The True Costs of Your Options

Hey Peeps,
Sometimes we think we know what’s best for our clients, our businesses and ourselves.
What is fast, cheap, efficient is always searched for, but sometimes the most obvious options aren’t that obvious.  Sometimes what we think is fast is actually inefficient, and what is cheap will often cost us a lot in the long run.
I had a client that loved their images.  The prints arrived, but when we went over them not everything was what it seemed.  The images online showed everyone in perfect clarity, the printed version however showed a lack of sharpness on some people, while others were fine.
And when I say “lack of sharpness” – I actually cringe at the memory of reviewing those images that should have been a great experience between my client and I.
So who’s to blame?
Answer: ME.
It is me.  No excuses and I give none either.
I knew exactly what happened – my depth of field was too narrow for the subject matter I was capturing.
Now you photo-enthusiasts out there understand what I just said, but most of my clients don’t – and even if they did, they shouldn’t care what went wrong.
All they need to care about is getting the quality product that they spent their hard-earned cash on, right?
Answer: Right.
I don’t need to explain the technical issues to my client, all I need to do is tell them exactly what they want and need to hear and what I am going to do.
So what am I going to do?
Like some photogs that are hard-assed business types but lack the tact that comes with basic human interaction, I could have looked at only the financial side of things, or only the time management side and said nothing and let the client keep the awful, awful representation of my work.  Or I could have really insulted them and asked if they wanted a reshoot – for a fee. 
What?!
Wait, didn’t they just pay me for these images already?  
That’s right, some photogs do this.  I find it so backward, blind and suicidal to their business and not-to-mention – quite a dickish thing to do to anyone.
But no, instead my instincts kicked in immediately.
We will reshoot any selected image that does not meet theirs or my expectations.  And the added fee?  What added fee!?!? 
Answer: This is my mistake – so it is my dime.
See?  Evolution is real.
We went through them all.  Some images the clients picked out, some others I picked out.  We set a date for the reshoot and I went immediately to my studio for testing.
What?  Testing?  For what?
Answer: To eliminate the DOF issue from the coming reshoot and for all future shoots in the future.
See what I did there?
Let’s recap in case you missed it.
If I were to brush off the client, many things would happen:
  • I would be a dick
  • My client would think I’m a dick(and rightly so)
  • I would save a piddly amount of money and time from having to reshoot and reorder out-of-pocket
  • This would eliminate repeat business from the client
  • The technical issue wouldn’t be resolved and therefore would repeat in future shoots
  • I wouldn’t grow as a photographer or a business owner
  • My business would grow a horrible reputation and fail
But instead, if I give my client a 100% guarantee on the product(my photography), and what happens instead?
  • I wouldn’t be a dick
  • My client wouldn’t think I’m a dick(YAY!)
  • My client is 100% happy with their shoot, prints, service – everything
  • My client is sure to repeat business with me
  • My clients positive opinion of the experience would spread to their friends/family – therefore supplying me with free, positive testimonials/business
  • The technical issue is resolved from the present and future shoots
  • I grow as a photographer and a business owner
  • My business grows a terrific reputation and succeeds
  • Technical issues drop and therefore reshoots do as well
Now I know you’re thinking,(in a whiny voice)”But Michael, if you kept doing this, you wouldn’t make any money!  You would have to keep footing the bill and your business would fail!”
Answer: NOOOOOOOOO.
Look, what was the last thing listed above?
Answer: “Technical issues drop and therefore reshoots do as well.”
So as I go – I grow.
I take care of my clients by taking care of my photography, my style, my technical ability, my business.  
As I eliminate the issues that pop up, the number of them occurring drops.  
My clients are happier and bring me more business.  I save more time, do a better job, get better in my art, my costs of time and money drop and I have time to do the things and projects that I want to do – which is what we all want, right?
So which faster, cheaper and efficient route would you go?
Fast, cheap and efficient short term?  Or fast, cheap and efficient long term?
What are your “true costs of your options” stories?  I want to hear them!
Laters,
Michael Carty

Michael Carty Email

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