We live in a world where everything is either a click away or is striving to be there. The average attention span is shrinking, and the need to get things done faster is rising steadily. The last few decades have surely changed a lot of things - and the photography industry is no different. In the journey from film to digital, everything from the gear one uses and how images are captured and edited to how they are shared with clients has undergone a transformation - and become faster. At ShootDotEdit, we believe in catering to that need with a fast turnaround time. The faster clients receive their images, the happier they tend to be. And there is no doubt that “happy clients” make businesses successful. So we genuinely believe in the “Fast Is Best” motto. If you want to get to the bottom of why and how you can make it a reality for your wedding photography business, allow us to explain!
What Is Turnaround Time?
The time required to get any particular job done from its very start to the final stage is the definition of business turnaround time. This includes all the phases of starting and submitting a job - the brainstorming, the execution, the revision, and the delivery. Most businesses have a set turnaround rate for different tasks to expedite and monitor the process. Constantly improving processes to maintain a quick turnaround time is often the desired benchmark.
How Long Does It Take To Get Wedding Photos Back?
If you are a wedding photographer, you must be familiar with this question. Most photographers have been asked this or some variation of it by the clients at some point in their career. Sometimes, the moment they sign them up or just after the wedding. Even though the question remains the same, the answers clients receive could often differ depending on various factors such as your bandwidth as a photographer, the wedding season, the post-production timeline, the availability of outsourcing, the workflow automation, and the scale of the job. What they, however, want to hear as your clients is, “As soon as possible!”
So what is the average wait time for wedding photos? It could be anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks or even longer. However, as per the Wedding Spot Blog, the industry standard is 4-6 weeks. But what does a fast turnaround time mean when everything largely varies? First, know that what is fast for elopements would often not fit into the workflow for a full-fledged wedding, and the ideal turnaround time for the latter could differ from a traditional Indian wedding, which, in most cases, runs into a couple of days of festivities. So to answer your question, fast isn’t always a set number but mostly a safe time frame within which you get the job delivered - and the clients are satisfied. A time frame that is realistic enough to commit and is somewhat closer to the client’s expectations.
Demystifying What It Means To Be Fast
Remember, fast doesn’t mean unrealistic! Understand that committing on a slightly later due date is far better than committing to an unrealistic wedding photo timeline and failing to deliver on time. But when we talk about fast, we are not asking you to cut short on the number of days you or your team need to get the job done, revise, and deliver + some breathing space. But rather design a workflow that reduces time spent on repetitive steps, speeds up manual tasks through automation, and segregates the workload for faster completion.
While it could be tempting for some to compromise on quality to deliver products faster, being fast at the cost of quality doesn’t really help (you or your clients), especially in the long run. And to bust this myth, there are many successful large and small scale businesses that provide fast deliverables and stay true to their quality standards. Just remind yourself to achieve a quick turnaround rate based on better execution rather than compromising on the quality.
The Importance Of Fast Turnaround Time: Understanding Through Case Studies
Below, we shed light on two different case studies that highlight the importance of quick turnaround time on business success.
1. Happy Clients
It’s not only in the world of photography that speed matters to create a loyal and dedicated customer base; restaurants and other businesses involved in the food industry walk a fine line between delivering a great product and delivering it in the fastest possible way. An entire sub-category of the food industry was created to meet the “fast food” demand, but these items often get a bad name for typically dishing out a low-grade product while trying to stick to a quick turnaround time, with few exceptions. Chipotle Mexican Grill is a great example of a restaurant with a fast turnaround time, which is essential to the customer experience, without compromising on quality or ideals.
Chipotle operates with a mission to drive home the point that receiving food fast doesn’t mean it has to be made from bad ingredients. Slate’s Matthew Yglesias states, “Founder Steve Ells invented a way to maintain the basic speed and experience of the standard fast-food experience and make the quality of the food a little better. The better food costs a bit more money, but consumers turn out to be happy to pay a premium for a superior product.”
Having that high-quality product and a quick turnaround time has helped Chipotle grow to have storefronts in every US major metropolitan market and key cities across England and Europe. They have revolutionized “fast food” and proven that customers are willing to pay more for great food delivered fast.
2. Amazing Customer Service & Increased Return On Investment
Five years into the business as a wedding photographer, Corrado Amenta was looking for solutions to lessen the post-production workload and timely deliver the images to his clients. His only hunch being - “How could someone who was not at the wedding ever understand the emotions and feelings of the day?” That was until he found ShootDotEdit, a wedding photo editing service provider for pro wedding photographers.
