How to Encourage Repeat Business
When the client leaves your studio, why would they come back? What reasons are you giving them to come back? I think this is something to think about when you're planning your exit for your clients, they've picked up their packages, their prints maybe, they're done, they're leaving. Is there any reason for them to stay in touch with you or to come back again?
They got divorced.
They got divorced? (laughs) Second wedding, so you give discounts on second weddings, you can shoot the second wedding too. Yeah, yeah. But there should be, in the bag, say they're just coming to pick up an 8x10 they ordered, something in the bag, special event that's happening, mini sessions that you have coming up, a referral code discount coupon, if we want to do discounts, give this to a friend and they get a free 8x if they book us, and you'll get one too, if they book us. You know, there's a jillion different things you can come up with, promotions, but there should be something in the bag. Other thing...
that I thought of, that I hadn't heard of any other photographer doing, is actually trying, like for portraits, to schedule their next portrait shoot. It may be a year, six months, later, but especially if they have kids, you want them to get portraits on a regular basis, and why not? You go to the hairdresser, they schedule your next appointment, you go to the dentist, they schedule your next appointment before you leave, you go to the doctor, they schedule your next appointment, right. They all do this, they line up work for themselves for the next year before you even left the office. Why can't we? We want recurring business. And it's so easy, cause all you do is ask them, "So happy you loved your pictures of your kids, "my gosh they are going to grow so fast. "I have two kids myself, I thought they were four years old, "I turn around, they're 18 years old, it's amazing. "Why don't we go ahead and get you on my books for "their six year baby picture, or kid pictures, "or their next six months for their, "and I'm gonna book you in, cause I do book up pretty quick, "so I'll put you in there, there's no obligation, "I will send you a card." Bing, right, reason to stay in touch, I got their address now, "I'll send you a card ahead of time, you just let me know "if you want to reschedule this, whatever, no problem. "You don't have to put any down payment right now, "we'll deal with it later, "but I want to get you on the books, "and just keep it in your mind, so that we can "keep track of these kids' growth." There's no pressure, it's so easy, why would they say no? Unless they really hate you, they're not going to say, "No, I don't want to do that." So what's stopping you from doing that? Nothing but good sense, all right. So ask them to give a follow up call in a few months. When they leave, "Hey, do you mind if I give you a call "in a few weeks or a few months, "or whatever it is you decide, just to see "how you're loving your prints, make sure, you know, "there's no problems, I don't know that they're going "to expect any problems, but maybe there's anything else "that you need, or anything I can do, "can I just give you a follow up call?" Sure, why not. What does that give you? An excuse to stay in touch. Now on that follow up call, you can say, "Is everything cool, the pictures didn't fall off the wall? "You know, you didn't spray household cleaner on it "and ruin one of the prints, that I can replace it for you? "Of course I will for free, if that happens. "Everything's cool, good. "You need for another session right now? "You need some headshots?" Whatever, okay, you just stay in touch, out of sight, out of mind, right. We talked about the newsletters and mailings and stuff, so remember that, that's a reason to come back. And that's super important, cause that helps you sell without selling, because you now have an excuse to call, so they're expecting it, you're not interrupting them, you have an excuse to send a card, you have an excuse for everything, it's not like you're just cold calling anybody, which is hard, harder sales. All right, so here's some of our follow through things that you should at the very minimum be thinking about. There are other reasons of course, but the thank you cards, the phone calls, and that's the important part, even when it's bad news, follow through, how important follow through is. Do you guys ever had this experience where you've promised an album in four weeks, and four weeks comes and you haven't even sent it out yet? (laughs) And it's all on you, you know, or your lab calls and says, "Ah, we screwed up something, we gotta redo this, "it's gonna be another couple weeks." And you hope the client doesn't call asking where the heck their album is, right, you just sort of, okay. So instead, reach out, call them with the bad news, say, "I know I promised your album tomorrow, it ain't here, "it ain't gonna be here, this is what happened, "I'm working on it, it's top of my priority list, "just wanted to let you know, I didn't want you "to have to wonder what's happening to this." You know, I don't often get those calls from people that I'm waiting and I always have to be the one, if I buy something, to go, "Hey I thought "that piece of furniture was going to be in this week," or, "Hey, you know, I thought this thing I ordered "was gonna be here by now, where is it?" "Oh, yeah, it didn't come in yet, sorry, "well we're still waiting for it." And you're like, (sighs) okay, somebody could have called me and told me that. So you show that you're proactive, even if it's bad news, you call them, let them know, keep them up to date what's going on. So we talked about promotionals, art showings, of course all the other obvious things as well. Destination photography opportunities, that's a great one, and it leads into one other opportunity, which is the mini sessions, we didn't talk too much about those, but I think those can be really, really valuable. So two different things, destination photography