a while we'll have a client that loses their marbles about something, maybe it's my fault, maybe it's not my fault, but I'm not gonna go back and forth with their own email. Have you ever seen that there's all these it's, so funny on the internet? Or it'll go viral sometimes where somebody'll complain on like yelp about a restaurant and in the restaurant owner will go back on the up and start arguing back and forth with the client on yelp. Have you ever seen some of those? They are comical to read? You start reading that you're going wow, is this really happening? Right? Does that restaurant owner he doesn't care he's like, well, she ate too much anyway. What what does that got to do with anything that doesn't make me want to go to that restaurant, you know, it actually concerns me in going there. Well, I never want that to happen to my business I don't want to escalate to that to that point, but that doesn't mean I'm just gonna yield to my client because they're like, hey, I'm gonna write you up online why you gonna write me up online? That doesn't make any sense what how can we help you? How can we move through this and so again, true story I had a bride go out on the knot and she wrote a horrible review this is about three and a half years ago she's wrote this really bad review and it wasn't bad in the sense that I dropped the ball on service wasn't bad that I dropped the ball on her pictures in fact, her review started off with I absolutely love my wedding pictures, she goes and she started complaining about how much, how expensive we were, which was amazing to me because she has all our pricing in our original contract, so in her contract she knows exactly how expensive we are were, but her review implied that we were baiting switching her. That bothered me more than I would have rather said, I hate my pictures than imply right? Because I think all we have in our lives is our reputation what's also have done I have my name that's all I have to fall back on, I can't I can't escape that and so I actually e mailed her, took a screenshot of it, and I wrote to her and I said thanks for the review, I think, and she wrote me back and she said she was I was just really shocked at how expensive things were after the wedding. I wrote her back I said, you realize in your wedding contract are all these prices that's all I wrote, she wrote me back later that day and she goes, you're absolutely right she was I never looked at the wedding packet you gave to us because I completely missed it. I'm so sorry she went back online and changed her review you got to do it the clients not always right in that case, she was not right. It was her fault. She didn't pay attention to detail, but I had to call around on it right now. If I were wrong, I'd have to adjust I have to adapt you with me. This is another reason I don't pre design albums. Remember I was telling you that story about there's, that studio in my town when I was coming up there was that one photography studio this guy was everywhere. Everywhere I went, he was there all of a sudden um we started booking his wedding clients for baby shoots, so this happened real world we started booking all his baby his wedding clients they start having babies and I would walk into their home to do like newborn sessions or something like that and I would see his logo his wedding picture on the wall I'm really curious why they would not call him and I started asking them I said what just curious I said er why why did you call us your baby pictures? The feedback was incredible they're like well we loved our wedding pictures they were absolutely incredible but we felt like we were duped after the wedding like what does that mean like well after the wedding we came in and uh he had pre designed our album see before the wedding we only we bought a twenty page album but after the wedding we walk in and he showed a sixty pages pre designed and he said tell me what you don't want it will delete it and they felt like that was a really sleazy business tactic and so the one guy said to me goes of course you can't do that we couldn't delete from her album so we bought him all but we will never refer him and we'll never go go back uh to him because of the way they felt they felt taken advantage of now imagine if you're this business owner and we're having this eighty twenty conversation he would say eighty percent of my clients are buying that album all indicators are positive right? It's working yes thumbs up but clearly it wasn't because they weren't coming back to him he was missing that trend of why people weren't coming back to him and ultimately that destroyed his business and that's part of why he ultimately went bankrupt that's problematic we have to pay attention to things like this and sometimes they're not always obvious sometimes writes hidden under the surface maybe they were saying something to him maybe they weren't if they weren't saying something to me they weren't giving him that feedback what do you do so we've got to be conscious of this all the time what about on the phone today no one wants to staff phones right means just impossible is a small business owner I can't hire somebody