Last minute cancellations can seriously affect the cash flow in your photography business.
What’s worse is if you have multiple people wanting the same date, and if you don’t have the capacity to photograph more than one session at a time, it adds a lot of stress when someone cancels a session and you struggle to fill the spot.
You can limit client cancellations by putting in place policies that protect your business. Such as asking for a deposit for a sitting fee and putting in place a cancellation policy, where it prevents clients from cancelling at the last minute.
Here is a question I received;
A family contacted me through my website for a family portrait session.
I spoke to the mother on the phone. I explained my process from start to finish, including how the portrait session will go. I even emailed my price list and available dates the same day.
The client emailed me back the same day, picked a date and time, and booked their session.
The morning of their photo session I got a text saying, they had a family emergency and couldn’t make it.
I tried contacting the family a week later to reschedule but they wouldn’t answer my calls or emails.
Table of Contents
Avoiding last minute cancellations
- Explaining your product and services to your client
- Talk to all the decision makers
- People booking you because of fearing of missing out
- Contact 3 times and move on
- Asking for a Sitting fee or deposit
Yes, it is annoying and can be extremely frustrating when clients cancel at the last minute.
You go to the trouble of explaining everything, book in a time, and set aside time to prepare for the session. Then they cancel at the last minute, or simply don’t turn up without any communication.
It’s unfortunate that this particular client may have had a family emergency, but if the client is not answering their phone calls, or emails, this most likely means they didn’t want to go ahead with the portrait session.
The reason I say that is because I’ve had similar experiences. It can be frustrating, especially if there are other people that wanted a session on that same day, or you could have booked an event that could’ve been more profitable for you. That’s the frustrating bit!
1. Explaining your product and services to clients
I like the way you explained your process from start to finish to your client.
You’ve given her a price list, you’ve explained the products, told her how the day will go. The client had some time to think about it, and booked a date and time. That’s perfect!
I don’t think there’s anything wrong you did in your phone consultation with the client.
2. Talk to all the decision makers
One of the reasons some customers book and then later cancel, could be because they didn’t consult with their spouse.
Sometimes a client will book because they have a fear of missing out. When they’ve told the family afterwards, the other family members may just go, “No, we do not want that.” That does happen. That’s why it’s, extremely, important to speak to both parents/partners or decision makers for the family.
I get a lot of clients call over the phone, and there is only one person organising the whole session. So it is very common for one person to organise a session, provided that they have the backing from the rest of the family to go ahead with the session.
3. People booking you because a fearing of missing out
Now the other thing is that people sometimes, book a session and then cancel because they’ve come across your services and they thought, “Wow, this is everything I wanted, plus It’s also at the price point I can afford.
4. Contact 3 times and move on
The fact that you’ve contacted the client and they haven’t returned your emails or phone calls is not a good sign. I have the rule contact 3 times and move on.
I try to contact clients via email first and then by phone or even text.
where you’ve sent an email, i would then send a text saying “Hey, I just sent you an email, just making sure it hasn’t gone to your spam folder,”
If you try making a few phone calls and you’ve left a couple of messages and sent an email, and not gotten a response, then that’s it. move on.
If they’re going to get back to you, they’re going to get back to you. This customer could have genuinely had a situation, where something tragic did happen. They possibly just don’t want to talk to anyone now. That’s also a possibility.
5. Asking for a Sitting fee or deposit
I noticed you haven’t mentioned anything about a sitting fee, or a deposit for your photography services.
A deposit will get customers to respond to your emails and phone calls, because they have invested in your services. Even if it’s a small amount like $50 or $100 to simply hold a spot for a client. It’s completely up to you if the deposit is then rolled into a package price or kept separate.
Some people feel strange charging a sitting fee, but that shouldn’t be the case. You’re experienced, you prepared for the day, you’ve gone through the process of explaining your services, and you should be rewarded for that.
If you don’t want to charge a sitting fee, or you don’t feel right doing that, you could charge a deposit, this is what I do.
I ask people to place a deposit, then that goes into the final cost of whatever the product or digital files or wedding, whatever that may be. This applies for portraits as well as weddings.
It just makes it easier that way. knowing that if someone’s out a little bit of money, they’re ensuring you that they’re going to make an effort to turn up.
I hope that some of these tips I mentioned on how to prevent clients canceling at the last minute will help you.