Sometimes Knowing TOO MUCH Can Hurt Your BUSINESS!

I have become somewhat of an authority on business time management and/or getting the most sales per hour as possible out of your work day (articles, books, etc.).  Sometimes, (especially when you become a little too smart for your own good) you miss out on opportunities because time and experience have taught you a certain set of circumstances don’t typically results in a good profit.  For years, I have always been an advocate for doing portraits on location, because they do have a higher sales average than portraits done in the studio.  To offset the cost of travel to individual locations we set up blocks of appointments at our established locations, offering our client the ability to go to locations at the same price as in the studio.  This practice has served me and many readers of my books well.

Because we show a large number of outdoor portraits we have always had to deal with the question, “will you come to my house to do the photos?”  Knowing through experience that many peoples’ homes and surroundings areas are not set up to be a usable area to do the kind of outdoor portraits we take, we typically direct people to our established locations.  Most of the time the backgrounds and lighting around client’s homes will not produce the kind of outdoor portraits that we display and in most cases clients do not want to spend the additional money in higher sitting fees for this service.   My staff and I have gotten to a point that we direct everyone toward our established outdoor locations without giving it much thought or discussion.

Recently we had a potential client call the studio.  We had just photographed the girlfriend of the this lady’s son and she thought the portraits were amazing, however see didn’t want to go to one of our locations, she wanted them done at her home.  Knowing that these types of sessions never seem to work out, I had the staff person direct her again back to our locations, bringing up the savings in the session fee as a benefit to our business method.  This mother respond that the sitting fee wasn’t an issue, she wanted the portraits taken at her home, which was about an hour away from the studio.  The comment that the sitting fee wasn’t an issue sparked my curiosity, so I gave the staff member an amount for the session (including travel) and thought that would be the last we heard about coming to her house.  A few minutes later I was handed a session confirmation and prepayed session card for the session. The studio staff member had gone over the pricing of portraits and packages and the client said that was about what they had budgeted for her son’s senior portraits, so we were set!

While the financial part of the session was taken care of, I worried about the location not providing a suitable area for portraits.  When I arrived at their home, it was amazing.  It was a fenced estate in the mountains that covered about 40 acres.  It was beautiful! Everywhere I looked there we beautiful areas to take portraits.  I could have stayed there all day photographing (but I had a full day back at the studio).  In addition to the sitting fee and a very sizable order, I had fun!  Now came the problem of confronting my staff, which I preached to constantly about not judging clients when they walk through the door,  because once a client is qualified,  you never know which client will order $3000 worth of portraits and pay in cash and which one will place a minimum order and have the credit card declined! While I preached it and followed this advice for my sessions inside the studio and at our locations, I didn’t follow my own preaching about this type of session.  I admitted my mistake to our staff and came up with a simple to calculate outdoor session fee for specific locations for client.  This taught me that Sometimes knowing too much about what doesn’t work out “most of the time”  keeps us from trying to make it work out some of the time and that can hurt your business in times like these!

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~ by jeffsmithbooks on November 23, 2010.

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