Cheap, Fast & Good...
A fellow business owner/ friend once told me something that changed my entire perception of operating a business, as well as being a consumer!
These three words were gold to my mind, we got onto the topic of running our businesses and we spoke about clients who want it all and more, and the pressure that comes with trying to keep those particular clients happy, as a practical man, he said three words, followed by a phrase (with perfect execution I must say)... His words were "Cheap, fast and good, pick two!" I immediately paused and thought back to all the things I've ever put research into buying, as well as the products and services I provide in my studio, and thought to myself, he's completely right, in order to have two of the three one component must be sacrificed.
The reason behind this is; if turn around is fast and good, it is likely the product will be quite expensive. If this product/service is cheap, and fast it is likely that the quality is not great. If the quality is good and cheap, you are likely to wait for the product/ service, as there may be a large demand, or love has gone into the service/ production.
You see that each of the three options has an effect on one another. So as a consumer you have the choice, what is a priority for you? Is it affordability, a quick turn over or is it quality? You must choose to have a priority, and then choose between the next two options, this will ensure you are happy with your product/ service.
How does this pertain to the photography world?
Let use some examples for all three points of this rule.
You may see photography advertised as ridiculously cheap, with a lot of images on offer, so what is the benefit and what is the compromise?
COMPROMISING QUALITY (CHEAP & FAST)
The first scenario and the most likely is that you will compromise on quality, you have probably come across someone who doesn't have the ability or desire to provide quality.
In this situation you will likely either be in a scenario with someone who is trying to cut corners to save money, or someone who is new to the industry.
In both cases you may experience, unprofessionalism in terms of the workplace environment, workplace safety, communication, or poor quality services and/ or products. While the new photographer may be eager to provide you with the best service, they are still learning and may not have the ability yet to grow and improve. You will likely be disappointed in either the service, the products, or both.
COMPROMISING TURN AROUND (CHEAP & GOOD)
The second scenario is that the photographer is a decent photographer with some time in the industry who chooses to be more affordable for families.
In this scenario the compromise is fast; you will likely have to wait patiently for products, such as orders, or your images to be processed. The photographer is likely sought after and to cover their cost of doing business they have to take on more clients. This is a good option for families on a budget, just understand that you will have to wait patiently for communication and your images/ products to be processed.
In this situation a few things can happen, you may not have such a bad experience, however.. You may very well be paying for it in one way or another.
COMPRIMISING AFFORDABLITIY (FAST & GOOD)
The most likely scenario you would compromise when you have a fast turn around on products/ services is affordability.
You have perhaps paid thousands, and the service is of a very high standard. The photographer has invested heavily in advertising, has a great studio, is professional, they have strict work practices, and a good client engagement that drew you right in. You will likely be happy with your products/ service but you have had to pay a lot more than average.
COMPROMISING QUALITY (FAST & CHEAP)
You have found someone who processes your gallery in 24 hours and is affordable you may pay a few hundred for the session and a decent amount of images, perhaps a product or two. You have now entered a situation where you are another number, the photographer has done little to no editing on your gallery, and has processed the images with one preset, cropped and saved them and your products are cheaply produced in bulk without any personalization. This will not be something you may want if you're after the dreamy award worthy shots of your loved with products that last, and make your heart warm when displayed at best.
Great you've found a good quality photographer, I'm sure you have figured out how this works by now, now choose two, as my friend would say!
COMPROMISING TURN AROUND (GOOD & CHEAP)
Winter is approaching and session bookings have slowed down, and the photographer is having a crazy sale as they've been a bit quiet the past month. You jump onto this offer thinking this is amazing, and it's super good luck because usually they are way our of your budget! Due to the fact the photographer must have more sales to cover their costs, as they usually gross higher per session, they have to take on more clients! And naturally more clients will be interested. They may have to bite off more than they can chew, which can leave you waiting for your products. Patience is a virtue int his situation as the quality will certainly be there!
COMPROMISING AFFORDABILITY (GOOD & FAST)
Once again you have found a great quality photographer, the turn around is good within a day you have your gallery and you are in ore of the beautiful memories they have created. You have ticked two boxes, you are thrilled, as their work is everything you've dreamed for, but now it comes time to choose your package and you are staring at a minimum two thousand dollar bill.
However this is what you chose as you couldn't compromise the quality or time as you want to have your beautiful memories as quickly as possible! Luckily they have set up pay later system, and you have the option to pay for your products later! Be careful though you want to have a back up plan, you may only have 24 hours to pay for your bill!
As a business owner...
You see you cannot have all three!
In terms of being cheap, while providing a quality experience, you will have to take on a lot of clients ensure you can cover your cost of doing business, without compromising quality, your compromise should be turn around.
If you are fast, you want to ensure the quality is not compromised, you will need to charge accordingly as you cannot take on too much work in order to be productive. Your compromise must be affordability, otherwise you will compromise.
If you are good, you have to make sure that you charge accordingly as you will likely have invested in your business a lot and you need to make sure you have covered your costs. Your compromise will either be affordability or turn around.
There is always an exception to a rule, this is usually under unusual circumstances, and may be shot lived, be aware of this if you plan to be in business for a long time.