Real Estate Photo Delivery: A Way To Provide Great Customer Service And Look Professional

March 29th, 2016

DeliveryTyrone in Chicago recently asked the question:

I have a client who wants a second disk of his project because he lost the first one. Putting together a second photo disk, should I charge a fee for work that I have been paid for in the past (last Year). Or just let him have it.

Creating a second CD for the photos seems pretty trivial. If it wasn’t for the fact that you need to get it to the client via the mail or dropping it off at his office someplace it takes more work to talk about it than to do it for him. Making sure the client has the photos is the kind of thing is generally that is considered great customer service. Do it for free and thank him for his business!

A more important aspect of your question is why are you delivering photos via CD? In this day and age when most modern laptops don’t even come standard with a CD player, photographers should be delivering photos digitally via the Internet. I understand that some older people haven’t fully accepted the fact that CDs are dead but if you deliver ALL your photos via CD that’s a big business cost!

Here are some alternatives for real estate photo delivery:

  1. Physical delivery of a CD: Many agents would just love to have you deliver a CD to their office. While this is certainly a customer service opportunity it just doesn’t make economic sense and it doesn’t scale to large volumes of clients. Besides, most modern laptops don’t even have CD players anymore! Also, in some states (like WA and CA) there are sales tax implications when you deliver a tangible product. If you deliver a physical product in these states the whole shoot is subject to sales tax. So this is an alternative that is dying out.
  2. Client login to your site: This approach is a very professional approach for online delivery because delivery is via your personal branded site. However, this means you have to have a site that has this capability. Photoshelter.com is one example. There are many others. Basically, each client has their own account on your website where they can log in and download their photos.
  3. File/photo delivery sites: A few years ago there used  to be a few of these, now it seems like there are hundreds. A few of the popular ones are Box.net,  YouSendIt.comPixoasis.com, Shootproof.com and Pixieset.com. All of these are professional ways to deliver photos and other large files. Many like shotproof.com are tailored for photographers. They are all in the area of $10 USD/month. With Pass.us you can deliver under 100 photos for free.
  4. Tourbuzz.net: If you use Tourbuzz.net for tours, it has a great built-in photo delivery feature that delivers two different sized photos. I use this feature all the time.
  5. DropBox.com: I put DropBox in a separate alternative because of its wide usage and the fact that you can get 2 gig of storage for free. You can send anyone a download link to Dropbox files. This maybe a good free getting started service, but it doesn’t look as professional as other alternatives.

Think of photo delivery as a promotion and customer service opportunity. Use delivery to present yourself professionally. For most of these delivery sites for around $10 USD/month they provide a very professional delivery process. One thing to avoid is sending ZIP files of the whole photoshoot. Many Realtors are not sophisticated enough to deal with Zip files.

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21 Responses to “Real Estate Photo Delivery: A Way To Provide Great Customer Service And Look Professional”

  • I love pfretour.com not only as a virtual tour option but you can simply use their photo download option as a way to send clients their images without having to purchase the actual tour.

  • Personally, being computer challenged, I use http://www.wetransfer.com which I find simple to use and easy to work with which means a fast work flow. It has an annual fee of $120 for unlimited loads and can store the files for periods of time you can specify plus the recipient does not have to have an account.

    In California, if we supply hard copy, we have to charge sales tax on the whole sale, shooting fees and all. So I explain to my new clients how much they save by downloading the image over the internet rather than incur 7.5% additional cost in sales tax. It also cuts down on my work load having to burn DVD’s since CDs are too small. In addition, I have to print the DVD with a description and my logo thus adding to the cost. So if I have to supply a DVD, charge a nominal fee of $10. This has not been a problem for those rare occasions when DVDs are requested.

  • “Putting together a second photo disk, should I charge a fee for work that I have been paid for in the past (last Year). Or just let him have it.”

    It takes you time to locate the files in your archives, to output them, burn them to cd, and package and ship the cd. Plus there is the cost to you for the cd and the shipping. Why would you not charge a significant fee for every part of this process, for producing and sending the cd the first time and the second time?

  • Whether I would charge or not depends on how much business I am doing with that customer. It’s not something that I would want customers to feel that I would do very often without charging.

    In California if photos are delivered on a CD, the entire job is subject to sales tax.

    I deliver photos by uploading the image archive to my FTP space where my web site is hosted and send the customer a link. http://www.mydomainname.pro/photos/123mainst_web.zip The customer just clicks the link on the email and the file downloads. The directory is not visible to the public so customers can’t see what other files are there. I use this method since I am already paying for the hosting and the URL is my domain. I don’t see any value in paying another service to act as an intermediary. It’s also dead simple since it doesn’t require the customer to sign up for a service or have to enter a password. The agent can forward my email to their listing person if there is a dedicated staff member in the office that handles uploading the online listings without having to coordinate passwords.

    I guess I’m lucky. I haven’t run into any agents that can’t handle a zip archive. I am surprised when I hear about agents that can’t yet can still find the ‘on’ switch of the computer. They should probably get their grandkids in to help them on the weekends, it’s much easier than trying to get Word or Excel to do what you want them to do.