session, say you're going to another city, you want to go to Hawaii, and you want to do portraits, why not tell all your clients, your whole little mailing list, I'm going to be in this area this date, and I can do portraits on this one day, would you guys love to get in on this opportunity? And maybe people will say, "Yeah, we'll fly to Hawaii, "have a family vacation, and plan it around "having a family portrait on the beach." And that'd be that exotic, but it does work. I know people who have, photographers done that, say, "I wanna go to Hawaii, so I'm gonna see "how many portrait sessions I can get scheduled "on the beach in Hawaii during this time." And they will often get enough scheduled to actually pay for their trip. Another photographer I knew came to one of my bootcamps. His whole modus was to shoot in other cities around the country, as sort of like the visiting photographer, like he didn't do barely any business in his own hometown, all of his business was in other cities. And he started this by having, getting a few connections in these other cities, whether it's friends or whatever. And he'd plan a visit there, and he'd tell them, "Tell all your friends for me, I will be there "for this three days, and I can do portrait sessions." So they would tell all of their friends, so then it becomes like this really special thing, you know, like, this famous photographer's coming from out of town for only three days, get in on it. So people like, boom, boom, so he'd line up portraits for three days straight, you know back to back sessions. Go fly there, shoot those sessions, and then once he meets those people, he'd start to make connections and find out where they have friends in other cities, and do the same thing. So after a very short amount of time, he had basically this little network all over the country, in all the big cities, and he would just fly to those cities, shoot for three days straight, and make his month's worth of income in those three days, and then come back home, and then do it again the next month, go to a different city. And he loved to travel, so that was kind of his means to travel. And it was funny cause he said, "I'm famous everywhere "except in my own town, nobody in my town knows who I am, "but I go to Washington, D.C., and I'm, like, "the famous out of town photographer." And he made, that was his whole business model, which I thought was pretty genius if you like to travel. And they can do that on just a one on one basis. Okay, the other thing was the mini sessions. You guys all do mini sessions? We heard of mini sessions? Okay, so most of you have heard of that, so I'll just quickly review, the idea is you plan a day like that, in your own hometown, that I'm gonna do mini sessions, meaning I'm not gonna go everywhere for everybody, it's gonna be in this park, and you've got 20 minutes or whatever, to come in, we're gonna do a real nice quick little mini session for you, and it's gonna be a certain cheap price, whatever. So you get several people, several clients to book up, come in for that one little time slot, and you knock out quite a few sessions, and you can actually make quite a bit of money off that. Cause I know people do that for senior sessions. My friend Alicia White does that for her senior sessions. She just had one that she just ran not too long ago, and she says those are great, and they often turn into, you know, additional sales and additional shoots, cause the people have such a great time, they're like, "Oh, we need to do a little longer shoot now "in the next place," and they go on and do that. So little promotions like that can be really, really useful for you guys, okay. All right. The all-mighty one to one referral. We talked about testimonials online, reviews, and all of that, and that's great, important, super important, but really the most powerful is, we kinda hinted at, is the one to one, when somebody tells their friend, "You gotta use Yu-ni-na." "You gotta use Kevin," you know. They're telling them one to one, that's the most powerful. You have to ask for those though, just like everything else, if you don't tell them, "I need your one to one referrals, please tell your friends. "If you had a great time, share it. "Referrals mean a lot to me." And then make sure you thank them, send them something, a thank you card, text message, whatever it is. Text message is actually not so bad, for something like that where it's just like a really quick easy thank you for your referral. But you have to thank them in one way or another, otherwise they won't do any more for you, you know. We used to also send gifts too, you can send a little, small little gift, maybe it's a gift certificate to a restaurant or something like that, you know, coffee, even a Starbucks card. Always kept a stack of Starbucks cards in my desk drawer, and I'd write a thank you card, throw something in there, just to send it out, just a token, it means more than just a text message.
We got a couple questions over here Kevin. Let me just pop them up. Some folks were asking about whether you, like put into your budget for the thank you gifts, and for like the cards and is that part of your, your overhead or is that attached to an individual wedding?
Both, if it's something that I always send out with the wedding, like every wedding gets this gift basket or this whatever, then yes, it's built into the cost of that wedding package. Thank you cards, just general thank you cards, the cost of printing those, yes, it's pretty small, but that would be in your cost of sales for sure. So yes, yes, and yes, I guess that answers the question. Yes you would include it in some of your things, like we even showed in our price list, remember I had in there thank you cards and ribbon, stuff to wrap it up, cause we figure we're always gonna send a thank you card, it's always gonna be a part of this, no matter if it's a little 4x6 or a wall print that they're buying, they're gonna get a thank you card. So that's built in to the price.