Why I Love UNSATISFIED Clients


On October 25, we covered the burial ceremony of one of our client‘s brother. Our client – a 73 year old woman – had hired us as the main photographer because she was impressed with the coverage we gave her for her 70 years birthday 3 years ago. Artistic, organized, well-packaged, creative….those were some of the words she used to describe the 70 birthday album.

So it was a no-brainer for her regarding who to call for a “creatively artistic” coverage of his brother’s burial. I would later discover that she apparently had a photographer that she had worked with for over 30 years: Uncle J Photos. Apparently Uncle J had been hired as the backup photographer.

Fast forward to the week of November 14. We called her to book an appointment so she could view the designs before we printed. She went through the digital designs, gave some corrections and gave us the go-ahead to print.

4 days after the album was delivered, I put a call through to her to ask what she thought of our latest artistic endeavor. It was almost as if she had the answer premeditated because I was barely through asking the question before she blurted out a LOUD “NO”. I was shocked. I thought we showed the pictures to her before we printed.

She told me that when compared with Uncle J Photos’ album, that our album was not “a detailed coverage of the event”. I wondered what she meant by “detailed” coverage knowing that the album was just a summary of what we assumed to be key moments of the events. I concluded I would visit her on November 26 to see Uncle J’s album.

I eventually discovered that November 26 was the day her husband will turn 80 years. She didn’t want us to bother coming because she didn’t want to pay for something she wouldn’t be satisfied with again. Upon arriving there, they had just finished praying for the husband. The main celebration wouldn’t be until December 15 and I have a second chance to re-deliver a more “satisfying” album to her if I wanted to be part of her husband’s birthday.

I eventually saw uncle J’s album and was very surprised that it wasn’t necessarily “finer” than ours; it just had more pictures on each page than ours. Apparently the client wanted us to cram more pictures on each page of the album. By so doing, we would have proven to her to have done a “detailed coverage”. I gladly collected the album we gave her and assured her that I’ll do my best to please her (a promise I now realize might be difficult to keep when dealing with a 74-year-old woman).

She appreciated my kind gesture and spontaneously introduced and recommended me to 2 of her best friends sitting with her. “Elophotos is one of the best photography outfits in Nigeria“, she muttered to her friends. I was surprised she was recommending me despite the fact that I had not completely satisfied her. What if I had not showed up that day to ask for the album back? Perhaps I would have lost the opportunity to have another 70-something-year-old as a client. I’m learning to be more patient on this job.

It then occured to me that it is clients like these that please me. I appreciate clients that challenge me to do better than what I delivered for them the last time. I appreciate it when they give me feedback on how they feel I can satisfy them better even if the feedback is contrary to my artistic beliefs. At the end of the day, when I’m able to satisfy these “unsatisfied” clients, they will provide the funds that I will use to send my daughter to Harvard primary school, buy my wife’s N500 bathing soap and ultimately get my BMW 540i Active Hybrid classic. If I’m not ready to challenge myself to satisfy them, I might as well close for business and relocate to my family house in the village (Abeokuta).

May God give me the grace to satisfy the unsatisfied clients that come my way. For in doing that, I will ultimately be raising an army of eloPhotos passionate ambassadors and marketers. May the God of Light help me on this photographic journey.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Plan to take a photography course at eloPhotos Academy. Visit eloPhotos Academy for a detailed list of options of classes to take. It will be the best investment you’ll make in your journey to photography greatness

The FASTEST Way To Destroy Your Photography Business


I got a call about 3 weeks ago from a disgruntled client of a colleague of mine. Apparently since my colleague (whom at this point I’m not pleased to be associated with) has covered their wedding in August, no album or DVD has been delivered. I eventually called the photographer in question hoping that the story the client told me had some holes. He eventually admitted that everything the client said was true and that he will unfailingly deliver the album on October 24, 2013 (2 weeks after the call). I insisted that he should put a call through to the client and stop avoiding the clients call; something I consider to be the highest level of disrespect towards a client.

October 24 came and went and I eventually called the client in question to ask if anything had been delivered. To my surprise (and I must admit, I was very surprised), the photographer had neither delivered the job nor called the client to give a cogent reason for not meeting the deadline (of which there no longer seems to be a reason that will be cogent enough). The following was the mail that the client eventually sent to the photographer.

