I love food. And I particularly like trying new types of food, and new restaurants. But when it comes to sushi, we always go to the same place. And this is why.
Yesterday when we walked in, the first thing the girl behind the counter said was “You look great!”. I had a baby 10 months ago, so this was a very welcome compliment. Then she asked how we were doing, and said hi to our son. After we ordered and sat down, she came to see him, played with him, and when she noticed he was teething she went and got him a cup of ice. This isn’t a restaurant with waiter service where they’re required to visit and chat with you. She went out of her way to see us. And this is how we are treated every single time we go. So we return, over and over again.
Now, let’s be clear. We don’t visit just to be treated nicely. The sushi here is top notch. You know California rolls? Well these guys take those to the next level, and add crunchy tempura flakes, which makes them the best California rolls of all time.
So, I’m not telling you this to convince you to visit this sushi place (though I’m sure you’d enjoy it, and I recommend it to everyone). It’s to give you some insight into what makes a business great.
There are two halves to business – product and service. For photographers its your photos and the way you treat your clients. I’ve heard folks say that your photos don’t matter too much, what really matters is your customer service. And I do think it’s incredibly important. But here’s what I think: for a business to be great, you need a great product, AND great service. You might survive with either one alone, but to thrive they both need to be present.
I mean, I wouldn’t go back if the sushi sucked. I’d feel bad, because the people were so nice, but I don’t want to eat sucky food. And if the food was great, but the service was bad, same deal. I’d find somewhere else to go – there are plenty of other options out there. It’s when both are great that I’m a customer for life. Why bother going elsewhere? This place is a sure thing, and every time I leave happy.
So how do you take the lesson of the sushi place, and use it to make your photography business stronger? Easy! Have great photos and great customer service!
Ok, I know it’s not quite that easy to do that. But there are some simple steps you can follow to get there.
Taking Great Photos
Creating amazing images takes a lot of work, but the path there is pretty straightforward. Practice a lot. Try new things (tempura flakes in a California roll – brilliant!). Review your photos, and determine what your weaknesses are. Then figure out how to overcome those weaknesses. Rinse and repeat.
Here are a few more articles that can help you on the road to great photos:
- 10 Ways to Become a Better Photographer By Tomorrow
- 6 Bad Photography Habits to Break
- The Dangerous Myths of Talent & Gear
Give Great Customer Service
This is a whole lot easier than it may seem. And it all boils down to one idea: be genuinely interested in people. Our favourite book for customer service is the classic, How To Win Friends And Influence People. Read it once and you’ll instantly become a whole lot better at customer service (and interacting with people in general!)
But a few more tips: anticipate the needs of your customers. Figure out what they want before they ask. Answer their questions before they even know they have them. Make the entire experience of working with you as easy and comfortable as possible. The effort you put into this stuff will pay itself back tenfold, between repeat customers and word of mouth referrals.
Check these posts out to help you take your customer service to the next level:
- How to Help Your Clients Prepare for Great Photos
- Managing Client Expectations for Photographers
- A Surprisingly Easy Way to Handle Client Workflow
So remember, when working on your photography business, you need to give attention to both halves: the yin and the yang of product and service. When those two parts are strong, you’ll find your customers come back time and time again, and spread the word about you all over the place. Soon you’ll have enough success that you can go for sushi every day! I can dream, right?
Think about the restaurant that you love to visit over and over again. What makes you keep coming back? Service? Food? Or both?