We’ve all been there before. You spend a good hour or so getting the studio all set up for a portrait session- backdrops, lighting, remote triggers, cameras loaded with memory cards, and have shot some tests before the appointment. You’re all set as the time approaches. And you wait, five, ten, fifteen minutes and still no client. At twenty minutes after the agreed-to time, you call the client to ask if they are on their way or did something come up? At this point you are totally at their mercy. Now I know several other professions charge full-fees when a client cancels at the last minute but this policy would just about kill a portrait studio’s reputation in a very short time. So what do you do now?
A month or so ago, I had three separate portrait sessions not happen because the clients simply ‘forgot’. All were rescheduled but each one said it had just slipped their minds. As crazy as this sounds, people today have so much going on that they can often lose track of the days just getting everything done. I tried to take the frustration I felt and turn it into a solution for my immediate problem. Do I charge them for the session anyway and thereby ensure that they would never use me again and trash me to their colleagues? Do I charge them a half-fee to justify to myself the time I’d already put in, which would probably result in the same results as above? That might make my ego feel better short-term and for sure lose the client long-term. Or do I try to be pro-active and find a better solution on my own?
Around about this time I had a dentist appointment coming up. I’d had it on my calendar for six months, yet on the day before my appointment, the dentist’s office called with a friendly reminder of the time of my appointment the next day. Bingo! It immediately clicked that this is what I should be doing in my own business! And it’s so easy! I even took it one step further and created a PDF file with tips on clothing selection, make-up & hair styling, props and a reminder of my payment policy. I now email this to my clients a coupla days before the shoot and follow it up with a brief phone call to ask if they have any questions. I’m happy to say since I started this small little exercise, not one client has ‘forgot’ to show up for their portrait session!
I’m still curious though, whether you’re a photographer or not, what do you do when your client doesn’t show up? I’d love your feedback