One of the biggest challenges of being a solo-preneur is having to accept the fact that you cannot make everyone happy or make them like you. It’s not easy to accept that. I struggle daily. When a potential client chooses another photographer over me for a mere $200 difference and I know they are not the same caliber I am, it’s disheartening. When I bend over backward to make a client happy and they aren’t impressed, that is so painful.
As artists, we need our ego stroked once in awhile. We crave being told we did a great job and that you’re thrilled with our work, and we work so hard to make you happy. I can admit it, I am a people pleaser. But sometimes I’m unable to please everyone, no matter how hard I try. Usually when I find a client is unhappy, it is because an expectation hasn’t been fulfilled. So, let’s talk about how to prepare your clients to know what to expect. I typically have an in-person consult with my bridal clients, and phone consults with portrait clients. When I meet my bridal clients, they see samples of how my photos are processed so they know what theirs will look like. I talk about how the day will go and what to expect from me and my second shooter as far as schedule and who will be where. I am sure to explain what happens after their big day so they have an idea of when their images will be delivered. All of this information is in a signed contract, but I also carefully go over this with each client in person so they fully understand the process.
Occasionally, someone doesn’t get the memo or forgot what they signed or what we went over. Here is where being a solo-preneur gets difficult. Now I have to figure out how to make that client happy when they signed a contract for a certain service, and they are demanding something that isn’t contracted. This isn’t just for the photography world, I’m sure any business person can relate when this happens.
So what do you do? Do you choose to suck it up and meet their demands, do you stick by your signed agreement knowing you will probably get a bad review from this client, do you try and find a happy medium, if there even is such a thing? Because I am a people pleaser, I want to exceed their expectations. I often find myself asking the client where their certain expectation came from if it is not one in the contract or what I went over in our consult. I try to find out why they thought they were getting something that I don’t even offer to begin with. I find that one of two things happened. Either a friend got something with their photographer and now this client wants the same, or it might not be something I even do or offer, or I’m dealing with a generational issue. If the mom contacts me confused, it’s usually because she is remembering her wedding 30 years ago and how it was done, which is not how we do them today. So, although I went over everything and provided a contract, she had in her mind that it was going to be like hers, regardless of what I was saying or what she signed.
So how do we rectify these issues? I must admit as an artist I have in the past given in to demands even though they were contracted for something else and I felt horrible after. I felt used and taken advantage of. Even after giving the client what they wanted, they still remained unhappy and ungrateful and that just worsened the feeling. That feeling is so awful, almost like you are worthless and are without feelings or emotion. I’m not a fan of that and I vowed to never feel that way again.
So I am taking steps to learn a new word. A word that hasn’t been in my business vocabulary before and it is not easy to say, yet I have no problem saying it to my child. No! No, I’m sorry I cannot do that for you. No, I cannot refund you after I performed a service and no, I cannot give you all of the images I have taken. The people pleaser in me has a hard time with the word No! She hates it. But the businesswoman in me has to use it and recognize the client isn’t going to be happy either way, and guess what? It’s okay that not everyone like me. I guess that is business. That is why I have a contract. You are not going to be loved and adored all of the time and as long as I do my absolute best and fulfill my contractual obligations to the best of my ability, I can sleep at night knowing I’ve done a good job; even if I didn’t get a high five that day.
Veronica is an accomplished author and her first book "Dialogue 3" was published in 2002 and showcases her photographs of people and places and the tragedy of 911. She is currently a continuing education photography teacher at Brookdale Community College instructing courses from beginner DSLR to more advanced portraiture courses and also hosts workshops around the state to amateur and hobbyist photographers.
She has been interviewed on several radio talk shows, featured on blogs and her work has been on several reality TV shows such as TLC's Four Weddings, Bravo's Cake Boss, HGTV's Dina's Party and The Real Housewives of NJ.
Veronica is currently speaking in the tri-state area on photography and how women can build their confidence in photographs. She instructs women how to pose better, and sell their brand with a perfect head shot.
Since beginning her professional career in 1996 as a photojournalist, Veronica has won many awards for her portraiture work. She worked for some of the top media outlets in the tri-state area such as The Star Ledger, The New York Times and the Associated Press.
Latest posts by Veronica Yankowski (see all)
- The Million Man March, A Reflection 20 Years Later - October 16, 2015
- How To Feel Good About Yourself When You Don’t Feel Good About Yourself - October 8, 2015
- The Center of My World - July 21, 2015