With the holiday season comes a great opportunity to increase your sales and reconnect with past clients and vendors.
Get a plan in place for managing the increased work, so you don’t struggle to deliver everything to clients in time for the holidays. With proper planning, you can provide a positive, fun experience for your clients during their hectic holidays!
Managing your holiday workflow is simple and seamless if you keep these three concepts in mind:
1. Do your homework before the holidays hit.
In order to implement a successful holiday season plan, you must identify what products and services you’ll be offering. The products and services you promote during the holidays should meet the following two criteria:
- It’s profitable and strategic for you to offer these product and services.
- It’s something that your client will want to purchase.
If a product or service doesn’t meet these two criteria, reconsider whether or not you want to offer it as a holiday promotion!
When deciding which products and services to promote during the holidays, do your research with these questions in mind. Whether you’re considering promoting holiday cards, mini albums, or special deals on canvases, there are some questions you should ask when determining whether you want to offer a product or service:
- What resources do I need to produce this?
- What is the cost of outsourcing this product versus doing it in house?
- How much time will it take me to produce this product?
- What is my profit margin on this? Does that profit justify the time I’ll spend producing it?
- Will this product generate referrals for my business?
When you know what’s profitable for your studio to offer, consider which products or services your clientele will truly be interested in purchasing. Depending on who your client is and what type of photography you do, different products and promotions will be appealing. Think about whether the products and services you’ve decided on (above) also fit with this:
- Is this something my client will be interested in purchasing based on their particular needs?
- Does this product match the purchase history of my clients and what has previously been popular for them?
By measuring potential products or services you want to promote against these questions, you can accurately decide which products and services are most strategic to offer during the holidays.
2. Identify outsourcing and workflow tools you need.
You can’t do it all. Seriously.
Find partners who will help you manage the increased workload that comes with the holiday season. Identify production needs for each product and service. Then, decide whether you’re going to outsource the process or do it in-house. Make sure solutions you choose are cost effective and efficient, based on the volume of orders you’ll be doing. Automate as much of your workflow processes as possible by outlining a separate workflow for each product and service.
Using software like ShootQ enables you to monitor workflows for various products and services. Make sure your workflow displays the production involved with a product or service from the time of the order through completion and delivery. By establishing a consistent
workflow, you’ll have a clear understanding of how long it takes from the order to completion and delivery.
Utilize vendors like Pictage to outsource order fulfillment and customer service so you don’t have to oversee the ordering process and client interface for every session. This enables you to handle higher order volume and focus on tasks that highlight your specific talents – shooting and designing client promotions!
When your studio gets busy, you’ll shoot more sessions than usual and take more orders, so it’s critical to manage the invoicing process. Make it simple by using ShootQ to integrate your merchant account so your clients can pay online when they order. Then, your invoices are automatically marked as paid. Regardless of what software you use, make sure there’s a clear system for accepting payment and managing invoice records.
3. Set clear expectations.
Successful holiday season sales hinge on communication. Setting clear expectations for clients is perhaps the most important part of your holiday season sales strategy. First, you must understand the process for fulfilling a product or service. Then, you can create appropriate deadlines. Use deadlines from the vendors you work with as a guideline for creating your own studio deadlines. Once you have your own deadlines, create “cutoff dates” for your clients and make sure they’re earlier than you actually need!
Set yourself up to under-promise and over-deliver. Set deadlines for your clients that err on the side of under-promising. Then, you’ll be in a position to wildly exceed your client’s expectations. If you set deadlines that provide extra time, you’ll be able to fix any last-minute mishaps and still deliver products on time.
Communicate clearly to your clients about holiday deadlines and stick to them! Provide written guidelines to your clients before holiday season so they know what to expect and are motivated to order early. By setting clear expectations up front, you can provide better service to your clients. Explain turnaround times to your clients and stick to them. Your ability to do this depends on having thorough understanding of realistic timelines for products and services you’re providing.
Managing your holiday workflow means being realistic about what you can and can’t accomplish. By accepting orders, you’re committing to providing clients with exceptional products and services. Accepting too many orders can compromise that promise. You might not be able to accept every order. That’s okay! Just make sure to clearly set expectations throughout your holiday promotions. Keep these three concepts in mind when developing your holiday promotion plan and you’ll be on your way to a profitable and fun holiday season!
This article was originally published in The Photo Life Dispatch, Your Holiday Sales Guide. Check it out for more practical tips to help guide you through the holiday season.