As a real estate photographer, you’re a professional. You bring experience, skill, market knowledge, and many other benefits to your customers. Does your rate reflect those benefits? It may not, especially when you’re working with long-term clients who expect the same rate you quoted them five years ago.

You occasionally need to raise your rates or justify your existing rates to skeptical clients. Having these conversations can be uncomfortable, but losing business because you’re unprepared for them is worse. To succeed, you must walk into the conversation with a strategy. Here’s how to prepare yourself to justify your rates and how to make the conversation go as smoothly as possible when you have it.

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How to Prepare for the Rate Conversation
1. Know How Your Pricing Compares

You don’t want to be surprised if a customer argues that you are above or below-market prices. Determine the price of your competitors and don’t rely on large national or state-wide averages. The real estate market is different at each local level. Besides, you and your competition could be targeting clients with different price points. Seeking to be the lowest priced photographer in your area can misfire and undermine the stability of your business. Know your relative cost so you can use it in the conversation, but don’t let it define you.

2. Focus on Your Services

If you are priced higher than average, you can offer the right services to help you justify your fees or to prevent customers from asking for a discount. For example, offering connections with a staging service can convince clients. Have amateur and professional photos you took of the same space to help convince reluctant clients that your photography will showcase their home in a much better light.

Come prepared for the conversation with a list of all of your services and be prepared to discuss the value you add to your clients’ property listings with extras like: floor plans, 3D tours, room dimensions, square footage calculations, video, and drone photography.

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3. Have Facts at the Ready

Investigate statistics and figures you can use to back up your arguments about your value. For example, if you use the iGUIDE as a photographer use our statistics on how much more homes with iGUIDE sell for. Nothing is as convincing to people as arguing they will have more money in their pocket if they work with you.

Consider these smart statistics from the National Association of Realtors 2019 Report:

  • For 44% of recent buyers, the first step that they took in the home buying process was to look online at properties for sale.
  • Among buyers who used the internet during their home search, 87% of buyers found photos and 85% found detailed information about properties for sale very useful.

Using more niche statistics about the exact results you achieve will help you support your worth too. Do the math on how quickly the properties you photograph sell, or how often they sell over asking price.

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Having the Rate Conversation

Now that you’ve prepared for the conversation, you’ll likely find that you’re more comfortable telling clients your price and remaining firm on the point. However, there are a few more stumbling blocks you can avoid.

The first thing to consider is the attitude you bring into the conversation. If a long-time client confronts you about an increase in price for your photos don’t be defensive. Taking their questions personally will derail the conversation and make it harder for you to stay calm and firm.

Instead of being defensive, politely explain your services and your value. Try to end your statements with a question, so that your client feels they are negotiating with you and knows that you respect their perspective.

For example, you might say: “I provide 3D tours with floor plans which prevent your home-selling clients from having to show their home to people who aren’t really interested in it.” To phrase this as a question, say, “Did you know that providing 3D tours with floor plans helps ensure that only truly interested buyers ask to view the home?”

No matter how much effort you put into preparing for these conversations and remaining firm during them, there’s always a chance a customer will walk away. Sometimes it is best to let them go instead of reducing your price for them. Customers who do not respect your skill often demand the most from you. Instead, use the time you would have spent on them looking for better clients.

Ellysa Chenery is a freelance writer and editor specializing in topics such as real estate, home maintenance, gardening, and more.