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studio policies for success: a wedding date can't be held without a retainer

Each month Design Aglow brings you Studio Policies for Success to make your photography business run smooth as silk while avoiding all too common problems that plague even the most experienced photographers. Feel free to use our recommendations as ­is or modified to suit your needs”¦and you can thank us later *wink*.

The Policy: “The studio cannot “hold” dates or “pencil you in”, dates are secured with a retainer and a signed wedding agreement.”

Why it's important: The wedding inquiry meeting...a nervous bride and groom are looking around your display area, wide-eyed and uncertain (sometimes acting overly certain to compensate!). This is new for them, but not for you. After your beautiful presentation you have “wowed” your customer and they are secretly hoping that their wedding is fabulous enough to someday become part of your album portfolio. You present the contract, explain everything to them, and the inevitable question comes. “Can you pencil me in while we think about it?” or even “Can you let me know if someone else requests the date?” The request seems reasonable enough, but your answer needs to be “I can try, but I can't make any guarantees. The only way to hold a date is with a contract and retainer.”

How this helps with your success: Although it seems to be a reasonable enough request, consider this scenario. The sister of a bride you photographed last year becomes engaged and calls you immediately. As in within five minutes of texting photos of her ring to everyone she knows and changing her status on Facebook. She loves you (of course!), she doesn't want anyone else as a photographer, and she is ready to send you a contract and retainer for May 20th of next year. You realize that you met with a client for that date, and you told them that you would call if anyone else was interested. You email the first client and find out from their out of office reply that that they are out on a two week vacation. Is it reasonable to ask the bride who is ready to book you to wait? It's a sale you could easily lose if you don't take action. And even when you get in touch with the first client you met with, it creates an awkward back and forth that could feel like a high-pressure ultimatum. Therefore, it's always best to put the ball in their court, and to maintain a contract and retainer policy for holding dates.

See more Wedding Policies for Success and learn procedures for the many challenges are common with wedding photography. Your clients will appreciate having professional policies that they can both understand and respect. Never worry about the threat of a wedding crisis turning into a legal and logistical nightmare. Stay inspired with daily tips and inspiration by joining our private mailing list.




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