Dealing with clients can suck!!! The biggest complaint that I hear from photographers is that they get tired of fighting clients for every nickel and dime, even after being paid. A customer will book a wedding, family, grad, etc and after paying a deposit or even paying for the entire package they will start to try and get extras, change things or try and get money back as they “don’t need this or want that”. So to help with this issue I came up with a program a few years ago that I used when I did weddings.
Many clients do not realize that part of the amount they have paid is for the sitting / day rate, some is for editing and only some is for the prints. They think if I paid $1500 for a package and I get a wall portrait in the package then the portrait is worth $1500. If I don’t want a 16×20 but I want a 11×14 I should get half the money back. So what I did is to take the money out of the conversation to help the client understand what they have paid for then if they want to change something in the package they can but there are limits.
I did this with a points system. If the client bought package A they get 200 points to use to get their print or prints. Then the 16×20 print they got is worth 200 points. If they want to change the 16×20 to something else they have 200 points to work with. So maybe a 5×7 is 50 points, a 8×10 is 75 points, a 11×14 is 150 points, etc. I tell the client that they are welcome to work within the points they bought and if need be they can buy more points but points are NEVER refunded!
The nice thing is that with the points they stop thinking can I get money back. Also with the points they can mix and match as they like and us as the photographer is not having to figure out pricing as we already gave them a list of the point system. If they want more points they can buy them for a set price, like 50 points for $35
Keeping it simple
Now you may say why not do this with money instead of points? In a perfect world that would be the best but as soon as you deal in money people think that they still have that money to get back. Points are not refundable (like the money was as well) but the client stops thinking of it as their cash. You can also add in bonuses for the points like if you did their wedding they get 50 bonus points when they come in for maternity pictures and then another 50 points for newborn pictures, etc.
I started to use this system towards the end of doing weddings and it was really cool as you could set it up so many different ways in addition to just the prints.
- 1000 points for formal portraits
- 500 points for reception coverage
- 200 points for engagement pictures
- 150 points for a parents album
- 300 points for the digital files
- 200 points for a 20×24
- 175 points for a 16×20
- etc, etc.