Y’all, you need a questionnaire.
And I don’t mean the kind of questionnaire you use to gather phone numbers and addresses.
I mean the kind that you use to determine if you are a good fit for your potential clients. And if they are a good fit for you.
I know, you are probably asking, “But why on earth would I want to turn people away?”
Trust me, you do.
First let me explain what is in the questionnaire and then I can tell you why you need it.
Of course, in my questionnaire I always ask for all the general information: names, address, kids ages, etc. But I also use this as a chance to really get to know these potential clients. I want to know where they shop, how they met their spouse, what their home looks like, where they travel and what do they like to do as a family.
I also build in intentional “red flag” questions that I know could trigger answers that will quite obviously tell me that we won’t be happy working together.
The red flag questions I have built in were easy for me to figure out because I know exactly who my ICA (Ideal Client Avatar) is and what I offer. I built questions that could potentially create opposing responses.
I ask these questions because I want to make sure that we are a good fit.
So, why don’t I want to take on every client?
First of all, I can’t. There are not enough hours in the day to take on every inquiry that comes in. I have to have a way to weed through them to determine who I can make happy and who I cannot.
Second, I am setting expectations from the very beginning. I need to make sure that I actually offer what this client is looking for. If I don’t offer the correct service or type of service, then I should refer them to someone who does so that they can have a great experience. Even if it isn’t with me.
Photography is a big investment of both finances and time. I don’t want to waste either for this potential client if I don’t have to.
So, how do I pick the right questions for my questionnaire?
I can easily pick the right questions to ask because I know who my ICA (Ideal Client Avatar) is and therefore I can ask questions that tell me if they are a match or not.
What happens if they are not a good fit?
I created a very kind, pre-drafted email to send them that says thank you for reaching out to me. It explains not wanting to waste their investment of both finances and time and explains that based on their questionnaire, I am not going to be able to make them happy. At the end of the email, I offer referrals for photographers who do offer what they are looking for.
And guess what? Whenever I do have to send an email referring this potential client to someone else, I generally get thanked in response. Why? Because I educated them on the process, I was honest and upfront and I took the time to point them in the right direction.
There is nothing wrong with turning people away. If you won’t be happy with them, and they won’t be happy with you, why waste each other’s time?
Want to hear more about my thoughts on this? I recorded a short little IGTV video on this that you can catch here.
If you are struggling with defining who your ICA is or what direction to take your business, maybe mentoring would be a good fit for you. Check out my educational shop for options.