It’s time for another addition of our monthly series “Ask a CMpro” in which we give our CMpros one question and they dish. Their answers alone are always inspiring and this week we asked them, “what is your best advice for handling the busy fall photography season?”
*image courtesy Leah Cook
Leslie Densford, North Carolina
Stay organized! I have a monthly binder that keeps me sane in the “busy season!” Each client gets their own folder that contains any paperwork pertaining to their session and at the very front of the binder is a checklist with all of my sessions listed (not just for that month) so I can see where I am in the process with each session. At the end of the month, I create a file for it and all of the clients from that month go straight there with a backup cd with the images from that month. I also have to take time for myself and my family on the weekends or else I would go crazy and they get grouchy.
Mollie Donovan Burpo, Texas
Know your limits! Saying ‘no’ can be difficult to do, but once the busy season gets started it can be a necessary part of business. Keeping your work load manageable is key to offering top notch customer service and turn around times for your clients. Limits will also help you retain a semblance of personal life in the fall – trust me, you and your family will be so grateful!
Stacie Turner, Connecticut
Start off the season by knowing how much you will do and don’t let clients pressure you into adding them into a week that’s already booked. You may feel “booked” at one session and that’s fine – only you know what your other obligations are. You may be booked at 15 in a week and that’s also fine. We all have a different way of working. The trick is to know your limits and stick to them.
Georgia Nelson, Texas
In the Fall, I tend to lean heavily on mini sessions as my main source of photography income. One thing that has really helped me was to prepare an emergency basket of helpful things like little Kleenex packets, disposable combs, a hand-sized mirror, baby wipes, hair clips, bobby pins, and goody bags for the kids to take home as prizes for putting up with my crazy animal noises. Clients really appreciated that I thought of all of the little things to help make the mini session go smoothly!
Courtney Keim, New Jersey
Learn to say no. I’ve learned I cannot say yes to every session. I’ve learned to say no to late night editing sessions. I’ve learned to say no to pushing off my own family time to try to squeeze in another session. I just need to keep my sanity.
Aubrey Torrey, Texas
I only work certain days and do a limited number of sessions and of course, know when to say no. I will admit when a return client contacts me I do my best to find time for them, but I really need to find time for my family first. Setting expectations for my family is key too. My husband is happy to watch the kids as long as he knows when I will be away in advance. I drink a lot of coffee too!
Jennifer Dell, Texas
Know your limits. It’s so easy to yes to everyone – clients, friends, family, etc. When you say yes to everyone something has to give, either it’s your family, your sanity or providing less than stellar quality. By knowing your limits and planning accordingly you’ll have a great and successful fall season!
Laurie Yuenger, Illinois
Say NO! Also, set a deadline for ordering (I like a month away) to guarantee prints before Christmas. One thing I’ve found is that EVERY professional lab I’ve used has botched an order around the holidays. They are working overtime too (and I’m guessing hiring temps/newbies that are not as skilled as their regulars) and rushing orders to keep up with demand. If you promise something and order it in time, but you need reprints because the lab messed up you can be in trouble so give yourself extra time! Say NO! Stay organized. Promise your family that if you are working extra hours that you will go back to normal after the holiday rush! Say NO!
Seriously – it’s important not to kill yourself by taking on too much. The extra pay before the holidays is great, but not if you have upset clients, who spread bad word of mouth and you end up with less clients next year. I have had clients in the past wanting holiday photos that called when I was booked up so they booked for January, and I filled that month up! So don’t be afraid to tell clients you are booked before the holidays, but that you have spots available after. And don’t forget your own holiday photos/cards, not to mention the Christmas shopping!
*image courtesy Sara Seeton
Thanks to our CMpros for sharing with us! Have a question of your own for our CMpros? Make sure to check out our “Ask the Pros” section of the CMforum!