The ultimate guide for wedding photographers dealing with the Coronavirus crisis

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| Hero image by Lily & Moon Photography

You have a wedding booked two months from now.

But everything is in shut down right now.

You don’t know what’s going to happen next week, let alone two months from now. Plus, you had counted on the income from that wedding as well as all the other weddings you have next month.

So – what do you do? And what about the wedding you have in 6 months?

The answer is simple – be proactive!

Reach out to your couples.

And – reach out to them 1-on-1. Don’t do it through a Facebook status, a post on your Instagram or a generic blog post. Remember, you’re in the business of serving people. Your business revolves around relationships.

This is a time, more than ever, to focus on relationships. This is a time, more than ever, to connect and to have a genuine conversation with your clients. They need this. You need this.

Plus, when you reach out to your clients 1-on-1:

  • It ensures that the message is heard and received. We all know what percentage of our audience actually sees our social media posts.
  • It shows you care about them. Empathy and compassion through these times are some of the most important characteristics you can exhibit.
  • It gives you an opportunity to discuss their individual situation and handle questions in a safe and private 1-on-1 atmosphere.
By Pretty Lightroom Presets @prettypresets

When you reach out to your couples, be mindful that you are:

  • Empathetic
  • Understanding
  • Comforting
  • Reassuring
  • Clarifying

You need to be a guide for your clients. Avoid panic. Don’t add to their stress. Be a voice of reason for them during a time when everyone else seems to be doing nothing but freaking out.

There’ll be two groups of couples you should reach out to. There’ll be those whose wedding is in the short-term (i.e. the next three months or less) and those whose wedding in the short-long-term (i.e. those with weddings between 3 and 9 months from now).

Reach out to both groups, but reach out with a slightly different message.

How to reach out to your couples and what to say

By Nikkolas Nguyen @nikknguyenphoto

Your couples whose wedding is in the short-term (i.e. the next three months or less) are going to be the most stressed. The reality of their wedding taking place as planned is threatened more and more each day. There’s a lot of uncertainty for them, which brings on higher levels of stress.

Here’s the truth – you won’t be able to reassure them that everything will be alright and go as planned, because you don’t know if that’s going to be the case. Don’t mislead them. What you can do is comfort them, though. Be understanding and make sure they are clear on the next steps. You can guide them and give them suggestions.

Here are the three options they have:

  1. Go ahead as planned.
  2. Reschedule the wedding.
  3. Cancel the wedding.

If things are going to end up going ahead as planned, then there’s nothing else to talk about, but at least you’ve been proactive in showing that you care by reaching out. That’s the message you should be sending to those couples whose weddings are further out (i.e. 6-9 months away). For them, they should be ok, but the fact that you reached out and touched base shows that you care and that you’re thinking of them.

If your couple needs to reschedule, there are a few things you should make sure are made clear for them:

  • There is no rebooking fee if they need to reschedule.
  • Dates will be limited for rescheduling – both for you and their other wedding vendors. I’m sure they know, but it needs to be explicitly said – the industry will be flooded with dates being rescheduled, so every couple is not only competing for dates with other couples who are rescheduling, but also with couples who had already booked their wedding for the following year.
  • There is no cancellation fee if they need to cancel (or if they pick a new date you’re not available for), but they will forfeit their deposit. Check this in your contract, first, though – don’t just take my word for it!

You could suggest that if they’re looking to reschedule, they may want to consider a weekday wedding. Honestly, it may be something they had never considered, and it would make having “the same” wedding – with the same vendors they already chose – a lot easier for them.

Otherwise, you should suggest that they check with you before booking a new date to make sure you are available for the new date. This is a great time to remind them of your value as a photographer and why they booked you in the first place. Most likely, they want to keep you as their photographer, so make it easy for them to check.

Bonus – if you’re a Sprout Studio user, use an invitation to let them quickly check your availability!

What to do about the lost (or deferred) revenue?

Let’s be honest – no matter what, this crisis is going to leave you with either lost revenue or deferred revenue at the very best. Sure, you may still keep your weddings when they reschedule, but if you had relied on that income from this year, you’d now have to defer that revenue until next year. That could be a significant hit on your cashflow.

(But at the same time – if you can get through it, it’ll also mean an influx on your cashflow for next year if you do things right!)

By Ramiz Dedakovic @ramche

We’re running a 14-day marketing challenge right now where you’ll learn ideas for a whole bunch of ways you can use your off time right now to generate some revenue and ramp up some new marketing programs when the dust settles. Come join us!

