Overwhelmed? Simplify Summer Madness with an Easy System to Keep Track of Your Clients

A guest post by Vivian Chen.

Wedding season is upon us and it’s very easy for your studio to become completely disorganized and overwhelmed. With multiple clients with various dates, requests, timelines and orders to juggle, your workload can go from manageable to massive headache in a few days. The best way to avoid a mess is to have a simple organizational system to keep everything separate, neat and tidy.

One system that seems to work really well is having separate folders for each client. Even though can do the same with spreadsheets, there’s something about a tangible folder that you can stack next to your desk when you’re working and file away when you’re done. I’ve found that anytime I use a spreadsheet to track progress, it tends to get lost in the shuffle of open windows on my computer. I don't update them in a timely fashion and then they cease to be useful. An actual physical file folder is harder to ignore.


Here are a few suggestions as to what each client file should contain:

1. Client contract, which includes client contact information and wedding day information (dates, times, type of wedding, and location). Don’t forget to ask if their mailing address will change after the wedding.

2. Any email correspondence that may be pertinent to the wedding day. Any emails from the client and/or wedding planner. This includes timeline, group portrait lists, and special requests for the day. As with anything business related, keeping a record is key and having it in writing is even better.

3. After the wedding, you can place any follow-up orders and correspondence in this folder as well. This includes invoices, album orders, and print orders. Make note of when items are paid for and delivered.

4. Your workflow progress with each client can be documented with this folder. Print out your workflow checklist and include it with each client folder so you can easily track where you are for each client. When things get busy, you won’t be wasting time trying to remember if you backed-up the client files or where you are in the editing process. You can also indicate where the files are stored if you have multiple hard drives or computers.

5. Extra client information for vendors and submissions. Use the folder to store vendor information for each client’s wedding so you send vendors wedding images when you’re done. Do the same for blog and magazine submissions.

These client folders are also very helpful if you hire an assistant. This way, everyone can be on the same page and each person’s separate progress can be tracked without confusion or redundancy.

(Even with all this organization, you may still fall behind with your workflow. That’s okay as long as you are honest and in communication with your clients. Most people are very understanding as long as you explain. Where you fall in trouble is when there is radio silence. Most bad reviews of photographers I see happen when the client cannot get a hold of their photographer. Hiding and lying does not help anyone. As embarrassing as it is to not be on top of things as much as you would hope, it is better to be honest and upfront about it from the get-go.)

What else would you include in the client folder? How do you stay organized during the busy wedding season?

headshot of Vivian ChenVivian is a long-time studio assistant for several well known San Francisco photographers. Her roles include second shooting, editing and color correcting, album design, customer service and studio operations. Because she is familiar with the inner workings of some of the best studios in town, she knows how to streamline day to day operations to keep everything working smoothly. In her free time, she works at building her own photo business. PhotoMint readers, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Matteo Cuzzola July 4, 2012 at 1:57 am

Hi,
thanks for sharing.
Instead forlders I use labels in Gmail, everything is in the cloud.

One label per client, and also one label per prospect.
All the corrispondence of the client is in one label, the contract too, I send it via pdf and they send me back signed.

I use one Google spreadsheet with a sheet per client with all the details of the service (I print it on the day of the wedding) .

This document has also one sheet with the progress of all the steps of my workflow checked per client.
In ROWs the steps, in COLUMNs the client name and date.

So I have a grid with the state of the art of my biz.
In every moment I know what I did and what I have to do per every client/event.

Everything in the cloud so I can access from my mobile devices.

If someone is interested I can share my detailed workflow in a article.

Cheers,
Matteo

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Britta Rivera June 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Hi Lara:)
First of all, thank you so much for what you do. I love reading your blog! Your tips are very valuable to me:)
I number my images according to what is happening. for example: 0001hovergetting ready, 0001hoverfirstdance, 0001hovercakecutting. It really helps my clients to have everything organized into detailed categories/folders on their dvd of images. They can find the image they are looking for very quickly. I really like your tips though, especially adding the intials of the second shooter!

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Maria June 12, 2012 at 8:11 am

Thanks for this Vivian! I have had trouble setting up a spreadsheet in the past, and am much more successful when I can tangibly see all of my tasks and papers in one place on hand. I’m in the middle of setting up my season filing system now, and this post helps tons.

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Viv June 12, 2012 at 10:42 am

I’m glad this could help, Maria! I’m definitely the same way with needing to see my tasks tangibly. I also find making one folder is great because I bring the whole thing along on the wedding day, in case there is any confusion or clarification needed with contracts or agreements made over email.

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Tobin June 11, 2012 at 11:03 am

Hi Lara,

Great stuff, as usual. Though…I find that the folders method can still leave something to be desired in the “quick access” dept. For me, what works best is a CRM system that allows me to keep all my client’s details together inside of their contact record. I use an incredible tool called OfficeAutopilot, as it lets me track their visits to my website in real time, plus see all the emails I’ve sent to/received from ’em, phone calls I’ve made to ’em, notes, contracts, and more. It rocks. You might check it out. Cheers, Tobin

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Lara White June 14, 2012 at 7:14 am

Tobin that does sound very interesting, I’m going to take a look at that!

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