Managing Photography Clients During COVID-19
by McKenna Hogan, on Apr 22, 2020 8:30:00 AM
As much of the world settles into social distancing, many industries are turning to virtual tours to keep their doors open virtually.
Because of the sudden demand in virtual tours in combination with challenging obstacles due to COVID-19, you may be finding yourself with an influx of inquiries and new questions to answer.
Below we discuss six key areas to help you manage your photography clients during this time, including tips on how to answer some of the tougher questions.
1. Talk through the virtual tour process with your leads
The best way for clients to understand the work behind a virtual tour is to lay out each step, including costs, planning, and production.
Walking clients through the entire process up front will allow them to not only understand how a virtual tour works, but provide clients with a resource for how COVID-19 may affect certain aspects of producing their virtual tour.
Here are list of areas photographers should cover before a shoot:
- Photo shoot prep and safety guidelines
- The tools necessary to create a virtual tour
- Building and publishing a tour
- Uploading to Google Maps and/or embedding to their websites
- Production timelines
Taking preemptive measures before a virtual tour shoot is conducted will prevent clients from reacting negatively as a result of their virtual tour experiencing delays.
2. Prepare your clients for potential delays or limitations
Google has recently made an announcement that their teams across the globe are taking safety precautions amidst COVID-19.
These measures limit the number of employees in their offices at any given time, resulting in temporary limitations and delays for contributing to Google Maps.
The announcement reads,
“We wanted to share an update on changes you may notice in Google Maps. After you submit a contribution on Maps, such as a review, photo or edit, you may get a message that your contribution will be delayed. This temporary change means that your contribution may not appear publicly on Google Maps. However, you will still be able to see all of your contributions on your profile page.”
During these difficult times, it will be important to be proactive as opposed to reactive.
Warning clients of possible delays or limitations will not only save face, but it will allow both parties to prepare for these changes with any resources necessary. Ultimately, be as up front and honest with your clients as possible during this time. Many current challenges are out of people’s hands, and it’s important to work together.
3. Use other resources at your disposal while you wait for tours to finish publishing
We understand the difficulties and frustrations around an unfinished project—especially if it’s a key part of your product offering.
And although there aren’t a lot of loopholes around the effects of COVID-19 on projects, there are resources out there that can provide clients with some useful alternatives while they wait for their Google tour to publish.
For example, sharing a preview link with clients of their virtual tour while Google Maps is still experiencing delays may provide reassurance that their tour is complete, but temporarily unavailable.
How to do this in Panoskin:
After publishing, Panoskin PRO members can get a live Google Maps link to their tour by clicking on any scene thumbnail in the upload photos section of the publisher, then click on the Google tab, and click the blue "visit scene" button. These links are live and can be shared with clients.
For general Panoskin support, click here to learn more.
4. Stay up to date on recent news from Google
As there is no known date for when these delays will end, it’s essential that both photographers and clients stay updated on Google news and stay informed on how these changes will affect regular business.
It is a stressful time for everyone, especially businesses that are directly being affected by these changes, but conducting a quick check in at least once every day will ensure you get right back to business as soon as possible.
Photographers should make it a priority to maintain open communication with clients on Google news and how it will affect them directly.
5. Know how to answer pricing questions during this time
Due to the possibility of incomplete tours or delayed publishing, photographers and clients should discuss pricing before any business takes place to ensure everyone is on the same page.
A good way to approach pricing, especially as uncertainties surrounding Coronavirus increase, is to produce a contract.
Contracts are a good idea regardless of whether or not there’s an ongoing pandemic, but especially right now as added security for receiving appropriate payment.
Coming up with a virtual tour contract can be as easy as getting one off of Google and laying out pricing as it relates to any given scenario or using a third-party contract system.
For example, setting up payments to be due at the end of each phase of the virtual tour process can result in complete and fair transactions—which will also provide clients with a promise of whatever work has been completed at any given stage.
Including an addendum for contracts may be a good idea as they preface the possibility of incomplete or delayed work, and preface a contingency plan in that event.
Panoskin does offer built-in invoicing for custom virtual tours that allows photographers to invoice clients directly to collect hosting fees, but is not available when building and charging for Google Street View tours.
6. Have a contingency plan and share it with your clients
As a photographer, having a plan A, B, and C for potential outcomes in the wake of Coronavirus will without a doubt pay off.
With many ongoing uncertainties (such as the possibility of becoming sick, city lockdowns, or future limitations on Google Maps), an excellent way to ensure business stays afloat is to plan for the unexpected.
A few examples of a solid contingency plan are listed below, for whatever COVID-19 has in store.
- Share a backup contact with clients to conduct business if you cannot
- Discuss pricing for potential setbacks in tours
- Strategize schedules around recent news
- Plan on delivering whatever content you’ve gotten for the client regardless of whether or not it’s complete
- Have a conversation prefacing the possibility a client’s virtual tour may not function correctly at first, but will work appropriately with time, especially as time goes on and limitations settle and restrictions are lifted
These measures will ensure no one is left in the dark on the possibility of issues or setbacks, and ultimately form a transparent and strategized business transaction.
Ultimately, be as up front and honest with your clients as possible during this time. Many current challenges are out of people’s hands, and it’s important to work together. As a virtual tour photographer, you have a powerful job during a historical event to allow businesses to welcome visitors virtually.