New marketing ideas aside – how can you lessen the burden of this crisis on your business with all of these weddings being rescheduled?

Here are five ideas.

Idea #1 – Offer a monthly payment plan

By Nathan Dumlao @nate_dumlao

For those couples who rescheduled, offer them a payment plan that spreads out their remaining payments instead of just deferring them by a year.

Perhaps you have a typical wedding payment plan:

$1500 deposit
50% due one month before the wedding
Remaining balance due one month after the wedding

You could suggest to your couple that you switch it to:

$1500 deposit (already paid)
75% paid in monthly installments between now and the wedding
25% due one month after the wedding

You can explain that you’re a small business and that this crisis, with all of the cancellations and rescheduled dates, has had a massive impact on your business. If they are comfortable making a few smaller payments between now and their wedding date instead of deferring it all until next year, that’d be helpful for you and your business.

We – as humans – have come together during this crisis, and empathy is at an all-time high. I think your clients would be understanding with you, especially because you’ve gone out of your way to be understanding and empathetic with them through this.

Idea #2 – Offer a restructured payment plan

By Samantha Gades @srosinger3997

Similar to the first idea – you can see if your couple would be comfortable shifting their payment plan around so that there is still an installment due now.

For example – again, perhaps you have a typical wedding payment plan:

$1500 deposit
50% due one month before the wedding
Remaining balance one month after the wedding

You could suggest to your couple that you switch it to:

$1500 deposit (already paid)
30% due now
30% due one month before the wedding
Remaining balance due one month after the wedding

If you need to, you could always offer something as an incentive, too. Perhaps you could offer an additional two hours of wedding day coverage in exchange for them being flexible with you and their payments. You win, they win, it’s a win all around!

Idea #3 – Build a new monthly payment plan for new weddings

By Alekon Pictures @alekonpictures

For all new weddings you book, you could switch your payment schedule around a bit to collect more money sooner. For example, instead of your typical wedding payment plan, which might be something like:

$1500 deposit
50% due one month before the wedding
Remaining balance one month after the wedding

You could switch your standard payment plan to:

$1000 deposit
75% in monthly payments between now and their wedding
Remaining balance one month after the wedding

You could – again – explain that your business was hit hard by this crisis and that this was a cashflow decision you had to make to keep your business afloat.

You could also pitch the benefit of this to new couples and explain that this is better for them because they don’t need to have a large chunk of money come out all at once. Instead, they can just plan to pay down their wedding collection slowly. This may also end up benefiting you and enabling your clients to book a higher package because the payments are more manageable and split up.

By PopTop UK @poptop_events

Idea #4 – Offer an album add-on promotion

Offer an album add-on promotion. If your couple chooses and pays for a wedding album now, they’ll receive five additional spreads at no extra cost, which usually would cost $625.

Obviously – plug in your numbers there and structure the deal in a way that makes sense for you. But the idea is to offer them great value and savings (benefit) by making a decision now on their wedding album, and it is a nice way to get some new cash in the door for you.

Idea #5 – Offer a wall portrait add-on promotion

Similar to idea #4, you could offer a wall portrait promotion to your couples. A lot of the time, the focus of weddings is the wedding album, and couples completely forget about getting prints done.

What if you – similarly – offered them a great value right now and allowed them to pre-purchase wall portraits.

For example, you could give them the option of pre-purchasing as many wall prints as they’d like, and for every print they pre-purchase, you’ll double it.

So if they’d like to get a beautifully framed 12×18 wall portrait for one of their parents (maybe for the Christmas that follows the wedding), you’ll add a second 12×18 framed wall portrait so that they can give one to their other set of parents.

It’s a great way for them to think-ahead and lock-in some deliverables, a great way to save some money and a great way for you to add some additional, unexpected income during a time where your cashflow is being negatively affected by the circumstances.

By The Wedding Chicks @weddingchicks

The importance of connection

No matter how you reach out to your clients – the phone is going to be king right now, by the way – just make sure you touch base. Show empathy, be understanding and remember that you are the professional here. You are the guide. Focus on these relationships, focus on being caring and focus on being empathetic.

Not only does that make you a kind human being, but it’s what separates the businesses that are acting out of greed and those who are acting out of empathy. And in the end, your business will be able to weather this storm because you showed up for your clients when they needed you the most.

By David Thomaz @davidthomaz
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