Studio Systems: A Photography Business Bootcamp

Lesson 3 of 35

Customer Service Part 1

 

Studio Systems: A Photography Business Bootcamp

Lesson 3 of 35

Customer Service Part 1

 

Lesson Info

Customer Service Part 1

We're going to look at customer service from the outside perspective of the client and we're going to look at customer service internally and how you create a system out of it okay that makes sense so the things I want to address something first before we get really deep into the content as I've been online and seeing people's questions and concerns and the periscope chats and stuff like that one of the biggest questions that I'm getting that is a big question is I'm marking like crazy but no one is booking what do ideo I've been online the last no twelve hours or so reading questions reading people's concerns and one of the biggest things I'm seeing and I've gotten just heartbreaking e mails from photographers around the world who are saying I'm doing everything right I'm marketing I've got displays I'm out there I've got promotions I'm a high end studio I'm priced correctly but no one is booking what do I do and I'm sitting there going oh god that's a big answer that's a big answer t...

o a big question there is no quick fix to this you need to step back and take a forty thousand foot look at your business like we did yesterday like I discussed yesterday you need to zoom out take yourself out of everything and ask yourself if all the pieces of the puzzle are working together is your branding solid is your brand match your price if your brand stinks and your expensive nobody can take a second look at you the brand has to match the investment okay? We're gonna talk about branding of course in coming weeks is your marketing targeted? Okay, your marketing has to hit that ideal client and if it's not working, then you need to take a second look at it and ask yourself if the marketing promotions you're putting out there really are hitting that ideal client and who is that ideal client, make sure you know her inside outside backwards upwards down for words I don't care you want to put yourself into her shoes, live her life, understand her fully and that's hard for photographers because most of us can afford ourselves I can't afford me right? I don't live that high life, so I have to immerse myself in that world without truly being a part of it, which is challenging, okay, you need thio join associations that have that type of target you need to make friends with these people you need to, you know, start visiting prep schools and stuff like that and getting involved with the pita it's high in schools to really understand what these mothers are about and I'm talking just for, you know, targeting family portrait and babies in high school seniors, that kind of thing it's a whole different world for the commercial photographer because you have to like start, you have to start really understanding what a commercial would've businesses about what their goals are and how a business needs photographic work to promote their products and what they're going to look for in that when it comes to a photographer, I understand your target client, then ask yourself if your customer service is buzz worthy, every company out there has customer service, right? It's become a standard, I mean you have to treat your customers right, so if you don't have any customer service to begin with, then that's gotta change you at least have to get to the standard that most businesses in the world are first, but then to really differentiate yourself because we talked about yesterday customer service is fifty percent your product right? So that has to be even more unique and mohr incredible to stand out from the crowd and then finally is your product in demand? And you guys are not going to like what I'm going to say to you next and I'm sorry to say that, but it's true and I don't ever want to tell you something that's not honest your work if it looks like the photographer down the street or everyone else in your market is not in demand there's too many people doing it in your market if you don't stand out and make yourself unique and different than everyone else in your market the consumer will demand the best price that's the way consumers operate if they see a product as a commodity as something that can be produced anywhere they're going to demand the lowest price and then all of a sudden what's happened remember yesterday we talked about a oh I area of innovation price quality comedians you're trying to be a quality business but your product is not worthy of that. So what happens? You start competing on price and when you compete on price in this industry you fail because our costs are so high equipment overhead all that if we start competing on price low, low, low, low, low, low, low, low all of a sudden it just brings the bottom out of the industry right and that's what you all are facing in your markets right now you're facing oh my gosh, I'm doing everything right and so and so down the street is shooting and burning for two hundred bucks and I can't compete with her. Why not? Because you're not any different to the consumer you don't you're not different you think you're different? Oh I'm high end I produce products but the lava but really when it comes down to it, you put the two businesses to side by side and the work next to one other this one's in the consumer's mind this one's just a cz good. I'll go with them they're cheaper that's what? The consumer is staying in their mind, right? You do the same thing when you go out to target and get a jar of lotion oh, the bottle. Okay those are the same the same ingredients generic versus brand name I'll just go the cheaper one it's true. So this is where photographers struggle differentiate no company in the world will go out and try to sell thingamajigs without fully researching. If thingamajigs are in demand in the market they would not spend the time they would not spend the money. They would rather put money forthe to research to find out if thingamajigs are desired. Then just go oh, this is a great product. We should just put it on the market safe tells what a waste of time. Now am I saying researcher market? Yes, I'm saying you have to put out of focus groups and spend a bunch of money like these companies didn't know. Of course not, but you need to study your competition, your market you need to see what they're doing. You need to look outside of your market for inspiration in your work and start creating stuff that nobody else is creating. This dawned on me about three years ago and I realized if I don't start doing fine artwork and composites and fantasy fairy tales of my work that nobody else is doing nobody at the time was focusing on newborn mothers in fairy tale composite work so that's what I started learning how to dio and it was agony and I knew my photo shop skills did not match what was in my head I knew that I was like I had visions of what I want to do in my head and I'm open photo shop and I'm like I knew it was so frustrating so I went out and I studied with tom rouse I studied with richard sort of man I am going to mentor myself with mark bryant two weeks from now I'm spending four days with him in montana and we're gonna create art because I want to grow my skill level to a point at which no one else is doing now do my clients buy that stuff hell no you can't afford it but it differentiates me in the market and I love to do it okay? It makes my product in demand if your work looks like everyone else is you are not in demand okay and no product sells unless a market hunting right and I know that is