With ShootDotEdit supporting him with the edits, Corrado was able to reach a fast turnaround time to make more money while working with fewer clients. Here’s a snippet from a case study on HubSpot.net featuring Corrado Amenta reflecting on the same. “This quick turnaround has impressed his clients so much that almost all of his current weddings are referrals from past clients. The increase in interest has allowed Corrado to be much more selective in the weddings he books, ensuring that the couple truly fits with Corrado’s style and vision. He is shooting half of the weddings he was booking prior to partnering with ShootDotEdit, yet his revenue has more than doubled.”
Suggested Read: The Best Photography Workflow Tips For Wedding Photographers
Adopting “Fast Is Best” Strategy In Your Workflow
As true believers of “Fast Is Best,” ShootDotEdit sends you your batch of edited images in as fast as 48 hours (or max 5 days). Thus, helping you submit a job faster to your wedding clients. Here’s how you can adopt this strategy in your workflow for maximum benefit.
1. Send A Sneak Peek + A Thank You Note
The wedding just got over and even though your couples are not expecting to get the images the very next day, they sure are excited to know when they might. So the contents of the very first email that you send them after their wedding can give them that sweet dopamine rush. Wondering what to add? For starters, add a thank you note and a happy personalized note on the experience of shooting their wedding (if you have any). In addition, offer them a sneak peek (or highlights) of the day by curating a collage of a few images. Or attach a folder of those images - ready for them to post on social media and tag you. The more recent the event, the more chances you get of bagging maximum shares.
Outsourcing wedding photo editing can help you save a LOT of time. In return, helping you commit to a faster turnaround time. Even more so when you can literally sign up and submit your first event photos for editing within a few minutes (to be precise, 30 minutes in Corrado’s experience, which he quoted as “by far the fastest and easiest”). And if you are already a customer, it only gets faster (with your submission awaiting a quick sign-in)!
As soon as you back up your images, and hit send, here’s how ShootDotEdit takes over!
Culling: It is fun to select images - until there are a thousand of them! The good news? You don’t have to do it anymore. To ensure critical and thoughtful selection, the editors at ShootDotEdit go through your entire job a total of 3 times.
Renumbering: Depending on what you choose, your images can follow two renumbering options - Conventional or Custom. Through conventional renumbering, your images get sorted based on capture date followed by digit sequencing. Custom mode follows your preferred naming convention.
Time Sync Images: Not that we don’t appreciate easy processes, but if for any reason, you did not get your cameras time synced, know that we have got you covered.
Photo Editing: An editing specialist is assigned to ensure that each and every image is professionally edited with great precision and consistency. This includes detailed color correction, color grading, makeup adjustment, and skin tone fixing.
Album Design: Having partnered with Align Album Design helps us to assist you in the process of creating awesome album designs in addition to photo editing. The process includes 3 rounds of revisions.
So with the help of outsourcing, after getting done with your wedding day timeline, you can pass the job on to someone else to get started on the editing part. Someone who is not only an expert photo editor and loves editing but also not overworked by shooting the entire gig on the same day or the day before. The moment you hit send, someone has started working on your images. Meanwhile, you get to take the rest of the day off, book new clients, sign up for that yoga class, work on your business, or cover a different event.
3. Deliver With Extra
What’s more? When the images are ready, get your images delivered to the photo gallery or photo storage option of your choice. Or you can make use of an awesome wedding photo gallery that comes as a bonus with your subscription at absolutely no added cost. Extra offers free hosting and storage. And once your images are edited, we upload them to Extra and work on a customized gallery creation that is ready to be viewed and shared with your clients. And that’s not even the best part! Extra also allows you to market better and sell prints to not just your couples but also to their guest. With every print sale, you get to earn a little bit extra.
4. Emailing Plays A Crucial Role
Just as you love receiving updates on the product that you recently ordered, so do your clients. So don’t leave them in the blind. Keep them updated on the process via automated or personalized emails. Even with having set the correct expectations, waiting for something as awesome as your wedding images is an impatient watch. Let them know when they can expect to get the images of their dreams. Also, brief them on the process of how they will be receiving them!
While drafting these emails, try to keep the intention of the message as clear as possible. All the while making them equally engaging! Besides an engaging subject line, keeping the sentences crisp and tone interactive often helps you nail this client engagement tactic.
