I’ve been through such an evolution since starting my business. When I started, I booked sessions in good faith and about 90% of those people never even showed up to their appointment. And this was back in the days when I was setting the entire studio in a rented space for each and every session. Naturally, I began requesting deposits but this did two things:
a.) massively lowered the number of bookings I got because time wasters didn’t even bother and…
b.) created an administrative headache
Because my sessions were priced so low, I highly undervalued my work and my work wasn’t yet really up to scratch, I was attracting mostly the kind of client who didn’t even have a bank account. Or a computer to use online banking to pay me online. Or PayPal. Or money. So beginning to say “I require a deposit to book your session” brought my business to a grinding halt.
Somewhere in the middle there, I started to wise up. I stopped shooting studio, started really finding my photographic voice, and my work continued massively exceed itself session by session. I also discovered the importance of consistency. I was becoming the kind of photographer who could align myself with the kind of clients who didn’t devalue me by trying to get everything for nothing.
This was also a time period when I began to see the importance and value in conducting my end-sales process in person. And so at this time, I began requiring the entire session fee on booking. I do this for five reasons:
- It weeds out time wasters
- It cuts down on my admin work
- It establishes that you are a confident business person and you have standards & processes in place for your business. If you umm and aah about whether or not you want them to pay you a deposit or whether or not you take a check or cash, you’re going to look amateur. And this is just code for “I’m not a serious business. Please take advantage of me.” So decide how you’re going to run your business and run it that way. No exceptions.
- It puts my clients in a position where they’re not only making a time and emotional commitment, but a financial one. And they won’t be walking out of that viewing session without the products they need & want. Because that would be money wasted.
- Most importantly, “spent money is forgotten money”. When they book their session, it’s typically 6-8 weeks before their date rolls around. And then a week after that for their viewing session. So when the time comes to purchase their prints & products, they’re ready.
This was a hard lesson to learn but now, I don’t hesitate to state that the session fee is required on booking when they make that first inquiry. It will set you up for success!Pin It