March 31st, 2016
Keri and Rex both asked very similar questions recently. Keri said:
I have been a photographer for 8 years. The past month is when I started really pursuing real estate photography solely. I started with $100 a house but after travel, moving items, rearranging furniture, shooting, editing and posting… Roughly 4-5 hours later I feel like it is not enough. I raised prices depending on square footage no more than $175… Now I have some agents wanting to negotiate a lower price. How do I handle them without losing clients. Maybe workflow pointers would be helpful. I need help!
First of all, congratulations for realizing that you need to raise your prices and doing it!
Seth Godin, the famous marketing guru, has a general business quote about competing on price that I think applies to real estate photography:
If you build your business around being the lowest-cost provider, that’s all you’ve got. Everything you do has to be a race in that direction, because if you veer toward anything else (service, workforce, impact, design, etc.) then a competitor with a more single-minded focus will sell your commodity cheaper than you.
In real estate photography, there are people just getting in the business and doing it part time that have not based their price on the fact they are doing a full-time job. Once you establish a price that you can make a living at (sounds like you’ve done that) here are some ideas to compete without lowering your price:
- Create a handout that you give your clients that explain how to prepare for a shoot. Make it clear that you expect the property to be SHOOT READY when you arrive. You can’t burn up time helping them clean up or stage the property. This is the job of the listing agent and the homeowner.
- Don’t give in to pressure to lower your price. There will be agents that aren’t making much that will try and get you to lower your price. You don’t want these people as customers. Explain that this is your full-time job and your price is what it is so you can stay in business and support yourself.
- Study your competition so you can provide products and services that your competition doesn’t provide.
- Provide great customer service. Be easy to get communicate with. Be reliable. Be easy to work with. Deliver as fast as possible. If you screw up fix it. Offer a reward to agents that refer new customers to you.
You also need to keep raising your quality and speeding up your process but frequently the clients will notice your customer service more than your quality.
I’m sure others will have more ideas for Keri.