1. Business

Wedding Photographers: A Guide for Dealing with the Challenges of Coronavirus: Part Three

Intro by Skip Cohen

I shared Bryan Caporicci’s post in three parts because there’s so much to think about, and each section has covered a different aspect of dealing with cancellations. But at the very end, Bryan wrote about the importance of connecting with your clients. He wrote:

No matter how you reach out to your clients – the phone is going to be king right now, by the way – just make sure you touch base. Show empathy, be understanding and remember that you are the professional here. You are the guide. Focus on these relationships, focus on being caring and focus on being empathetic.

Not only does that make you a kind human being, but it’s what separates the businesses that are acting out of greed and those who are acting out of empathy. And in the end, your business will be able to weather this storm because you showed up for your clients when they needed you the most.

Years ago, I attended a workshop with Ed Foreman, a motivational marketing expert out of Texas. Polaroid had brought him in for a program to help all of us in Customer Service. I’ve never forgotten one of the most important things he talked about:

If I can see the world through my client’s eyes, then I can sell my client what my client buys.

Every time I’ve talked about this in my own workshops, somebody always says, “It’s no different than walking in their shoes.” Well, it is different; if you can see the world through your client’s eyes, then you can learn to understand what’s most important to them, what they’re most worried about, and how important their trust in you needs to become.

The Coronavirus changed everything in our lives, our businesses and created a new normal. Bryan’s helping us deal with that new normal using your most valuable marketing tool – relationship building.

By Bryan Caporicci

What to do about the lost (or deferred) revenue?

Let’s be honest – no matter what, this crisis is going to leave you with either lost revenue or deferred revenue at the very best. Sure, you may still keep your weddings when they reschedule, but if you had relied on that income from this year, you’d now have to defer that revenue until next year. That could be a significant hit on your cash flow.

(But at the same time – if you can get through it, it’ll also mean an influx on your cash flow for next year if you do things right!)

Here are five ideas.

For those couples who rescheduled, offer them a payment plan that spreads out their remaining payments instead of just deferring them by a year.

Perhaps you have a typical wedding payment plan:

$1500 deposit
50% due one month before the wedding
Remaining balance due one month after the wedding

You could suggest to your couple that you switch it to:

$1500 deposit (already paid)
75% paid in monthly installments between now and the wedding
25% due one month after the wedding

You can explain that you’re a small business and that this crisis, with all of the cancellations and rescheduled dates, has had a massive impact on your business. If they are comfortable making a few smaller payments between now and their wedding date instead of deferring it all until next year, that’d be helpful for you and your business.

We – as humans – have come together during this crisis, and empathy is at an all-time high. I think your clients would be understanding with you, especially because you’ve gone out of your way to be understanding and empathetic with them through this.

Similar to the first idea – you can see if your couple would be comfortable shifting their payment plan around so that there is still an installment due now.

For example – again, perhaps you have a typical wedding payment plan:

$1500 deposit
50% due one month before the wedding
Remaining balance one month after the wedding

You could suggest to your couple that you switch it to:

$1500 deposit (already paid)
30% due now
30% due one month before the wedding
Remaining balance due one month after the wedding

If you need to, you could always offer something as an incentive, too. Perhaps you could offer an additional two hours of wedding day coverage in exchange for them being flexible with you and their payments. You win, they win, it’s a win all around!

Idea #3 – Build a new monthly payment plan for new weddings

For all new weddings you book, you could switch your payment schedule around a bit to collect more money sooner. For example, instead of your typical wedding payment plan, which might be something like:

$1500 deposit
50% due one month before the wedding
Remaining balance one month after the wedding

You could switch your standard payment plan to:

$1000 deposit
75% in monthly payments between now and their wedding
Remaining balance one month after the wedding

You could – again – explain that your business was hit hard by this crisis and that this was a cash flow decision you had to make to keep your business afloat.

You could also pitch the benefit of this to new couples and explain that this is better for them because they don’t need to have a large chunk of money come out all at once. Instead, they can just plan to pay down their wedding collection slowly. This may also end up benefiting you and enabling your clients to book a higher package because the payments are more manageable and split up.

Idea #4 – Offer an album add-on promotion

Offer an album add-on promotion. If your couple chooses and pays for a wedding album now, they’ll receive five additional spreads at no extra cost, which usually would cost $625.

Obviously – plug in your numbers there and structure the deal in a way that makes sense for you. But the idea is to offer them great value and savings (benefit) by making a decision now on their wedding album, and it is a nice way to get some new cash in the door for you.

Idea #5 – Offer a wall portrait add-on promotion

Similar to idea #4, you could offer a wall portrait promotion to your couples. A lot of the time, the focus of weddings is the wedding album, and couples completely forget about getting prints done.

What if you – similarly – offered them a great value right now and allowed them to pre-purchase wall portraits.

For example, you could give them the option of pre-purchasing as many wall prints as they’d like, and for every print they pre-purchase, you’ll double it.

So if they’d like to get a beautifully framed 12×18 wall portrait for one of their parents (maybe for the Christmas that follows the wedding), you’ll add a second 12×18 framed wall portrait so that they can give one to their other set of parents.

It’s a great way for them to think ahead and lock in some deliverables, a great way to save some money and a great way for you to add some additional, unexpected income during a time where your cash flow is being negatively affected by the circumstances.