Home Studio Client Consultations: Pros and Cons

 Trying to figure out where to hold client meetings? It's debate that most photographers go through, and there are no easy answers. On the one hand, if you have the space in your home to meet with clients, there are certainly advantages to that, but there are many drawbacks as well, as anyone who does client consultations in their home will tell you. I've done  both, so I can share with you the pros and cons of each option.

Home Studio Pros:

  • When you have appointment no-shows, at least you're still home!
  • Tax write-offs! Any space in your home that is 100% dedicated to business is eligible for a tax write-off.
  • No commute.
  • No overhead costs of a rented space.
  • You control the environment: the temperature, the wall art, the noise level.
  • Your artwork up on the walls.
  • You can add lots of warmth and cozy touches-soft music, candles, wine.

Home Studio Cons:

  • You have to keep the entire path from door to meeting space totally spotless.
  • Family has to be virtually silent, go into hiding or leave the house during consultations.
  • A key part of your home (like a living room or dining room) gets taken over by your business. Over time, this becomes harder and harder to live with, and family may resent it.
  • When you have a scheduling mishap (um, like totally forgetting to put an evening consultation on the calendar) you might accidently open the door in your pjs to find clients expecting a consultation. I guess this is only a con if it actually happens (I don’t want to talk about it!).
  • When the client is rudely 45 minutes late, you can't just leave.
  • Pets can be a…challenge. Not only for clients with allergies, but it can be very distracting to have a dog barking like a maniac through your (entire) presentation.

If meeting in your home is not an option, what should you do? First off, think of it as an advantage to the client and keep that attitude in your mind. A photographer's confidence (or lack thereof) can be our own worst enemy, so don't think about the negatives. Focus on the positives.

Outside Meeting Location Pros

  • Can meet at locations convenient to the client.
  • Takes the formality edge off the meeting, and sets a more friendly, casual vibe. This can help make everyone more comfortable and less “business meeting” and more “friendly chat.”
  • Can keep your home space private. This will mean a lot to you, especially if you have gone the home meeting route for a couple years. (Trust me, hiding family gets old after a while).
  • If the client is a no-show, you can leave. You aren’t trapped there waiting for them to show up at their convenience, like you kind of are in a home. What are you going to do, not answer the door?
*Check out this article for more tips on client meetings in public spaces.

 
Outside Meeting Location Cons

  • You don’t have a dedicated spot, so you need to arrive early in order to secure a table and set yourself up.
  • If you are a worrier type, you may feel uncomfortable with the lack of control. Practice and prepare until you are comfortable.
  • You can't permanently display wall portraits or have a large slideshow presentation, so a nice laptop, Ipad or tablet is going to be the way to go.
  • You can't always use your own music for slideshows.

What are your thoughts?


Facebook comments:

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

David Wahlman March 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Thanks for sharing! I’ve always thought the sound of a home space would be great, but you bring up some good points. Thanks

Reply

Lara White October 8, 2012 at 5:21 pm

that’s a great point Ken. We tried to get a permit but the city was unclear about the process.

Reply

Ken @ ille Photography September 26, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Another “Con” to consider is that your city may require a special permit to legally have clients in your home. This is one of those “technicality” types of rules as I see it targeted more toward home beauty salons or other professions that have high client traffic. In my city, I’ve obtained a “home business” permit which allows me to run a business from my home but does not allow for clients in my home. The permit to have clients in my home is ~$700 and requires a survey of neighbors within 300 feet of my home and basically their approval.

I personally take the view that client consultations in my home would be no different from regular traffic of having friends over for dinner or family visiting my home and It would go unnoticed by the neighborhood. That said, I still do not hold client consultations in my home.

Obviously whether you apply for the permit is a choice each person must make for themselves but it’s good to know what the rules are before you decide to follow them (or break them).

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Suzan September 26, 2012 at 9:30 am

One of the cons is inviting strangers into your home. Sadly there are a few clever crooks out there who use an initial consult to ‘case the joint’. You’d need to check with your insurance company and/or install an alarm system.

Not an issue for me as, with two teenagers, three cats – who love strangers, and two dogs – who are totally neglected and like to demonstrate it to strangers, mine is just not a professional environment. If I had separate space like an apartment over a garage/studio with a separate entrance, I’d do it like a shot. That said, I also have brides who are really impressed that I come to them even when they live in the opposite end of town. (Brownie point!)

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Todd September 26, 2012 at 4:56 am

What if you have a separate space like an apparment over a garge? We have an unfinished apparment space that I have offten thought would be great for a home office. That seems like it would solve several drawbacks of haveing an office at home since it would be more isolated from the rest of the house. Granted this would mean keeping the garage space nice and clean but that is not an impossible task just would require forethought and planning for it to work. There are lots of materials available for making spaces like that much more inviting. As for storage there is (typically) nothing stored in a garage that couldn’t be stored in a shed.

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