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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old June 3rd, 2008, 11:19 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
You must have an interesting business model.
I shoot pretty videos and give them to people six months later in exchange for currency... is that a business model? Whatever it is, it pays the bills.

And Travis, you and Rick put away the switchblades and play nice. I don't wanna have to call your mothers.
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Old June 3rd, 2008, 11:37 PM   #17
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I shoot pretty videos and give them to people six months later in exchange for currency... is that a business model? Whatever it is, it pays the bills.

And Travis, you and Rick put away the switchblades and play nice. I don't wanna have to call your mothers.
By business model I more meant how you market to brides, what your product and pricing is like, how you interact with and approach the brides who contact you, etc. It's very interesting to me that you can basically book all of your brides without a face-to-face meeting.

Oh, and as for Rick and I, please don't call our mothers!
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Old June 4th, 2008, 08:05 AM   #18
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Wow, that's pretty amazing. I don't think I've ever booked a bride without a face-to-face meeting (whether at a wedding show or our studio or whatever). You must have an interesting business model.
I would say half the weddings I booked were done so without a face to face meeting.

Perhaps that has more to do with geography and competition than business model. Due to the sparse population here in western Minnesota, the distance to my average wedding was 30 miles plus. Some as far as 75 miles. While that's not too far to travel for a wedding, it's maybe a bit far for someone to go just to meet me face-to-face. It's also not unusual for the B&G to think I'm the only one that shoots a cinematic style of wedding video - everyone else around here just shoots the ceremony from the back - so they believe I'm their only choice. They've seen my samples, they know my prices, so they book me.
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Old June 4th, 2008, 09:49 AM   #19
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I would say half the weddings I booked were done so without a face to face meeting.

Perhaps that has more to do with geography and competition than business model. Due to the sparse population here in western Minnesota, the distance to my average wedding was 30 miles plus. Some as far as 75 miles. While that's not too far to travel for a wedding, it's maybe a bit far for someone to go just to meet me face-to-face. It's also not unusual for the B&G to think I'm the only one that shoots a cinematic style of wedding video - everyone else around here just shoots the ceremony from the back - so they believe I'm their only choice. They've seen my samples, they know my prices, so they book me.
Good points, and that's a pretty nice niche to have!
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Old June 4th, 2008, 10:52 AM   #20
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I generally book 30% of my couples without a meeting. I've found that a lot of Brides want to communicate by email and phone especially if its a referral or they just trust the name recognition. I avoid so many pointless phone calls by simply posting our prices along with our schedule of booked dates. I used to spend half my days explaining the differences between packages and telling people we were already booked. On the other hand I can see how not publishing prices would also eliminate people simply with the "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" philosophy. As for booking, if I have a meeting scheduled and someone else calls for their date, I always give a chance to the first couple. If they want you, they'll wait it out until after your meeting and in the long run you can get a bad rep for not honoring "first come, first serve". Couples can not help their schedules and when they will be able to meet. I believe the first one to contact you has priority.
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Old June 4th, 2008, 11:46 AM   #21
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Ok, I haven't been in this business long enough to have a "standard of practice" BUT.....here's my two cents:

I meet almost EVERY bride prior to shooting them. I get a feel for what they want and if they and I "mesh". Just because I'm "available" doesn't mean I will film your wedding.

By meeting a person I can tell if they are the type of person that will "ride my ass" so to speak, and make me crazy! I had one groom ask if he could come over while I edited and make "suggestions", when I said no he asked how many times he could return the video to be "reworked". He inquired how much additional dvd's were, I told him $25 (which is CHEAP!!) his response: "whatever, I'll just burn it myself". Goodbye, end of meeting, date still available.

I can't imagine not meeting a client first,if time and location permits it!

Last edited by Kelsey Emuss; June 4th, 2008 at 02:32 PM. Reason: spelling!
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Old June 4th, 2008, 02:25 PM   #22
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I can't imagine not meeting a client first,if time location permits it!
I totally agree. When setting up a meeting we stress that part of the reason for it is to make sure we are all compatible. I truly believe we also get much better referrals because we make numerous efforts to get to know the couple better, and people notice that kind of stuff.

I think the model works differently for guys who are price-targeting the market , though. When you're competing mostly on price there isn't as much of a reason to meet with a couple. They either like your prices or they don't.


One more thought. We've had times where we met with couple A and already have a meeting set with couple B for the same date. Couple A calls us shortly after the meeting and says they intend to book us. We still meet with couple B but we also inform them that couple A has stated they intend to book the date and that they have until "such and such day" to do it.

We don't cancel our meeting with couple B just because couple A has stated they plan to book us, because we've had a number of times in the past where couple A ended up not booking with us despite saying they were (various reasons - budget realities, dates moved, changed their mind, etc.). If we hadn't met with couple B in many of those cases we might not have booked the date.
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Old June 5th, 2008, 01:12 PM   #23
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Wow, ton of responses, lets see if I can say something new.

At the beginning of the day you have two brides interesting in your services who think highly of your company. At the end of the day, you want one of those brides to book and both to think highly of your company- that is really when you win the most.

Scheduling the second caller first leaves the opportunity for conflict like this and while you could have a booking, you could certainly have somebody else who doesn't have the best things to say about your company, and that never helps.

If you schedule the second caller for the second meeting, you can then tell bride A that yo have somebody else interested and they are welcome to take their time and think about things or pay a booking fee and secure the date (not the same as a retainer, which could be deemed too large if they canceled and took you to court). If they need time and bride B books, bride A will still have great things to say about you and perhaps even more so as they almost had you but you were to popular.

Very small difference in policy that can certainly make a difference in the long run.

