Lots of activity on this week’s “Hourly Coverage vs. Unlimited” post earlier in the week. Check out this comment from Jolie:
I appreciate the notion of pricing being formed around the what “makes me and what I do for you unique” factors and that those factors play a significant role in a couple’s choice of photographer. I get what you’re trying to say about not breaking out the calculator and using dollars per hour as the basis of one’s price structure. But after thinking about the article, I wonder how you arrived at a place where the amount of time devoted to a client before, during and after their photographed event isn’t factored into some part of your price? Or is it to some degree, and I’ve misunderstood you?
You stated you charge the same for a slightly smaller wedding. What about weddings that are significantly larger or smaller in scale and hours than your “average”–still the same final price too? Perhaps you’ve positioned your business to serve a specific market and served it long enough to know the coverage range, allowing you to set a price package(s) that makes the hours spent irrelevant?
It seems to me this country is preoccupied with time. The multi-tasking. The over-scheduling. How often do you hear, “How long will it take?” We pay extra for things be rushed and we pay extra for things to go slower. Even during the wedding planning, a couple can be faced with time issues for the venue, the officiant, music and church. So while the hours required to execute a service isn’t an exciting concept, time does play a role, yes even if it isn’t explicitly stated to the client? That’s the part of the article that felt vague to me.
OK, so “yes” the amount of time devoted to the client is taken into consideration when we price. I think that per-hour pricing is really only relevant in a volume-studio situation where you can actually fill every hour with paying work. Since I don’t run a model like that each hour really isn’t as valuable as the next. I also don’t want to run a business where I have to sell time to make a profit – I don’t have as much time as I’d need to make what I want in that case. I’m really more concerned with the overall amount of money that I want to make and how much work I want to do to bring in that sum. So I’m more focused on the overall number of jobs booked hitting a desired amount. In the grand scheme of a year and hour or two plus or minus on a wedding really doesn’t impact the plan. I consider it more of a “day rate” business for my own business (again YMMV).
I do tend to have a pretty good handle on my market acts and my preparation system tends to make every job work the same way. To be honest, I can’t say that my work changes much if the wedding is very small and intimate or enormous – the approach is largely the same so I really don’t see the need to charge differently. Then again, I’m primarily selling the approach and belief system behind it, so the minor differences in wedding size really don’t impact the back-end of my business.
I do agree that many services that may be comparable to ours are built on time. I’ve simply built a business where the relative amount of time in preparation, execution and post-processing is basically the same regardless of the wedding details. Some people do pay more to make things go faster. Some people pay more to indulge their time. Some people pay more to not concern themselves with time. I’ve just picked my market.
Thanks for the comment!