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How to deal with customer that is 1 year late?!?
  
 
jzucker
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p.1 #1 · How to deal with customer that is 1 year late?!?


how do you portrait photographers deal with customers who are slow to place an order? We have a customer from July 2012 that is still trying to pick out photos. We did a 4 hour indoor/outdoor session and they got in on a $100 special but have never purchased a package. They came over for a viewing and couldn't decide. Now, over a year later, they have spent over 30 days looking through the online gallery which just expired and I suspect they will ask for an extension. With the session, retouching, viewing prep, online gallery creation, I have over 16 hours into this. Would you ask for a pre-payment on the print package prior to extending/re-opening the gallery?

At this point, I suspect they are going to want the cheapest package we have which is $315 so it hardly seems worth all the effort but I don't want to piss them off and lose even that.

What do you recommend?



Sep 25, 2013 at 06:08 PM
intimistic
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p.1 #2 · How to deal with customer that is 1 year late?!?



I Think first thing is to change your policy so that this does not ever happen again.

If you have a deal or promotion give it an expiration date or time period.
Like 2 weeks or a month etc..

For example with your $100 off special in the future "for new customers" just add the condition that prints must be purchased with in a set time period.


Now at this point any money you get is gold and every day that goes by you are less and less likely to get paid.


As for what to do now. You could write it off on your taxes?

Or

I Personally would flip it around and make it opportunity to have a positive customer experience.
Considered it good will / karma / advertising whatever.

Some Ideas

1.) Offer them an additional discount on the smaller package either lower the price or throw in something, make it hard to pass up.
2.) If they Purchase one of the larger Print packages Offer them a rather large discount or free shooting session in the future or maybe both or something else be Creative.

Maybe money is tight for them ~

3.) You could offer the smallest package free if they refer 3 new paying customers etc.
4.) You could Make a Smaller package for less $ and be done with them.

5.) Offer the Photographer's Favorites Package where you Select the prints you liked the best … So they do not have to choose.

Whatever you do make it expire in 2 weeks or a month etc..
Enough time for them to have another paycheck etc..

If you choose to extend your online gallery this is the time period I would use.

Remember
" make it hard to pass up"
and
" have it expire."

You don't want their friends to come back and say so and so got it for this price I want that deal… Make sure they know this deal will expire.

I realize you have time in this so the goal should be to minimize any additional time you have to send their way.
Any of these ideas should contribute to good word of mouth and
hopefully happy Customer and Photographer.

Just some thoughts hope it helps.



Sep 25, 2013 at 07:26 PM
intimistic
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p.1 #3 · How to deal with customer that is 1 year late?!?


1.) You could also kindly let them know that in October or November you will be raising your package prices.
And urge them to take advantage of the current prices.


2.) Another Idea is to ONLY extend the online gallery for one week at a time so they have to call you to extend it. Always be polite when they call, Be sure to ask them every time if they are ready order their prints.

Could be annoying though.

3.) Maybe they get enough joy out of the web gallery you could just charge for a web gallery option.



Sep 25, 2013 at 07:28 PM
jzucker
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p.1 #4 · How to deal with customer that is 1 year late?!?


Thanks for the ideas. The shoot was for a senior session. The girl is already in college (at Georgetown). Dad is an big-shot attorney and they live in a big place so I don't think it's a money issue. I think it's more a time/priority issue for them. Mom wants the pix but dad probably doesn't care so much.

One of their pictures came out so good that I made a 20x24 sample of it. I ended up with 2 copies. I already offered to give them the 20x24 at 1/2 price if they bought the bigger package but they didn't seem to be interested. Maybe I'll offer them the 20x24 photo for free if they buy the bigger package?



Sep 25, 2013 at 07:36 PM
intimistic
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p.1 #5 · How to deal with customer that is 1 year late?!?


If some of the photos are worth it maybe it would be worth trading a print package for the Commercial rights to use in your Portfolio and for advertising.

Or You could just bill them for you services rendered.
And apply it to any future prints.


Well Good luck regardless.



Sep 25, 2013 at 07:42 PM
jzucker
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p.1 #6 · How to deal with customer that is 1 year late?!?