so hard to hear and ah lot of you are going oh my god is a second band I'm already depressed don't get depressed okay I know it's easier seven done but knowledge is power. You have to look at it like that once you know what's wrong you can fix it if you don't know what's wrong that's when you throw your hands up in frustration and you go this is not going to happen. I don't know what to do that feeling of being lost and going down that dark black hole of nothingness don't go there. Knowledge is power. Educate yourself read books on business the pumpkin plan, the image all these fantastic books that are out there that teach you how to run a business. That's why? There's mba? There are masters degrees in business. Business is hard and it takes a lot of education. And this business is eighty percent business guys you shooting the camera is a teeny tiny part of it. And I know everybody wants to shoot and they want to lie on you. But you got part of it. You got to got to got to got to got to. You will die if you don't or you will continue to struggle and it will not be fun and you want it to be fun, right? I wanted to be fun, your product has to be in demand. So we're going to talk about a huge chunk of that product today which is customer service okay so let's get into it right away sorry for me to go my little rabbit trail but I think it was important to address and I hope that by kind of stepping out and looking at this from forty thousand feet you guys we're going okay that's why yesterday I talked about the task manager of the the entrepreneur of the task manager in the detail guy you guys are all so engrossed in being the detail guy you can't see the forest for the trees step back be the entrepreneur and go what's wrong where do I need to focus and push this then we start going back in and making systems to make it work okay what do you sell you retail no we talked about the sailboat yesterday you are not a retail industry you do not have products that you purchase from a wholesale company that you then turn around and sell for a higher price you may think you are because it kind of well I buy from the lab and then I turned around sell for a high price yes however you produced something much more customized in between that you're a service you're not going to take a newborn picture of susie and sell it to joey's mom okay, now I know it's not gonna work you are a service, okay so that means that service and the experience of what you do is fifty percent of your product line I say fifty percent give or take you know I mean it's it's a point of saying that is that it's a huge chunk of what you d'oh so customer service involves how you treat them, how you care for them whether or not you put them first if you go above and beyond do you make it easy to be in business with you? Do you make it as easy as possible? Are you authentic with your customers? Are you you kind wonderful, glorious you do you have integrity in your business that's super important I mean when I say integrity I don't mean you know are you trying to pull the wool over someone's eyes? I'm not saying that I'm just saying do you come from a place of pureness? Do you come from a place of your heart is in it you are truly offending what you do and you absolutely care about your customers and you love them your ideal client would be your best friend your ideal client you would care for as if they were your best friend and honestly I would say at least a dozen of my clients have become very, very dear friends they come over, they have dinner with us, we go camping together and they're still my clients but that's what you want you want the people who will be here ideal friend person you know relationship whatever you want those people to connect with you and that's how deeply you want them to connect with you okay who cares about customer service okay, who cares? This is my husband and my boy when we went camping this summer okay remember what we discussed yesterday okay every time your client looks at your images they will think of their experience when I went on vacation and shot this my husband in my son having a water fight I look at that image and I'm immediately transported back to our trip to crescent lake with our nineteen, seventy one, thirty one foot restored airstream that we've worked three years on to fix okay I'm immediately transported teo the the fact that I want to do more to the airstream and the cute white red chairs I have just got to put out front and the campfire in the s'mores and how we've discovered the perfect recipe for getting symphony dark chocolate because it's got the caramel in it and you put that in us warren it taste so good okay but that single image alone takes me back to the experience of my camping trip the exact same thing even more so and more subconsciously so occurs in new clients they see the images that you shot of their family of you sort of their senior that you shot at their wedding and they immediately are taken back to the experience and the experience of you not just their wedding but how you handled their wedding so the question is can we make customer service a system from the external part from the client's perspective so we're gonna talk about what the client needs to get out of this to make the experience exemplary okay everybody knows everybody no of course not you can't be nice to everybody it's kind of like trying to get a date you have to court them and it's all about them okay okay so how have you been on a date in your life okay good hundred percent if you were really young I might say ok maybe you have been on a date before but everybody's been on a date right everybody's been okay ladies how many of you've been picked up okay like somebody in a bar somewhere in the grocery store some guy came up to and they're like flirted with you and like wanted to take you on a date yeah it feels pretty good doesn't it now guys alex are one man in the room who's just awesome he's really nice by the way um have you ever been picked up I say that I don't mean picked up in the in the trashy sense of the word I mean picked up like like somebody thought you were cute and flirted with you he said I don't know if my wife is watching is pretty cute but yeah, it feels really good even if your wife flirts with you it feels really good when someone I want you to know what I mean when someone like looks to you and goes you're a beautiful person and I I think you're great and I want to know you more even just making a new girlfriend or guy friend when someone cares about you and goes oh my gosh you're really interesting I want to talk more to you let's go have coffee it's a really good feeling isn't it? I kind of want you to marinate in that feeling a little bit because you all have good friends right? Human nature cannot survive without relationships we all have good nearing your people to our heart it's our support system there's no way we would survive without it correct those people cherish us for who we are and when we first began that relationship it was magical whether it's just a simple friend or a lover boyfriend girlfriend whatever it doesn't matter I want you to think about that in terms of your new clients and getting clients good customer service you have to court them okay? You make it all about them while at the same time getting what you need is a manipulation kind of if you want to look at it negatively like that sure um, I'm manipulating my client a little bit, but it's in a good way because when this is all kind of set up up front there's this beautiful dance that occurs between the entire client relationship and by the end of it, it ends in a