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Have a “How Am I doing?” Conversation Occasionally With Your Clients

December 18th, 2016

Peter in Seattle says:

Without sounding too thin skinned, How would you gracefully ask an agent if you have been fired? This came up when I was looking at my agent’s listings and found one or two homes that I did not photograph. These were over $400K homes, not re-pos. I know that it is a good idea for an agent to have more than one photographer but if you have not heard from them for while and find out that somebody else took the shots I want to call them and ask “What the hell is going on?” “Why didn’t you call me?”
Any ideas?

I don’t think it makes sense to ask your client about why they didn’t hire you for a specific shoot. However, I do think that it is important to understand your client’s specific needs, likes, and dislikes. You can do this by:

  1. After your first shoot for a client ask them how you did and what they like or dislike about your work and/or your business process.
  2. When you are on site with them pay attention to what like and dislike. Ask them direct questions about what they want.
  3. Once a year, conduct a customer satisfaction survey.

The fact is, you are not going to please everyone and in a market like Seattle where there is plenty of competition standing in line to take your clients, sometimes it’s just going to be a personality mismatch and they probably won’t tell you that directly.

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9 Responses to “Have a “How Am I doing?” Conversation Occasionally With Your Clients”

  • If they’re using another photographer and there’s not a co-broker, I’d say it’s probably safe to assume you’re been ‘fired’… Doesn’t mean they had a good experience with your replacement or liked the photos better (important to consider that imo).

    I hear what Larry’s saying but I think a survey might be a bad idea. I try to get feedback on every shoot I deliver. I try to talk (text) my clients on an ongoing relationship-basis and listen(!) to what they’re telling me. I’m pretty firmly convinced that even many of the ‘premiere’ agents often don’t often understand the difference between a good photo and bad – so why do I want their instruction?!?

    What I read on this blog a while back (Hargis?) about shooting YOUR style and attracting the clients that are right for YOU, makes more sense to me every day. I feel like keeping your head down, being super-polite and working to *advance your skills* every day is 80% the trick to this business 🙂

  • There are many reasons why realtors change photographers. There are various reason why after a periord of time that photographers will not work with realtors. More often than not it concerns money. Either the realtor is looking to save money by attempting to do it themselves, find someone to do it cheaper, get someone to shoot for free as a trial, or use a member of their family or friend.

  • I feel like I have lost a couple of clients because I do not offer 3D or Drone Photography. I really don’t want to go there and am wondering it will become a “Must Have” in the future.
    Also Would love to see a sample Year End Survey.

  • You should look into why they switched, you can learn a lot from that. Not to say change to meet their issues, but understand them. Over the years I have had agents come and go and then come back again. Most left because they thought they could get a better price….and they did, but then they got what they paid for….. and decided to come back.

    Sometimes it is just a matter of costs. I have some clients that use me only for their upper end properties and another for the “As is” type. Conversely some agents use me for their lower end properties and another for their high end….that motivates me to do better.

    Some clients left because I would not put up with their demands and that is ok, because I want to run my business the way I want to, not some dictator.

    Bottom line, there will always be movement with some clients, usually young/new, inexperienced and always looking to cut corners. Then you will have some that understand that having a good, stable team of professionals let’s them focus on what they do best…sell, not beating the bushes all the time for the deal.

  • I would not give anyone genuine feedback in response to a formal, annual survey. The best thing you can do is to TALK, authentically and honestly, with your clients, as often as possible. As in, “Hey, Judy, what’d you think about that last shoot we did? I was just looking over those photos and I think I totally nailed the master bedroom but I wasn’t so sure if the kitchen shot was as good as I wanted it to be, did you get any feedback on that one from your office mates?”

    Or if you think you’re being replaced by another photographer:

    “Hi George — it’s Peter. Yeah, Peter, the photographer. Hey, I was checking out your website and it looks like you listed a couple houses that I didn’t get to shoot! Made me nervous, are you using a different photographer? I really like working with you so if there’s anything I can be doing better, you know, I promise you I’ll get on top of it. Can you fill me in on what’s up? I get very territorial about these things, haha!”

  • There was a time when a few of my clients would use me for mainstream listings but would use someone else for some high end listings, and I could see why. The other photographer was clearly more proficient than me (as well as a lot more expensive, on the order of $200-$300 per image). I worked hard to develop my skills and now I have some clients that tend to only use me for their higher end listings and tend to use someone else for some of their more routine listings. Then again, I have some clients who use me for all of their listings, routine or high end. I should mention that I offer a different service for high-end listings, and I charge considerably more for that service due to the overall higher level of refinement of the images (more sophisticated lighting and processing, and a larger amount of retouching).

  • I find oftentimes it’s more of a “convenience” thing. I have been shooting one clients’ listings for a decade, but honestly, he’s really a bit outside of my area and it’s a long haul to get there, especially during the super busy season. I try and convince him to get me TWO homes (or more) for me to come down during the busy season, but I know he’s not thrilled about waiting for me (since we know Realtors want you NOW… or ‘yesterday’ if you can…..). He found someone closer, who can work on short notice, who does good work.. and honestly, I’m thrilled. I just don’t want to drive that far anymore – too busy!

    So sometimes it’s really something simple like that. No hard feelings…. They come, they go…..

  • Thanks to all who took to the time to respond to this issue. I know you have better things to do.
    The take away from this is that there will be some fall off due to circumstances that I cannot control. I’m not going to lower my price just because the agent finds someone else or has s family member or friend.
    I am in this for the long term so my attitude is to help the agent make more money which in turn makes me more money as the agent, with luck, will spread the word about the quality of my work. That being said, the other take a way is to keep in contact with my clients and let them know I appreciate their business and support.

    Merry Christmas to all and thank you.
    Pete Malan

  • I would also be interested in seeing an “end of year survey” format that other send out. Does anyone have one they are willing to share?

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