Good Morning Everybody,
Lots going on as we head into the weekend. I finally got a good start on my book outline and plan to hammer the keyboard a lot more this weekend. This is a brand new experience for me and I'm stoked at getting it all together. It's like eating an elephant - you just have to do it one small spoonful at a time - so a few more spoonfuls today and a few more tomorrow..... Anyway, how about on with news and views this Business day Thursday...
Nickel, Dime, or Dollar Approach To Selling
So what's your approach to selling? After returning from NYC this past weekend, we all settle down for our Monday morning quarterback meeting. One of the last topics to come up was billing on a job I did the week before. That happened to be the "Black Eye" job, by the way. The client had booked in at our level three coverage which is our low-mid priced coverage. It is the first of our coverages that has a six hour time limit associated with it.
We arrived on site at 3:00 P.M. which is when the clock starts ticking. In my planning conversations with the bride's mother, it was determined that my team would be wrapping about 9 P.M. or shortly after - hey, that was close enough to six hours for me, so no problem. In reality, my team left the event at 10:45 P.M. - almost 2 hours longer than what was contracted. At out $200/hour rate, and I round down to just 1 1/2 hours of extra duty, that means the client should be billed an additional $300.
First of all, I would never approach a client on their wedding day and asked for more money because I needed to stay longer than what time had been contracted. I feel is the height of impropriety to bring money matters into the spirit of this joyous occasion for the client. Needless to say, the topic never came up at the wedding.
I believe it was about Tuesday that one of my team members came up to me and asked what we were going to do about the additional one hour and 45 minutes that Nicholas and his assistant spent covering the wedding and reception. I simply brushed it off and said I wasn't going to worry about it since it's quite rare that my clients book at this level of coverage which includes a time commitment. Let me say that I have one of the best team members in the world when it comes to watching out for how my dollars are spent at the studio.
The topic came up again at our Monday morning quarterback meeting. I tried to brush it off again but she was insistent about discussing how I was "giving away the store" if a client books one of our lower coverages and the time is extended indiscriminately. She thought it would set an example for future clients who may also book are mid-priced coverage knowing that I would give them the extra time needed, without charge, to adequately photograph the event.
My point was this, to call the client on a Monday or Tuesday morning after the wedding and claim more monies were due was just bad form and would leave a sour taste in the mind of my client. The last thing I want to do is, in any way, is to create any kind of negative feelings about my studio from any client. This issue seemed so minor to me because it comes up so infrequently - like once every 2-3 years. It just was not a big deal to me.
We discussed it further and most everybody agreed that making that call would be BAD Public Relations for the studio. I know some of you reading this may take objection with me on this, but hear me out. If I had called the client and mentioned the extra monies due just a few days after the wedding, I would have gotten my additional monies but at what expense - in my opinion - of good client relations we had nurtured up to this point. To me we would have been just looking at the nickels and dimes of the sale. To me, the nickels and dimes were not worth jeopardizing the client relationship.
Here is how to take a "Dollar" approach to selling. This also reflects our strategy in this and future situations. First, we are not calling the client to tell them of additional charges, even though, according to my staff, monies are indeed due. When the client comes in to view their images in a few weeks and to make the final selection of images we will determine how to handle the outstanding balances due.
Scenario #1: The client comes in to review the wedding images and selects the bare minimum number of images. This rarely ever happens for my studio. In this case, I would handle it this way. "Mary, your selection will make up in a beautiful album and I can't wait to get started on it for you. Let me just review the costs so far - 3 extras prints for the album, and an 8x10 for each parent, and the 90 minutes of additional time over the agreed amount we discussed. The total will be...."
Scenario #2: The client selects many more images for her album than originally contracted for. Folks, this has been the normal scenario around here for over 25 years - I know it, the client knows it because I mentioned it at all our previous meetings. In this case, we will use the outstanding monies as a closer for the sale. "You know, Mary, you have really put together a great selection of images. At your wedding, Nicholas and his assistant stayed an additional 90 minutes to be sure you had everything well covered. What I would like to do is waive those additional charges if we can go ahead with this order. That would be a $300 savings for you, what do you think? I think the client would be thrilled to save the additional monies - it's a win/win situation - nice sale for us and many dollars saved for the client.
Do you get the idea here? I'm thinking of the entire client experience. The client loves the images and wants many more in her album. The amount of the sale for the additional images far outweighs that 90 minutes my team was needed and stayed over on the wedding day. And, on top of that, I get to make a very gracious gesture of waiving those charges. So you tell me, should I have had my studio call the client in the week following the wedding, asking for more monies, or just let it ride for the time being and see where the sale leads and handle it at that time. I told you my call, what's yours? More food for thought.
Hey gang, these posts as I plan for them seem to be quick and short, many times are just the opposite. That means I got to get back to my real job around here. So how about I see you tomorrow for another Gear Bag Friday: Or maybe I call it, Fish-Eye Friday. See ya' then, -David