Eye on Business | Working with Divorced Parents

D-I-V-O-R-C-E

That’s an ugly word, I know. But it’s a reality of life that many of us know too well.

I have been a teacher for many years and have worked with children who have divorced parents. I’ve sat across conference tables with two people who couldn’t look at one another. I’ve had separate conferences with two people who couldn’t stand to be in the same room together. I’ve heard stories about her…stories about him… But the one thing all of these folks had in common was that they loved their children!

I really thought that my photography business would be worlds different from my teaching career.  But since both are in the business of people, they share some similarities. Both share the joys and challenges of working with different personalities and life situations.

Q: What happens when you have a senior come to you for her senior pictures and she happens to have divorced parents? Is it business as usual or do you need to take some extra steps in the process?

A: Take some extra steps. You’ll be glad you did.

You need to communicate with the parent who is initiating the contact with you and ask questions, whether it be in person or within your contract. The best way to do so? Within your pre-consultation appointment!

Who is financially responsible? If both, you need to get parent two’s contact information. You will need to make sure both parents are sent emails, texts, etc. You can’t rely on parent one to forward your messages to parent two. While it may happen, just do business as if it wouldn’t.

If both are financially responsible, how will the payment split work? Make sure a plan is in place and both parents have seen, read, and signed off on your contract that includes pricing information…BEFORE THE SESSION.

If parent two isn’t contributing financially, are you given permission to share the pictures with him/her in the event you are asked?

Will both parents be able to attend the ordering session? Be prepared for this one. If they do not get along, the room can get tense. In the words of my 5 year old, “AWK-ward.”  Simply, tell them that you will step out for a few minutes and allow them to discuss what they’d like to order. This will ease the pressure on you and make them feel more comfortable with the situation.

If you are like me, you may chat with your clients about non-picture related topics. If you find that the conversation is going down the path of complaining about the other parent, shut it down. Change the subject and move forward. People like to vent, but you are serving both parents (most likely) because their child is your client. Keep it professional.

The key to dealing with divorced parents of your senior clients is to be considerate to all parties and to know how the situation can/will affect your business with them.

Have wonderful week, SSG followers! If you have a moment, come on over to JP Ball Photography and say hello to me, Jodee Ball!

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