fantastic order for you and are really happy client who's going to refer the snot out of you and send you all their pre qualify clients, which is the ultimate goal correct that's the goal so when you plant the seed of the sale by creating that relationship and, you know, making it all about them, but at the same time getting what you need out of it so in other words, planning for a product giving pricing, really putting everything up front, kind of getting that soft commitment to the product that we're going to be creating for them all those kind of factors helped them help help them see what the end goal is it's kind of like a contractual agreement without actually having a contract it's got a lot to talk about the stuff, so we get it out in the open it's all on the table, okay, it's kind of like when you're when you're dating someone, you get a hole has got a great all you need to understand I'm seeing other people, you know what I mean? I really want to hang out with you, but for now I'm going to continue to see other people you know, it's like kind of laying things on the table boys what also being nice and they can decide at that point whether they go no, I want monogamy this is too much money we don't like it that uh we're going to go away or they go okay, I'm okay with that let's do it let's have a date cheesy analogy but it is pretty valid basically when you provide good customer service while at the same time getting what you need out of the relationship you're planning the seat of the sale and you're helping your bottom line and you're providing good customer service win win win win win win okay customer service means you're creating ah we serve you environment okay, we're going to attack all of these things here I just put a pregnant lady get there because well, belinda druitt blend us my little artist and so we're gonna go over all these and you know, this applies to any business so I just put a pregnant girl up there because I happened to deal with pregnant mummies but anyway look and feel of the space looking feel of you communication in language, the relation a ll connection you have with your customer and the little things thinking ahead so those are the different areas that were going to attack here in the next forty minutes or so okay, so your space the look and feel now not a lot of you don't have spaces okay, I get that we're going to talk about it in a minute but if you do have a space I don't care if it's your garage if it's your living room if it's ah little two hundred square foot room you rented in an office space if it's a full on studio with twenty foot ceilings and all the bells and whistles okay I don't care it doesn't matter it really doesn't matter how big or how where your space is what matters is how it looks and feels when you arrive and how you spin it branding and marketing you're simply a spinster marketing people who are really good and branding folks are really good take a problem or a limitation and turn it into a solution okay they spin things that's the whole point of marketing so if you have a home or a smaller studio or some place that you think has limitations you need to take those limitations and go I'm going to make this an advantage for my clients I'm gonna spin this or combine it with something else to make a better bigger picture so this is my space when we're in the midst of remodeling okay um we this wall was here we took it out okay this is the front door. This wall right here is this one right here kissing kind of get the feeling for it you guys are going on thursday. We're doing a customer service from the point of view of the customer at my studio so you'll get to see all this like has it looks now on thursday so I have a roll up garage door here. That's basically, I'm in this picture I'm standing right here looking back towards the living. This is our sales room. We go up the stairs here and you end up in our work spaces. So if feelings about six feet in some areas five feet in some areas were here on that's where we have our offices and where we sit, no deal with day to day work stuff. Okay, when I moved in, the walls were lime green and sherbert orange and the ceiling was like hot white and it looked terrible because of all the pipes and and fire extinguishers and all that good stuff spread fire sprinklers these stairs I have a love hate relationship, the stairs. I spent three weeks on my hands and knees with powerful stripper pulling forty years of carpet and carpet glue off the stairs, and now they're painted brown and white within that you know, opposite checkerboard kind of thing, which is really cute our dressing rooms so this is the sales room you see it back there are dressing him in nursery is here and then our production area is in the back where our kitchen in production area take place so and it was a boat load of work two months straight every night from october first through december ninth I think it was somewhere around there beginning of december my husband and I were in here every day working on the space I think we had so many fights I can't even count about it. You know how when you were a model, anything you argue, my husband's a contractor, obviously construction and so he knows how to do all the stuff I am blessed. I'm very blessed to have that I blew about ten grand making this place look good in exchange I got dirt cheap rent for it market had just crashed was two thousand nine I started paying forty five cents a foot and I have almost two thousand feet, so I score deal and I've kept the same deal for six years now, however that's changing um heavily because the when I moved in like the building was like fifty percent occupancy at best no one was there, I was deserted, it was just nobody everybody just drove by it was kind of a a really good area town it was right across from the old mill shopping center, high end region it's, an old industrial building that used to be a box factory. It was built in nineteen, fifteen hundred anniversary right now, and it used to be a factory where they made wood crates for packaging anything train tracks in the back world, war to his pictures in the historical museum of world war two. And these women like making crates for all the military weapons that can be shipped off. Teo war. So it's, interesting history with the building and it's, one of the few buildings in town that has soaring ceilings, which I wanted for my space. So I managed to negotiate a really good deal. And strictly by the stroke of luck, I have been able to keep it on now, unfortunately, fortunately, unfortunately, they three dead, the whole parking lot everything's been upgraded. The new owners are awesome. They're really good people, but my rent is more than doubling. Um, yeah, so the nice thing is they're going to help me remodel a little bit. So that's exciting, so it's all good and I expected it to happen because right now twenty five cents of foot is darn cheap I mean, we're talking cheap. And I scored and that was one of the things that help my business grow and why I was able to go into a space that was larger than I needed at the time okay so don't be afraid to negotiate if you're going to go into a new space and we're going to talk about I believe it's in week four whether or not you should take a studio space when is the right time to do that okay so back to customer service sorry little rabbit trail again the look and feel the space is critical and that's why we spent so much time energy and money making sure the brand survived and the brand like when you walked in I wanted people to say do you live here they all tell asked me that do you live here? Oh no we just made