I have been working with many type of clients from corporate to family. When it come to the business, it’s really important to understand your clients. When you understand well your clients, it will help you to reduce your works, make your life productive and offer your best offer to those who deserve it. Below are some of the guidelines for those who still clueless about their clients.
Offer Your Services To Those Who Will Appreciate Them
In a service-oriented business the degree of happiness of your clients after they received what they paid you for, not only affects your bottom line, but also can make or break it. Anyone who runs such a business needs to know and recognize the following 5 types of clients:
1. Low maintenance / High profit – those who pay well and ask for little. They love your work, they appreciate your time and they can afford it. It’s your #1 most favorite and most desirable type of client. If we could only have such clients, we would all be happy photographers running successful businesses.
My current Moscow clients are exactly that: they love my work and they are happy to pay what I believe I am worth. Thanks to these wonderful clients instead of running around and shooting a dozen of cheap client shoots, I can book only two and spend the rest of my time with my family and friends. Needless to say, I will go to great lengths to keep them happy.
2. High maintenance / High profit – those who pay well, but make you jump through hoops. Depending on your current financial situation, you might be okay with constantly pleasing them. If you need more income, they are probably still your favorite type of client. If you’ve got a lot of work coming your way, or are too tired of wasting your time on never-ending requests or complaints – you probably don’t love them all that much any more, and who can blame you?! They are taking up the time you could spend on serving your more appreciative and low maintenance clients.
3. Low maintenance / Low profit – those who pay little, but ask very little as well. They are not spoiled, they like what you do and can afford some of your services. Some of us may find ourselves working for this type of client quite often. They are not bad at all, they help you build a steady income flow. But replacing some of them with the Type 1 clients every chance you get would sure serve you better in the long run.
In the real world it means that when you can devote your time to a client who pays more, than you might want to say “no” to a client who wants cheaper services. Spend the free time on turning your better paying client into your regular – meaning over-deliver, please them, make them love you!
4. High maintenance / Low profit – it is in your best interest to be able to recognize this type of client and stay away from them as much as possible. They will waste your time, and they will have unreasonable expectations of you and your company. They will make you feel bad about yourself and your work, they will easily ruin your day by their passive-aggressive emails and text messages, and at the end of the day they will pay you very little. Very often, these clients will not be happy with the work you do for them no matter how well it is done. That’s why it’s important to recognize the red flags (keep reading) before you commit to such a client.
5. Time-wasters – these are not your clients, they only put on the guise of becoming one in the future. They will waste your time, send you millions of emails and text messages, ask you millions of questions, and make you invest time into planning their photo shoot. They may even ask you to book a makeup artist and hairstylist for the day, and then cancel on you a couple of days before the shoot. Needless to say, you should steer clear from this type of pseudo-client as soon as you recognize the signs.
Having your clients book and pre-pay in advance is a good way to protect yourself from resource-sucking time-wasters, but I realize that it’s easier said than done in some areas of visual arts, and even so in some types of photography such as wedding and bridal. But my point is when you are mindful of this, you can figure out ways to avoid being abused by such “clients” and wasting your time on fruitless relationships. It happened to me too many times to ignore.
1. Asking way too many questions than your average client, making you believe that they are really interested, but they just want to know all the details before they commit.
To protect yourself from falling for this, put up as much pre-sale information about your services as possible on your website. Send them kindly to that page and if they come back to you with post-sale questions (such as “what looks should we do during the shoot”, “what makeup and clothing do you envision me in for beautiful pictures”, etc.) explain that you will together clarify and take care of all the details after the photo shoot is booked. Don’t waste your time on something that may never happen.
Again, I understand that it may not work in some types of photography, but it has been working for me with Beauty, Fashion, Family, Senior, and Boudoir photography clients after I figured it out, and I hope it helps you out in some way as well.
2. After-hour calls and text messages. This may mean nothing, but in my personal experience if a client calls or texts you in the middle of the night or unacceptably early in the morning – they do not respect you or your time, and they don’t take you seriously. Most likely, there will be more problems that you will have to deal with should you commit to this client.
3. Trying to negotiate you down on the price or ask for more services that they didn’t initially quote. This used to be a tough one for me, but I now realize that I was in the mindset “if I insist on my initial quote they will leave me.” That’s a suicidal mindset for a full-time creative professional.
Remember, if they want YOUR services, they will pay you what you deserve. If they want whatever services and want them cheap – let them go, you don’t want them either. Respect yourself, your time, and think what’s good for your business and for your own self-esteem. It’s very easy to spiral down serving people who don’t care for you and don’t appreciate your talents, and when you hit the ground you may want to quit photography altogether.
4. Unrealistic response times and unpunctuality. They get back to your emails or calls once a week, or make you wait for them running significantly late for your meetings. They may send you a dozen of messages with ridiculous excuses, or may not even bother to let you know they are running late. Either way, they do not respect your time and don’t take you seriously – expect more problems.
5. Aggressive (passive-aggressive) correspondence and lack of trust. This is a huge red flag. They may pay you well, but if your sanity is important to you, stay away from doing business with bullies and paranoiacs.
6. Too many special requests, too many emails, calls, revisions, complaints. If you are already working with them, just suck it up and finish the job with the best possible results you can deliver, but make sure to never get involved in this or a similar relationship again.
And, unfortunately, you will figure out other red flags and tendencies from your personal experiences. The main point is to learn from them and not allow unpleasant business situations and relationships happen to you again.