Running a small business is no easy task. It's messy and thrilling and terrifying all at the same time. But no matter what, it's definitely a journey worth taking. As a mom of two littles, I know the daily struggles, and I'm here to walk this journey with you. If you're ready to feel empowered, encouraged and on fire for the things you truly love, and you're in the right place. I'm Rebecca Rice, a pizza loving hot chocolate drinking family photographer and educator. And this is the business Journey podcast. Hey, friends, welcome back to another episode of the business Journey podcast. I'm your host, Rebecca. And today we're talking all about how to respond to difficult clients. Needless to say, it should be a very interesting episode. Before we get too far, I wanted to let you know about a blueprint that I created just for you guys. If you're a regular round here on the podcast, you're probably like, okay, Rebecca enough with the blueprint. But I always want to mention it because I know we have new listeners every single week. So for those of you that are new around here, or maybe haven't caught it before, we have a blueprint, all about how to make your first $3,000 from a single date of mini sessions. And so this blueprint is a step by step guide to help you know exactly what you need to do to make that first $3,000. So maybe you have never run many sessions before. Or maybe you have, but you've never made $3,000 from a single set. This blueprint is for you. And I call it a blueprint because just like building a house. It's repeatable, right, my husband and I just got finished about a year ago building the house we're in now. And the builders had a blueprint, we had a floor plan that other families have also had. And it was repeatable, they were able to just follow the steps and build this house. So the same goes for your mini sessions that I have a proven system that is repeatable, that has helped students succeed time and time again, and it is all yours for free. So you can grab it today at Rebecca rice photo.com/ 3k Dash minis, that's the number three the letter K dash minis, so be sure to take advantage of that because that resource is there for the taking. So hi, guys, I'm glad to be back. This is actually the first episode that I'm recording since my team took a month off. So I've been out of the office for an entire month, which was the longest I've ever been away from my business. And I gotta say, it was difficult for me because I love working I love you know dreaming and doing. I'm an Enneagram three, I'm an achiever, I want to go go go. And so forcing myself to take that time away was great for me, but also left me like really itching to jump back in. And so today is my first full day back. And I'm loving it, I definitely needed the time away. But I'm so so glad to be back. So I'm excited to be able to dive in to today's topic. And again, it's how to respond to difficult clients. So maybe you're like me. And if you've been doing this business thing for a little bit, I'm sure you've encountered your handful of difficult clients, I will say that the vast majority of our clients that we work with are amazing. But occasionally we do get one or two that is just more difficult. And so some of the scenarios, I would say, especially with my associate team this year, we got just because they shoot in such high volume, I think this fall, they shot over 300 mini sessions, just the associate team. So they shoot in such high volume that that means you know more clients equals you know, more difficult clients, just because the one or two will always sneak in. So
the situations that they dealt with this year. Here's some examples. We had people asking or demanding for raw images. Have you ever been there? I'm sure you probably have. We had some clients that were extra extra. I don't want to use the word needy, maybe just like really enjoyed the over communication where they were emailing and texting and all the things constantly and if we didn't reply right away, then they were frustrated, which our business we set boundaries to you know, help safeguard us from that because we're not answering 24/7 We do have a life outside of our business and so my team knows that, you know, if an email comes in at 8pm they don't have to answer it until the next morning. And we have an autoresponder there to set those boundaries. But anyways, you know, we've had some of those we've had some clients, it doesn't happen often but sometimes we have clients that are unhappy with their photos after their session where it's not our fault and the photos look fine. Usually these are people that just are unhappy with the way that they look in general. And so they kind of take that out on our work. And, you know, it's just leads to some unpleasant trees. We've had some clients threaten a bad review. I'm sure if you've gotten your, you know, fair share of heated conversations with some clients, maybe you've had somebody threatened a bad review. For us, there was one lady who threatened a bad review if she didn't get her photos within two days of her session. And we outlined in the contract that we have this turnaround time, and it was Thanksgiving week, right over the holidays, like, there's just a lot of chaos. And we had two phone calls, several emails, several text messages, where I basically just repeated the same thing over and over that, no, she was not going to get her photos tomorrow, because this is what the contract says the contract that she signed, and we went round and around and, you know, it's, it is what it is. But eventually, you know, she stopped emailing