it that way so that when you walk in you understand what it means to put pork sure in your home and how you will be able to envision how it may look in your space that's the goal okay so this is right when you walk in the front door at the time I just shot this with my iphone a few weeks ago creative live was coming in to do the tape segments and so we have a little sign at the front that says welcome to the studio we write the name of whoever is coming in yeah, my drill in camera sitting there on the front like your drills right there. That's just hung this. I had just hung this new display on dh. This is a product it's called word walls. We do these and this is belinda kids, by the way, her two babies and it says love you more love you most and we do these campuses and basically instead of just selling a gallery at campus, we're adding something to it that makes it look like a decorated peace in the home. So we're making our product line unique, unique, unique and different, different different no one's doing this in our market it's expensive to dio I have printing capability and so I print on my displays and most photographers aren't willing to put in the effort the time and the money to put up a good displays in their spaces. You have to show your clients what it looks like. You have to make them come in and go. Oh, you pretty. I want to do that. You guys know what you walking? I mean, girls. Especially where shoppers, right? Not all of us. But most of us like to shop. You walk into my walked into macy's in the day and went close up and got myself a new dress and I thought what oh already because it was well merchandise and on the mannequin and I saw him like oh my gosh that's gorgeous I have to try that on okay so I think like you think when you're a customer what makes you buy it's the same thing with your clients okay so your space has to be comfortable it has to be designed I walk into spaces so much and I see mish mash oh campus their print there just there's no rhyme or reason there's no design there's no purpose to the product oh let's just this is a pretty images just throw it on the wall now don't do that if you design it and make it part of the space and like it really fits your clients are going oh wow that's amazing and then that elevates the brand in their mind because they realize you know how to decorate in design you know how to do it so they're going to trust you to be the authority with the art they're gonna want your opinion on thing on things and think and situations like switching toe I ps where you want to help your client pick the right images they're going to know that you know what the heck you're doing okay? Cleanliness of course is critical readiness are you ready for them when they come in and it should be all about them when my clients walk in the front door we zoom in on them it's like vultures on a dead animal you know oh hi, how are you? You know and really helping them see that everything has been set up for them the nursery's ready the body pillow is ready everything all they have to do is walk in hand us the baby and bam they're done that's it and we literally take the baby out of their hands always so cute let me have it and we take him out and we handle everything are you ready for your client organization? Are things organized for the client? Not only you know your equipment in your gear in your props and all that but is it organized enough that the client confined what they need? They're there with you for a little bit, right? Especially, you know, in my industry, my babies my parents are sitting there for an hour or two is everything ready for them is their netflix for the other kids to watch? Is there an extra ipad around? Are their products available? Can they look at the pricing guide? Other magazines is their snacks and food is there a coffee maker? They're coming to you first thing in the morning at least for me so make sure you take care of them anticipate their needs and then there's the connection when they first come in do you connect with them? Do you greet them right away how are you handling that okay how are you making sure they are happy how are you making sure that they see beautiful things in your studio? I mean, that is a designed piece on the wall you know how many times we took this thing down and up before I was happy with it I think there's like fifty holes in my wall the windows laughing back there she's like yeah, we had it is one design that we put out don't look right was too big and then because I have an industrial space these pipes absolutely drive you crazy by the way and one thing to fix in my space we're actually going to redo it and put ship lap up and down the wall so that it's all covered without opening you know, joanna games from a cheap tv I love her style I could pretty much adopt everything she does and that would be my plant. So we're gonna put ship left over the walls which will cover those pipes but for now the pipes are in the way of the display so I had to like we can figure it out and reconfigure it but I don't just put things on the wall I go okay how can I tell a story here? How can I make it look three dimensional and textured how could I give it like a sculptural look on the wall to make my plans go oh my god those are images but it looks like an art piece it doesn't just look like photography on the wall mix and match frames mitch mixing mash finishes put shelves up separate things from the wall add sayings and add the ampersand sign that a little industrial look give everything a style no look that's true to your brand pretty guys pretty much of my client's walk in they know they're spending a boat ton of money yeah so is this true for all photographers or baby photographers there is this like having huh? Yeah, for somebody that doesn't shoot babies I think it depends on your business model my eye is quality very of innovation quality if you're cheap or fast it's gonna change right there's going to be a difference it's definitely going to be about if you're cheap if you're fast it's definitely about convenience and how quickly can someone get in and out and do this right if you're cheap there's not going to be this kind of expectation with your client you can choose whatever area of innovation you want totally open to you you can't be all three you can't be too you've got to be one you have to base it on your costs though, and how much it takes to do business on a daily basis a month that your operational costs factor in hugely and your systems if you don't have systems in place being fast is going to be really hard. Okay? Most photographers want to innovate on quality that's kind of why I'm this applies to most people, commercial photographers anything you could do to show that you are efficient and high end and quality is good. Commercial photographers can fudge with the eyes I think a little bit better than a portrait photographer can. However, the cost of doing business with commercial work is incredible weddings I think the same model applies very similar so I kind of was showing you what I what's worked for me. I always say when I teach take what you can from me not everything is going to resonate and that's okay, you have to run a business on your strength. The whole point of educating is to vomit all this stuff on you so you could pick the pieces out and figure out what you like that's kind of think about right um but you see, I'm saying you need to there so many talented people who have done this and been successful in different ways there's lots of successful photographers out there who have not done it like this they've done it completely differently and