My single favorite piece of technology isn’t an innovative app or a top-of-the-line smart gadget, and it’s not even directly related to photography (or photography booking systems, which I’ll talk about later)… but it makes a big impact on my business.
So what is this magical piece of equipment of which I speak?
My Instant Hot Water Tap.
I know, I know. At first thought that doesn’t seem like something you should care about, but let me explain why you really, really should.
An Instant Hot Water Tap wasn’t something I sought out, or even bought. It came with my new house and, honestly, I didn’t give it much thought or even really care about it.
But then things started happening.
My coffee and tea were done in seconds, cleaning became easier and more efficient, and dishes got done in a lot less time. All of which, over the long run, afforded a ton more time for me to focus on the things most important to me, like my business.
The time-saving gadgets like my Instant Hot Water Tap are exactly what Hons Rolling is referring to in his awesome TED Talk on how the washing machine is a more important invention than the internet.
There is no asset more valuable and worthy of protection than your time. And as an entrepreneur, time is doubly important because the time you invest in your business is directly correlated to its success.
So protect it with your life.
Um, okay. How exactly?
Automate, automate, automate.
Establishing a thorough and efficient online photography booking system is one of the single greatest investments you can make in your photography business.
Think about how much time it really takes to go back and forth with someone about scheduling.
The least amount of time you’ll spend, if you’re very lucky and your client is immediately responsive (which we all know is rare), is about three minutes both ways of an interaction that goes something like this:
You give potential times for the meeting; your client comes back with what works; you confirm; they confirm; you send an invite.
Now, this ideal scenario (emphasis on ideal) doesn’t seem too painful at first glance. But multiply that by the number of similar interactions you have each day, and it becomes hours of wasted time.
And this doesn’t even include the limitless distractions and fires you have to put out, the emails you have to check throughout the day, and the calls you need to make.
It’s so much time you spend on everything except what you got into this business for — taking beautiful photos!
Fortunately, it’s also time you can absolutely get back with the right system in place. Emphasis on right.
For your booking system to fully work to your advantage, you want to be sure it has the following capabilities:
There’s nothing worse than finding a babysitter, fighting traffic, getting to a location at the perfect time of day, checking your phone … and then finding out your client isn’t coming.
A solid photography booking system will let you choose industry best practices for your notifications to clients. For example, you can start automatically sending clients a reminder email upon confirmation, as well as two hours before the session.
Entrepreneurs have a diverse, hectic calendar that’s always shifting and evolving. But you know that already.
Making sure your booking system seamlessly integrates with your calendar will save you loads of time that you’d otherwise spend to shift and shuffle things around, and keep all your appointments straight. It’ll also prevent you from the massive business blunder that is double-booking.
Some of you might already take payments over the phone, but that’s more time consuming, riskier, and less efficient overall.
Let your photography booking system do the work for you by taking credit card down payments. Not only will it save you from making needless phone calls, but it’s safer for your client and eliminates the need for you to remember to do it.
What it all boils down to is this:
On the surface, instant hot water, the invention of the washing machine, and automated booking sessions might not seem to have much in common, but their common denominator is more important than anything else — they protect your most precious asset: your time.