to sit there and just wait for that one or two phone calls to come in every day none of us can do it it's nice if we can certainly but the reality is we can't you have a better chance of getting a hold of me in a text message then you do get me on the phone all right so I have my bride's they'll tax me I love it so much easier hey, sal, I got a question about this what what should I do? I got a question about this you know? What do you think they'll send me pictures of clothes from their engagement session I'd rather have that conversation in text or email that I would on the phone. It's just not practical today. All of a struggle with that it's really, really difficult to answer phones to answer the phone. We can anybody here raise their hand and tell me that they answer the phone the minute it comes in one hundred percent of the time. It's just not possible. I don't even think we should be attempting to get to that point. However, right? We have to be able to respond in a four hour window. I find that what? I'm your wedding photographer. Is there really anything going on that you know? I mean, I'm not a surgeon. You don't need access to me where I need to be on call. I need to be on page or support. It'll be okay if you get in touch with me in a couple hours. Right? And so that's the perspective. I think we need there's. Nothing magical happening that you have to have a hold on me right now to meet it. Okay, that's, your own neurotic behavior. But, um, ultimately, I think clients want to speak to a human being. Think about yourselves as consumers, we all want to speak to a human being want to speak to somebody we want answers. Quickly sometimes you know it's very funny. We deal with this in some of our other businesses. The answer is right there in front of us. Just use google. You'll find a lot of answers on google. Everybody freaks out all the time. What do I do now? I don't know. Just google it because that's what I'm gonna do for you, right? It's right there for you. Stop being lazy. Stop writing me the email. Just take google, right, it's, the biggest place I see this it's kind of funny sometimes. Maybe not, because I'm making fun of you behind the shutter behind the shutter dot com shutter magazine, right? I get emails. I want to say two to three times a week. I can't log in. Reset my email. Uh, okay, so I take a screenshot because if you're on behind the shutter dot com right in the top right hand corner. It says reset, password can't miss it. So I take a screenshot. Sent it to him. I say, scroll up. Look at the top right hand corner of screen. We set your own password, right? It's like dds dum dum syndrome. Like figure it out, man it's right there in front of just smack in the head got it it's there I promise so but our clients are like that too, right? So we've got to be able teo to deal with that, walk them through it, help them feel like we're taking care of them help them feel like we're therefore, uh that's the most important part. What about having just, uh, professional voice mail that'd be great if you guys would put a professional voice mail together, you would be surprised at the things I hear on people's voice mails we're not in college anymore, right? We're not we're not seventeen year olds where we're like hello. Hello. I'm not here. Leave a message. That's what are we twelve? What you guys doing? Swear to god we get we call people back who've called us and they're all these unprofessional messages maybe you think it's cute because you have your kids answering the phone. Mommy not here right now. Yeah, it's really cute but that's not professional. Stop doing it! Be a big business professional for crying out loud. You're running a real business. You're asking people to give you thousands of dollars. Handle yourself as best you can as a business professional. Now the one thing I tell you, uh is to always be plugged in and I speak I lead by example you guys all know many of you here, one former fashion, you'll email me, you'll facebook me, you'll send me a message. I'm the one answering it. Nobody else was answering it. I don't have a staff touching my email. I don't have staff doing my social media. I'm very personally engaged with my client base, and so you've gotta try and do that. And I know it's tough. I know we want to turn off sometimes, but here's the reality, your one man show you've made the decision to be an entrepreneur, so if you want to be an entrepreneur and you want to be a one man show and you don't want to work in corporate america that's fine, but you've gotta deal with all these other things that go in to being a business person and that's unfortunately, being plugged in in today's, day and age, we have to be always on now. I'm not suggesting you responded to a phone call at eleven p m at night on a saturday. You don't have to do that, but for crying out loud, you can't let a voice mail stay for three days that's no good it's no good at all, it actually sends the wrong message to your client sends the message you're not interested in their business email is the worst. Turn off those stupid out of office e mails that you guys are sending out. This is what I got yesterday. Thank