Thanks, I offered them the 20x24 at 1/2 price if they bought before October and informed them that the prices were going up in October so we'll see how it goes.


Sep 25, 2013 at 07:58 PM
markd61
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p.1 #7 · How to deal with customer that is 1 year late?!?


I allow my clients two weeks to choose from an online gallery. Orders placed at this time have a discount.
Renewing the gallery is $25 and the prices are a regular rates with no specials allowed.

IF they come in to the studio to order (no online gallery) within one week they get a better discount.

If they don't place an order after a month we take charge a "retrieval" fee for ordering in addition to re-activating the gallery if desired.



Sep 26, 2013 at 10:35 PM
axe9
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p.1 #8 · How to deal with customer that is 1 year late?!?


Similar to Mark, my wife and I have in our contract that images will be available for 45 days after they are uploaded, after that they have to order with us, and we charge a service fee.

We're finding that every time we do a session deal, we have 2-3 clients that end up not ordering prints, which is very disappointing. Still trying to figure out how to coerce more print orders from these 'cheap' customers.



Oct 19, 2013 at 05:20 PM
cineski
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p.1 #9 · How to deal with customer that is 1 year late?!?


I'm curious, with a normal client, what would the average print order be for you for a portrait? I'm generally shoot and burn with a gallery but I charge good money for the portrait session to make up for the loss of print orders. However, when a client is going to order prints/albums, they generally order big. But I'm always massaging my structure. A lot of clients get alienate by my portrait fee but I also don't like chasing clients around after the fact. We still have album orders out there from 4 years ago which is a bit haunting.


Oct 20, 2013 at 03:17 PM
jzucker
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p.1 #10 · How to deal with customer that is 1 year late?!?


so, i took some advice here, contacted the client and explained a price increase in October if they didn't place the order and ended up with a $450 order so I wanted to thank you guys. We now require a 50% deposit on the minimum print order prior to scheduling the session. Since we've started doing that, we've had several folks not schedule the sessions but that's fine with me.


Oct 20, 2013 at 04:24 PM
 

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gheller
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p.1 #11 · How to deal with customer that is 1 year late?!?


cineski wrote:
I'm generally shoot and burn with a gallery but I charge good money for the portrait session to make up for the loss of print orders.



THIS !!

I gave up on printing / delivering / client potential for not being satisfied with prints long ago.

Most clients want the digital images now anyway (make a book, etc)

So, it is LIBERATING to be done with a client after sending the .zip file a day after the shoot.

I will NEVER go back to printing.

The digital files are valuable and client are willing to pay for it. Any lost revenue from prints is quickly forgotten about when I think of all of the time I have saved with this method.

Of course, YMMV

greg



Oct 21, 2013 at 07:02 AM
Paul Mo
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p.1 #12 · How to deal with customer that is 1 year late?!?


jzucker wrote:
We now require a 50% deposit on the minimum print order prior to scheduling the session. Since we've started doing that, we've had several folks not schedule the sessions but that's fine with me.


Cool.



Oct 21, 2013 at 07:51 AM
glort
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p.1 #13 · How to deal with customer that is 1 year late?!?


jzucker wrote:
We now require a 50% deposit on the minimum print order prior to scheduling the session. Since we've started doing that, we've had several folks not schedule the sessions but that's fine with me.


I don't spend a cent till the client has paid 100% upfront.
Early in my career I had a week where there wasn't enough money to pay my secretary even though I had been busy for months. After freaking out, she explained that we had over $12K worth of work in the Cupboard waiting to be picked up. That was almost 20 years ago and since then I have always got money up front.

I have still had people not pick up albums and prints but I couldn't care less any more. now it's their loss not mine and I'm not out of pocket.

I have seen people bitch about it being unethical or whatever to ask for payment up front but that's fine with me. I'll run my business the way that suits me and they can do the same. I have no problem paying up front, I did it today for $600 for a new clutch on my truck. The mechanic commented what a nice change that was.
At the same time he also reduced the price of a seal and said he'd throw that in. Beautiful.

Stopped at the shopping centre and shouted myself a nice coffee and something to eat and a cold drink for the walk rest of the way home with the money I saved.



