When is the “Not Ready Fee” charged?
Cancellations: We only charge the $55 “Not Ready Fee” on same day cancellations. We understand that things can change last minute and we try and build in as much room as possible for cancellations/reschedules but if they occur on the day of the shoot, the fee is charged.
Delays: The “Not Ready Fee” will also be assessed in (but not limited to) to following scenarios: lockbox malfunctions that hinder the photographer from gaining entry, home seller or tenant refusing the appointment upon arrival, homes that are not photo ready, threatening dog on premises, etc. Our photographers will remain on site for up to 10-15 minutes in the event of a delay. Anything beyond a 10-15 minute delay will be at the discretion of the photographer and may be subject to the “Not Ready Fee” to compensate our team for time lost due to the delay.
Why is the fee charged?
First off, we should state that the fee is not meant to be some sort of punishment. We have very real costs involved in last minute cancellations/delays and the fee is used to offset those costs. We’ve agreed to pay our photographers for last minute cancellations since it creates a hole in their schedule and in their pay for the day as they are paid by the shoot and not the hour. Here’s a great real world example of why we need to pay our photographers for last minute cancellations. This particular photographer had two shoots in Mt. Pleasant in the morning and then another one in West Ashley for the afternoon. One of the Mt. Pleasant shoots cancelled last minute and it forced that photographer to sit in their car for almost two hours because they could not be at their next shoot until the afternoon and they had already finished their other Mt. Pleasant shoot. Our agreement to pay them for this cancellation makes it so that at least they’re not completely without pay in those types of scenarios.
The second reason for the fee is that it causes us to spend twice the amount of time on the order from an office perspective. Reschedules, cancellations, and delays typically require many phone calls/emails back and forth as we work to notify everyone involved of the change and to set up the appointment again.
If we did away with the fee altogether we’d have to raise the price of our photo shoots across the board so that we could absorb the costs that same day cancellations/delays cause us. Our pricing is already rock bottom so there’s just not enough wiggle room in the profit of a shoot to absorb 15-20% of our shoots cancelling last minute.
Is this an industry standard?
Yes, but the industry standard is to charge half the billable rate in the event of a same day cancellation/delay. Our lowest billable rates are typically around $200. If we followed the industry standard, our lowest average cancellation fee would be $100 instead of $55. Here in Charleston, our next in line competitor charges $75 for same day cancellations.
Avoid the fee:
Contact the homeowner/tenant 48 hours before your scheduled photo shoot to make sure they are ready. It may help to explain to them that the photography company charges a $55 fee if the home is not ready when they arrive. That will hopefully help stress the importance of them being honest with you about the homes readiness. Some of our clients even go so far as to tell the homeowner/tenant that if a $55 fee is incurred that it will be passed on to them. This really helps in events where the homeowner/tenant has said 48 hours in advance that the home is ready and we arrive to find that it’s not.
Inform the homeowner/tenant to lock up their pets if they will not be home for the shoot. Even the friendliest of dogs can change when a stranger enters their domain without someone they know present.
Have someone double check your lockbox a day or two before the shoot to ensure that the battery is still good and that the contractor code is enabled.