Photography Businesses are Built on Relationships

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In another life my wife Sheila worked in HR at Akron Children’s Hospital. The other day I was looking over things in the bookcase and found a book called “A Carrot a Day”. If you’ve got employees I suggest you see if you can find a copy.

The book is all about recognition for employees with a daily “carrot”. Well, today’s got me thinking about one of the key ingredients in building your business, but here’s the carrot:

Be interested in their families.

You do something nice for me, I appreciate it. You do something nice for my family and all of a sudden we are family.

Today, before you leave the office, ask each of your employees about their kids. Find out when their birthdays are and how old each child is. On your calendar, mark those dates and celebrate with them – whether through a small gift or even a simple birthday card with a hand-written note…Is it important to be close with your employees? Let us put it this way: do you work harder for people you like and who like you, or those who seem aloof and superior?”

A Carrot a Day: A daily dose of recognition for your employees by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton.
Here’s the link at Amazon.

Stay with me, because this makes so much sense and there’s such a logical connection.

A couple of years ago I did a podcast with Angela Carson. Angela’s a children and family photographer in Detroit and was coming off of one of the best years in the history of her company. And remember, she’s in Detroit, one of the markets hardest hit by the challenges in the economy at the time.

Angela’s secret weapon? Just being Angela and doing what she does best, building relationships. Listen to her podcast and you’ll see what I mean. She’s very open about keeping in touch with her clients. All year long she’s following up on what’s going in their families. She’s become a part of many client’s families.  In a portrait business she knows exactly how many clients a year she needs to photograph for the revenue she needs to run the business. It’s no surprise the majority of her clients are repeat business. She’s constantly working to build each relationship.

Then there’s David Ziser, who years ago talked about wedding clients and contacting the couple on their first anniversary for a complimentary portrait sitting. Dean Collins used to do the same with a holiday portrait of any executive whose products he might have photographed during the previous year. Again, it’s all about relationship building.

Last on the list – a year ago we were at a party in Phoenix, a private dinner for approximately fifty people to celebrate Michele Celentano’s new book. When we went around the table and each person shared the basis for their relationship with Michele, over and over again, the friendship started as a client and Michele doing a family portrait.

The bottom line? In the same way the authors of A Carrot a Day suggest it’s important for employers to be interested in the families of their employees, you’ve got to work to build relationships with your clients, beyond just the sitting or event itself.

It’s a pretty easy concept and a terrific utilization of time – it’s an investment in each client! Put your clients in your network and then keep in touch.

Photo Credit: © kbuntu – Fotolia.com

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