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?
Vivian 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.