that's why I think it's so hard for photographers because they get confused they're like oh my gosh so until is telling me to do it this way someone was telling me to do it this way we'll both work right both work you have to look at your own personality and go what's gonna work for me what am I comfortable doing selling investing in visualising brandon I mean all that you have to decide what's good for you so take what I say and steal from it you know I mean steal what's useful to you hope for that answers the question what if you don't have a space a big problem big limitation how many actually have spaces do spaces how many do not like when I say do not I mean, you don't even have a house a home or anything if you have a home if you don't have a space anywhere you're home nothing raise your hand like you're working out your car for that way hey there's a lot out there who do it and they make it very successful okay in that scenario you have a competitive advantage ok? You provide in home service we come to you, you can charge more for it, which is kills me because none of you do you think you need to be cheaper because you don't have a studio so not true. If a massage therapist comes to your house rather than you going to the spa, you pay up the wazoo nose for it. They gotta haul their gear over there, set up in your space, figure out plug and you could charge it's like three hundred dollars an hour versus the sixty dollars an hour massage I can get if I go down the street to the spot. Okay, so look att other industries, if you want to be good at business, you need to look at other businesses. You need to study other industries and see how they're making it work and apply those things. Steal those factors and put him into your own business. Okay, it's true, it works because the more diverse you are in the knowledge you gain more power, you have to grow. Diversify your assets. How many times a stockbroker tell you that diversify your assets, diversify your knowledge and knowledge is an asset in this industry. Okay? So if you don't have a space, you need to think about the location to which you travel. Are you going to someone's home? Are you meeting them a coffee shop? Are you just meeting them on location? If it were me, I would go to their home first to make a really high end like top notch customer service I would say we're going to meet you at the session at your home we're going to look for your classes to go through wardrobe so we put something really nice together and then we're gonna drive to the location I would bring a picnic basket with me to the location because I would always do my sessions at sunset because I liked the light okay, I bring a picnic basket, a bottle of wine I would put on my pretty pretty consultation what they love, you know what kind of food they love, what kind of wine they love and I would bring it to them and a blanket and some entertainment for their kids and I would let them have a picnic while we do their session and then when we're done I would leave them make the order appointment, give them their their information and all the education materials that I would leave them to have this beautiful picnic on their own and I would go off and obviously go back up the images okay? And my charging two hundred dollars a session for that hello that's more like a four, five hundred dollars session, but why not? And why can't you sell on that? Oh my god! What the code of the streets to get so much paper uh no she's not because she's not doing what you do, okay, people don't always make buying decisions based on price matter of fact, they rarely do the on ly time they're going to make buying decisions on price is if you look like everybody else I mean it's really that simple it's not simple, but it's that simple. If you're different, you're providing something so unique and people want that they're going to pay for its just like the difference between whole foods and food for less or grocery outlet whole foods provides an amazing experience products that are unique you can't find anywhere else organic the aisles are wide you get through quickly it's an amazing experience to go shop at whole foods and you feel like a million bucks when you walk out there with all your organic groceries who I'm awesome, I'm gonna feed my family read okay grocery outlet on hand floors are dirty, they don't care everything stores or not stock all the time but it's quick, dirty and cheap and out fast and you will have your food. It may not be the highest quality through in the world and you feel kind of weird when you walk out of there but it's cheap and you could feed your family on a budget if I have money, I don't go to grocery ablett if I care about what I feed my family, I don't go to grocery outlet or whatever cheap market down the street when you know I'm not singling out grocery outlet, but if I'm care about that kind of thing, then I'm going to invest in whole foods, right? It's the same thing with you, but if whole foods looked like grocery outlet, do you think anybody would pay those prices? How oh, how no okay, sorry rabbit trail again. If I was on location, I would make sure I'm dressed my brand and to the ninth, even if I'm shooting, make sure you look good, okay, make sure you're on time make sure you're communicating everything with your client, so there is no guesses studio cloud now allows us to do text alert, so we put in everybody cellphone into our system and twenty four hours but for their session of the organ appointment says, don't forget your session tomorrow it's such a such a immediately sent them a text if you have any questions, email it's our colors will be happy to talk things over with you before your session. Don't forget to read the preparation instructions and fill them out before you come little things like that had op okay, so what about you? The look and style of you, this is my son hey hey hopefully won't watch this when he's, twenty years old are you put together? Are you professional? Are you appropriate? And the reason I put this butt crack thing in here because newborn photographers have this problem all the time we're on our knees on the beanbag oops. Okay, tell what that happened to you it's inappropriate and unprofessional trust me been there done that. Okay, be very careful in how you want it mean a client's going to see that we like it's just a little tiny detail that just throws it down a notch a little bit okay, so make sure your personal style and what you're doing is appropriate simple things but it's funny how I mean you're all laughing because you all know what's happened to you yeah verbal and body language okay, this is my son's little best friend kenley and they're absolutely love with each other we're convinced they're gonna get married when they're older language how are you connecting with your client? Do you care about them? Are you asking them about their lives and what they're doing? Are you courting them? Do you have that sincerity and authenticity? Are you open, relaxed, calm and collected? Or are you reactionary when a client pushes back on you a little bit so we really want to put this prop in and you're sitting here on your head? Are you reactionary to that? Does your body language react to that does your facial expression reactor that beware self aware you could say yes, you could say no, you know, but first say yes and should do it with a smile you know you want you want to make sure you're paying attention to that and that you're not anything in your body language is not implying something that you don't mean communication. This is huge e mails, phone calls, documents, timeliness, preparedness