you for your e mail. I'm out of the office of the moment and will do my best to respond in seventy two hours. What, three days you're going to take to respond to me? Are you freaking out of your mind? This is not good service. Thank you so much for your interest. And I'll be in touch to yeah, you know, if I'm a bride sending you an e mail or portrait client or a wedding client? Yeah, you know what? You're not gonna be in touch with me at all, because I'm gonna go someplace else. I'm gonna go to your competitors, this's ignorant, whatever you're doing in your turn off, you're out of office. I don't know whoever came up with that. It was like, this is brilliant, and the funny thing is, is, if you are a micmac mail out of office doesn't even go out unless your email is open. And so you have to open up your email for the out of office to actually go out, so turn this freaking thing off its dumb, it annoys the shit out of clients instead, what I'd rather see you do is just make it a policy to respond to email in twenty four hours people would rather that then see an email telling them I'm not interested in your business for another three days that's ridiculous just respond when you can no one cares that you're on vacation no one cares that you're on photo shoots uh I'm out of my email right now because I'm out working with all my wonderful clients what? Just turn that off man it is it is professional it is not professional to tell people you're not checking email it's just not professional, especially in this day and age in this day and age if you don't want to answer your phone that's fine, you better be answering email you've got to be available to them an email responding fast you can I am always plugged in. I always have my iphone with me and I'm watching. I'm not responding to everything, but if somebody sends me a message and it seems fairly urgent I would much rather a personal response back from you to say hey, susie, amount of the office right now I'll be back I'll be back online later tonight, not seventy two hours from now I'll be back online later tonight is it okay if I get back to you then? Is everything okay? Is it urgent? Do you need me? No, no, great just want to talk to you about our wedding time on great. I'll give you a call tomorrow. I'll talk to you later today. That's more professional that's more engaging that's touchpoints. Right. Everybody with me because nobody here has ah, out of office. That says anything like this, right? All right, I'm gonna e mail all of you. Actually, elissa, I want you to email all of them right now. I want you sent an e mail right now to every single one of them and if one comes back, you better tell me right now on air guys, we're screwed. I'm gonna be like you're a liar and liars go to hell. Okay? Alright, so saying thank you how do you say thank you to your clients? Here's what we do? We try to we try to find a way to say thank you to our clients. We send wine when you book our black label. So if you book our black label package we send ah bottle of wine, something new we're doing and I don't I don't have it to show right now, but photo flash drives we talked about them in a previous segment about branding and packaging and things like that photo flash drives now has a wine box that you can put your picture inside the wine box okay, so it's custom you only buy one box at a time you don't have to buy ten boxes so you can customize it per client with a picture with your logo with your branding on a wine bottle goes in there you tied up and you hand deliver that brandon experience to your client okay and I think he's even got it with like a ah logo medallion on the front right? Have you been you? Some of you've been using it and so this is the way amazing branded experience and you want to talk about a way to say thank you to your clients? I think the box is like twenty box or twenty five bucks and so what a nice way to say thank you to your to your client's senator bob bottle one so we just send a bottle of wine to our clients we order it from the winery because certain states have issues with shipping alcohol you know between state so whatever you have to do if you're gonna hand deliver it that's totally fine we just ordered from the winery and we have it shipped directly to the client with a thank you note inside of it thankyou card after every event show after every wedding immediately I get home I'm downloading memory cards taylor has at my desk waiting a thank you card and a pen just sitting there so that while I'm downloading images, I'm really big right on multitasking so while I'm downloading images sitting there there's a card I just write a handwritten thank you note monday morning that things in the mail usually taylor puts it in the mailbox sunday night little things yeah michael do you prefer toe put it in the mail versus giving it to him in person? One of the things that I found is when I do myself session it's one of the first things that I give them and threw out they may look at it, they may wait till they get in the car, but I find that has a really big impact in person yeah, so here's my thought on it, but I want them to get that forty eight