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The Client is Not the Enemy

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Guest blog by Missy MWAC
The Client is Not the Enemy

A terrorist is an enemy.
A piece of French bread at a Gluten-Free Support Group is an enemy.
A pair of stilettos on your feet at an all day wedding is an enemy.
Off Camera Flash to a Natural Light Photographer is an enemy.
But a client? A client is NOT an enemy.

But you wouldn’t know that by listening to some photographers.

Now, I wasn’t going to even write a post like this, because I’ve touched on this topic before in a previous post. But after reading recently how some photographers:
*say they charge clients MORE if they can’t post their images online
*REFUSE a clients’ request to keep them off social media and post them online anyway
*say they charge an ADDITIONAL FEE if a client is running late to their session and make them wait…
well, I just can’t wrap my brain around this logic. (Note: I always marvel at the “additional fee/surcharge” option. Good luck on collecting that.)

And I wondered when this Client-as-Enemy thing happened? And why?

So, as I do when faced with a perplexing question, I popped a pod into the Keurig, and with coffee in hand, walked around the kitchen talking to myself until it all made sense. Now, I talk to myself a lot, mostly because I’m the only who will listen to my ramblings.

And after several laps around the kitchen table, I realized what I’ve known all along…that photographers have been tricked into this way of thinking by those who have sold them on the idea that as an Artist (read: Ar-teest) they should not go out of their way in the slightest to accommodate a client; that if a client has a differing view, then they are not respectful of you or your photography and should be kicked to the curb.

And while that may be true now and then, the vast majority have made Clients the Enemy due to a normal business situation handled wrongly.

In a Nutshell: We demonize a client rather than realize this is all just part and parcel of doing business; that most of what we encounter are not problems, but rather, the price of doing business.

Hello? McFly?

And it’s hard to fully blame photographers; it’s what many have been taught, even paid good money to learn.

Workshop Givers who teach the “Are You Good Enough for Me” Qualifying Methods: Namely, the suggestion that prospective clients should answer a series of email questions to determine if they are a “Good Fit” for you. My hand to God, those words “if we are a good fit” are part of the email. I’ll tell ya right now, if a business required me to answer that before they’d speak to me, I would press the delete key faster than I can down a vodka and club soda. And that’s fast. Because the words “good fit” are read by many, including me, to mean “good enough.” Are you “good enough” for me to photograph? Yikes. I even felt weird typing that just now. Qualifying a client through your marketing and pricing is one thing. Asking them to prove themselves is another.

Business “coaches” who preach in the church of “Make it All About You.” It’s a growing congregation filled with parishioners all named “ME.” The sermon is always the same: YOU are what’s most important; not the client. Now, they don’t come right out and SAY that the client isn’t important, but just as 2+2=4, you can reason that if YOU are what’s most important, then, the client must not be. (I hope that math is right. I’m bad with math.) Note: The church of “Make it All About You” will pass around the collection plate and you will be required to pay up. Oh yes, you will.

Charge ‘Em More if They Bother You: I see this a lot. I call it a ”how-dare-they” surcharge.
How dare they not want me to post their images?
How dare they run late for their session?
How dare they reschedule?
How dare they change their order?

Succeeding at making the Client the Enemy will win you a small victory. Sure. But it won’t win you a loyal client or repeat business. Remember, clients can spend their money anywhere, but if they choose to spend it with us, shouldn’t we make it the best experience possible? I mean, don’t we want the people with whom we give our money to bend over backwards for us and make us feel special and wanted?

Now, you certainly don’t have to listen to me. This is, after all, YOUR business, so if you don’t want to work with clients to make it a great experience, then don’t. I realize you might have paid good money to hear from a business coach that it should be all about YOU and you want to get your money’s worth. If that’s the case, then allow me to help you take those rotten clients to task and then shame them online.

Feel free to copy and past the following:

“I am Sooooooooo angry. I had a client: (pick one of the following issues)
*make me wait
*not like their pictures
*request I take more
*reschedule a session
*change their order

I am furious. I mean, who do they think they are? Just because they’ve paid me money they think they have a say. I’ve gone out of my way twice for them-what more do they want? At this point, THEY need to prove themselves to me, not the other way around, right?”

Yeah, that will show ‘em.

xoxo

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