It’s October, which means beautiful Fall scenery, pumpkin-flavored everything, and (maybe) an-upcoming lull in your shooting schedule. You’ve made it through the majority of your crazy schedule of wedding shoots, but a lot of those photos still need to be edited. With holiday deadlines looming, not only do you need to finish up the rest of your shoots, but you’ve also got to find a way to get get those images turned around even faster!
The deadlines are creeping up, and you’re feeling the pressure. But before you go into total panic mode, remind yourself that it is possible to get through this season. All you need to do is follow this three-step plan to keep things under control and keep your sanity in tact.
1. Assess your Workload and Deadline Status
How behind are you? If you’re starting to panic, remember Robert Frost’s simple advice, “the best way out is always through.” Assessing your current status will help you get a handle on deadlines and devise a plan to get back on track. To understand exactly how behind you are, make a list of the jobs where deadlines have been missed (and are still outstanding) and deadlines that are approaching and are not humanly possible to meet.
What deadlines are coming up? Part of catching up is making sure you don’t fall behind on any upcoming deadlines that will set you back even further. Create a list of jobs that have deadlines coming up that require immediate action in order to stay on track.
What tasks do you need to complete? Now that you understand the situation you’re in, you can devise your plan to get out! Using the list of jobs you created, identify the specific tasks that need to be completed to check that job off the list. Prioritize your crucial deadlines and put those deadlines that can wait on the back burner while you resume control over your workload.
2. Keep Communicating with Clients
Let clients know what to expect. If you’ve fallen behind, the worst thing you can do is NOT keep your clients up to date. Letting clients know what to expect—even if it’s a revised turnaround time—goes a long way toward keeping your positive relationship intact. Your clients are excited to see their images, so letting them know what to expect will help ensure that their frustration doesn’t overshadow their excitement. Be realistic. Make sure that any revised timetable you give your clients is accurate so that you can deliver. Revising your turnaround time a second time because you were unrealistic will likely result in irritated clients. And nobody wants that!
Communicate ordering deadlines. When talking to clients about their images, make sure they fully understand deadlines for placing orders they want to receive in time for the holidays. Printouts, blog posts and emails outlining ordering deadline details for clients are all great communication tools.
Say thanks. If your turnaround times are later than your clients expected, find ways to give them an extra “thank you” for being patient. Try a gift credit for prints, extra album pages for free, or a favorite print that you frame and send them. Help keep the experience positive, even if the process takes a little longer than usual!
3. Get Help Where you Need it Most
Find a partner to help. Post-production and album design are common areas that create bottlenecks in your business. But they can easily be addressed – and fixed for faster turnaround times with the help of a specialist! Teaming up with an editing partner to help get you caught up on your shoots quickly is paramount. Then, you can easily get images to clients in time for the holidays, rather than continuing to fall behind.
Don’t wait! Whether it’s hiring someone to help you with album design or teaming up with a post-production partner, don’t put off getting help when you find yourself behind. It’s tempting to think that you can dig yourself out when you’re buried in deadlines and put off finding a partner to help once you’re less busy. But the sooner that you can start working with partners to get back on track, the better. Don’t wait to ask for help until “things slow down.” That time may never come!
Learn from this season’s rush. Effective systems are always a process. So, after the rush ends and you’re closer to getting caught up, it’s important to reflect on what systems you can permanently set up going forward that will help ensure you don’t fall behind in the future. Learn lessons from this season’s rush. After all, you don’t want to fall behind again. Getting a plan in place for post-production and other areas of your business NOW will keep your business running smoothly as you breathe a sigh of relief at the end of this busy season. Plus, you’ll head into the New Year with new energy and a sense of control!
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