see to the sale are you thorough? Are you sending everything the client needs? We have a huge back and client information site that's password protected that only clients can get into and it tell them everything they need to know about the session. It has our pre session questionnaire on there where they fill out and sign for our studio policies and liability release everything's, elektronik, it's very pretty and clean and organized and they could find anything they need their directions to the studio, what to bring, how to prepare all that good stuff and that documentation goes out to them. And if we don't get that contract back before the session, we sent it to him again and remind him, don't forget to send the kind we can't shoot your baby until you fill that information out, I won't touch a baby unless they've filled out that contract simple is that okay? Make sure you're doing multiple touchpoints email phone calls text message anything you can to get the message across client needs clients need to be beaten over the head they will not most will not get it on the first try have you ever noticed that like you sent him home with pricing and they don't read it and then you're like an I p s appointment like did you look at the pricing now we're in it got a hit on multiple times if they don't rate it's your fault it's not their fault means you didn't tell him enough okay so communication is critical to making a good customers of experience and what about relationship builder connection that's a biggie one buying trigger is liking if some if you like someone you are more likely to purchase from them right if you like a business you are going to buy think about your hairdresser you like him or her so you go to him and her and they're talented so you don't care what it costs at least that's my issue I love camille camille is amazing and it took me five years to find her I'm not giving her up no way I don't care that it cost me a hundred bucks get my hair down every time I go in okay if you like someone and one of the reasons I like her because she's so kind and I connect with her and she asked me about my kid she knows his name I photographed her baby liam and so there is this relationship going on make sure you show interest in them reassurance to issues they're having newborn mothers are freakazoid about being photographed they don't want to be photographed who would your thirty pounds overweight from having a baby for goodness sake nobody wants to be photographed writer happy right after giving birth to a kid senior same thing they're they're they're self conscious you need to reassure them of their issues and problems and that you can you have a solution for them. Okay, let them help if needed sometimes it makes the client feel really loved and connected. Teo, if you let them be involved you have to feel that out. Okay? Some clients you know what I'm helping you know it's like away consideration for their situation. I have so many mothers who come in and I could see it a friggin mile away that they got ppd they come in any other day I had one come in and she was already tears rolling a really bad night okay baby six days old forty four days old little early for me four days old milk hadn't come in yet horrible night baby screaming hungry dad doesn't know what to do first time parent there freaking out they managed to make it into the studio oh my gosh did we rush her like vultures on a dead animal? I mean we were hugging her and holding her and it's ok, we'll help you through this most photographer okay? We can reschedule okay? Because you're nervous or scared you need to go in there and fix her problem that's what she wants you to dio and if you do it she gonna like you she gonna rave about you and she's gonna be loyal evangelist to you and that's what you want she needed help we recognized it and jumped in and helped her out and told her our situation but both ellen and I have been through she calmed down mill came in the next day by the time she came back that we're employment she was a happy like lamb she was just fine okay, so assess those kind of situations obviously that's an extreme one but assess those kind of situations and solved their problem give the reassurance that women need women need re assurance it's in our genetic makeup I think do you question who do you work with? Like a group of other birth professionals like lactation consultants and whatnot where you can give them kind of a list of while you're hugging them and loving them you know, here is some people that I've worked close with that may be able to help you through, you know, maybe a next step for you after the appointment you could you could most definitely do that I don't per se do that it's a great idea I might steal it um I my biggest thing is when I have I've goshko lead I think we've had what a dozen clients over the past couple years come in with very obvious ppd um and the only reason we recognize is because we've both been through it so we know pretty immediately that it's there and you know, technically peabody isn't something that's diagnosed until four, five weeks into it like they call it baby blues at first so when mom first comes into her hormones are raging and she's got that deer in the headlights look and we we suspect that she could go down that road so technically it's not ppd when they come to us at that age, you know, seven days old, but what we typically do is tell our story I'll say you know, hey, I've been through this I know what it's like and I basically tell him how they're feeling right then and I say I totally get this you feel like the shackles are on your life is over and it's never going to change and why did you do this? And on the minute she knows that someone's been there and in her boat she starts to calm down a little bit if suggesting help I won't really do that probably until the end of the session and say what but what I do say is hey, you know, I've been through this if you want to talk about it please don't hesitate to call me I'd be happy to help you out and just, you know, vent on the phone about what's going on that's oftentimes what most women just need but then if I you know, it would be a good suggestion at that point to say hey, you know if you need some extra help I know a lot of people would be happy to refer you somebody that's probably all I would say and leave it at that and let her let her deal with it for breastfeeding yes almost definitely yeah most definitely and and that happens a lot well, you know, we've done this so much that I'm pretty much almost delectation because all myself I'm not trained officially but I'll get in there hold baby's head and help that thing latch on you know, sometimes you just need that really big latch and this that was this baby's problem she was not latching at all on of course the bill can come in and so there was all these factors that made this woman just a mess way digress but I think just just being able to be knowledgeable in these things is so valuable to the customer service element of your business you need to know your industry you need to know your client and that's really what this comes down to is knowing your client and what she's going through you know, a family with three little kids that you're trying to photograph different client similar issues you know hardest get three little kids out the door with outfits that coordinate and I mean the stress level that parents go through when it comes for portrait sessions is enormous have you ever had your portrait done with the kids? It's yeah it's it's like you want to give up because you're like this is not worth it so what