How to build a robust photography client workflow

Last month, we talked about ways to make your email management more efficient, so you can spend more of your time shooting and less of your time slogging through the administrative side of running a photography business.

Today’s tips are focused on client workflow. When you first started your business, you probably only had a handful of clients, and keeping track of them, and the various steps from booking to completion, was relatively simple. However, as your business grows, it’s vital to create an efficient, professional client workflow, especially if you plan to add associate shooters, assistants, or other employees to your team.

Observe & Track First

When you first set out to formalize your workflow, it can seem daunting. A successful business contains many moving parts, and often those parts have to move in tandem with each other. To get a sense of the steps you take with each client, start by taking notes as you move through the process, from the initial inquiry through to the delivery of the final product.

Edit Your Process

Once you’ve got your workflow mapped out, it should be easy to see the ways in which you can trim it down to its most efficient form. If you typically answer email inquiries with the same general responses, create an email template or two so you can send your reply with one simple click. If you like to take notes on your first call with your client, set up your workspace so your notebook and pen are within easy reach, so you won’t be fumbling for the tools you need in the middle of the call. By editing your process thoughtfully, you can create more time to dedicate to the things you really love doing.

Create a Workflow Board or Spreadsheet

Tracking where you are in your process will be your new best friend, if you set it up carefully. There are many options for templates for workflow boards (we’ll highlight our favorites below), or you can create your own using a whiteboard, a ruler, and your own set of parameters. For photographers, being able to visually track each step of the process can help ensure no step is ever missed. Include spaces for the client name, pertinent details like date and session type, and the milestones you’ll meet as you move through the steps of your process.

Give Yourself a Deadline

Workflows are only as good as the measurable productivity they create. To encourage yourself to stay on track, set deadlines for each task—deliver images with five days of the wedding, for example, or follow up on your client meeting with a phone call two business days later. Hold yourself accountable to these deadlines, and create your daily and weekly schedules based on the deadlines and your workflow board.

Outsource Wisely

The beauty of a solid workflow is that outsourcing some or all of the pieces becomes a piece of cake. If you’ve created email templates, a virtual assistant can easily take over your initial inquiry process. Similarly, a strong post-session workflow can include a single step which sends your culled image files off to an image editing company like ShootDotEdit for color correction and post production, freeing up more time for you to design albums, prep blog posts, and wow your clients with customer service that never misses a step.

Tangible Tools We Love

Finally, we recommend implementing some good tools into your workflow. Whether you prefer to manage in macro or micro style, these are some great ideas to help you tangibly see your clients and tasks for whatever style of work you prefer.

In a future blog post, we’ll get into the specifics of digital studio management software that can help you manage some of these tasks digitally. But for now, this should help you get started on creating your workflows and save you time to focus on why you started your business in the first place—actually taking photos.

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