and calling and we got it taken care of. But, you know, sometimes we do have clients threaten bad reviews, you know it, sometimes we'd have clients write bad reviews, and hopefully this one doesn't happen. It's very, very uncommon. I don't think I've ever gotten a bad review on my like Facebook page for my photography. My associate team has gotten, I think two out of the hundreds of clients that they served, I think last year they served, I don't know, close to 500 clients, it was a lot a lot of clients. But anyway, they only got two bad reviews out of all of that. And the two people honestly, we did everything that we could. And it just it was it was those people that just like writing bad reviews. And so I'll give you some tips on how to handle all of these situations. If you're listening to this, or like, oh my gosh, Rebecca, that really stresses me out, just hearing all these things. Don't panic. Okay, I will say these things don't happen very often. So if you're newer in business, and you're like, oh, my gosh, I'm gonna have all these difficult clients, I promise, it's a lot less common than you think. We just happen to have a lot of these situations, like I said, because my associate team shoots in such high volume. And if you're like, What do you mean associate team, we did an episode a few weeks back, gosh, I think it was part, either part one or part two case study of my business in December. So you can go look at it and listen to it and hear about my associate team. But because they shoot in such high volume, they are naturally going to have more difficult clients, because they just sneak in. And so you know, if you shoot 50 families, and you only have one difficult client, but my associate team is shooting 500 families, we're going to have a higher volume of difficult clients just by that same ratio. Anyways, let's go ahead and jump into what do we do to handle and to respond to these difficult clients, I'm going to give you five really practical things that you can do. So if you've got the Notes app on your phone, or whatever, take notes, because I know these will be helpful. And honestly, I wish I had somebody to tell me these things when I was starting out, these were things that we just had to kind of figure out by trial and error. And they're not always fun. But hopefully, this helps kind of reassure you of what to do, if you happen to find yourself in one of these situations.
So the first thing that you want to do anytime you're dealing with a difficult client is to remove emotion from the situation, because odds are, this person is not coming after you personally. I know that, you know, our photography, business is really personal to us. And it's it's vulnerable to share your work and to you know, you've put everything into this business. So it feels like it's an extension of you. But the truth is, when you're interacting with clients, and you're having a little bit more of a difficult time with them. It's not personal, okay, most of the time, they're not coming after you as an individual, they're upset about something, maybe it's something within your control, maybe it's something outside of your control, but it's not you as a person. So it helps to kind of remove yourself from the situation a little bit and remove emotion from the situation. So whenever you get you know that email or that text or whatever, it's always best to pause, don't ever react or right away, pause, take a breath. If you need to, you know, take 10 minutes, take an hour to not respond and just think about what you're going to say, do that. Nobody's saying you need to respond right away. Because odds are if you respond right away, you're going to respond out of emotion and you won't be as clear and concise as you want to be. And you may say some things that down the road you regret. So give yourself the space. And then another thing that I do to help remove the emotion from the situation is I'll write a response, but then have somebody else read it. That way they can tell me if I'm overreacting, if there's too much emotion if there's one line that I should probably take out. I've had those situations where I just want to say what I want to say because you know it's easy to be a keyboard warrior and say stuff that you would never say to somebody face. But in an email, it's easier to in those situations, it's really good to have somebody else put eyeballs on it just in case. So that you make sure that you're removing the emotion from the situation. So take your time, get somebody else involved that you trust, and move forward from there. The second thing that you can do when you're responding to difficult clients is always refer back to your contract, your contract is there to protect you. And you should be using a contract with every single client, I don't care if it's a full session or a mini session of family, friend family, you should be using a contract for every single session because it's there to protect you. And if you don't have a solid contract, I actually have one in my shop, I partnered with a lawyer who specializes in creative entrepreneurs like us photographers, and she put together an amazing contract that is designed to help protect you. So if you don't have a contract, or you have one that you kind of DIY, but you've never, like had an attorney look at it or anything like that, go check out the one in my shop. It's cheaper than most contracts from, you know, lawyers that have their own businesses and things like that, because I wanted to make it as affordable as I could for you. But it is incredible. It's the contract template that we use