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What Client Management Software Do Real Estate Photographers Use?

Published: 05/07/2016
By: larry

CMSZoltan in Florida asks:

Do you know of any good client management software for real estate photographers?
I have am testing Pixifi.com which might just work though it is tailored mostly to portrait and wedding photographers. Maybe some community members would have some good suggestion.
Also, I want to implement a rewards program to my customers where I can give them thank you points for their business and for their referrals which can be exchanged for discounts towards further services of ours. I definitely could not find a proper software for that yet as all existing ones for small businesses require the clients to sign up on an in-store terminal (iPad). I often don't even meet my clients so I would need a solution where I can keep track of their activity and send them reminders of their status and options. Let me know if you know of ant software which could help me in this.

This is a good question for readers to give feedback on. I know of the following two client management systems tailored for real estate photographers:

  1. FullFrame Systems - A PFRE Advertiser.
  2. View Shoot - Developed by Lance Selgo.

I haven't used either of these systems but I'm sure that there are readers out there that have used these systems and perhaps others.

What client management systems have you used that you like?

 

6 comments on “What Client Management Software Do Real Estate Photographers Use?”

  1. Great topic Larry -

    Since I use Quickbooks for billing, Tourbuzz for video and photo videos and thirdly Pixiset for photo delivery. Just following to see what others use and say about the above options. I did view View Shoot back when it first started but found it difficult to maneuver. FullFrame looks ok? 17 Hats I found was to time consuming to set up, so have stuck with what I have been using for two years now. Wanting to change, but not sure which product is the best.

  2. Great that you are covering this!
    Last year, when I was planning to go from sub-contracting to independent with my RE photography, I searched everywhere for a data transfer platform that would offer some integration, ideally allowing agents to schedule, view, proof, and download their jobs. I was close to having a web designer custom-build me something this winter when I still couldn't find anything geared toward photographers, much less RE photography, and then I stumbled upon ViewShoot, which I think was already in beta when I was trying to mentally design something- thank God! I launched in April using PhotoUp for post-processing and ViewShoot for delivery, and I am adding clients from different agencies all the time now (high season in my market).
    Our challenge has been that ViewShoot is built for individual agents and we work agency-wide with almost all our clients, so we have to fiddle some with Cced accounts and "ghost users" to get everybody's eyes on each shoot that they want to access; agency teams and marketing depts. are the norm and we are hoping that ViewShoot will keep developing their systems to accommodate an agency-level admin that can access many agents' shoots. Lance and his developers have been AWESOME in their responsiveness when we've encountered glitches, and we think the ease of use is really high. We do find that agents struggle with even the most basic functions- signing in, creating a password, etc so we've created a "cheat sheet" that we email to new clients to try to coax them through. Our marketing coordinators who use the site daily/weekly have given very positive feedback- we recently pitched a big new agency's marketing team, and even though they are having a data transfer platform custom-built for them and eventually we'll load images into that for agents to proof- they praised the clean and uncluttered aesthetic of ViewShoot and found it very easy to use.
    Our market is one of the most active in the country- we have set ourselves apart from other independents with ViewShoot and PhotoUp and are competing against much larger companies for agency-wide vendor approval. When we explained to Lance that the agents are used to approving images within the platform, he built an icon into the thumbnails (a heart) that they can click, we use that as an approval tool. Agents are also used to requesting revisions within each folio, rather than bouncing out to write an email referencing each image #, and Lance is in development on a comment box that will accommodate this. With that addition, we will be on-par with the services being offered by the two big RE photo companies out here, which is amazing when I look back at trying to get the solo RE off the ground last year.
    Interested to hear others' experiences!
    Best,
    Craig

  3. For client management, what functions specifically are most important to you? If you don't mind a bit of occasional duplication, there are free/cheap CRM services such as Insightly that allow you to track leads and their potential conversion to clients. Contactually is a paid service that is specifically focused on keeping in touch with clients, so is great for tracking ongoing campaign efforts and emails back and forth, but in my opinion is a bit weak on the project management side. If you're more concerned with online booking, calendar management, and other related tasks, you might look at 17hats. For photo delivery and property website creation, I've had good luck with TourBuzz, although the designs aren't quite as chic as I'd like (they recently released a couple new ones, so I'm hopeful things will continue to improve).

    I have searched a lot for a way to track client purchases, but it may be just as easy (and free) to use a simple spreadsheet to track them. Create columns for the date, client name (or a unique ID number), number of points added (or subtracted if the line item is a redemption), and a note about the transaction (property address, name of referred client, or the property address where the redemption was made). You can filter the spreadsheet to show only results from that client's name. Throw an Auto Sum at the bottom of the points column and you'll get a running total. Not perfect, but easy to set up and maintain.

  4. Accounting programs such as Quickbooks and Accountedge will do a bunch of custom reporting as well as exporting of data into a spreadsheet for processing. It should be possible to do some CRM through them without having to spend the time and money on acquiring and learning another program or adding an additional monthly expense.

    Most RE photographers in the US work independently and should be wary of adding more non-paying tasks to their work day. I know who my best customers are and reward them continuously with no-charge front exterior photo updates, community photo use and front exterior photos on rehabs before they are ready for a full shoot so the broker/agent can tease the property before it's officially on the market. I have tried coupons for discounts or no-charge sessions and found it too hard to manage without getting abused. Agents would always want to redeem a coupon on a premium property where I would normally charge extra. I try to keep the bar set very high for competitors trying to woo away my customers.

    I also do not post a gallery for customers to choose the images they want. They are welcome to join me on the job and work with me on composition selection to a certain limit, but that is very rare and my clients rely on me to portray a home in the best possible way as part of my service. The RE market is too fast paced with too little margin to spend more time going back and forth with the customer. A commission from a builder or architect would be different and I will bill more to allow for re-editing material and providing several compositions to choose from. My goal is to provide a quality RE product with a transaction that is totally complete within 48 hours, photo shoot, payment and delivery.

    I don't think I will ever use an online booking system. Too much of the time I benefit from talking with an agent about the property before we set an appointment. If I can tell there will be difficulties that will take more time, I will leave myself extra time in my schedule. Since I will sometimes make exterior photos at a different time from the interior photos, I can often schedule those exteriors in between other jobs in the same area when the sun is in a good position. This lets me schedule the interior photo session in the next open slot while still delivering the exteriors right away. I had one day where I photographed a vacant home in two different sessions around other jobs. Another vacant home was photographed over two days and saved me driving to the same area for a third day. I haven't seen any software that is that flexible. I also offer discounts to agents if I can book a session when I'm already going to be in the area. The agent with the original booking gets a discount as well. I'm trying to encourage them to give me some referrals. My coverage area is large and going from the southern most city to the northern most is something I try to avoid in a single day.

    I recommend making sure that adopting any system saves you time or solves a real problem. Avoid creating more problems with rewards programs if you can. Stores that offer them often have full time employees that do nothing but manage those programs.

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