Building a professional image to your customers with Light Blue Software. 

This is the second in a series of articles written by photographer & Light Blue customer, Nick Church, about how Light Blue has helped him to grow his photography business.

In my previous article, I discussed how Nick Church Photography relies on Light Blue to handle all aspects of my bookings, customers and shoots to free up creative time. However, during the pre-sales stage it is important to give your clients the best possible impression. This article explores how I do this, and how Light Blue helps me put a professional face on my business.

You can be the most talented photographer in the world but if you are unable to offer professional, informed interactions, potential clients may never see your brilliance! It is disappointing to lose a booking because the client doesn’t like your photographic style or your prices. But it is downright criminal to lose one through being disorganised, missing an appointment or generally looking like you are not up to speed on them or their wedding.

After learning the hard way, the first thing I do with an enquiry is enter all the information I have, even if it is just first names and a potential date, into Light Blue. After all an enquiry is just a shoot that has not yet been confirmed.

I respond to requests for package details using email templates. This means I can send branded Package Details to my clients with the email automatically referencing their wedding date and venue. With Light Blue this takes about five seconds, and I can do it while out and about using the mobile app! A speedy and professional reply always impresses, and perhaps the response gets to them before they consider contacting other photographers!

As SMS, Facebook messages and emails start to flow, the details increase. Having all this information in one place allows valuable interactions with your customer to continue throughout the booking process. Before I arrive for a consultation, from my phone, Light Blue will give me all the information from my phone about the clients and the booking. Being knowledgeable about their interests and kids’ names may not seem relevant, but builds a trusting rapport with your client.

Workflows are used in Light Blue to drive your processes to ensure things happen in the correct order and at the correct time. I have set up my ‘enquiry’ workflow to give me a set of tasks with an appropriate gap between them, to keep the client consistently informed at every key stage:

  • The first response to the enquiry happens immediately. No-brainer.
  • The second response is an informal follow up two days later. Maybe you would want to leave it a little longer, say a week. Too soon and you seem pushy, too long and they make have forgotten about you and drifted into the open arms of a pesky competitor.
  • Third, fourth and final chase ups are around one week, one month and 6 months. If they are still ignoring you at this stage, they are probably not interested, but I have had two bookings come back from the dead like this, and given it all takes so little time, it’s worth the investment.

Another workflow can be attached to appointments. When you have an upcoming meeting, you can use Light Blue to add a reminder to confirm with your clients so that all parties remember the appointment. It looks polite and organised, but this feature has saved me a wasted journey on more than one occasion. If a client goes cold, better to know the day before you sit at a venue on your own for an hour.

I have recently started entering the wedding day schedule and any requested shots into Light Blue. I can then email all this information to the client for confirmation, again all on headed stationary with your consistent branding, using mail-merge document templates.

Continuing your customer service after a shoot is important too in fostering future business opportunities. Remembering their anniversary and sending a card might be the difference in getting a valuable recommendation.

Light Blue’s online services provide digital contract signing, online payments, and allow you to create shoot records directly from enquiry forms on your website. This deserves its own discussion and will be discussed in a later article. Watch an introduction to the Light Blue online services

Nick Church Photography might be a small business, but letting Light Blue do some of the admin for me, I can present a confident and consistent front to customers that will match the quality and creativity they will get through my photography.

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Using Light Blue for non-photography related work

We’ve made Light Blue a powerful and versatile tool for running your photography business. We understand that photography businesses come in all shapes and sizes, and with different needs depending on your particular genre(s) of work.

What you may not know is that Light Blue can also be used to help organise other types of work, too. On his blog, Light Blue customer and London graphic designer, Jason Miller, talks about how Light Blue is one of his invaluable “tools of the trade”.

Light Blue is principally designed for photographers, and because your photography business is based around shoots, Light Blue’s based around shoot records, too. But if you swap the word “Shoot” for “Project”/”Job”/”Event” it can easily apply to any other client-driven business.

Using ClickBook v2 with Light Blue

The new ClickBook system has been integrated directly with Light Blue, so ClickBook v2 bookings will appear directly in your copies of Light Blue when you sync it to our servers.

Using ClickBook with Light Blue requires you to be using Light Blue version 6 or newer, and to have a subscription to our online services.

Light Blue doesn’t use Google Calendar to send your availability to ClickBook v2, instead we use our own API to do that. In order for Light Blue & ClickBook to communicate, you need to give ClickBook your Light Blue API key, which you can get by logging into your account page. ClickBook v2 already contains a link to the member area on the Light Blue site to allow users to set up their API key.

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Within Light Blue we have the concept of “resources”, which covers rooms, staff and equipment. ClickBook takes the list of rooms that you’ve set up in Light Blue and presents them to the people who are going to be booking in sessions for you, so you need to set up at least one room in Light Blue. There’s a short tutorial which covers everything you need to know about resources.

In order to accurately display your availability to ClickBook, you need to make sure that you’ve added all of your shoots, appointments, and time off into Light Blue for the relevant dates, and assigned the appropriate resources to those shoots & appointments. Events that don’t have any resources assigned to them will block bookings for your entire studio.

Here are the different scenarios you may have for your resources, and what they mean regarding your availability for ClickBook:

– A shoot/appointment with the relevant room resource (e.g. “Studio”) linked to it: ClickBook will not be unable to book jobs that require that room for that time.
– A shoot/appointment with other resources linked to it, but not the relevant room resource (e.g. “Studio”): ClickBook will be unable to book jobs that require that room for that time, since the Studio is available
– A shoot/appointment with no resources linked to it whatsoever: ClickBook will not be able to book any jobs for that time (we don’t know what resources are in use here, so mark everything as unavailable)

You can also use Light Blue’s calendar notes to present information to ClickBook (e.g. a note saying “Newborns only today”).

Whenever Light Blue is running  and you’ve got a connection to the internet, Light Blue will automatically sync with our servers once a minute. If, for whatever reason, you want to force Light Blue to sync with our servers right away, you can do so by clicking File > Sync Now.

If you need any help with setting up your ClickBook v2 account, there’s a tutorial video from Feedzon which you can watch, here.

Should you need any help regarding Light Blue, you can contact us for free by emailing support@lightbluesoftware.com

If you’re switching over from using TPO, we’ve got some more information on how you can arrange to have your TPO data imported into Light Blue, here.