in our business for every single session. So regardless of what you shoot, you should have a contract in place. And then when you're responding to clients refer back to that contract. So if a client is asking for raw images, you can refer back to the section in your contract that says that you'd never deliver raw images, they signed that contract. And we actually updated our contracts last month at our team retreat, to have initial spots like spots where a client has to literally initial where after a paragraph that we get a lot of questions about, like raw images, we have them initial spot that says I understand that I will not receive raw images. And that way, it's like super extra clear that they couldn't have skimmed it or skipped over it, because we have a lot of clients who sign their contracts and clearly don't read them. They're pushing back on turnaround time, they're pushing back on receiving raw images, or whatever it is that they push back on, that is clearly stated in their contract. And they say, Well, that wasn't, you know, highlighted, and I'm like, is it my job to highlight it? Or is it your job to read it, but I'm not sassy to them. But anyway, we did add sections for them to initial so that it makes it hopefully less likely for them to you know, cause problems after the session. But take that time to refer to your contract, we like to copy and paste from the contract so that they can see the exact wording that they signed, and hold them to it. And the wording is there to help you. And to give you something to refer back to in case they have questions. So use the contract. The third thing that you can do in responding to difficult clients is speak with confidence and hold your ground. So as you're communicating, I don't know, if you're the kind of person that like hates confrontation, even if you are, you need to speak with confidence and hold your ground, don't let somebody bully you and say that they're going to take you to court because you won't give them raw images. If you have that solid contract in place, they can't do that. And if they do take you to court, they will lose. And so that's the whole purpose of it being there. So speak with confidence. And you you can have that confidence because you have your contract. Now, if it's something that's not written in your contract, take note that you want to add a clause about whatever issue it is that you're facing, the more confidence you use, when you're speaking to them and holding your ground, the more likely that they're going to just let it go. Because sometimes clients like to fight just to fight and to see what they can squeeze out of you. And you know, if your mini session came with five images, but they really love seven, but they don't want to pay for the extra two, they're going to try to bully you for the extra two, don't let them hold your ground, there's absolutely no reason for them to be able to get another two and other clients to pay, you know the full price for them. It's not fair. So hold your ground. And I know that's easier said than done. But I promise it's worth it. Number four, the fourth thing that you can do when responding to difficult clients, and this is if they threaten to write a bad review. Keep in mind, most people that threatened to write a bad review won't actually write it. They're trying to use that as leverage to win in those situations where they do threaten a bad review. That's where we look into compromise to be able to avoid the bad review. What kind of compromise can you come up with?
Are they asking for a refund on their session? issue the refund even if your contract says that retainer was non refundable. Maybe it's worth just refunding so that you don't have to deal with it. This is kind of a judgment call where you say you know Do you want to stick to your contract and hold your guns and let it be black and white? Or can you, you know, have some leniency, you know, in whatever situation, maybe there's a valid reason, let's say for that retainer, they missed their session, maybe there's a valid reason, or I don't know what's going on. But in some cases, and typically, clients are wanting refunds if they're threatening a bad review. So in those cases, we typically do just go ahead and issue the refund, just that we can be done with it. And the fifth thing is, in the event that a client does write a bad review, there are some steps that you can take to still deal with this person. The first thing that we do is reply to the review. You may say, Rebecca, are you kidding me? You want me to actually to reply, what she said, not just ignore it? Yes, I want you to reply. And the reason is, because if people are searching through your reviews, and they come across this bad review, I want them to be able to see my side of the story. So you know, when the client is all happy, puffy in their review, they're only getting one side. And so I want to be able to provide my side of the story. So what I will do is I will reply to the review with facts. All right, I'm going to talk about what their contract says, I'm going to talk about whatever correspondence we've already had about this situation, because most of the time, we've already talked about it via email or something. Occasionally, you'll get somebody write about for review, and you've never even talked about it. And so you can say this is the first time hearing of this situation, I'd be happy to, you know, discuss it via email, here's my email, blah, blah, blah, but state facts. Most of the time, you just stating facts will make this person that's writing this bad review look like a crazy