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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Is the client always right?

The customer is always right.

This age old saying is one that businesses are taught to live by. While this should be good business advice, you can't always make it happen when you are a photographer.

As a photographer, I think that we are too eager to please the client that we end up being taken advantage of. We are artists and vulnerable of our work, so we can sometimes let our clients walk all over us.

One incident that always stand out in my mind is when I shot an 80th birthday party. The lady that hired me was throwing it for her mom. She (client) was so nice and we actually had a nice time and everyone treated us well. The bad part came during the proofing.

The lady actually had her brother and sister going in with her on the expenses of the party and photographer. I did not know this until later-not that it mattered. They wanted a book that show cased the party, so I put together a nice 8x10 and was happy with my work.

I put a proof of the pages online for the lady and waited for her approval for me to send it off to print. She quickly emailed me back and said she loved it and was excited to get it-awesome!

As I was replying with a thank-you email and in the process of ordering the book, I get another email from her asking if I could make a quick revision. Okay?? What happened? I was thinking to myself. I agreed to do the quick revision and sent the new proofed page to her. I got another email from her letting me know that she liked the revision BUT, could I please change one more thing?

What the heck is going on here? I was confused at this point. First, this lady loves my book and now she's slowly tearing it apart? I made the second change and quickly sent the third proof to her. This time, I did not look forward to her reply.

She replied back, stating once again that she loved the new page, BUT, could I add a photo that someone else took to the book?

Are you freakin' kidding me?!?

I had to put a stop to this before this woman had me designing a totally new book. I replied back and told her that I would add the photo, BUT, any more revisions would add additional fees. This time, when she replied back, she did not ask for anymore changes. I also found out that it was the older sister that was demanding all the changes.

Had I not said anything, I'm sure her sister would have dragged this on for weeks, costing me time away from other clients, and had I figured cost per hour, I'd be doing it for pennies.

This situation made me realized that, while I believe the client is always right, you do have to set your limits.

That's why we need sturdy contracts that limits the freedom of the client to a point. Yes, we need to make them happy with our work, but we don't need to lose control either.

After that chaos, I did one more revision-to my contract. I added one complimentary revision when the client orders a book, and if they want more, additional fees will incur.

What are your thoughts?


Kimberly Gauthier said...

This is a fantastic example of when the client isn't right.

It's important that we value our time, talent and resources. If we teach our clients (or potential clients) that we respect our value, then they won't respect our value either.

Wonderful post. Looking forward to sharing it.

MarkBernardPhotography said...

I will do anything the client requests, but it all costs more money. Nothing stops nonsense like cold hard cash.

Tara said...

I think this is totally right on! I do believe we do have to bend for the customer but at the same time some people just plain are never happy or take advantage of situations. I like that one complimentary change and than additional charge!

Skeller said...

albums can be sticky-wickets. we definitely need to have policies in place. experience teaches us much, doesn't it!?

Marie Young (Young Creative) said...

I find that I am a people pleaser so this is a tough one, but I think you handled it beautifully. I dread custom orders for this reason. Having a policy in place should help.

Marianne said...

The only request I ever had of a photographer was for my wedding. No back fat. If I found one photo with me from behind w/ back fat, she wouldn't get paid. We didn't put it in the contract, but at the end of the day: zero back fat shots. Sometimes it's the little things....