Intro by Skip Cohen
Once again, Bev Walden knocks it out of the park with this recent Tuesday Tidbit about your facility. So take a second and look around – while we always talk about your website, what’s your actual location like?
I remember visiting Bambi Cantrell’s home studio many years ago. She had a viewing room to share images and albums with her bridal clients. When it was time for their preview, she served champagne and strawberries before showing them a presentation on the oversized monitor in the warmth of this unique living room. There was no clutter and nothing to distract her clients from enjoying the story that was about to unfold.
She gave each of them a small pad of paper and said, “Don’t worry about how many images you love; just write down the numbers of your favorites.” The music started, and within minutes Mom was crying, then the bride and almost always Dad and the groom followed.
The combination of the warmth and design of the room put together with Bambi’s style made it an experience unlike what most photographers were doing back then.
Well, Beverly hits your facility hard – and it doesn’t matter if it’s retail space or your home. You’ve got to make that great first impression and then hold their attention! This is about building anticipation and establishing your brand right out of the blocks.
By Beverly Walden
First impressions happen on several levels…you (how you look and act), your facility (whether home or retail space) and your digital presence.
Let’s talk about YOUR FACILITY
This is our fourth studio location, and each time, we have been able to do more to make it more impressive. However, if you are just starting out, there are many things you can do to make your space beautiful that won’t cost a great amount.
Our goal…to look successful, even before we were!
-Painting your facility in beautiful colors that match your brand is one of the most cost-effective things you can do. The color of your walls will set the tone for your clients and their expectations. If you have trouble knowing what colors to use, check with your local paint store to ask their advice as to the popular colors used in today’s exclusive, high-end homes.
-Beautiful lighting can now be purchased at home improvement stores, and clubs like Sam’s Club have items such as area carpets to spruce up your gallery area.
-Get rid of clutter! Take small prints and small frames out of your front gallery. Remember “show and sell?” If you have small products to sell, think like a merchandiser and set up a beautiful display in a separate part of the studio so that they won’t compete with your front gallery where you should show off large wall portraits in beautiful frames.
-Designate certain rooms as “client” areas and keep the doors closed and locked on “employee” areas, which don’t have to look as nice. We practice this principle every day as we feel the client’s experience can be controlled more completely if each space is controlled. We lock our work areas with touch locks that are quick and easy to operate.
-Offer refreshments. We installed a self-serve coffee/tea center when we realized that our clients felt we were going to too much trouble when offered a refreshment. They can access it themselves, making themselves an individual cup of coffee with our Keurig coffee maker. During Christmas and into the winter, we add Apple Cider, Hot Chocolate and Chai Tea to the Keurig pod mix. We also have a clear glass beverage refrigerator that we fill with cold drinks and bottled water.
-We have a snack tray, filled to the brim with a variety of things to treat our clients. I make sure to have a few gluten-free items too.
-Cute napkins are part of the experience at Walden’s. I found this company that will print “fun personal facts” on cocktail napkins that you can add to your refreshment area. *You may have to add a fake “wedding date” since this is a wedding supply company, but it worked for me and I LOVE our napkins! You may want to simply put your logo on it. Either way, it makes a wonderful impression.
-Chocolate of some sort is always around. My motto is that everything is better with chocolate! I keep a small dish of Kisses on a table in the front gallery and am constantly surprised by how many people eat them (and drink a Diet Coke) lol.
So you see, with just a few items and minor upgrades, you can make a grand impression without breaking the bank!
Go through your studio this week, whether it is in your home or a retail location and make an honest assessment of the appearance and changes you would like to see made. Once that is decided, go through your list and label everything A, B and C to indicate the order of importance for change and then start with the As on your list and work through to C as time and money allows.
I leave you with this thought, “The sky is not the limit. The limit is your vision.”