COVID-19 has disrupted our industry like never before. But in times like these, it’s really helpful to stay mindful of how we are all in this together and how important it is to have effective communication with your couples.
Us photographers are going to be worried about losing important bookings, whilst our couples will be left not knowing when they’ll next be able to say, ‘I do’.
It is undoubtedly true that having effective communication with your couples has never been more needed than it is right now.
As your clients look to rescheduling their big days, it’s your job to make yourself as accessible and as helpful as you can.
But when you’re just as unsure as they are, how exactly should you communicate with your couples during this stressful and uncertain time?
And what is it that you could do that would help your clients, but not make things even harder for you?
Well, today, we want to answer those questions and give you the lowdown on exactly how you should be approaching your clients during this unprecedented time.
From money matters to making bold decisions, this article will cover all you need to know about supporting, helping and communicating with your clients at a time when it is needed most.
So, let’s get started.
Accept the situation, be understanding and don’t panic
These are truly horrible times — but, as upsetting and as disappointing as all of this is, it’s important to remember that there’s nothing you, or your clients, can do.
COVID-19 has changed everything. It’s happened, it’s put a pause to all of our plans, and no one really knows what’s to come next. All we do know is that you’re going to have to tackle this situation head on and talk your couples through the inevitable delay.
And the best way to do this is by handling the matter with acceptance, understanding and as much clarity as you can.
Accept that you’re going to have to reschedule upcoming shoots and understand that you and your couples probably won’t be able to confirm new dates immediately.
Arranging a wedding takes a lot of time, and so re-scheduling one isn’t going to happen overnight. Accept this, and let your couples know that you’re more than willing to wait a little before booking new dates.
Your couples will appreciate your understanding, and they’ll be even happier to work with you when the time allows for it.
Don’t be afraid to talk money
The coronavirus is likely to have financial ramifications for both you and your clients. But, whilst this might sound scary, how you handle this is what really matters most.
As your couples will be facing the same uncertainty as you, it’s really important that you approach the matter of money in a direct, transparent and open way. Be clear with where you stand, but always try to look at the bigger picture as much as you can.
Remember, trying to make things a little easier for your couples now is a good way to protect yourself later. And it’s also the kind and right thing to do, if you can afford it.
Offering your clients a more flexible payment plan, for example, is a great way of managing your cash flow – and that of your clients.
By doing all you can for your couples, and offering different ways to relieve the financial burden of reorganizing a wedding at a time of such uncertainty, you’ll leave a great impression, and hopefully secure their custom for when things calm down a little.
That said, it is, of course, important to only offer what you can. You’ve really got to strike a balance between treating your couples well, and looking after your own business, too. Reach out to your local government for advice on what support is available, if you’re struggling.
Be as flexible, and as accessible, as you can
Just as you might decide to take a more fluid approach to payment in this tricky period, it’s also a good idea to extend that flexibility more generally to other areas of your business, too.
If, for example, your couples are struggling to confirm a rescheduled date, or aren’t totally sure if they’re still going to be able to afford your service anymore — let them know that you understand, and are prepared to hang on a bit before they make any final decisions.
And even offering discounts, if you can afford it, will be a good business move if it’s the difference between a booking or no booking at all.
Although decisions like these will impact your cash flow, we think it’s important to look at this situation realistically and tackle things a little more flexibly than you might be used to.
Be open and clear with your couples
At the same time as being flexible with your couples, you’ve also got to be as open and as clear to them as you can. This means thinking ahead, sticking to the facts and not being afraid to make decisions that are right for you, as well as for them.
In a time of such uncertainty, your couples will appreciate any clarity you can give them — even if it’s not necessarily what they want to hear.
If, for example, one of your couples decides to reschedule their wedding to a date that you’re uncomfortable with (for example, if it’s in the near future when restrictions are likely to still be in place), be open and clear about that. And if there’s no way around it, accept it and respectfully move on.
Although being so direct right now might feel a little uncomfortable, your couples will appreciate any sense of direction you can give them. And if your direction is that, actually, you can’t make a particular date anymore, then so be it.
Scenarios like these are, of course, not ideal, but handling them with clarity and directness is the best way forward — both for you and your clients.
Go that extra mile
In tough times, kindness can go very far. And whilst all of our tips today are in line with that core message, it can sometimes be a good idea to really go that extra mile.
Sending out complimentary gift cards or flowers, for example, would show your clients that you genuinely care about the working relationship you’ve built with them.
And offering your knowledge on the wedding industry to help them through the rescheduling process, too, would similarly say the same.
Of course, you’ve got to do what’s economical and sensible for you, but sometimes even just a little card in the post would move your clients and show your sincerity.
However you do it, going that extra mile will really pay off in the future. But beyond the obvious business benefits of treating your clients generously, spreading a bit of kindness right now will do wonders for your own mental health during what is a really isolating time.
So, be kind and be business-savvy. The two are a match-made in heaven
Keep calm, stick to the facts and do the best you can
It’s totally understandable if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by how to handle this situation.
But if you keep calm, stick to the facts and follow the advice in this article, your clients are sure to appreciate your service, and will be even more eager to work with you than they were before.
If you’re struggling to know how to word emails to your clients about any of the COVID-19 challenges they’re facing, we love this resource by Honeybook which has a ton of amazing email templates.
We know it’s hard to look at this virus as anything better than what it is, but with the right mindset, there’s no reason why the way you handle this period couldn’t give your reputation a real boost if you go about it the right way.
So, be accessible and be open, and do all you can to look after both yourself and your couples — because that’s the key to success after this virus has passed.
Stay healthy and try to keep as positive as you can. And for more content on how to get through the coronavirus as a photographer, head over to our blog for all the support you’ll need.
Connection is what it’s all about. Feel free to reach out to us with any comments or questions you might have, even if it’s only to say hello. If it wasn’t for our beautiful community, this place just wouldn’t feel the same.