November 12, 2014 , Business
“Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”
If there is one thing Andrew and I have learned very quickly in this journey of being entrepeneurs it is THIS….SERVE! We have found the act of putting our advantages behind us and helping others has been the very thing that keeps pushing us forward. This subject is something we are passionate about and we want to share WHY! I shared two weeks ago on the blog about “You are your biggest threat”. Unfortunately that blog post disappeared when my blog was accidentally deleted. I keep grunting at the fact I lost so much but the Lord keeps whispering to me that He has more to say. So instead of giving up and not saying anything.. I am going to listen. I am just going to recap on that before we dive into why it is so important to serve.
YOU ARE YOUR BIGGEST THREAT!
There is no competition. You have an IDEAL client and so does the photographer or business owner down the street. No one can take you, no one can LOVE and serve like you do. They can use the SAME principles you use to shoot with or run your business but it will not threaten your business. Why? Because God has people lined up who are meant to meet you.. I like to say we are made for each other. Their are so many people in every little small area.. You think it might be over saturated but it is not. Are you doing what makes you come alive? What you are passionate about? Then you are made to do it. The end. Serving other people in your industry is not a threat to you. It creates a support system with like-minded people, it gives you the ability to train second shooters or people who can handle your business when emergencies happen, and it puts word of mouth in THEIR mouth when they are booked or can not take a client. It is over all a WIN WIN! The biggest threat to your business is YOU! Why? Insecurities, fear of failure, comparison, resistance to change… these are all business killers.. not the new photographer or business down the street!
“Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”
Andrew and I realized that serving transformed our business. It is crazy that this principle is so foreign to us photographers when we are in a “service” based business. Often times I feel like business owners work like a cheap car lot. We are trying to weasel them in, convince them to add on prints, canvas, albums.. all to reach a number in our head. The funny thing is people can feel that. They may not decipher it well but they feel it. They can tell the difference between a person who is trying to make some money or someone who genuinely is there to serve them by doing what they love. I am not saying there is not a time to add on products and raise your prices etc. All of that comes when your focus is not on just making money or reaching a certain point and INSTEAD serving them in whatever capacity you can while they are in front of you. We have built our brand around a relational approach and being very open about who we are. We serve them as if we were their maid of honor or best man on their wedding day. We take them out to dinner, send surprise gifts, get them water on the dance floor, and so much more. The small ways to serve add up and they create an experience.
Here is a walk through of WHO and HOW we serve:
Starting with the wedding side of things
We open up our home for EVERY wedding consult. This is where we can be hospitable! We bake cookies, have wine, coffee, and more. We ask questions about THEM before ever talking about business. We want to know how they met, how he proposed, and what their lives look like. We provide a gift card to Starbucks before they ever book us!
2. ENGAGEMENT SESSION
We usually take them out to dinner or coffee and dessert before or after. This again shows them we are more interested in who they are than just being their photographers.
3. Timeline and More
All of our brides know I am ALWAYS available for them. I have some I go dress shopping with, pick centerpieces, music list for reception, and more. We love to serve in whatever way our clients allow us too and be involved with the planning! This is a surprise to most of our couples. We serve them here but giving them something they were not expecting. Allowing them to email us about anything wedding and just being a listening ear when the day has been tough. I might our brides for coffee when they have had a tough week, text them words of encouragement, and more! We sit down 2 months before and thoroughly plan their timeline and give them a PDF to send to all of their bridal party and family members.
4. WEDDING DAY
MOST IMPORTANT!! We serve EVERYONE! We usually attend rehearsals so we can meet everyone and know their names for the next day. We have found using peoples names make them feel more comfortable and shows more effort on our part. When the bride is getting ready, I will help with ANYTHING! I have helped with the garter, hair, strapping bras, running to the car, getting her water, finding the flowers, and so on! If there is a need there and I can meet with out walking away from photography for too long.. I DO IT! I want them to remember an experience when they look at their pictures. Andrew serves the guys in the same capacity and is often running around as well. Every vendor that is there on the wedding day, we SERVE. The florist we contact and let them know we will have pictures that they can — USE for FREE and send them a gallery just a few days after. The DJ we specifically take pictures for and give those images as well. The caterer, the venue, and so on and so forth! If their is a vendor there, we are trying to take SOMETHING so we can GIVE it to them! This does amazing things! Vendors are not used to people serving and it puts your name in their mouth for future referrals! We will ask the DJ’s if we can get them a drink, the parents of the bride and groom, if we see a need we can meet.. we do it! We have learned to keep our ears open for opportunities to serve.
5. AFTER WEDDING
The day we come home we sort through and pick an image to send a special gift. I don’t want to say what it is because we have brides that read this! haha! But it we have it delivered the day they come home from the honeymoon! We get their gallery to them as soon as possible and we send personal texts or emails that just tell them how we felt about the day and meeting the two of them. We almost always get back together with our couples for dinner or dessert after because we all miss each other so bad! haha!
Outside of weddings
Same thing applies for our Senior sessions. We have all of our consults in our home and serve them well when they are in our house. We spend a ton of time getting to know the student and even the parent. We have even helped with the shopping side of things and more!
7. Other Photographers
We have mentored 6+ photographers this month. When a local photographer asks for help.. we help! We invite them into our home, sit down and ask them what they want to know and walk through it with them. We get to know them and their passion and encourage that! We will take them out to shoot if we need to, or sit down and edit a gallery! We are open books because people have been that to us! We LOVE to serve in this area.. especially when so many photographers refuse to help others!
8. Social events and more
When Andrew and I are out in our personal time it is important that we carry this same attitude, to love and to serve. I actually recently heard a story of someone who has this same motto of serving in their business BUT I heard a personal story from an outside person who they would never guess paid attention to how they run their business. The personal story did not match up with who their business motto! So when we are out and about we also try to find ways to serve those in front of us! I can not tell you how many business cards we have handed out because we helped with groceries, putting a cart away, picking up something they dropped, etc. This word SERVE applies everywhere!
That is a quick run through of our main focuses when it comes to serving! We have more where that came from! For now I will leave you with that to chew on!
Thanks for stopping by!
Sharing, serving, and celebrating,
Andrew and Chrissy