  • I was thinking the same thing. Why are you wasting time, ruining the environment and polluting the air moving CDs around the country? I haven’t delivered a physical object in several years. Digital delivery also makes it quite easy to comply with he real request, which is to re-send the photos. Takes you all of 2 minutes.

  • I use and love Pixiset. Tons of storage, very professional layout, individualized password protected client pages, very easy for non-technologically minded people to use, and if you don’t “sell” photos on their site (i.e. Prints) it’s FREE!

  • I prefer using Dropbox.com because it gives customers the ability to install the software on their computer and have files automatically download to their computer without having to log into the website. They just wake up in the morning and their photos are already on their computer and ready to go.

    I know a lot of people use Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and iCloud, so I am contemplating offering customers a choice of where to receive their files. And I might lean into OneDrive and iCloud because I know most computers come with those services pre-installed on their system.

  • I have been using DropBox for a while now and it’s served me pretty well. I like using it for my clients because I already use it for photo storage so it works for me in multiple ways. I would say that 95% of have no issue using DropBox but of course, there are always a few. For the special agents, I have PDF with a bunch of screen grabs showing exactly how to click Download > Download as .ZIP > Extract All.

  • I use Squarespace for my website and create a password protected page for each shoot with a ZIP file for the client to download. It looks professional and is relatively simple with only a few steps for them.

  • I’m pretty sure that if you have a gmail account, then you probably have access to your own Google Drive. That is the method I use and it works perfectly and easily by “sharing” the folder with your client (email them a share link where they can DL the photos). I created a folder on my drive for Photography, then a subfolder, Real Estate, then the client’s name folder, then the property folder. Perfectly organized and FREE (up to 15Gb). Of course, you can purchase more space or delete older files to stay below the 15Gb limit.

  • BTW, you don’t have to install any programs on your computer to use Google drive. The photos show up as a grid of large thumbnails or a list and can be viewed like a slideshow before downloading. Unfortunately, if they DL a batch of photos, they will be downloaded as a zip file.

  • The potential sales tax implications would be the biggest concern for me; however, if the initial delivery was made electronically, sales tax would possibly only need to be charged on the amount billed for the subsequent CD/DVD, not on the entire shoot amount (I am not a tax professional, though, and I’m sure each state varies). For all the time and trouble that it takes to provide a CD/DVD, it seems prudent to include this option in the pricing schedule. It provides the photographer with the ability to waive that fee as a courtesy, instead of setting the precedent that it should just be expected.

  • I just tried Pixieset. It is very slick, but I wish there were more options. To get both MLS and high res versions, clients would have to go through the downloading process twice, inputting the security code each time. The files are also downloaded as zips. Again, it’s slick, but seems like it would complicate the process unduly.

    I’d love to switch from dropbox, but would like to have more control over the options than Pixieset offers.

  • What is wrong with a Zip? It is just a container that the client double clicks to open automatically. But several people have mentioned it as a minus and I am wondering why.

  • It’s a minus from the perspective of Realtors that aren’t tech savy. It’s better now that computers have built-in software to extract them, but it was especially difficult trying to explain that they would have to install WinZip. Even so, there’s nothing easier than waking up in the morning and finding a whole album already downloaded to your computer via OneDrive, iCloud, Google Drive, etc.

  • I use Cloudspot which is similar to Pixieset but better and free to a certain storage level.

    The delivery method is very smooth and the client can download the full set with one click.

    There are also options for proofing and even printing if you enable the feature.

  • A majority of my clients use and prefer Dropbox. It’s my default delivery method for that very reason.

  • Do they even make computers with CD drives anymore?!

  • Has anyone tried ViewShoot.com yet? I am currently using PhotoUp for post- and I am in a trial with ViewShoot but it was built by a RE photographer and I think with the customized link w/your URL, it is way more professional than Dropbox. It also can be set to require payment before download.
    Two image sizes zipped- one sized down for MLS. An available branded or not branded virtual tour. I’m just a week in, but so far my agents haven’t had any neg feedback, and seems to be working really well. I asked about this kind of platform last year, I guess Lance had this in development…I’m glad I didn’t have to build it!!
    Free 30 day trial is awesome, I’ve been signing up agents as they book, and then they get an email with a link to set up their own password to access their images by listing address. I have also added “ghost” users, so I have Dave from PhotoUp monitoring my additional retouches and feeding that info back to his editors, and a couple of agencies have a marketing coordinator that needs to access all shoots across the agency, works great for that too.

  • Scott, most optical drives are external these days. At least as far as many Macs go. CD/DVD is still very useful for reinstalling a system after a drive crash.

  • Nowadays, no one should ever have any problems with delivering photos to their clients. In my case, I always do it online. One of my clients is a huge London based property marketing company which has a website where it lets me upload all the pictures. Job done! For all other clients I use wetransfer or mailbigfile. I highly recommend using these portals, and they are free which is the most important part.

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