As business owners, whether you’re in wedding photography or graphic design, we have a certain type of client that we love to work with. This is not saying that we don’t like working with all sorts of different clients, but there are some clients that make our life more difficult, stress us out more and just make the job not worth it. It’s at that point that you need to learn to just say No.
Prior to any consultations I like to pre-qualify couples to ensure that we are going to be a good fit. Pre-qualifications include the wedding venue, date of course, but also how many details the couple gives me prior to the consolation booking, what information they are giving me and how much excitement they show when describing their wedding and meeting with me. When I book a consultation I am fairly confident that I can see myself working with this couple. No one wants to waste time meeting with people that are not going to be a good fit.
I like to meet at a quiet Starbucks where the atmosphere is a little more casual and comfortable for me so I can focus on my client. I have my coffee order ready and at times my clients favourite coffee if they’ve happened to mention it to me. I have my 12″ leather photo books ready, my client gift, pricing magazine and questionnaire all neatly organized and ready to wow them with my work. What experience has taught me is that this consultation is more like an interview, and this interview goes both ways.
My clients arrive and greet me, their excitement level and greeting is important for me to see how much they wanted to meet me. We sit down and I ask them a little about themselves, where they grew up, how they met and what they love to do on the weekend as a couple. I ask all about their proposal and ask to see the engagement ring. As we are uuuu-ing and ahhh-ing over the engagement ring, I think about all of the answers that the couple has given me and I’m evaluating if I think we are going to be a good fit. Can I see myself getting along with this couple, can I see myself being friends with the bride, will I get excited about the details of their wedding and will they get excited when I offer my experience?
We then start discussing the wedding plans to date. What do they envision their wedding to look like. Here I evaluate the wedding as to how it’ll fit in my portfolio. It’s true that not all weddings will be submission worthy and it’s not about that. What I’m looking for is red flags; things that I know I don’t want to shoot again. I’ve been there, done that, bought the t-shirt and burned it. For example, is the couple not putting much value or time into photography. Will my day be all rushed, and will it compromise the final product that I deliver. Will I be able to deliver the images to the couple and whole heartily say: This is the best that I could have done to authentically document your wedding day.
At that point we dive into timelines and pricing. I go over a timeline overview with my couples to show them how much time I need in different parts of the day in order to document their day properly and deliver to them the same product that they have just seen in my photo book sample. I answer any questions that the couple may have, tell the couple a funny wedding experience story or two.
At this point of the meeting I have either solidified my initial opinion that this couple is going to be fantastic to work with, or I may have a few more questions that will help identify how flexible the couple is on something that to me may have been a red flag. Sometimes I feel like couples want something a certain way because they don’t know there is a better alternative, or they’ve been told that is the right way to do something. If the couple is open to my advice then I am much more open to work with them.
A lot of couples will want to book right on the spot which is amazing and 100% of the time these are the couples that I have clicked with instantly. They may have been referred by another bride, vendor or they have seen me at another wedding. Though I always offer my couples to go home to discuss it and come back to me with a decision. I do offer a booking bonus for my couples that book within one week so if they do go home to discuss it gives them a deadline by when they should get back to me if they are serious about working together.
The time after a meeting also gives me time to reflect if this is a wedding i want to book, if there were any red flags at the meeting, if we didn’t click like I had hoped. Do I really want to book this couple, or will it create chaos in my workflow, affect my mood and compromise my work for this couple and the other couples that I’m working with. If I don’t think it’s a good fit, I will be honest with the couple and tell them I don’t think we are a good fit, and I’m sure there is a photographer out there that is going to be just right for them.
I am ok with this.
Because it’s ok to say No.
Thank you Ray & Rania for the behind the scenes photos of me 🙂