Building Client Relationships
So, one of the other jobs that we got that was super cool, that I was not expecting, was we were hanging out, doing the soccer shoot, and like I said, I talk to everyone about all the things we can do. Generally it's family photos, but there's a guy that came in, and we were talking about headshots. And he had a small company and he said Oh can you photograph, I don't know, I think it was like 45 people, 50 people, something like that. And I said yeah that would be no problem, that's easy! And he goes can you do one headshot every five minutes? I said I could do two in a minute if you dared me. And he set it up so my buddy Aaron and I, that's Aaron, and Aaron and I went and shot this job, at their office on a Tuesday morning. We set up at seven in the morning. Basic, ultra simple, two light setup. Main light, fill light, gray background, one stool. We shot tethered the 5D to my Mac. We had everybody set up on a five minute window. In reality, it was taking about a minute for people to ...
come in, for us to hammer out four, five, six shots and they would review it, pick their photo that day, so we had no reshoots. That we charged $500 to setup, and we charged $ for every person that went through. So we're doing a couple grand in a few hours, on a Tuesday. This volume stuff can leave you to way, way, way, way way more work, and it's all profitable, if you do it right. And having a good system in place for doing the headshots for soccer place is really not that big of a difference to jump that to grown men at a place of business. Alright, customer experience is critical to sustainability. I think that customer service is practically dead in a lot of businesses right now, I really do. I believe that. And I think that, we talked about earlier, getting the job is one thing, keeping the job is the important thing. So making sure that your business is always moving, it's always keeping itself in a position where you're their guy. You're doing a good enough job, it all starts with the experience. Even if they love the pictures, if the experience sucks, they don't want to come back. So plan and hire for the experience you're wanting to deliver. You have to be aware of the people that your bringing in, that they are a steward of your brand. The people that are coming in are the face of your company to everyone they interact with. So it's important that those people your bringing in, you know the people, you understand what they're going to be like, how they're gonna interact. Maybe someone's incredible at lighting and posing, but is just a jerk with kids. You don't want to bring that guy. You need to know that. And on the flip side, hiring people that work well with each other, and enough people to do the job, will effect your employees experience. So I get a lot of people that shoot these sports jobs for me, and they all come back. I get a lot of repeat guys that come back and work for me. Because it's fun. Because it's easy. Because we don't drive them like ... It's a good day. We hire people that work well together. We talked about photo assistance. I'll hire a husband and wife team to do that. If they wanna work together and make some more money. Aaron, that just did that headshot job with me, his son has come and worked a couple of them with us. It's great, he and his son. I love it cause he yells at his kid and I don't have to be the bad guy. And he's like rah, this is great. So, be aware of who you hire and that that's where the experience starts. Try and explain to people what you need them to do. We kinda talked about the no touching thing, we've talked about it, but walk people through your expectations of what they need to do to be successful that day. This is what I need. And explain to people, I can't stand it if I see you standing there and we have a team waiting. Get to work. We need you to be able to do this. this is what we need from you. Just explaining to people like that. Most people that are gonna come out and work for me on these jobs, they really want to do a great job for you. Like, I don't have anybody that comes to me, and really wants to be a mediocre employee that day. " Oh, I really want to be middle of the road. " Like no one says that. So explain to them what you need them to do. And the big picture of customer service, is that this will kill jobs if you don't do it right. We are a service, it's a service. Customer service, here's a quote I heard, " Customers don't love my competitors customer service, but I do." One of the things that we do at our studio that I'm proud of, is all of my employees are completely empowered to make any decision they want to, over any order from any volume job, at any time. They never need to talk to me about anything. You will never call my studio and say, "this is the problem, how are we gonna fix it," and get put on hold while they talk to me. It's not worth it. Make a decision. I'll let my people know kinda what we're gonna do, they know the rules, they know our policies. And they're all competent. I got a great crew right now, but all of the crews I've had over the last years, all the guy that have come in, they all get it. So why do I need to be an overseer on this? I don't. Empower them. Make the decision. They want a refund, give it to them. Cool. They want a reshoot, let's book it. They want a free 8x10, it'd really make their day, because their order was late, send it out. I don't care. Their empowered to make those