What Do Real Estate Photographers Do To Minimize Time Spent Getting Their Clients To Pay?

March 22nd, 2015

SquareWilliam asked the following:

I currently use QuickBooks online wich work fine for simple accounting and invoice tracking, but I spent a lot of time getting people to pay. I’m interested in moving to a credit card pay system that is more used in the hotel industry. Where the hotel would approve your credit card for a certain amount and if the final room charge equaled that amount or is less, I could charge a lesser amount easily. Right now I never really know how many pictures I’m going to deliver the Realtor (unless they tell me how many pictures they want ahead of time) until after I’m back at home working on them. Any thoughts or advice?

Taking Credit cards at the shoot:
It’s easy to take credit cards using squareup.com on your smart photo or tablet. Many RE photographers take payment right at the shoot. The receipt is emailed to your client. This will simplify your life and your clients and minimize the amount of time you spend invoicing agents. I was a Realtor in your area for 10 years with my wife, so I know for a fact that ALL home inspectors in your area require upfront payment so agents in your area won’t find upfront payment unusual.

Standardize on how many photos you deliver:
I suggest that you standardize on how many photos you deliver so that you and the client both know upfront what the shoot will cost. The majority of homes can easily be presented in 25 or 30 photos. Having every shoot different based on the number of photos you shoot is unnecessarily complicated for real estate photography. Most real estate photographers have 2 or 3 shoots packages priced differently with a different number of photos.

These two changes could greatly simplify you business and fully meet the needs of your clients.

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15 Responses to “What Do Real Estate Photographers Do To Minimize Time Spent Getting Their Clients To Pay?”

  • Check out pixieset.com. It allows you to easily create a gallery that the agents can see but can’t download until they pay by credit card.

  • I use Quickbooks as well. When I get done with a day of shooting is send invoices out to my clients directly from Quickbooks via email. I have a credit card payment system built in to Quickbooks. Since 2011 I have had a policy to release photos and tours only after payment is recceived. This was the biggest time saver I had made in my business over the 12 years I have been doing this. I shot 750 homes last year and need my business needs to run smoothly with minimal paperwork. Extra calls and emails to collect were eliminated from my workflow. If I have a new client that asks to see my work prior to payment I put proofs on Smugmug for review. Prior to implementing this policy, I was spending a whole day in the role of Accounts Receivable. If you do quality work nobody will have an issue with this system.

  • I use squareup, take checks or cash. Payment is due the day of the shoot. My policy is not to release photos without payment. Most of my agents use a credit card. I also hold many of my agents cards on file (hand written in a notebook, not on my computer) and charge them after the shoot. Squareup has a nice system so you can add the property address when you charge their card and it sends them the receipt via email. You can set up your packages so the amount is preset or enter your own each time. The agents really like this system. One less thing for them to do.

  • I’ve recently started the policy of no payment, no photos. The last 3-4 months I’ve had more than a few people I’ve had to chase down with invoice reminders every week until they paid. The next home I shot for one of those agents he paid within 6 hours (by credit card) once I emailed him and said the photos were done, I was just waiting for payment.

    I couldn’t have this policy until I started taking credit cards–now there’s no excuse. The last thing they want is a seller asking “Why isn’t my house online yet?” It would sound pretty foolish to retort, “I haven’t paid the photographer yet”.

  • Always plan ahead… I usually budget myself so I’m 1-2 months ahead of invoicing and don’t worry if people don’t pay right away… http://www.freshbooks.com makes my life so much easier, with automatic reminders, automatic late fee % charges, amazing for tax time. Just invite your accountant and your ready to go.

  • I agree that setting up your packages up front makes it simpler and better. A couple of standard packages with a fixed price for each makes sure you don’t have to worry about chasing extra money or pre-authorizing charges. Many MLS don’t allow more than 30 photos anyways so there would be little need for something more than that. If the realtor knows up front the amount they have to pay and don’t get their pictures until payment is made you end up saving time since as Mike said no Realtor wants to tell a client their house is not on the market yet when it should have already been up.

  • We offer a sizable discount on the invoice, email the Invoice days prior to the shoot showing a Discount. The states the following, (The Included Discount anticipates Payment during Photo Session). We get the check every time.

  • I am fortunate to not have had to run into this yet. The agents I work with are pretty good, for the most part, with paying within 7 days of photo delivery. Using Freshbooks, I send an invoice as soon as the photos and/or videos are delivered and require payment within 7 days. There are built in payment reminders which have definitely gone off a few times, but I have never had to chase anyone around. I also would not prefer taking payment upfront. I don’t want to personally collect money as I am just uncomfortable with that particular transaction. I am ultimately not too worried about it in my area and am thankful for that.

  • I use Waveapps.com and love it. I set-up the invoice before the shoot and use their app onsite to invoice client. The CC acceptance can be switched on or off. Stripe handles the CC transaction. There are many features in setting up an invoice that really help in organization and collection such as payment reminders. Great feature, especially when you have slow payers.

  • I have a store page on my website. Clients are able to view the photos on s the site. Once they make a credit card payment photos and a receipt are sent directly to them. It is so easy and saves me time and energy!

  • For the real estate agents I serve, I take payment via credit card at the time the request for photos is made. For commercial clients they are billed NET30.

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  • I have been using Freshbooks and it has been great! For tracking expenses, client invoicing, paypal payments etc. Highly rec for RE work.

    I usually only require payment at time of shoot for any new client and try to continue that for that client. Most of my clients from over the years get an invoice with the photos and they pay within 1-7 days. It’s rare I am tracking down and sending reminders after 1-2 weeks.

  • I invoice my agents & clients on a monthly basis by delivering a PDF which breaks down the shoot date, location & amount. No due date as that’s not been an issue.

    I don’t like the idea of short billing (multiple times each day or week) during the busy months. They probably wouldn’t either.

  • My packages include 15 images and then a per-image fee after that. This has worked well so far.

    For billing, I use a PayPal Business account and email my clients invoices which they can pay online or mail me a check–most choose to pay online. I also have the PayPal card reader which can plug into my iPhone and take payment on site but I rarely use it.

    As Larry mentioned, Square offer similar services.

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