Management Tips To Make Faster Turnarounds A Habit
Our daily set of actions plays a crucial role in setting habits that deliver results in the long haul. So here we have curated a list of actions that you can take to ensure a better turnaround rate.
1. Set Client Expectations
Setting realistic and accurate client expectations is where it all begins. The process of setting expectations starts from the very beginning of the wedding photography consultation. As much as it is important to have clarity over what the client expects. It is equally crucial to help them walk through the process of how things will unfold and when. This includes all your crucial details such as the payment details, the shot list, the wedding timeline, and even the turnaround time.
In addition to just providing them with a number, we suggest that you also explain the process that goes into play that takes up that much time. This can help them better understand the reason behind the mention of a particular timeline.
Related Read: Managing Client Expectations: Wedding Photography Tips
2. Incorporate A Work Routine
As per Harvard Business Review, “A habit is a behavior done with little or no thought, whereas a routine is a series of behaviors frequently, and intentionally, repeated. To turn a behavior into a habit, it first needs to become a routine.” And practicing successful habits can help yield fruitful results. The above lines from a Harvard Business Review article shed light on the importance of building routines. But if you are perplexed about what setting up a work routine has to do with faster turnaround times, we say, a LOT!
For instance, if after switching on your work laptop, you routinely scroll through random YouTube videos or other generic blog pages for some time before you start your work schedule, over time, it might just turn into a habit. And once it develops into a habit, there may come a point where not only the time spent watching random videos might extend but also it becomes a necessity, pushing your majority of the work for the latter half of the day. This is just one such example, but eventually, what we purposely choose to do repeatedly during our work routine has a lot relying on them in the long run.
3. Clarity On Deliverables
Clearly defined deliverables play an integral role in the successful completion of any project. As quite simply, the process of being able to deliver something starts from knowing what it is that has to be delivered. Take into account both project as well as process deliverables. Whereas a project deliverable focuses on the result, a process deliverable focuses on the steps that are required to take to reach there. Analyze and clearly define what a particular deliverable achieves, what its dependencies are, what the timeline should be, and how many resources are required to get it done. If you are handling multiple jobs at a time, assign some people accountable for certain sub-tasks.
4. Prioritize Working On Complicated Tasks
Human brains love to process and act on data. If you find yourself completing more than 70% of your daily task during the first half of the day, there is often a sense of accomplishment (that also continues through the remaining task). However, if at the same timeline, you realize that some of the most complicated tasks still remain unfinished, it strikes panic. So start your workday by sequencing your tasks for speed.
Being with a part of your job that requires maximum attention and effort. So that when you reach the second half of the day and feel a bit exhausted or distracted, you can take up the easy work. It always feels easy to start with the easiest thing on our to-do list. What we tend to forget is that a bunch of easy things clubbed together takes up time. And it is way harder to bring your mind to focus on a complicated task when you are distracted in comparison to when you are just starting the day. To increase your speed, try to work on similar tasks within the same time frame. For example, you might have better momentum at stomping the images of three different sets one after the other, rather than going through the entire cycle for each of the processes.
5. Identify Your Strengths
As an independent and highly motivated entrepreneur and professional, you can probably do it all by yourself, but it doesn’t mean you have to. Take a smarter route by identifying your strengths and core points on which you deliver the best. And focus maximum of your efforts on acting on those deliverables. The rest of the work is equally important. However, does it fuel you, or does it drain you? If you picked the latter, then it is time to re-route and outsource those additional tasks to achieve a fast turnaround time.
Delegating your additional tasks to people who are experts at what they do not only helps free up your time but also ensures a check on the quality. For instance, taking into account the task of submitting wedding photographs to your clients. There are a number of steps that need attention, and all of them demand accuracy. Some of them would be emailing, importing, and exporting the files, sorting the images, renaming, color correction, collaging, album designs, and printing. It could be that as a photographer, you are more inclined toward focusing on the photography end, but the desk work of the post-production process keeps you glued to your screen. Sticking to your strengths while outsourcing the rest allows you that freedom. Moreover, identify where there is scope to automate repetitive tasks.
