When you are just starting out in the business of real estate photography, you will most likely take on any client that is willing to give you ago. This is perfectly fine, as you need to build a strong portfolio, establish cash flow for your business, and you will generate many new referrals from each new agent if you play your cards right.
However, there may come a time in your real estate photography career when you need to ‘break-up’ with one or more of your clients. This may be for one of many reasons. Maybe you no longer want to service the suburbs that their listings are situated in because you have managed to secure enough clients in your local area. Maybe they continue to pay their invoices late, even though you follow-up kindly numerous times. Perhaps you simply cannot stand working with them anymore and have enough clients to support not having their business.
There may also be other important reasons you need to turn down the business of an existing client. If you are shooting too many properties for you too handle on your own, but you do not want to hire contractors or staff, you may need to scale back your business and focus on the most income producing clients. This is also known as applying the 80/20 rule, where you identify and focus on the 20% of your clients that contribute to 80% of your shoot volume.
You may also simply want to work with sales agents instead of both sales agents and leasing execs (i.e. property managers, leasing managers, rental BDM’s, etc.). Sales agents generally have the largest budgets and will therefore give you the most value/income for your time. One sales photo-shoot may be worth 2-3 times the value of one photo-shoot for a rental/leasing agent (depending on how you’ve structured your pricing). Think about the difference in revenue if you can do 3 sales shoots in a day (at $300 per shoot) compared to 3 rental shoots (at $150 per shoot). That’s $450 extra revenue in the same day.
Whatever the reason may be, it can sometimes be difficult to tell a client that you need to see other people. When explaining to them via phone or email, it is important to thank them for the work they have provided and provide a reason for why you are no longer working with them – to provide closure. You can even suggest another real estate photography business that they could work with, so you are not leaving them without a resource for their next shoot. This provides an opportunity to provide value to another real estate photographer, which may pay off in the future.
You do not necessarily need to tell them the truth if you simply dislike them. There are other ways around this without causing friction and having them ‘bad-mouthing’ you behind their back. The real estate industry is smaller than most people think, and you need to look after your reputation. I have included a few scripts/templates below that may be useful for the above scenarios when you have decided it’s time to move on from an existing client.
Template for focussing on sales shoots
Thanks so much for the work you have provided my company over the last [time frame] months. I appreciate the work you have provided us over this time.
However, I have decided to focus on sales shoot only, and are no longer providing rental photo-shoots to clients. The business has grown to a point where I have had to decide to concentrate on the services that provided the greatest return for our business.
I wish you all the best.
Template for focussing on specific location
My business has been growing quite quickly since I started the business in [year] and I have come to a point where I have decided to scale back the suburbs that I service to [chosen regions/city].
The purpose of this is to make my business more efficient by spending more time shooting and less time travelling. Unfortunately, I will no longer be able to shoot your listings in the [location] area.
Thanks so much for the work you have provided my company over the last [time frame] months/years. I appreciate the work you have provided me over this time, and it has been great working with you.
I wish you all the best.
Template for general break-up
Hope you’ve had a great day. I am just writing to let you know that I have decided to reduce the number of clients I am working with due to time constraints and other commitments. As of [date] I will no longer be able to provide my services to [agency name].
Thanks so much for the work you have provided my company over the last [time frame] months/years. I appreciate the work you have provided over this time, and I have enjoyed working with you.
I wish you all the best and hope you catch-up sometime in the near future.