Oct 21, 2013 at 09:57 AM
glort
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p.1 #14 · How to deal with customer that is 1 year late?!?


gheller wrote:
THIS !!

I gave up on printing / delivering / client potential for not being satisfied with prints long ago.

Most clients want the digital images now anyway (make a book, etc)

So, it is LIBERATING to be done with a client after sending the .zip file a day after the shoot.

I will NEVER go back to printing.

The digital files are valuable and client are willing to pay for it. Any lost revenue from prints is quickly forgotten about when I think of all of the time I have saved with this method.

Of course, YMMV

greg



HAHA!
Be careful where you say that, the purists and " artiste's" will be down on you for putting profit and business before " The art".

I agree over all. I'm also trying to get away from prints as much as possible and finding more and more upsides. The clients love it and I charge more for a lot less time, effort, stuffing about and aggravation!
Many uptight shooters will crap on about reputations being ruined if clients go and get a bad print made or only they know how to spend a week per image to make it into a perfect work of art and other typical crap but the lamenting is completely unfounded and amounts to very poor business practices.

I have gone from putting things on Disk to USB now.
With disks I used to have to buy covers and print the disk and the slick even before I put the images on there.
And that took minutes. Now with usb I simply hand the things over and they hand me their CC and before I have finished putting that through the drive is burned and we are done. They go off happy and excited and I go home the same way with a pocket full of loot.

I'm making up promo offers and advertising pieces for other services to put on the drives to create some backend business as well. early days but the reaction so far has been good. I have also been getting quotes from China for custom USB's and while the price is OK, The marketing and brand awareness created by the drives tailored to the work I think will be substantial based on the customer feedback I have got on showing off sample units.

I have been selling Digital images since I got a digicam over 10 years ago and out of the now hundred thousand + of images I have sold that way, I have yet to have one single complaint.
I have had a lot of referrals though because other shooters won't do it so people come to me.

Some things like event work really don't fit the digital model as well as prints but it's horses for courses.
Basically I produce the images as simply and quickly as possible and with events, that's prints.
With pretty much everything else, that's digitally.

With events I print onsite so I still have the exact satisfaction you describe in that once I leave the venue, Job is done. Nothing to remember or forget or follow up or whatever. Some jobs like weddings, follow up is essential and ongoing so my time and mind is freed up for things like that, not stuff I can do right now.




Oct 21, 2013 at 10:15 AM
jzucker
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p.1 #15 · How to deal with customer that is 1 year late?!?


so your clients don't need/want retouching? I haven't found many seniors who are happy with a face-full of pimples and if you're delivering a CD full of images and they haven't paid for retouching them all how do you handle that?

gheller wrote:
THIS !!

I gave up on printing / delivering / client potential for not being satisfied with prints long ago.

Most clients want the digital images now anyway (make a book, etc)

So, it is LIBERATING to be done with a client after sending the .zip file a day after the shoot.

I will NEVER go back to printing.

The digital files are valuable and client are willing to pay for it. Any lost revenue from prints is quickly forgotten about when I think of all of the time I have saved with this method.

Of course, YMMV

greg




Oct 21, 2013 at 10:53 AM
gheller
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p.1 #16 · How to deal with customer that is 1 year late?!?



I rarely do senior portraits, so perhaps not as much of an issue for me. The closest genre for me is destination weddings, and I do basic edits (color, contrast, sharpness, etc) before burning.

greg

jzucker wrote:
so your clients don't need/want retouching? I haven't found many seniors who are happy with a face-full of pimples and if you're delivering a CD full of images and they haven't paid for retouching them all how do you handle that?





Oct 21, 2013 at 06:24 PM
jzucker
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p.1 #17 · How to deal with customer that is 1 year late?!?


that explains it. In our case, a dvd of unretouched images would be a disappointment to the customer even if run through a light auto-softening (i.e. Portraiture)

I would love to get away from prints though. For us, we are selling $450 packages with prints. I'm not sure we'd be making as much profit selling DVDs. I'd be happy to be wrong. Please help me see the light.

gheller wrote:
I rarely do senior portraits, so perhaps not as much of an issue for me. The closest genre for me is destination weddings, and I do basic edits (color, contrast, sharpness, etc) before burning.

greg





Oct 21, 2013 at 07:13 PM
gheller
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p.1 #18 · How to deal with customer that is 1 year late?!?