can you do as a business owner to make that process easier on your client? Those on location peeps with no studio go there and pick the outfits form oh my gosh when that be awesome okay just take here before me bring a makeup artist with you make mom look pretty oh my gosh wouldn't that be fantastic? Okay things I love about creative lives I come here and christina does my make up and hair every morning I'm like, oh great, I don't have to do it I mean it's just it's customer service of course they want me to look good on camera but because that makes a good impression on them but still that is a service that creative life provides to me and I love it why can't you do the same thing? So it's the little things guys, this is my boy too. I love my kid. Can I tell you that this is his christmas photo last year and I made a christmas card out of it and I'll show you that when we get into product development because my christmas card was such a hot item that I sent out to family and friends, but I got several clients from it and everybody talks about it to this day and it creates a buzz about my studio. Okay, so I'll show that to you when we get to the product line, but it's little things like this that elevate you so we have staff set up a snack station, a dressing table. A changing table, of course, is critical in a newborn studio, not so much in another in other kind of studios, but what about seniors? There's a senior photographer, manda holloway? You guys know amanda she's, a full on walking closet high and wardrobe for her seniors to go have fun in talk about awesome sauce. So arlene will kill me for saying that word it's, it's, incredible gown's, formal wear and all of you thinking all I know, all of your going money, money, money, money, money, money, money it does take money to make money and if you want a high end brand, you have to spend the money to get there now should you just do that recklessly? Of course not. Okay, don't you have to decide yourself if you want to get in debt for it? I did it paid off. I am now debt free for the last two years. However, that is a personal and professional decision you need to make with your accountant and your family. Okay, can you do it slowly by gaining cash with small clients? Of course, but you need to be disciplined. You need to control your costs and you need teo not get frustrated when it takes a long time, because it will take a long time. Okay, so you can either if you have no cash to do these kinds of things if you want to get in debt and be disciplined enough to pay it off once it starts paying off it's a huge risk? Go for it, but ask yourself if you're willing to take that risk, the safe route is to not get in debt pay for it as it goes, see how it works, but you're going to struggle more it's gonna take longer and you're going to struggle a little harder to make it work, but you won't go into debt and if it does fail you're not gonna be up a creek, okay? So pick your poison things. Really? What it comes down to right was the lesser of two evils. So in our studio, we also have a sewing kit in case buttons come off. We have a first aid kit you could provide baby sitting like, say, you're doing a newborn session and there's a sibling? Why not bring in a college student for a little baby sitting and entertainment? That's a high end service? Okay, not that you need to it's just a thought. Toys and games all that kind of stuff is there to help our clients the same thing with wedding? What if you provided information about other services that relate to a wedding in your studio? So say rise coming in for consultation she's good decides she wants to book you or not, and you're laying everything out. And then on one side, your studio you have this gorgeous display of other vendors who would be a great asset to her wedding because the photographer is usually one of the first people who are booked. Not only is that a marketing opportunity for you to provide two vendors it's also a customer service thing you're providing to your client, so she doesn't have to look a bunch of places to find what she needs for her wedding and if it's all vendors and people who work in the style that you work that you love to shoot, huh? Match made in heaven. Okay, it'll be a pretty wedding and you get to shoot it. Okay, so think about these things strategically. You kind of take that forty thousand foot look at your business. Always be coming in and out in and out. The entrepreneur is a must miss him. We got tonight. So last night and four got on facetime. First thing, he's four now I love you, mommy. We have this. I love you more like the most thing that I love you more. I love you most. Mommy. It's from tangled. You guys see that movie tangled so and that's where that product came from? I love you more love you most it's a family thing of mine. It's unique. The typical one is I love you to the moon and back right in our family and I love you to the sky and back because the sky never ends. Okay, so why don't you incorporate things that are different? To create a good customer service system? Look at your business. From a client's point of view, what would make you rave about a business space, your style in appearance? How you communicate with your customers are you on top of it or not? This is the big this is the big one and the beautiful part about this is that most photographers don't do it right so if you do do it right for the wind right take those moments that other people are not doing and make it better are you connecting? Are you friends with your clients? Are you providing those little things that they need to be happier? You go into a business and patronize that business if there's some little unexpected thing in there it like makes your day doesn't it small little things little services here and there like my hairdresser she will give you a glass of wine in oregon you could do this long as you don't pay if you're not you don't have a liquor license in oregon if you are providing the alcohol for free you're not charging for it not all states are like this or countries for that matter so you need to check with with your own government however shae says would you like a glass of wine? We have red white coffee, tea sparkling water I mean sometimes at three o'clock on the afternoon of friday when I get my hair done cost the wine sounds really nice and it totally makes my day I'm sitting there having my hair played with and I get to drink a glass of wine what could be better? Right? So customer service really guys, it is half of what you offer nail it, nail it because no one else is okay here are the ten commandments of customer service this is from susan a freedman on the about money dot com okay, so these are from her cat? First of all, never forget that the customer pays our salary and makes your job possible. Technically they're your boss for the three to six weeks that you have them with you they are your boss. Some losses suck, but thank god you only have them for a limited time, right? It's better than being a dead end corporate job or your boss really sucks and you have to live with him for years. Okay? Next number to be a good listener take the time to identify customer needs by asking questions and concentrating on what the customer is really saying. Sometimes customers complain about things but that's not the real reason they're upset. So dig deep and ask yourself what it's like from their perspective and what would the real problem would be in your mind and ask are you saying you're really upset because the album I mean I have a client who oh my god okay, yeah back to back to six month ago I have a client who is a