Hello Lagbaja,
24th of october has elasped which is the EXTENDED DEAD LINE for our Wedding Video/Photo book to be ready. You have taken I and my Wife for granted again & again and I have always reasoned with you and spoken to you calmly cos we are CITIZEN’S of BLW NATION. I had to call up your Coach to talk to him about your actions, which resulted to the 14 days extra which elapsed yesterday 24th October 2013, and By that action We have exhausted all our options. Am giving you a 7 days period of GRACE from today 25th October-1 November 2013. From 2nd November, 2013 ACTIONS will be taken against you, If We don’t get our wedding materials.
Regards,
Your Disgruntled Client

What makes this situation personal for me was the fact that the client contacted me because he found out that the photographer did a course in our photography academy. As much as I was not happy about the misdeeds of the photographer in question, I’ve noticed some service providers engage in such unethical behavior (something I’ve been also guilty of). However, I’ve discovered that this is the worst type of marketing you can provide for your business as a dissatisfied client is likely to market his dissatisfaction to 30 or more people while a satisfied client might market to just 5 or more people. Either way you do the maths, you’re on the pathway to looking for a new job in another industry (hoping someone will even hire you) if this is not stopped. And sometimes, all it takes is for one client to be disgruntled; you’ll need to build about 2-5 years worth of goodwill to cover the heart-break you’ve caused. I’ve been there and can tell you that as a fact.

This is an attempt to appeal to the photographer in question and to all service providers (especially in Nigeria) to desist from such unscrupulous behavior as it only ends in the pathway of destruction. We all have issues we deal with, but I’ve since realized that the average client/person is usually understanding when you keep them in the loop of what is happening instead of avoiding their calls or calling them back. The least we can do is to keep in touch and call or email the client. They deserve that. Either do that or refund the clients’ money (something most client might not even prefer especially since they only plan to do the ceremony once in a lifetime). It’s another way of robbing them of their money at gun point. Enough said. Let’s strive to be business people with Integrity.

 

The $100 Photographer vs. The $10,000 Photographer


Find us on Google+

Going down memory lane, I am reminded of an encounter with a photographer 5 years ago. In his early fifties, I met him at a print lab. He was complaining & murmuring about how his client was yet to pay him the balance owed. After a few minutes of successfully eavesdropping on his discussion with a fellow photographer (stop looking at me like that as if you don’t eavesdrop on people’s conversations also), I was able to gather more info about the job in question.

He had covered his client’s wedding in Enugu where he spent about 3 days for the detailed coverage of the celebration. He was angry because the couple were yet to pay him the balance of what he had billed them. I was shocked when I discovered that his total photography bill for the wedding coverage was $100. How can a “professional” photographer charge that and survive. I was shocked because this “gentleman” had been in the photography business for over 20 years.

At that time, I was still billing wedding clients $400 – $600 for a day’s coverage. Yet he charged $100 for 3 days. He was angry at the client & I was angry at him.

The fact that he was using a film camera was no excuse. What profit will be left over to take care of his family. What type of education will he give his children. When will he be able to afford a good car for himself. Which vacation will the profit afford him. I was angry.

Fast forward to 7 days ago. I was in a workshop organized for photographers. One of the speakers, Ali Baba, talked about how a “PROFESSIONAL” photographer called him in January to “thank” him for a referral. A few weeks prior to the call, Ali Baba had contacted the photographer to ask how much it will cost for a portrait session for a “high profile” client. The photographer gave him a bill of $12,000 for the session after which 32 high resolution softcopies will be delivered on a dvd. He replied the photographer that the client only had a budget of $10,000 & they both settled for $10,000 for 30 high resolution softcopies.

As if that wasn’t shocking enough, the bigger shocker came when Ali Baba mentioned that the reason the photographer called him was to thank him because the client ended up ordering a total of 142 high resolution softcopies. Whichever way you do the maths (even if you got an “F” in your Maths SSCE or SAT), you’ll still end up with a whole lot of zeros that should make any photographer happy. Well this photographer was happy, hence the “thanksgiving” call.

My question is this: What’s the difference between these two photographers? Seriously, what is it that will make a client offer to pay $100 to a 50 year old photographer while another client will gladly pay over $10,000 to a 35 year old photographer. There are many answers to this question one of which I can already hear echoing in your mind as you read this: THEIR DESTINIES ARE DIFFERENT. I’ll leave this one to you to digest.

As for me (& my house), I’ll like to be like the later photographer when I grow up. I’ll like to be perceived as a photographer that adds so much value (albeit intangible) to a client’s life in 2 hours that they’ll deem it fit to pay me $10,000. I’ll like that. Trust me, I’ll really like that. Besides, how else will I be able to afford the Harvard University school fees that my 3.8 year old daughter wants to go to. No, you tell me. I know it’s not all about how much you make at the end of the day but its important to make enough money that will provide the kind of lifestyle you desire.

The other question is this: What “value” do you as a photographer bring to the table? The conclusion might not be as appetizing as the BMW series write up but whatever you do, make sure you’re building solid foundations for you photography business & brand. Neglect doing that & your end will be predictable in 20 years time.

It’s your call
———————————–
Plan to attend the next session of Basic Course in Photography
———————————–
For tips on growing your photography business, “like” our facebook page (facebook.com/elophotos), add us on your bb: 271E3BC8 or follow us on twitter at www.twitter.com/eloPhotos