by Guest Contributor Shannan Painter of Accounting for Photographers
I was less than a year into my accounting business when a client had me in tears. I had promised to have a project done by a certain date when “something came up”. They were, justifiably, frustrated with me. Often, we make promises to people, with great intentions of following through, only to have life interrupt. Disappointing people is not a great way to do business! Here are some simple ways you can keep your promises, keep your clients, AND establish a fantastic reputation:
When my husband and I got married, our wedding photographer said it would probably take 3 weeks to a month for him to edit and compile all our photos. As excited as I was to see the images, I was prepared to wait the time he estimated. When he posted them to Facebook only 10 days later, I was ecstatic! Now, imagine this scenario in reverse. What if he had promised me 10 days and it took a month before I got to see anything – very frustrating, right? Realize that your estimation has a significant effect on your client’s expectations.
Staying up until 2am editing may seem like a good idea, but think it through! Plan your editing time so that it doesn’t occur at the end of a long day, when your kids are climbing on you, or when a deadline is looming. You won’t produce your best product when you are under stress. If 2 am is the only time you have, then stop committing to so much! Late-night editing sessions may work wonderfully for you, but know yourself. When will you get the best work done?
Allow for the unpredictable!
Understand that things come up over which you will have no control. Kids get sick, you get sick, funerals happen, cars break down, stock markets crash, natural disasters occur, and there is nothing we can do about it! Give yourself some extra time to allow for events you can’t plan.
When you mess up, admit it!
If something does come up that throws off your completion timeline, admit it, apologize and do your best to get it done as soon as possible. Remember, you can be discreet. Unless you are dealing with someone you know very well, you don’t need to disclose every detail. I once had someone doing work for me launch into a dramatic excuse of why the work wasn’t done because she and her husband had been fighting. Maintain your professionalism! I would use a phrase something like “I know I promised to have your sitting ready to proof by [this date]. Something personal has come up, and I apologize for the inconvenience. It will be my first priority. Thank you for your patience.”
I have a lot of experience dealing with this subject because I am a people-pleaser! One of the greatest challenges for me when I started my accounting business was learning how to be a business owner. Even if you are an incredible photographer, remember that you have to learn to be a great businessperson too. Business skills may take some time to develop, but you can always learn from others. Keep learning!
About the Author: I graduated Magna Cum Laude with an Accounting Degree from the University of Montana. Instead of pursuing a career in public accounting and being stuck behind a desk for 70 hours a week, I turned down jobs at big accounting firms to pursue a different love. I chose instead to work from home where I live with my husband, two boys and a puppy named Growler. I live a glamorous, exciting life working from my living room in my pajamas, cleaning crayon off the walls, driving kids to school, playing superheros and taking care of a little dog that likes to refinish furniture with his teeth. I get to work with fun, creative & artistic photographers and help them understand that numbers can be our friends!