I’m not really sure who I’m writing this for. I guess in part it is a cautionary tale for any of the photographers that visit my site because we can always use a few more stories like this. But it’s also for my couples. Anyone who has worked with me knows, but it’s really really important to me that anyone thinking about working with me also knows that I am doing my best to be like Bob (that will make sense in a minute).
So I am thinking about throwing a party. A sorta big party. The kind of party that requires a head count and minimum orders and room fees and all that jazz. In other words, I’m looking to throw down some money at a place. Yesterday I wrote a handful of local joints looking for information. I haven’t gotten many replies yet, which in itself speaks to the response generally expected (and received) from businesses.
But I did get two responses that I thought perfectly illustrated the difference between the kind of business I want to be and the kind of business I never, ever want to be.
Here was my message to Rock and Roll Hotel, a pretty hip but also pretty grungy place downtown. I thought I was being funny but even if I wasn’t funny at all, at least I was reasonably succinct:
Hi. I have a vision of a party for about 30 people with karaoke and margaritas. Maybe they don’t have to be margaritas. Maybe they could be gin and tonics. But the karaoke is sort of vital, because we are nerds. Do you guys do this? Even if you don’t, I’d still love to see your rates and things for the private rooms. Thanks!
Here’s the response I received:
Sorry Amber, we do not do karaoke. thanks – Steve
Seriously, that is your answer? It’s not even worth sending me your pdf brochure, an action that would take two seconds and might eventually win you the business of 30 people drinking at your bar? Steve’s incredibly dismissive response makes me never want to spend another penny at Rock and Roll Hotel again – ever. Because that is what happens when your customer service is so bad I don’t even want to give you regular business.
Contrast that with Bob. I sent an email to find out about renting Alexandria venues. It was a nondescript government form I filled out and I really wasn’t sure I would ever get a response from anyone. But maybe half an hour after I sent out the email, I got a call from Bob. He represents the Lyceum in Alexandria. And Bob spoke with me for 15 minutes about how wonderful the Lyceum is, going over every detail of rentals. He encouraged me to come down and check it out. And then he asked for my address so he could send me a packet of information. And this morning, I received an email with more details. Bob is really selling his venue. Bob wants me to rent out the Lyceum. Bob knows that I am a person. And Bob doesn’t even know that I am a wedding photographer and that I am going to write this article and tell every couple looking for a venue about the Lyceum (and I totally will).
I was just struck by the enormous difference between these two places and the way they handled my inquiry. Cautionary tale for photographers: your inquiries are real people and they want to be treated as such. Never let an opportunity go by. If someone is interested in you and your services, at least have the decency to act like you want their business.