Los Angeles is Los Angeles. This post is a bit more about an experience I had while being in L.A. as opposed to the trip itself. I was actually sick for most of this trip but still managed to enjoy my time there. What I want to share is about these business owners/service providers (primarily photographers) and why I choose to work with more seasoned photographers. While I was out in LA I had a couple of gigs that I did during fashion week. Nothing major…I also wanted to get a few personal pictures for myself so reached out to a photographer I found on Instagram. I wasn’t dead set on doing a personal shoot but had a personal project in mind. I asked his rate and was quoted $500 for a single look and 2 edits. So, I politely declined… he then came back and offered $250 for for two looks if I remember correctly. I honestly didn’t want to spend anything considering that I can get paid to do work and still have some nice photos from a job. The thing with this is that you typically don’t get what you want but it’s still not a bad deal. Here is where things went sour…he requested payment upfront and because I myself wouldn’t take on an IT consulting project without a down payment I could respect his request. The difference is that if I take a deposit from a client or upfront payment I make sure to DELIVER! It all goes back to a little thing we are taught about ethics and good character. I received several messages from this young man on different methods for submitting him the payment. I made the payment and then didn’t hear from him. I finally requested a refund and he responded promptly. He changed the shoot date three times and the location which meant I ended up not shooting what I wanted to begin with 🙄, and not to mention he was an hour late because he and his girlfriend/assistant needed to stop to get breakfast. Upon completion of the shoot, it also took several weeks to get the photos. This was back in March. Till today I have yet to receive the final product.
I write this as a cautionary tale to anyone seeking any type of service regardless of the industry. BEWARE of anyone who is quick to significantly discount their prices to obtain your business and here is why.
What I have noticed is that many business owners who are in the service industry don’t understand that to be a service provider you must be customer focused. You learn this in business school. However, I think it’s common sense. You shouldn’t need a 2 – 4-year business degree to understand that if your customers aren’t happy they won’t come back and chances are they won’t recommend you either. This is why you’ll see them constantly “hustling” for new business.
I see too many small business owners worried about collecting their next dollar so they can pay their next bill! When your business is run based on the number of bills you have to pay at the moment you will see that service providers will be quick to offer heavy discounts on their services to be rendered at a later point in time. This is bad if you are not providing the service immediately. For example, a hair salon that offers 50% off their services for a period of time but doesn’t make you buy the service in advance is in a better position to do this. Because if the discount is offered at the time of the service the provider is more compelled to still do a good job and the customer leaves happy. The happy customer recommends the salon to others and business continues to grow. The salon didn’t collect monies from several people of whom they do not have the capacity to service and therefore in many cases can still maintain their good name and achieves their goal of obtaining new business.
Please do not be mistaken I have worked with many professional photographers that I was actually paying for pregnancy photos, mommy-and-me, and other personal projects who came through exceptionally without even taking a dime upfront and didn’t collect a penny until I was satisfied with the edits.
Lately, I have run into these up and coming photographers who have great work and insist you pay upfront and don’t deliver or their work ethic is completely shoddy. Do I think they are bad people? No! But what I have noticed is that they take the money with good intention, but when they become overbooked and have other higher paying jobs that will get them more publicity they tend to sacrifice the smaller jobs. Because, they are not customer focused they will not offer refunds, apologies or even complete the work in many cases.
Many of today’s business owners fail to realize that successful long-standing companies that have been in business for years run successfully off of REPEAT business. If you grow your customer base you will get to a point where you won’t need to work as hard to advertise your company because those loyal customers will advertise for you by leaving great reviews and telling everyone about you. When you offer a great service, and ensure your customers are happy they will in most cases come back and you won’t have to continuously HUSTLE to get new customers. The amount of work you do to obtain new customers should decrease overtime and the brand you have established will speak for itself. How often do you see Mercedes or BMW run commercials in comparison to other car companies? How often do you see Rolex advertise? Yet, we all know these companies to be providers of products of exceptional quality and high service standards.
If you ever find that you are being offered a service at a discount look for the following things before you make a decision because sometimes it’s better to pay full price and be pleased than accept a discount and be disappointed.
- Is the discount 50% or greater than the standard price?
- Are you being offered significantly more than what usually comes in that service package?
- Does it require you to pay full price upfront?
- Is the service to be rendered at some unspecified point in time or a much later point in time?
- Is the person offering you the discount responsible for the finish of the final product? By this I mean if a photographer pays someone else to edit their photos and you are being offered a 50% discount and additional looks, if the goal is to pay bills or buy equipment even after the shoot he/she may not be able to pay for the edits.
I hope someone finds this advice helpful.
Here are some pics from my trip…enjoy 🙂