“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises.
He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him.
He is not an interruption in our work – he is the purpose of it.
We are not doing him a favour by serving him.
He is doing us a favour by giving us the opportunity to serve him.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
Gandhi spoke those words back in 1890. And in every way they still apply today.
The most important thing within your business is your list – your customers – the people that can give you the opportunity to run a successful business for as long as you choose to stay in business. If you want them to choose to spend their money in your studio, here are 10 ways to stand out from your competition.
1. Don’t set up your packages and promotions based on what you want to sell. Set them up based on what your customers want to buy. Listen to what they say. When you truly listen to your customers and modify things to make your products and services that much better, they will love what you do.
2. Go beyond order taking and showcase your expertise within the industry. Anyone can take orders. But a real professional will prove their artistic talent by building relationships and directing people on what to do next. Collages, albums, montages – you are the artist and show your clients how your vision is put together through your photographs.
3. Make reliability a key ingredient to your mission. When you do as you say and often times go the extra mile without having to be asked, your clients notice.
4. Always meet deadlines. And when you can, come in early. You should quickly be able to figure out your averages. Then add a few days to it for your guarantees. So if you know you can get orders out in 10 days, tell your clients two to three weeks. This will give you plenty of time in the event of a problem, yet guarantee that you’ll be able to surprise most of your clients early. They’ll love it!
5. Show appreciation all the way through. A simple hand written note thanking them for doing business with you goes a long way. And for very low cost, you can even throw in a gift or two for special things – anniversaries, or a great referral, or a special event in their lives. Use your imagination and connect again and again with your best customers.
6. Are you hiring employees? Make sure they understand your commitment to customer service. If they will be dealing with your customers, give them the freedom to make decisions to keep your customers happy. If they are comfortable with your policy, it will shine through to your customers.
7. You are the expert. Let your customers benefit from that knowledge. Direct them on which camera to buy for an upcoming trip. Give them pointers on how to store photographs. The more you showcase your knowledge, the more they will trust you with the big stuff.
8. Go the extra mile in everything you do. If you want to charge “a lot” for your portraits, what can you do to give your clients everything? How about framing every wall portrait that leaves your studio. How about a small hanging kit to go along with it – nails, hammer and maybe a level. Or take it to the next level and show up at your clients home to hang it for them. That’s going the extra mile.
9. Sell the benefits, not the features. Always think about the bottom line and what your client truly wishes to accomplish by using you. They don’t want a photography; they want the experience. If you give them the experience, they will love you forever.
10. Let them invest in your value. Most photographers relate to their customers through their own wallets and pocketbooks. Just because you can’t afford yourself doesn’t mean your customers won’t stretch to book with you. Concentrate on your value – how can you increase it in your customers’ eyes?