What would I do?

Tell them that they get xxx number of digital images included with the package. Those will have basic edits including minor blemish correction (however you want to word it).

Any more images, or severe retouching available for a fee.

Make the initial cost enough that you will be fine if no reorders. Sell the added up front cost by stating that you are including those images with blemish retouching.

HTH

greg



jzucker wrote:
that explains it. In our case, a dvd of unretouched images would be a disappointment to the customer even if run through a light auto-softening (i.e. Portraiture)

I would love to get away from prints though. For us, we are selling $450 packages with prints. I'm not sure we'd be making as much profit selling DVDs. I'd be happy to be wrong. Please help me see the light.





Oct 21, 2013 at 07:27 PM
jzucker
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p.1 #19 · How to deal with customer that is 1 year late?!?


Thanks Greg. Good ideas. Will give it some more though.


Oct 21, 2013 at 08:13 PM
glort
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p.1 #20 · How to deal with customer that is 1 year late?!?


jzucker wrote:
I would love to get away from prints though. For us, we are selling $450 packages with prints. I'm not sure we'd be making as much profit selling DVDs. I'd be happy to be wrong. Please help me see the light.


I initially went away from prints for logistical reasons.
The result however was that our average sales went up substantially.

For one market I was selling a package of 3 8x12 sheets. one was a full size print, the others were multi size/prints done in PS picture package. For this we got $35 or 60 for 2 sets to the same family.
My costs were low on this but time and reprints were significant.

At first when I went to USB I added the cost of $5 for the drive to the price. THe client response was that this was great value and they loved being able to have digi images. Burn the USB on the spot for them to take home so no order delivery, postage or reprinting shots with weird colour balance which was a significant thing in the work i'm doing. Still got the occasional print order WITH the USB.

Seeing it was so well received and I hate it when clients tell me my products are cheap, I bumped the price to $50 per kid for however many images we had. Usually this was 3-6. People were still stoked but we did get the feedback it was exy for families with multiple kids. I didn't want to discount too much as that devalued the initial purchase.

I then went to doing 1-5 Images for $50, 6-10 for $75, 10+ for $100. Kids must be from the same family, IE, No buying the friends pics etc at the discount rate.
This has worked a treat. I now shoot as many pics as possible of each kid rather than just waiting for the optimum shot and the parents like this even if there are some "Bloopers " amongst them.
Often the parents will stand there trying to pick out the best 5 or 10 shots and once I can see what their spend is going to be, I just drop them all on the USB, say Merry Christmas, I'll save you the trouble of deciding, have them all for that price. The parents are stoked and client satisfaction goes through the roof. I tell them to keep it our secret as I can't go giving away all my pics and that builds appreciation as well.

I have a formula I measure sales performance by which basically relates to the average spend for each kid in the Club we photograph. I was averaging 4-6 "Percent" as I call it, now I'm up to an average of 10-11%. I did have one 8% but I think that was due to outside factors. My last one was surprising at over 12% which I'm also not sure was just a freak or due to investment in much better and obvious signage. Need more gigs to say for sure.

At the end of the day though, I'm not doing an 8+ hour day shooting then coming home and doing another 4-6 hours printing. I would have been happy to take a dip in profits to get around that ( and was expecting to! ) but I have been real lucky in that it has gone the other way.

As I said, Digital isn't the be all and end all for every market but where I have applied it, it has worked well.

Many shooters still crap on about their images being out of their control and other crap but I promote it. I tell people they can get their own prints done cheap, they can use them on face waste, email them to rellies, use them on christmas cards etc. I ADD value to the product because I know the images are worth absolutely NOTHING sitting on a HDD before I delete them. Once I have them the object is to get what I can and that's what I do. If people want to make 1000 prints, good luck to them. They have paid me and I'm real happy with what I'm getting atm.




Oct 23, 2013 at 12:22 AM
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