decisions, and they know that we are customer service based focus business. So I don't play around with that game. $20 will cost you a lot. I had a guy that came in once, we did a sports orders, and he came in, and we shot the whole thing. Everything got delivered, and he ordered specialty product. It was like a clipboard. And the girl that was working at that time, the woman we had that was ordering our specialty products, didn't order it. Okay? So he calls, and he says, "I didn't get my clipboard." And she goes. " oh, okay." and she wasn't very good at customer service, and she said she'd order it, and she didn't order it again. Okay. So then I get a call back from this guy again. He's getting really mad. And I said, " okay, well, I'm so sorry, we'll take care of this." So I ordered it and I said, "Your orders gonna come in tomorrow, we'll take care of you, swing by." Well, we were using a different lab at this point, and I got a photographers order from another state and they got my order. So I told the guy to come by the next day and I'd have his stuff ready, and I had a box of family pictures that I didn't order. So then I had to call him again, and tell him it wasn't ready, again, and had to deliver it to his house. And this guy is crazy mad, and I get it. And so we refunded all of his money, I gave him all of his product, and I thought that was the end of it. Not even close. This guy ended up getting on the board for one of the sports leagues that we did and we lost that account. Tens of thousands of dollars every year, never got the account back. And I can't believe that we lost that account for any other reason than his order was messed up, and the customer service was so poor. It's crazy, but it's so fundamental on keeping the sustainability of your business. So we refund, we reprint, we reshoot, with a smile. I really mean that. And if there is anything wrong with your order, you're gonna get your order fixed, replaced, mailed to you, and we're gonna throw something in for free. Every single time. Every single time. I had a mom that came in off of a sports shoot that we did, and she calls me up and goes, "Hey, I got my daughter's pictures, and you guys normally do such a great job, but these are just, these are awful." "Okay, what's wrong with them?" " This is just not how my daughter smiles, her smiles terrible, and my daughters gorgeous. She takes great photos. Your photographer must have been off, because these pictures are terrible." So I went and I looked at the lightroom catalog, and figured out who her daughter was, cause we had more than just the picture that she received. I looked at them, there's like three or four pictures, and the daughter, she looks pretty, and she looks normal, and she looks great in all of the pictures. They're all the same. There wasn't anything radically different. I wanted to make sure that I wasn't going to quick when I was picking files, and I got her with a half blink or something. Cause that could have happened. But no it was a great image. It was perfect. It was wonderful. And she's mad about it. Come on in to the studio, I'll set up the background and let them take a new one for ya. She came in, we reshot it, the picture look exactly the same, picture looks exactly the same, but she loves it. She loves that one. And shot it, let her see it on the back of the camera, let her approve it, get outta here. So it's stuff like that you have to be able to react appropriately to, to take away all the ability for them to complain. But on the other side, there's other elements that a lot of times can come into complaints. I had a guy that had come from an association board he's very involved at, he's been on everything. And he sent me an email that was like, "These pictures are off. Nothing's right, everything's wrong. This is bad. They look awful." And was so upset, and you know then you just read those emails, and you like this is a deeper level of I'm not happy, this is bad. So alright, I said, "Whoa, you know what, I need to see the picture so we can go over this problem together. Can we set up an appointment, I want him to come on in, we'll make it right for you, guarantee that I'll make you love your photos." So he comes in, and basically what had happened was, the jersey's were white jerseys and they were a little bright, not much. And the printing software that we have, four clicks down on brightness is a stop. I did one click down on brightness, a click, a fourth of a stop, on the highlights, reprinted it and he loved it. Loved it. As I'm talking to him, I find out that he can't stand the coach that his daughter has. His daughter's not getting the minutes that she should. The daughter is having trouble with some of the other kids on the team. He doesn't like when they practice. So, I'm finding as I'm talking to him reprinting his order, I'm finding out that there's layers of dissatisfaction with the experience that are not all about the photography, but they are being focused on the photography. That situation, I replaced everything. I printed it, I shook his hand. I have him the stuff. He walked out with it in his hand. That moment, cause we have the in house lab, and he thanked me, and I'm sitting there thinking, this could have easily turned to a situation where this guys talking to parents, talking to leagues, and he's an influential guy. So it cost me three 8x10s, 48 cents a pop, and 15 minutes of my time, and I was able to diffuse that situation.