Client conflict is bound to happen or try to rear its ugly head during the course of your photography career. We don’t need to let it. We can work together to ensure that it stays away or at least alleviate some of the ugly results that may arise out of conflict. In business we want to keep the ocean as smooth as possible but not be a doormat to our clients either. Implement these five ways to avoid conflicts with your photography clients to be able to stand firm on policies but also offer a great customer experience.
5 Ways to Avoid Client Conflicts
Educating a client is probably the number one way to avoid issues with a client – this can avoid miscommunications, failed expectations and allow you to be able to under-promise and over-deliver to make a client happy. There are a variety of tools that can be used to educate a client and a variety of informational subjects that are required to be delivered – this is all going to depend on your business model, target market and style of business operations. Tools can include client guides, questionnaires, etc.
Use a legal contract
Y’all know that I can’t let this list slide without a nudge at contracts. These are the foundation of your business relationship and should not be left out when trying to avoid client conflicts. Suggested contracts include: A main portrait contract for the type of photography session, model release, print release, and product delivery agreement - at a minimum.
While external communications can help to facilitate a client/photographer portrait relationship it is simpler and streamlined to use a contract that includes all policies and requirements outlined for both parties to fulfill.
Psstt….even if you aren’t in full-time business (business is business) and no money is passing hands you still need to have an agreement in writing! If you’re new to photography business management check out this checklist on How to Set Up a Photography Business.
Use the Rule of 3s
A good way to cover yourself is to make sure that you ask or inform your client at least three times of important information. Keep a running list of important information that would be detrimental to the relationship if not conveyed – and then make sure its conveyed at least three times over the course of the client relationship. Timing and delivery of information will depend on the type of information and at what part of the client relationship you’re currently in!
For example, non-refundable retainers (see: Retainer vs Deposit) are required to hold a spot and be considered booked. Convey this information on your pricing page, in your inquiry response and your inquiry follow ups. At a minimum you’ve conveyed this message three times to the inquiry so there should be no mistaking that without that retainer (and contract!) they aren’t considered booked and the spot is available for the taking by other clients.
Make sure everything is all gravy with your clients! (Yes gravy is the professional business term!)
Follow up with them to ensure that all is well with their products and services. You can use surveys, email requests, and other methods to request feedback from clients. This can ensure that your clients are satisfied with you and provide feedback to guide your future client interactions with new and existing clients.
What do I do if there is still an issue?
“I’ve done everything you said above but there is still an issue!” You may want to look at severing the relationship by canceling the contract – see How to Cancel a Photography Contract.
Need more help on client management?
Client Management is just one part of the BizRevamp online webcourse for photographers that returns June 19th. Want info? Sign up here + Snag a freebie template // Only a few spots available since I am offering 1:1 Q&A in the course!
Rachel Brenke, The Law Tog
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