How determined are you to maintain your margins?

So you’ve worked very closely with your client establishing the brief, interrogating it and even challenging it. All very healthy and what you do, adding value as a professional, pushing the boundaries and improving the results….all very straight forward and normal.

So you’ve spent a lot of your time understanding the project, breaking it down into processes, equipment and resource to deliver and are confident enough to send over an estimate at a price you’re happy with and satisfied with the amount of money you will make. You’ve been doing it long enough you can do it in your sleep! The price gets bounced around, you’re happy, the clients happy and it’s finally agreed. Congratulations you’ve won the job!

But what happens when the shoot doesn’t go according to your carefully detailed plans?

Has your client naively delayed or changed the shoot brief impacting on your costs, or is there a delay in merchandise supply, which means you can’t complete the shoot?

There will be a myriad of reasons all out of your control, all affecting the efficiency of the shoot and ultimately your margins.

I can hear you cry out “and?” “Charge the clients!” “Don’t be afraid!” “Stand up to them!”

Of course, if the reasons are because of you or your team’s fault, then you take a hit or you work it out without the client involvement – nobody will ever know.

But I think the simple question “How determined are you to maintain your margins?” would be an interesting way to gauge photographer and stylist views and confidence to maintain margins in this current climate.

The ability to protect your margins comes with confidence, confidence in the current relationship between you and your client, maintaining that relationship for the future, standing up for yourself and confidence for the reasons why you’re asking for more money in the first place.

But maybe you hate talking about money. You don’t want to get a reputation as an aggressive or stroppy supplier. You don’t want to appear unsympathetic – you knew what the budget was and you know that new clients are hard to come by – you don’t want to lose this client. If you don’t shoot for them someone else will. Or are you questioning yourself, wondering if you made it clear to the client that there was going to be extras?

But also ask yourself – is your client charging on to their client? Has your client done this before? Has the client given the shoot enough attention to guarantee its smooth running? Did they send the best qualified people down to the shoot?

Ultimately it’s about timely communication and raising issues as they happen to address them. Otherwise, how can the photographer or the client understand how events can impact on the shoot time and affect the original estimate?

As always our blogs encourage and appreciate debate on challenges facing photographic professionals.

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