hours after their wedding that's the difference and so when you're waiting two weeks to give it to him there's nothing wrong with it's nice that you're heading to in person but you just said it right there maybe they're looking at it now maybe they're looking at it later I want them toe already feel the appreciation before they come in to spend more money with me, right? I want them to feel like, wow, that was incredible service you with me so I'd rather see you do it that way so that things in the mail if they go on their honeymoon soon as they come back from their honeymoon that's something they're they're seeing on it should be somewhat of a branded experience don't go by random thank you cards from target you were saying you're sending wine out directly from the winery and I understand the shipping of that is there something you're working out with them so it's somewhat of a brand experience or is itjust however they send it out just because the nature of it it is just how they send it out because of the nature of it ideally what I would love to have happened is it comes from us it's in a box and were hand delivering it but my travel schedule is insane so I know that they'll end up waiting three months before I could get them a bottle of wine so rather than have them wait three months I have the winery shipped directly to him when we're in town it's much easier for us to just wrap it all up ourselves and delivered so depending on when you're you're booking us if I'm here we're going we're gonna handle actually hand deliver it to you sometimes taylor actually stop by their office where they're working you won't talk about making a splash taylor shows up their office where they're working on all the sudden all her girlfriends or talking to her like oh my god what was that that's so nice? I can't believe they did that okay, now, this is for your wedding climbs. What kind of thank you do you do for your families and your seniors for seniors? We definitely send him a bottle of alcohol, right? Um, no, for our, um, because that senior at that point is just booking a session. Okay. So at the point of booking, I'm not giving them anything for a senior. A family, a baby? Nothing. No thankyou card. Nothing after the event, they'll get a thank they will get a thank you card, but that's, not the real. Thank you. I think what we do is now is we're going into november, december it's holiday time. So what we do is we look at our list, who's, our top ten wedding clients who are our top ten senior clients. Who our top ten family klein's. And what we're going to do is we do something special for all of them. And so taylor actually shows up in a santa hat. Okay, hand delivering. Ah, gift around the holidays. And that gift could be anything from a bottle of wine to our travel prints. That's actually been something our clients love receiving. So we take our travel prints printed on fine art paper haven't matted sign each one. Okay, wrap it and hand deliver. Taylor go. So I think last year we did like new york this year will probably one of my travel prints from europe, and we start delivering that to our clients and it's just something that has nothing to do with their pictures. It's just something different, right? It would be easy for me to just give him a picture of like their daughter. Here you go, here's an extra loving by sixteen, but they already have all that stuff, so I want to give them something that's a little has a little bit different feel on justus away saying thank you. And so that's that's what we do for them somebody spends a lot of money with you. You've got to find a wayto reward them. Somebody comes in and spend two thousand dollars it's a lot of money don't get me wrong, but that's that's below our average. So I'm not going to reward them for that. But somebody comes in and drops four grand on high school senior pictures, four grand on a family session. I gotta find a way that's bigger to say thank you and they don't want monetary think about you guys well, I'll tell you from my perspective. Many of you as a way of saying thank you to me. Okay, for hay. Ciao. Thank you. You're you're creative lie, of course. Help me shudder network help me. I'm not making more money than I've ever made a sudden. I'll get a bottle of whiskey because you guys know I like whiskey. I'll get a bottle of whiskey from your city from you or whatever the case is. How much did that cost you? Thirty bucks. Forty bucks. Whatever it is that she spent. You know how much that means to me as a thank you. I get something like that. It makes my day, right? So those are the kind of things that blow me. Wait, who sent us cupcakes? You set me up cupcakes, right? Because, you know, I got a massive sweet tooth. So rob sentences a thank you because you're a big sale or something like that, senator. Thank you. Um, two boxes of cupcakes from the local place, right? And a carafe of coffee. How much did that cost him? It wasn't about price at that point. I didn't. I wasn't like, wow, he spent a million dollars on me. It was just that little thing he did that made my day. Right? And it was all we talked about in the studio the whole day everyone's like I