Many of my brides and friends will often ask, “do I really need a second shooter?” Essentially, the answer is no, but there are many benefits to having a second shooter.
Drew & Savanah couldn’t be any sweeter. Drew is an Air Force pilot and Savanah is an Air Force Public Affairs officer.
We’re slowly getting settled here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We officially closed on our house in South Carolina last Friday and pretty soon, I guess we’ll become Michiganders.
As many of you may know, for the past four years I’ve worked at Chick-fil-A part time in addition to my photography business. The relationship has been on and off again, but nonetheless I’ve learned a great deal of valuable life lessons. Upon entering the food industry, I never imagined to gain so much information and fall in love with such a company. I had been drawn to them simply because they were closed on Sunday and I mean, the food is always great. Interestingly enough, I was able to apply everything I learned to my own business.
After being hired, like any other job, I was put through training. Training is where most of the information pertaining to the Chick-fil-A brand is thrown at you. There are four key things that Chick-fil-A teaches you when interacting with guests. They may seem super simple, but they’re so powerful when joined together. What are these four things you might ask?
1. Eye Contact
3. Speak Enthusiastically
4. Stay Connected
Simple, right? Often times though, I think people miss one of these things. Whether it’s not maintaining eye contact or speaking with intention, doing all four together really speak volumes to people, especially people whom you’ve just met. In conjunction with these four ingredients, we were taught to treat everyone with honor, dignity, and respect. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to other restaurants or businesses and I’m left disappointed because I just didn’t feel as though the employee cared about me as a customer or enjoyed their job. Thus, I really try to intentionally care about my clients and those who inquire with my business. I treat everyone the same. I listen to their needs and if I feel as though I’m not best suited for the job, I direct them to someone more compatible.
In addition, Chick-fil-A refers to their frequent customers as “raving fans.” A raving fan is defined as someone who pays full price, comes often, and tells others. I’m sure many other business owners, like myself, love having frequent customers. Other than social media, word of mouth is by far the best form of marketing. Although I appreciate all of my clients, some will just use me once, while others will continue to come back. What are the deciding factors?
Chick-fil-A believes it all has to do with the experience and not necessarily the food, which is why I began offering more than just photos. I want my clients to have an experience. My wedding clients may be impacted more by this since I work with them for a longer time span, but nonetheless, my goal is to make clients feel valued. In creating this experience, it also has to do with telling everyone’s story, which is also something taught by Chick-fil-A. They really emphasize the power of “everyone has a story.” For example, when working at Chick-fil-A this past year, we had a customer who came in every day just to order a large sweet tea. She always had a smile on her face and was often seen studying in the corner. It wasn’t until several months later that myself and others discovered that she had been diagnosed with cancer and had been undergoing chemo treatments. Incredible, right? None of us would have discovered this had we not taken the time to get to know her and gain her trust. My goal as a photographer is to tell stories through images. I want to know your story and what makes you, you. Whether your story be one of loss, triumph, love, etc., my goal is to show the beauty in all of those things. At the end of the day, I want to be your friend. So in telling your story, I’m creating an experience that you’ll remember.
Lastly, Chick-fil-A not only wants to create an experience, but they want to create “remarkable” experiences. What can they do for you to make your trip memorable? How can I make your photography experience one that you’ll talk about for years? How can I go the extra mile to serve you? Is it getting your photos to you within 48 hours? Sharing your personal story through a blogpost? Talking to you for hours? Whatever it may be, I want my business to be surprising, unique, and buzz worthy. There’s another story I like to tell that really proves that the Chick-fil-A business model works. A few months ago, while visiting my home town, I had asked a friend out to lunch. I chose Chick-fil-A, of course. After arriving before her and waiting for 20 minutes, after she let me know she was on her way, I became quite worried. Surely she hadn’t stood me up? I decided to go looking for her after hearing some sirens, (note: there was only one main road for her to travel, so finding her couldn’t be that difficult). I drive a few blocks down the road only to discover she had been in a car accident. What?! After confirming she was going to be okay, I went to the hospital to see her. Now long story short, I went back to that Chick-fil-A that evening to meet with a client. The gentlemen that took my milkshake order that night had also taken my lunch order. He says, “back again?” I tell him that he really didn’t want to know about my day and I begin to tell him about my friend. Without hesitation, he goes to the back and brings me back a six pack of cookies. Since I worked at Chick-fil-A, I never expect these kind of things to happen to me even though I had no prior ties to this particular store. It really goes to show you that the people that work for Chick-fil-A genuinely care about the customers. If giving them cookies will make them feel better, then they’re going to do it. I want to do the same for my clients. If doing such and such is going to make the experience that much more memorable and it stays true to my brand, then I’m going to do it.
Working at Chick-fil-A has really shown me to value my brand and my people. I’m in a position to influence others and I want to be a person who spreads awareness, positivity, compassion, and more. I have a heart for giving and serving others. God had blessed me with this talent to capture His creation and I will use it to honor and glorify Him. Chick-fil-A has been a great stepping stone in my life and I’m so thankful for the friendships, lessons, and opportunities it has provided me.
The late founder and CEO, Truett Cathy, has a brilliant quote that I’d love to leave with you. If you don’t know the history of Cathy, take the time to google him as he has quite the incredible story.
“Nearly every moment of every day we have the opportunity to give something to someone else – our time, our love, our resources. I have always found more joy in giving when I did not expect anything in return.”