Client Scheduling Tips - Learn From My Mistakes

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Scheduling sessions and meetings seems like a simple thing.  You agree on a day and time and boom, that's it.  How could it go wrong?  Well... believe me, something as simple as scheduling a photo-session can take down even the best of us. 

Tip Number 1:

In short - Make sure you are 100% clear about your dates and scheduling when chatting with your clients. 

Learn from my awful mistake.
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Do not just write "Let's meet on the 7th at 8:00."  That is not clear and can get mistakenly written on the wrong month/day and for the wrong time of day in your client's calendar.  Be explicit.  

Instead, you need to say, "Let's plan on Saturday, October 7th, at 8:00 pm Central Standard Time."  This leaves zero room for confusion and mistakes. 

You may be wondering how I stumbled onto this incredibly wise advice, right?  

Well, it's not a pretty story and it still gives me nightmares. I once scheduled a bride's engagement session during a very short trip that I made to her area in Michigan, much like I often do when I head downstate to visit family.  However, I also scheduled a few other families that same week in her area to really capitalize on my time there.  Well... I wrote the date and time to her in an e-mail, much like the first example.  "Let's plan on the 10th at 4:00pm!   Well... somehow this got mixed up and she ended up thinking her session was a day earlier than I was thinking. (Please know, as the business owner, this is my fault for not being clear and double checking on everything.) We didn't figure this mix-up out until the day she believed her session was when she texted to say she was excited for their pictures that afternoon.  My stomach hit the floor .... I was planning her session for the following day and unfortunately, I already had another session scheduled for later that day in the opposite direction and about an hour and a half away from her session location. Panic set in, and I began to question how everything got so mixed up.  How had I messed this up so badly?  How could I let this happen?

Needless to say, I had to scramble to make it work because she had already gotten her hair and makeup done and was totally ready for pictures.  I couldn't let her down.  So I did their pictures a little earlier than I normally would have during the day and moved my later session back by about a half hour, and I hustled to make it all happen with as much grace as I could. The lesson here, is that this all could have been avoided if I had been 100%, unmistakably clear about her session date and time.  Learn from my mistake, my friend.  Don't let that happen to you.  I probably erased a year of my life because of the stress and panic I felt that day.  

I also want to add another little bonus lesson here for you on client experience, in case you already have made a mistake like this or if you do in the future.  Make sure to treat your clients like gold and make things right when they go so terribly wrong.  I made things up to my bride by 1. Taking responsibility and apologizing for the confusion and hugging her immediately at the session to reassure her that this session was still going to be special and all about them and 2. I sent her a small gift to show her how special she was to me and how sorry I was for the panic she and I both felt that day.  Sometimes, these things happen.  Take a deep breath, give yourself some grace, and learn from your mistake. Make some changes to your business to make sure you never make that same mistake again.  I now write out the entire date and time, to every client, every time.    

Tip Number 2:

The second tip is to keep track of your meetings and sessions in at least two places.  Personally, I keep a calendar on my phone, a calendar in HoneyBook (explained below), while also utilizing a Pen & Paper calendar as well.  If I lose one of those things, I still have a backup somewhere else.  Don't just rely on your phone, friend!  At the very least, use Google Calendar so that it is backed up in the cloud. 

Now the lesson is over, but I have one more thing that will be a huge game changer for you!

This is the BEST Workflow Service -

If you need a better system for scheduling, invoicing, client communications, and overall a better workflow, check out HoneyBook! 

HoneyBook is the software that I have been using for the last couple of years, and I absolutely adore their customer service team. They will take the best care of you and they even have a Facebook Community Group that is always helpful as well.  I was one of their Founding Members, so I have seen them grow so much and become one of the leading business management programs out there. HoneyBook keeps me organized and confident in my business.  Plus, I always feel so professional and snazzy when I send invoices and messages to my clients through HB. 

As a founding member of HoneyBook, I even got you a 50% OFF friends and family discount (click the button below): 

Take advantage of the 50% OFF, friends!  I don't know how long they will allow me to keep giving it to you! 

Now, let's repeat the tips one more time for the skim-readers!

1. Be 100%, unmistakably clear when giving dates and times to your clients. Use this format:  Monday, October 9th at 5:00pm Central Standard Time.  (Day, Date, Time & Time Zone)

2. Keep at least 2 copies of your calendar - Digital, Pen & Paper, Cloud-based, etc.  Don't end up a frantic mess because you lost your calendar!

3. Try HoneyBook for a smoother more professional experience when it comes to client experience, scheduling, invoicing, and workflow.  Don't forget to use the link above from me for 50% OFF your first year!  Or, ok, here it is again below!

50% OFF HoneyBook For One Full Year

I hope you found this advice help, friends.  Please, please, please follow it and save yourself from a nightmare situation like this. Your heart will thank you! ;) 

Until next time! 

AND, as always - feel free to email me with questions and ideas for what else you would like to see me talk about to help you grow! 

- Melanie