can't believe we got the cupcakes every guy chocolate fudge all over their face, right? I mean it's just one of those little things so that to me when you did that, by the way reinforced what I do for my client's reinforce it because I'm like, wow, this must be what they feel like when we're sending them a gift and so you've got to start thinking that way what's it feel like right? Is any company ever done something nice to you? That little thing how did it make you feel? You know, how did it how did it move you for that that's what you want to for your for your clients travel prints we already talked about that gift basket. You can always send a gift basket anniversary cards. So for all our wedding's taylor uh god bless her man for keeping track of this stuff because I know I couldn't she has she has a calendar set up so everybody who's ever gotten married in may from two thousand seven gets an anniversary card every may so the first of the month she sends out all the anniversaries for everyone who's ever gotten married in the month of may. It just sends out way or pre order pre designed anniversary cards they go out to our clients every may every june and july she does this in the beginning of the month huge customer service and we want to keep touching our clients. Maybe they got a friend who's getting married. Maybe now they're like oh, man, we should get our family picture done right? So we just want to keep touching our clients uh in the in the most effective way possible it's just a little thank you again, it's nothing big here, right? When you say thank you thank you doesn't have to translate too expensive that's not what that's not what it means. It's the thought that counts here is where I'm talking about the thought county what about just going above and beyond? How do we go above and beyond cause service? This is really interesting talk about my pedigree come from microsoft. Microsoft needs to rape people on a scale of one to five. Okay, so when you would go sit in front of your boss for a review right at the end of the year it's your time for reviewed your time to look for promotion he would score you on a one to five scale was a bell curve ok, there is maybe two people in the entire company at microsoft that would get a five. Those people who would get a five like made the company created anew ten million dollar line of business for the company one hundred million dollar line of business I was never going to get five writes it's just belka if you got a one you probably still weren't at the company right cause you're an underperformer three is average in every bell curve, right? So one is in that tiny part you're an underperformer too you're well below average or being managed out of the business three your average you're doing the job I hired you to do three three point five four four point five you're performing above average you're going above and beyond so start thinking about it that way how do you go above and beyond? Client hires me for ten hours to shoot their wedding I'm there for ten hours did I perform at a five or did I perform it in three if I asked any of you this question before I explain the scale to you almost all of you would have probably said a five no you did it three you did your job your average is that good enough? I don't think so that's not good enough to me not if we want to earn and get new clients in and get people talking about us and getting people wow how do I go from a three two one three five how do I go to a four? How do we do that these are the ways we've found to do it that matter to our client extra time at a wedding there I can't even explain to you how many weddings are running late on the timeline I never go up to my bride in like um we're supposed to be out here in five minutes and you haven't even done your dances you guys going dancer you got paid more money never that conversation never happens with my brides okay, so if a timeline just running late because of something that happened earlier in the day makeup was running late she was like from the church were late from creatives whatever the case may be here's how I handle it I go up to her I go hey susie just f y I we're supposed to be leaving here at nine but there's a bunch of stuff not not done I just want to come up to reassure you we're not leaving I'm working with your deejay I'm working with your catering hall we're gonna do whatever it takes to stay here and document the rest of the night oh my god are you sure we'll pay? I don't know no suzy, we've had a great time if you guys I don't want any money from you um right ultimately I just want to make sure we get everything front for you and you're happy a t end of the day, kid, stop thanking me enough. How much did that really cost me? Maybe I'm there an extra hour. Cost me nothing. The goodwill ever I could've charged it would be nice to make an extra four hundred fifty bucks. Right? Go out to a nice dinner, it's all free money at that point, right? I don't want to. That four hundred fifty dollars is going to come back to me tenfold. Because now, she's not going she's gonna tell everyone of her bride's means that that's what I want. So I mean, I am