I refer other photographers when I’m booked. Other photographers refer Impact Images when they are booked. This is a common scenario – especially in the wedding industry and particularly for photographers. As a bride, what you have to ask yourself is this… What is that referral really worth?
When someone is booked, particularly in the wedding industry, where most small businesses can only service a single wedding on a particular day, we refer other businesses. When we make those referrals, we hope they come back to us in one form or another in the future. Sort of like karma.
At Impact, we have a small network of other photographers that we know will do a great job with your wedding photography. I’ve blogged all about how to find the best photographers in the first place here.
Again, this isn’t isolated to the Central Coast, Newcastle and Hunter Valley wedding service providers, it happens world wide throughout the wedding industry.
The beauty of this “referral system” means if I’m booked for your day, here is someone that won’t let you down. I know you’re not getting exactly what you want because I’m booked, but the person I’m referring will do a great job for you.
This “system” has been in place for as long as businesses have traded and it’s certainly not limited to weddings or photographers. It happens every-time we shop – when one store can’t help, they recommend someone else that may be able to.
The system works for everyone
The couple planning their wedding is happy that they are getting someone recommended to them – someone they should be able to trust. And, that recommendation is coming from a source of trust, well sort of, as you may not have actually done business with them in the past.
Either way, you’d expect the referral to be a good one as it will reflect on the person that made the recommendation.
This is the way it has worked for a long time, until recently.
Your wedding referral is becoming a source of ‘popularity contest’ amongst other photographers on Facebook.
In the past, if we or any other photographer were booked on your day, we would recommend other photographers that we know personally. We know their style of work, the quality they produce and what their customer service is like. These referrals were never given lightly or without thought for our clients. After all, your experience will reflect on us and our referral, whether good or bad for any future recommendations.
What has started happening is your wedding date, budget and requirements are being posted to Facebook groups where any member of the group can request a referral.
Initially, I thought these referrals were a good idea. The couples would get a number of available photographers to choose from and it would be up to them to do their research.
The issue though, is that the noble idea of a genuine referral has gone out the window!
Photographers are referring other photographers in some circumstances having never met them, having never seen their work (apart from their blog or website – if they’ve looked), and having no idea of what sort of person they actually are.
What’s in it for the photographers advertising your date, budget and requirements? I don’t know… a popularity amongst peers?
As a bride to be, you may get a number of photographers referred to you with this method but how qualified are those referrals, how suitable are those photographers? You may as well have visited any wedding directory website, selected a random number of photographers and started asking if they are available.
This style of referral can be likened to having your wedding date written across the sky and any available photographer that sees it putting their hand up for a bite of the cherry.
Let’s face it, if you’re a photographer that has already taken a booking and you really wanted to help find the right wedding photographer for a couple, you would personally recommend a few that you knew would do a great job. A few that operated in your area, or the wedding location for the booking couple.
Just this Friday gone, I received an enquiry for a South Coast Wedding that I was unavailable for. My advice to the couple was to contact a couple of local photographers that I trusted and knew would do a great job and one other photographer – Ben Marden from the South Coast.
Why Ben? Because I personally know him, I love his work, am familiar with it and I would trust him to shoot a family members wedding. That to me, is a great referral. That is what a referral used to be, is meant to be.
What can you do to make certain the referral is a genuine one?
Ask questions about the photographers that are being recommended to you. Ask about their style of shooting, their prices and why they are being recommended. Ask how well they know the photographer they are recommending.
If the answers are vague, toss the list and go do some more research yourself.
If you are emailed a list of photographers with no other detail, take it as a list of photographers that are available on your date and research them like you would any other service for your wedding.
For the record, if you have a Central Coast Wedding planned and we are booked at Impact Images, I have a list of recommended photographers that I know will do a good job for you listed on this blog post (last paragraph).
Am I wrong in my views on this topic?
If you’re a bride and your date was uploaded to Facebook for possible referrals how would you feel?
On the other hand – are you a photographer with a different point of view – am I seeing this all wrong? I’d love to read your comments below.