6. Learn When Not To Customize
Offer every client a good experience and let your work be a reflection of your style, but try not to go all out all the time. We know the temptation is real! However, understand that not every paycheck is worth all the efforts (or all the premium services). The excessive need to be “you” and letting that reflect in each and every job that you submit can become a painstaking process in the long run. One of the ways to make it all work out in your favor is to have a different pricing structure. This will ensure that you do not end up spending a lot of time customizing for a basic requirement. Also, understand that for your business to prosper and grow, you cannot always control everything yourself. Simplify your processes, delegating time-consuming tasks to focus on things that bring out the best in you.
7. Track Your Progress
Regular progress helps you be on top of things. You have more scope of altering your route to get the desired result when making regular checks than only the final check, as it is easier to track your progress, evaluate, and identify delay points at the initial stage. Whereas if you identify the same delay toward the end of the process, it doesn’t always leave much scope for improvement to expedite it. If you are having trouble connecting all the dots of various sub-tasks, consider taking the help of these task management software - ClickUp, Asana, Todoist, HubSpot Task Management, Taskque, Flow, Plutio, Infinity, Taskworld, etc.
8. Don’t Dread Late Jobs, Limit Them
‘No late job’ is the ideal business scenario, but limiting them to only a few is the best average to aim for. Let’s face it, to err is human. And as long as there is some level of manual effort required in your business process, there can always be the scope for improvement and feedback. Even with the introduction of automated systems, we all wish to achieve that 100% mark all the time. However, in reality, sometimes things happen that might extend the number of business days required to get a particular job done.
Maybe someone in your team called in sick, or something urgent came up and you had to delay the work, or you simply fell short of resources. Many such unforeseen circumstances could affect your turnaround rate. Therefore, try to set forth a more realistic plan. Instead of being too rigid about zero late jobs, try to limit them to a minimum. And later, conduct a root cause analysis, and if it is something that could have been avoided, plan how you can prepare better to eliminate the chances of facing the same issue again. If the delay is due to an unexpected and unavoidable factor that is beyond your control, learn from the experience and proceed with future jobs with caution and knowledge.
9. Communication Is Key
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” This quote from George Bernard Shaw is a true reflection on what we call a communication gap. We believe guessing could be goofy. And decisions based on assumptions might lead to disastrous repercussions. So instead of assuming that your clients know about the timeline of photo submission, the delivery of images, or the possibility of a late job, it is better to be sure.
Also, your clients deserve to be informed in a timely manner. After all, they have paid a hefty amount to avail your services and, in most cases, in advance. So from start to finish, keep them in the loop of what is happening. Drop them an email at every sustainable phase. Moreover, if you feel there could be a delay in delivering a job, reach out to them and let them know what is causing the delay. And express your regrets for the inconvenience, assuring them that you are trying to get their photos delivered as soon as possible.
Related Read: 5 Effective Communication Tips For Wedding Photographers
10. Under-Promise & Over-Deliver
This old-school management trick never fails to bear fruit. When you provide your clients with a timeline and promise them a quick turnaround time, they are bound to fixate on that date with expectation. So if for any reason you are not able to deliver on the scheduled date, disappointment could be your client’s natural response. On the contrary, if your couples receive their wedding photographs a week or even a few days before the due date, it is often looked upon as a surprise and received on a happy note.
Now, you might wonder how to make that happen. As you might not always be able to get the job done in less than expected time, the simple answer is to under-promise and over-deliver. However, for it to effectively work out in your favor, conduct a turnaround time analysis. Get a clear idea of the number of days that are actually required for you to get the entire job done (from initiation to completion) + add some buffer time (depending on the scale of the job and the variation of your turnaround time). Applying this in your daily workflow eventually reduces the count of submitting late jobs.
In today’s competitive world, the only speed is FAST. Make sure that your wedding photography business is set up to embrace the “Fast Is Best” strategy by thinking about the ways that you can embrace efficiency:
- Provide a fast turnaround time for client images
- Offer efficient customer service
- Quickly communicate by email and phone
- Deliver final products in a consistently speedy timeframe
A quick turnaround time can help you make your business more money. Whether it is in the form of clients paying more right away, referring more clients back to you, sharing more of your images on social media, or customers returning to you - speed is a benefit to you, your business, and your clients. Therefore, maintaining a quick turnaround rate is essential. Keep that level of enthusiasm and excitement alive by getting your amazing images back into your clients’ hands as soon as you can.
Are you interested in speeding up your workflow? See how ShootDotEdit can help you shape a fast-growing business by taking wedding photo editing off your post-production checklist. Take a look at our various pricing plans, designed exclusively for you!