celebrity client and the album we produced for her was an eighth of an inch cricket the image like it's it's a it's a image with a fabric wrapped around so the fabrics on the front and wraps around the fabric was an eighth of an inch wider at the top than it was at the bottom so it made the image joke and if you didn't I mean we're talking so unnoticeable I don't even see it ok way do quality controls and checks and I did not see it about an hour after shipping it to the album she came back she's like it's cooking okay and I looked at him like okay, let me look if I take this, I'll check into it and get back to you because I didn't see it I'm like okay and she's like fine as she walked out she was she was upset like she was upset that this was cooking and I was so shocked that I didn't quite know what to say like you know how you get hey give me a minute and I'll get back to you because like their immediate response and I went upstairs and I measured it I'm like this is a frickin eighth of an inch off really really upset about this for eighth of an inch you know like that in my head what I was doing but then I had to calm down and go okay don't get upset over this call the lab okay and the lab told me sorry backtrack first things first the first album was incorrect because I have forgotten to put the baby's middle name on the album so we had ordered again second album came back a sandwich off okay I called the lab and I'm like my clients tell me is that they had me send like a tape measure measurement to show exactly and it wasn't a thing in a sample that well, you know these air handcrafted there's an eighth of an inch tolerance and I'm like you have got to be kidding me so there's a chance that I cannot give her a product that she wants so I'm sitting here going in my head okay how do I saw this? What do I do? So they when I sent the pictures in the lab went yeah that's a little too much and they reprinted it thank god and when we got it back she and she was happy with it and all work out well but what was the real reason for her frustration? She's complaining over an eighth of an inch? It was the second time she got really frustrated because I didn't listen to her even though she told me to put the middle name in I didn't expect her needs and she had to ask for a problem to be solved two to three times before it was solved and I didn't anticipate her needs was bad customer service simple that it was a mistake most clients are like oh it's okay we'll fix it no problem as long as you fix a mistake they're cool with it and the first time she was annoyed because she has specifically told me in the sales appointment to put the middle name in and she thought she was going to get to see the cover before it went to print but that's not what we do on that particular album it was a miscommunication on my part for so she'd get to see it then when we brought it into the first time it did have the name on and she's upset so there was a siri's of snowball things that happened that made her feel like I was not doing my job and she was right okay so usually it's not the fact that it's an eighth of an inch is it bad that I didn't listen okay so be a good listener number three here we go identify and anticipate needs customers don't buy products or services they buy good feelings and solutions to problems most customer needs are emotional rather than logical so true okay make customers feel important and appreciated treat them as individuals that they are help customers understand your systems your organization may have the world's best systems for getting things done but if customers don't understand them they can get confused, impatient and angry right client education is key okay appreciate the power of a yes always look for ways to help your customers when they have a request tell them that you could do it sometimes those requests are crazy and way above and beyond what you would normally dio right so you say yes but with your limitations put onto it we're going to talk about that when we talk about how to deal with client objections and difficult personalities we're doing a whole segment on that so we'll discuss that when we get to it here in the next few weeks number seven know how to apologize when something goes wrong just apologized but do it sincerely it's easy and customers like it the customers may not always be right but the customer must always win that make sense it's not a matter of right or wrong it's about winning and the customer has to win so you need to make them feel like they've won okay give more than expected since the future of all companies lies in keeping customers happy think of ways to elevate yourself above the competition consider the following what could you give customers they cannot get elsewhere what can you do to follow up and thank people even when they don't buy what can you give customers that is totally on expected last page here number nine get regular feedback from your customers encourage and welcome suggestions about how you could improve when we dio a market, the section on market research, we're going to talk about creating client surveys and you do get one. I believe when you are sleepy for the course, you will get one of our customer satisfaction survey. Okay, so don't be afraid to send those out. You want that feedback? And finally this comes to employees treat employees well, employees are your internal customers. They really are. I work for creative life, but they treat me like I'm a customer. They make me feel like I'm the only instructor. They have that's really cool, but yet they pay me to do what I do doesn't make sense thank them and find ways to let them know how important they are. Treat your employees with respect and chances are they will have ah, higher regard for your customers. Homework number two, evaluate the five areas of good customer service which we just talked about. Ok. What are you lacking? Make a list of your customer service words you need to improve. Incorporate into your customer service system. Analyze unmodified fire communication workflow. Are you thorough with your client? And can you better plant the seed of the sale?

Class Description


Creating systems in any business is essential to its success. Learn how to run a business like a well-oiled machine in Studio Systems: A Photography Business Bootcamp with Julia Kelleher. 

Systems create a consistent experience for your customer and produce reliable results in your product. In this bootcamp, Julia will show you how to develop:

  • Superior customer service experiences
  • Efficient booking procedures
  • Time-saving product offerings
  • Reliable studio organizational plans
  • Streamlined sessions
  • Sales and pricing techniques
  • Images and ordering processes
  • File archiving techniques
  • Automated branding and marketing solutions
  • Systematized finance management 
By sticking with set systems, nothing falls through the cracks. Clients enjoy a predictable and upscale experience, sales are predictable (which makes your income predictable), orders are reliable and complete with no mistakes, and your numbers are usable!

Packed with incredible content, this bootcamp will help you build your photography business plan as if you could walk away and let someone else run it – reducing your workload, increasing your revenue and giving you more time for what’s important to you.

Find out exactly what it takes to develop go-to systems so your time is managed and organized and your studio achieves maximum efficiency in Studio Systems: A Photography Business Bootcamp with Julia Kelleher. 

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