selfish in my motivations, we all are when we're doing things like this doesn't benefit me to stay there for an extra hour hour and a half. I got other things I want to do that that night and so I'm doing this because I understand the goodwill that it's gonna turn. I'm going above and beyond for my client. So now maybe I've learned that three, five that night I did something that was above and beyond what they paid for special gift delivered to them at dinner. I had a client come in. Um her actually think was joanna's cousin so joanna's cousin we shot a wedding is before we even knew joanna, our graphic designer we don't even know where at the time, but her cousin came in and she date her. Her family came in shot there they were with us for, like, two, two and a half hours ordering pictures. It wasn't even ordering session. It was just like talking to family, and they sat there and they ordered all these pictures probably spent two, three thousand dollars after the wedding and the pre wedding, they had spent just a smudge. It was insane, right? They love everything about what we do. They appreciate the art of what we do, and they came in. Uh, and they left. They all went to dinner afterwards, and we knew they were going to dinner, so I asked him where you guys going? And they're like, we think we're gonna go this this restaurant over here, they left. We call that restaurant and I had a bottle of wine delivered to the table for everyone to enjoy a dinner. Thank you so much for everything you do that's it that's the kind of stuff you do that goes above and beyond it's the least I could do. You want talk about an immediate impact? Holy cow! And I'm not suggesting we do this for every single fine that's what we're gonna do I'm not looking to do it for every client he's gotta figure out where it makes sense go above and beyond hand delivery replacement of prince I've had clients I had a mom one time this is many many years back but it's about going above and beyond the mom was taking their engagement picture a twenty by thirty she was going to have it framed she was walking and she dropped it into a puddle right twenty by thirty so it's not cheap on our price lists very expensive actually the mom calls me up panicked what what what do I do? I can't afford another picture. What am I going to do? South she's calling me freaking out she's like you can't tell my daughter and I'm like mom don't worry about it I'll have a new one for you here in two days we'll take care of it free of charge that's going above and beyond that's doing things for your clients that he didn't have to do I don't have to warranty that that's not my problems are you dropped it in a puddle. All right, hold on tighter next time so I didn't form um talk about going above and beyond many of you know I should medium format camera right have moved into the medium format I love the quality there's a company I work with called capture integration if you haven't heard of them and you're not working with him check him out there in a lot of your local markets there reseller bait basically it's just like working with an ad aram are being age okay to service from these guys incredible we talk about it going above and beyond I was going to a photo shoot to replace I needed my eighty millimeter wasn't working okay so at my lens just wasn't working you think I call them up what they could have told me was yeah send it in well lost sent it out for repair what they did wass yeah send us your lines we got one on the way for you it'll be there tomorrow that's service essential service for mean that's kind of service they provide everyone that's incredible to me because I know I can call some of those other retailers and get things like that happening uh I'd broken my indy filter and so I was doing some landscapes stuff I was heading over to ah I was heading over to europe and I just gotten this nd filter I don't know if you guys know like big stoppers or something that is a four hundred dollar filter I just get it thing dropped it broke the whole thing shattered I'm like you've got to be kidding me I said a lot of other things at that moment I couldn't believe I just dropped this four hundred dollar filter right they overnighted me another filter because they knew I was leaving that's serviceman I didn't issue with my camera I was in vegas on a photo shoot at an issue with my camera for whatever reason it was me it was user error but I couldn't get I couldn't get it to fire right on the medium format camera you get the digital back got a body and then you got your lens and there was something wrong with what I was doing and I was freaking out I was literally walking into a photo shoot okay the owner of the company calls me up and he said because I had called and left a voice mail I'm like I need your help now right I didn't get somebody when I first called in he's like how can I help you what talk to me what's going on walks me through step by step how to get the camera back back in the line that service that's going above and beyond that's now I'm flipping it right I'm not talking about what I do for my clients I'm talking about a place that I've seen good service so these