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Old June 5th, 2008, 01:28 PM   #24
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Patrick, I think that is a good plan, and that's definitely what we "try" to do here, but in the weeks after a wedding show that is when brides are scheduling meetings and booking, so our schedule is quite often as full as possible with meetings. Sometimes we don't really have a choice to schedule a 2nd caller after another bride unless we are willing to schedule a meeting with them that is like 2 or 3 weeks out, and by then that 2nd caller will have likely met with someone else and booked them. Then, if the original caller doesn't book with us it leaves us with an open date.

We also sometimes have issues with couples that schedule a meeting and then end up not showing up for whatever reason, and during that time of the year we might not be able to get them back in for another week or two, and again, they might meet with someone else and book them instead in the mean time. Either that or we meet with them and they call us back and say they want to book us and then before the next meeting they change their mind because of budget reasons or whatever. It's just been my experience to take a booking when you can, as long as you haven't already scheduled a meeting with someone to specifically sign a contract.

Also, bride A doesn't know that you scheduled an earlier meeting with bride B after you scheduled the meeting with them, so I don't really see how she can be upset. There are only so many hours in the day to meet with clients and also get work done, and many of our couples have complicated schedules that make scheduling meetings quite a challenge. So unless I've scheduled a meeting with bride A and specifically told her that I'm not meeting with anyone else for her date, I don't see how it's an issue. I think most of the brides we meet with know that we are meeting with a lot of couples and probably expect that other people are interested in the same date. Maybe things work differently in your market, or with your particular business because of how well know you are in your area. All I know is I've been overly accommodating in the past and it has cost me booking dates, and I can't afford that.


I am curious about this "booking fee". Is this a fee they pay to reserve a meeting to come back in and sign a contract for the date? If so, what is the deadline for doing that, and if they are willing to put money down to come back and sign a contract, then why not just put down the retainer and sign the contract right then and there? I'm just a bit confused on that.
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Old June 5th, 2008, 01:38 PM   #25
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Travis,

I am sure there are many ways to go about it, but the key for me is keeping everybody with a favorable attitude towards your company while booking somebody at the same time. Even a phone call to bride A informing them can do a lot.

If you have weeks in a row full of meetings, I would imaging your booking your whole season right there?

We call it a booking fee as a 'fee has different legal connotations than a retainer. Say we book a $15k photo/video package with a 30% retainer, that is $4500. If they then cancel and the couple takes you to court, they would most likely get a good portion back as $4500 would be deemed to high to retain services that in the end were not rendered. Should something happen, we alway do what we can to help the couple out, move things around, and refund them what makes sense, but it never hurts to have yourself protected.

A couple photographers have lost fairly big as of late due to the 'retainer' fee.

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Old June 5th, 2008, 01:49 PM   #26
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You are mostly correct, Patrick. Our wedding show is in early January, and by the end of the month we have usually booked 75% or more of our weddings for the year. It is crucial for us during the month of January to get brides booked because we only book a handful after that. In my area most of the brides who come looking for a photographer or videographer later in the year are the brides who haven't placed as much of a priority on their wedding and generally are looking for whoever is cheapest, which isn't us.

Regarding the "booking fee", are you saying if you book a $15k package then you would simply call the 30% retainer a booking fee instead of a retainer, or is the booking fee a completely different thing? Sorry I'm still not getting it. I was up until 3am last night editing. d;-)
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Old December 17th, 2010, 07:41 AM   #27
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Old thread here, but I find myself in a similar spot. Eight days ago, a mother-of-the-bride (MotB) contacted me asking if a date was open. I informed her it was. Yesterday, I met with another bride about the same date. I did not call the original MotB to inform her someone else was interested (I felt like this would be a cheap, used car salesman tactic). The bride yesterday gave verbal intent, and informed me that she has signed our contract and mailed it in this morning - the money has of course not yet arrived. Now the original MotB emailed today asking me to put the date down for them as tentative, but wants me to meet with them first. In your opinion, should I just inform her that another couple is supposed to be paying a retainer within the next day or so, but that if I don't hear from them in a couple days I'll let her know? I guess I'm feeling guilty for not letting the MotB know that someone else was interested, but then again, it was seven days after her initial inquiry. I don't think I would have done it differently, maybe just looking for affirmation on whether other people who have handled it the same way.
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Old December 17th, 2010, 08:00 AM   #28
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On initial enquiry I state that I'll keep the offer open for seven days unless I receive a another enquiry for the same date. I ask for phone/text/email contact details for just this scenario. If I get a second enquiry I tell them I have a live enquiry but I will contact the first one straight away, If they do not or cannot commit within 24 hours the date is free. If couple two want to visit and pay deposit immediately they get the booking.
I've had a number of enquiry situations like this including once receiving two deposit cheques on the same day. Ouch that was an awkward situation.
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Old December 17th, 2010, 09:26 AM   #29
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I'm with George precisely here. We offer to hold a provisional booking only on the strict and clear understanding that a deposit in our hands or bank is the only sure way to secure the date.

With most people internet banking these days in the UK at least, eager clients can get the money in our bank within minutes.

Whilst I enjoy selling and warm to Travis' practice, the OP situation also sounds like a good reason to publish rates. There's no profit in selling to someone who can't afford the product.
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Old December 17th, 2010, 09:32 AM   #30
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The initial inquiry was, "Is your date open?" rather than "We are very interested. As long as the date is open, let's get this thing moving". I obviously won't be able to undo this situation, so your feedback will be useful for the future (and thank you both for it). In an instance when a passive inquiry is made, do you still tell them in your initial response that you'll hold it for seven days? If so, what do you tell the next person who inquires?
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