|The Follow Up|
| Follow-up is very
important. But before that, make sure that you completely finish the
photo assignment. Hopefully it will be to the satisfaction of the Art
Director or client.
Many times I have been called in to finish an important shoot. The other photographers had not completed the total job, or had not followed instructions, or had messed up the shoot somehow.
Pride yourself in finishing what you start. Don't take on what you can't finish.
I like to also add those axioms of photography, to be "before deadline" and "under budget". These are some of the secrets of keeping repeat business.
Make sure all the film is accounted for and properly developed. Protect the film from any adverse handling before and after it is developed. I have learned to number every roll and keep an inventory of them for each shoot. Be sure to edit and deliver the final pictures to the client.
Personal delivery is always the best, but sometimes impossible. There
are many time- efficient and reputable delivery services available
for when you can't make the delivery in person. Be sure the delivery
service that you choose can physically trace and track the delivery
of your photographs. They should be able to tell you who had it last,
Be sure to get paid! You would think this a moot point. So why is it so difficult to get paid? The money is yours after the shoot. You deserve it. Of course you are going to get paid. Well that's what you get for thinking! Hopefully, all or most ofthe time, the client, agency, corporation, or rnagazine will meet their obligations on time as agreed.
I recommend getting a deposit on a shoot that covers at least the expenses of a loss in case the client stiffs you or goes out of business. A signed Purchase Order and a P.O. Number are extremely essential and very important.
A Work Order is for carpenters. Art Orders are for art supplies. Photography is contracted normally through the signing of a Purchase Order, and the issuing of a P.O. Number This authorizes payment for the photography. Normally in business, there should be an "ear-marking" of the funds necessary to pay for this photography as soon as it is due.
The above chain should not be broken. You should be firm in using these rules, and not vary from their proven procedure. Keep these rules and you will always get paid. Make your studio policies and stick to them. If a client objects, you can just say, "It's company policy".
If you need funds immediately to start another assignment or pay
an important bill, there is a banking service called "Factoring''.
A Factor bank or company will pay you irnmediately 62% to 75% of a
fulfilled invoice. For twenty-five years I have used the services
of a Factor to increase cash flow, take advantage of large discounts,
pay bills, and
Upon receipt of the notice of a legitimate invoice and a signed loan form, the Factor will wire the agreed upon funds to your bank. This process can take a day or less. Factoring is like selling your accounts receivable one at a time, or drawing against what is owed you. A small fee is charged by the Factor from the funds received from your client after the invoice is paid. Normally the Factors don't like to wait more than thirty days for the invoice to be paid. I have seen a Factor fund a sixty day paymnent, but his fee increased.
Imagine finishing a $10,000 shoot and you normally would get paid in thirty days. In two days you need $6,000 to start another assignment which will rnake you $15,000. You don't presently have an extra $6,000. So by selling your invoice, you can get the funds to go make another good paying photo assignment. Cash flow is an especially important part of the business of Photography.
Write your clients after every job and reiterate your gratefulness for their patronage. Many of my clients have told me how much they appreciate a '"Thank You" note in these hurried days and times.
Call the client after they receive the Thank You note or letter as a follow up. Make sure the client is happy and pleased with the last job, because you need to ask them for more work. It is essential to ask for more photo assignments from those who have used you in the past. Another Axiomů
Repeat business is the name of the game. There is more time, energy, and money spent getting new clients than is needed for repeat custorners. There is no start up expense with existing clients. There may be maintenance expenses to each account, but you are already in and you are working with the client for sure, not maybe.
After every photo shoot clean all your equipment and put each piece away where it belongs so that you may find it easily next tirne. Check your gear for damage and repair needs immediately. Things take time to fix. Replace what is not repairable. If your equipment goes down or in repair and you have a photo to produce, just turn to the rental houses of photographic equipment. There are many.
Nikon provides Nikon Professional Service which I recommend to every professional photographer shooting with Nikon cameras and lenses. You must qualify to be a member. NPS replaced my Nikons at the bottom of Chile, South America in one day so I could finish my photo assignment.
Plan a campaign for each client in order to keep in touch. This will
especially remind the client of you and your photography service.
Personally I recommend mailouts every six weeks to your present clients
and those you wish to gain. Be sure to hand address them and use special
postage. Always make your correspondence and deliveries
Be sure to take a break and reward yourself somehow. Humans need this little procedure to stay human. I love what I do, but I take a break so that I will continue to love it. Avoiding breaks and rewards can lead to "burnout." I go on retreats several times a year.
After your spiritual rest, it is time for staying organized, for keeping up your files and for phone calling. Monitor all billings, receivables, and expenditures. Review and design your marketing. Constantly work on your portfolios. Get them seen by persons that have the potential to give you paying work.
Then repeat rule one: Make more money. Go shoot another photograph. Always give money-producing work the priority in your studio.
In between paying jobs, assign yourself photography to do for yourself and for your polifolio.
Always include at least one "pro bono" thing a year for your favorite charity. Also make time for yourself, your family and loved ones. Maximize your time.