person, because the average person reading through reviews are going to see a bad review, go to the comment and see how you're applied and say, oh, this person is just crazy. It's fine. So like the two, I want to say we had two bad reviews for my associate team this year. And those two reviews, we replied with facts. And in doing so literally anybody reading, it would be like, oh, gosh, okay, so they are just a terrible client. Because there it was things that are outside of our control and not our problem. We had one client who was super upset with the like, wait time for some prints that they ordered through shoot proof our gallery delivery system. So that obviously is out of our control. You know, we use shoot proof, but they ordered through a lab that is like self fulfilled through shoot proof. And the client was upset. We told them, we said typical turnaround for labs are, you know, five business days or whatever. But this was like two weeks, maybe the week before Christmas, it was maybe two weeks before Christmas, I don't know it was right in holiday season. And this client was extremely upset that they didn't have their prints in time. And we replied to the review, letting them know that, again, this is outside of our control. All this was stuff we'd already communicated with them, by the way, but in the review, we are letting them know that it's not in our control, they chose to place their print order at such and such date, we told them the typical turnaround time, but because it was right in the holiday season, turnaround times will probably be you know longer when it came to prints. This client already had their images in their hand, there was nothing wrong with the images, they were just upset with the prints. So anybody reading that testimonial would say, oh, this person is just crazy, because it has nothing to do with the company. So that was good, but reply to the facts. And then the next step is right after you reply, you need to go block this person from you know, your business page, there's a way to do it. I can't remember I wish I could like walk you through it. But just Google block somebody from Facebook business page. And there is a way to do it so that they can't see it, they can't comment. What you want to avoid is like the back and forth on this testimonial, you don't want to have a whole nother conversation with this person on your Facebook page. You're already having conversations via email. So there's no need to put it so public, avoid the back and forth because if you don't block this person, they're probably going to reply and still be mean and snarky and try to, you know, make themselves look good again. And so you don't want that to happen. Avoid the back and forth, go ahead and just block this person,
we have what we call a no fly list. In our business where you know, there's a very short list of a handful of clients that we will never work with. Again, if they write a bad testimonial, you better believe their honor, no fly list. Occasionally, if you know they're super difficult, and they don't write a bad review, but we had such a hard time with them. We issued refunds, you know all the things there were so many red flags, we'll put them on our no fly list so that our team knows if this person reaches out again, we will not book them because you want to avoid all the red flags and the issues a second time. So I highly encourage you to put together a no fly list as you're getting these difficult clients and if you don't want to work with them, don't work with them again. That's the beauty of running your own business. that you get to decide who your clients are and who your clients are not. And so if you don't want to work with a client, let them know that you're completely booked and refer them to a friend. I usually refer them to people that I'm not so fond of. That's really petty. But I do just so that I don't have to deal with them. And I don't want to send it to my friends, or you can just not refer them to anybody, it's totally up to you. But either way, those are the best ways to deal with these difficult clients. Overall, stay professional, be concise, and be clear in your communication and keep their emotion out of it so that you're responding in the best ways that you can. So I hope these tips were helpful for you. If you ever encounter a really tough situation, and you're just not sure what to do. I'm always available on Instagram, you can DM me at Rebecca rice photography, and I'd love to kind of help you formulate a plan of what to do in these cases. I can, you know, give a couple tips or whatnot of things that have worked. So feel free to DM me if you're ever like caught in a situation or like I literally have no idea what to do. Come talk to me and we'll see if we can figure it out. But hopefully these tips that I gave are a really great starting point because these will cover the majority of difficult clients that you'll receive. And I know you will receive them. It's just a part of you know, running a business, you're gonna deal with difficult people, but it's going to be okay, your business is going to survive. It's not going to die overnight. Because of one difficult client, your business isn't gonna sink to the ground if you have one bad review. So take a breath, it's gonna be okay. I just wanted to be able to hopefully equip you in case these things do pop up. So hopefully this is helpful. Again, if you have any questions, find me on Instagram at Rebecca rice photography, and I'd love to help out. So with that, we will go ahead and sign off and I will see you this time next week. Bye guys.