Introducing GotPhoto’s new monthly feature – Professional Tips with Erica Morrow – lead photographer, and owner of Slow Road Photo. Each month Erica will bring you her view from behind the camera as she snaps thousands of kids and the new school year unfolds.
In this month’s blog, Erica delves into understanding your clients and who are the key people to make an impression on at schools. She offers an array of useful tips on how you can create a wonderful school photography experience that will help your business to thrive.
As a high volume photographer, every job is an opportunity to serve on a multitude of levels. We are in the service industry after all, and I for one love hearing photography talked about like that. Even though we are creating art and capturing lovely moments, the core of what we do in our work is to serve. In school photography, serving with gusto can be the piece that sets us apart from our competitors and guarantees a spot at the table every photo season. Taking beautiful photos is critically important, but I would suggest that it is even secondary to providing a memorable and incredible experience for everyone involved in the process.
Impress The Gatekeeper
It may seem at first glance that we are in the schools to serve the families who send their students there. But truly the primary client I serve as a school photographer is an administrator. This is the person who is in charge of coordinating the students, putting together the schedule, and communicating details to the families. They are your best friend and ally at the school, and we must serve them full heartedly.
And remember the small things count even if it is just picking up their favourite coffee on the way or arriving at your meetings together early. I make it my number one goal in life to keep this person cheerful and upbeat about my presence there. They are the gatekeepers for all communication to families, so it’s vital that they are my advocate and friend from beginning to end. One way I love serving the administrators at my schools is to give them all kinds of material that make their life as easy as possible.
My website has an entire section dedicated to this. It has everything from checklists, flyers and guides they can share with parents. I try to anticipate everything a school might need and have it all ready to easily download. If you want to get those creative juices flowing for your own business, feel free to take a minute to browse the materials I have available for schools on my website at www.slowroadphoto.com/schools.
Keeping The Teachers Happy
The teachers at the school are my next most valued clients on photo day. On picture day, I come with a plan on how I intend to execute the schedule. However, when it comes to the shoot my number one job is to serve at the pleasure of the teachers. Their impression of my work is determined through my attitude and flexibility. I want to guarantee they spend the next week talking positively about their photo day to the parents so that everyone is eagerly awaiting the delivery of photos.
If they loved spending the day with me and they thought the process was smooth and easy then that will be the buzz that spreads around the school. When clients discuss having me back next year, I want the key piece of feedback from the teachers to be that I was a pleasant addition to their building and allowed their schedule and priorities to run smoothly.
Pleasing The Parents
After the administration and teachers are satisfied, my final (and oh so important) priority is to serve the parents at the school. Most of the time I will never have the opportunity to meet these individuals face-to-face. So, it is of the utmost importance that I communicate clearly, I am available to help with any part of the ordering process, and that I find ways to say YES as much as possible!
I send newsletters through GotPhoto to families at each school, thanking them for the honour of serving their students and letting them know when to expect their galleries. Once the galleries are set to selling in GotPhoto, I run a series of automated emails which allow me to time communications with families to keep them in the loop from start to finish. This way I can check in and see if they have questions, remind them to place orders, and constantly thank them for allowing me to serve them.
Providing quality photos for families brings my heart so much joy! I love knowing that I’m creating heirlooms that families will treasure. But as a businesswoman, I know that my company will only grow when schools see my services as a value-added part of their year. I want them to think of Slow Road Photo at their school almost like a field trip – an enriching experience that gives them much more than they get. We are given such an amazing opportunity to serve within the walls of the schools we photograph, and may we treat each picture day as such!