It’s something that most professional photographers will have to deal with from time to time: a customer who wants to negotiate! While many clients will be appreciative of your work, and some would never dream of negotiating, there will be the occasional client or two who will try to get you to lower your prices.
Here are some tips to help you when a client wants to negotiate. Being prepared can help you to make solid, fact based decisions –without selling yourself too short.
Know Your Value
The first rule of being able to negotiate, is understanding what your services are actually worth. To find out what prices you should charge, you will need to calculate your cost of doing business. Add up all of your yearly expenses, and add in your salary that you hope to make, then divide this figure by the number of jobs or photoshoots that you would like to do each year. Keep it realistic, and keep in mind that just because you set a goal for 20 photoshoots per month, this doesn’t mean that you will necessarily reach this goal. This figure allows you to know exactly how much you need to make per photoshoot, and gives you a figure that you can hold onto, rather than just charging a customer what “feels right.”
Compromise is the golden rule for many situations in life. If a customer wants to negotiate, be prepared to compromise –but not on the price. The best way to handle a negotiation is to offer a lower price –that also includes less time/photos/services. Stay strong on your price, and don’t allow someone to talk you into giving away your services. This will not help your reputation as a professional photographer; it will only help you to gain a reputation as a “cheap photographer”- something that no photographer wants to be branded as!
Know When to Walk Away
Knowing when to walk away is an important part of the job. Negotiations are two-way streets, and if you allow a customer to talk you down too low, you are just as much to blame as they are. Hold firm to your price, offer to provide less for a lower price, but don’t allow a customer to negotiate your price down too low.
Finally…Stick to Your Guns
Know the value of your services, and don’t let anyone “talk you down.” If you are dealing with someone who only wants cheap services, then it is very likely that you are dealing with someone who doesn’t understand or appreciate the quality of your services that you offer. In cases like these, it’s best to politely –but firmly- refuse to lower your prices.
Know what you’re worth, and don’t be afraid to ask for it. If you present yourself as a professional, and you expect to be treated like one, your customers will have no choice but to take you -and you’re your prices- seriously.
How about you? How do you handle customers who want to negotiate?