they're kind of cool things that I've seen in that marketplace I want you to check these guys out so many of you have asked me about medium format cameras capture immigration dot com slash creative life right now they if you ever wanted a medium format camera uh don't hate me because they're expensive because they definitely are but the quality of those images coming off absolutely incredible if you ever wanted one now is the time they're doing twenty four month financing zero percent interest so if you wanted to look into one, check these guys out pre owned cameras new cameras I don't want to get into what camera should buy and how much it is and they're expensive but you definitely want to check check it out and just rent one and then blame me for the money you're about to spend so uh yeah it's good stuff what about testimonials super important put him on your website people are busy give them a reason to write it talk to them ask them if they had a good time working with your your business hey, did you guys enjoy working with us? Uh you know what? I'm updating my website if you don't mind I would love a testimonial from you so that I can put you on my website and then here's how we display it and so if you go to war testimonial section verse just having a bunch of testimonials there right? Bob white from nebraska love sally is a great guy is even a real guy bob white no, I have no idea so now what I'm doing is I figured out came in by putting a picture there of the actual couple suddenly this testimonial becomes real and here's what they had to say this is from my broad. When dan and I first started talking about wedding planning, I told him I knew one thing for sure I want sal to be our photographer. I didn't want to waste my time looking at other photographers from the moment I laid my eyes on his photos, I wanted a piece of his amazing artwork. I call it art because he thinks outside. I wish this is like something I would write from my right. Yes, artwork don't refer to what his photography refer to it is our work. This is their words, it couldn't he couldn't be put together better from the moment I laid my eyes on his photos, I wanted a piece of his amazing artwork. I call it art because he thinks outside the box and goes above and beyond to deliver stellar work. I'm so proud to show off our pictures around the house and on his block it was it's such a pleasure and so much fun working with this in kata team, they are professional, polite, always on time, quick to answer questions and to work with you. I'm excited to have them photographed my family and capture all our memories for years to come that's customer service, you're telling me that if a bride goes to my website she falls in love with my work, she's, prequalified, she's in my price range, she's in the wearing her price range, and then starts reading testimonials like this. I'm not going to book those brides. I am when they get into our studio, that's, why we have such a high, close rate, because everything's been done ahead of time, they know how much we are. They love the work. Now they're sitting in front of me, it's up to me, too screwed up and that's the point. I want to get you to what happens in that meeting room that part's on you. I can help you with everything else leading up to getting them right there. And so this is the kind of stuff you got to be doing.

Class Description


Business skills are non-negotiable – you must have them to succeed. Develop yours in Master the Business of Photography. In this 30-day bootcamp Sal Cincotta will teach the business-first approach to photography you need to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace.

The viability of your photography business hinges on your plan. In Master the Business of Photography, you’ll get actionable business insights and guidance from Sal, an award-winning photographer, author, and owner of the million-dollar photography brand, Salvatore Cincotta Photography.

Sal will coach you, start to finish, through the process of developing a winning sales, marketing, and business plan and how to implement it. You’ll define your ideal client, learn how to get your price list right, and develop effective responses to sales objections. You’ll examine emerging trends in engagement and wedding photography and learn how to integrate them into your business. Sal will help you re-imagine and energize every aspect of your photography business. You’ll learn how to:

  • Build a portfolio tailored to your ideal target client
  • Use social media to grow your business and expand your influence
  • Proactively instigate vendor relationships
  • Use marketing to book more sessions
  • Apply the new rules of SEO

You are not entitled to make money – you have to earn it. In this class you’ll develop an action plan for growing your business – no matter how long you’ve been in the business – with 30, 60, 90-day, and 1-year plans for keeping your growth on track.

Photographers work in a competitive industry and everyone can benefit from learning fresh, new marketing, pricing, and sales techniques. Commit to the success of your business and join Sal for Master the Business of Photography.