I double booked a photography session! What do I do?

I Double-Booked a Photography Session Slot! What Do I Do?

I double booked a photography sessionWhat would you do if you mistakenly double-booked two photography clients for the same session time slot? Do you know how you would handle it?

We recently had a member of our Passions To Profits course write to us wondering how to deal with this very situation. He had a high school senior boy that he began photographing when a senior girl showed up a few minutes later – hair and makeup done, ready for her session.

This is a situation that happens to just about every photographer at some point through their career, so it helps to be prepared so you can calmly deal with the situation and make things right.

So, let’s dive in and look at two scenarios and how I’d suggest dealing with each.

Scenario 1: You have enough time & daylight to fit in both clients back-to-back

Having two clients show up at the same time is a little awkward to say the least. When this happens, your first thought should be, “Is there any way I can accommodate both clients right now?”

Especially in a case like this when you have a senior girl that has gone through the extra time and expense of having hair and makeup professionally done, you want to see if you can find a way to do the sessions back-to-back.

Tip- if you can encourage girls to have hair and makeup done it can greatly improve your images and cut down on editing. Usually it results in better sales, as this shows a serious commitment to the portraits.

So, when the second client shows up, excuse yourself for a moment from the first client and speak privately to the client that is double booked, truthfully explaining what happened and taking responsibility for your mistake. Just a quick and sincere explanation will do.

If time allows, ask if they would be so patient as to come back in a half hour (or however much time is needed to give your current subject their full session- do not cut them short) or to wait in your waiting room, if you have one. If there is a Starbucks or café near by, offer them $20 to go have a snack and a drink so they can relax and stay cool.

Most times, people are reasonable and will give you the benefit of the doubt as long as they do not have commitments scheduled after their session.

Scenario 2: You CANNOT accommodate both photography clients back-to-back

Let’s now look at a more difficult situation. Let’s say there will not be enough daylight left to do two sessions in a row. Now what?

You have a girl that put a lot of effort into preparation and is looking forward to her senior shoot. What are you supposed to tell her?

Take a deep breath and calmly explain the situation and the need to reschedule so that they get the full session they deserve. Emphasize the fact that you understand that they have spent time and money to prepare, and that this is a big inconvenience.

Our Passion to Profits member handled this situation correctly by immediately stating that he would pay for his client’s hair and makeup. As you can imagine, the senior and her mom were still upset, but all you can do in this situation is make it clear you understand, apologize, and then find a way to make it up to them.

Paying their expenses is a must, and you may even need to offer to do the session at no charge.

“But I don’t want to lose money!”

If your photography is appealing, your pricing is sound and you are comfortable with the sales process, you will mostly likely still make a profit, or in a worst-case scenario if they don’t order much, you should breakeven.

Keep in mind even if you lose a few dollars on this client, there’s something more important at stake here…your professional reputation. Business surveys show time and again that a dissatisfied customer will tell many more people than satisfied customers will.

You don’t want any bad word of mouth, and you do not want this innocent mistake to drag down your reputation. The most important thing is to address the mistake and convert this client into a raving fan.

Believe it or not, I have had difficult clients and seemingly rough situations like this one turn into some of our most loyal clients once we solved the problem.

Everyone makes mistakes; the idea here is that you just need to prove to the client that you are a standup businessperson. People are used to poor customer service these days, so by going the extra mile and showing that you truly care about the client, you will stand out in their mind and they will even tell friends how you went above and beyond to help them.

Learn from our mistakes

Now what can we do to make sure this never happens again?

The key is to have either a physical schedule book or to use photography studio software that you can schedule clients with that will not allow you to double-book.

We go old school with our scheduling, use a simple DayMinder calendar with four columns. We use the left columns for portrait session bookings, and the right side for image viewing appointments and clients picking up their orders. Nothing high-tech, but it works!

Another thing that will help is to either text or call your clients the day before to remind them of the place and time of their session. This will cut down on no-shows and miscommunication.

Key Takeaways

Ok – we’ve gone over the two types of situations that might occur if you double-book clients in the future.

Let’s sum things up quickly:

  • Always try to accommodate both clients back-to-back.
  • Offer the second client that shows up a way to enjoy their time while they wait for the first session to end – perhaps allow them to head to the local coffee shop for a complimentary drink.
  • Be honest and take responsibility! People will be able to feel it if you are sincere, and they will appreciate you trying to make up for your mistake.
  • If you cannot fit in both clients in a row, be sure to offer to pay for the clients hair and makeup (if they paid to get it done), and consider offering to take the session for free in return for them having to get ready and show up twice.
  • Use an organized system to track your bookings – whether a physical calendar or online booking software.

With these tips in mind, you will be prepared to calmly and professionally handle a double-booking situation if this ever occurs in the future.

Your Homework

Have you ever had a situation like this occur? If so, how did you handle it? Do you have any tips to avoid double-bookings? Let us know in the comments below!