How to Handle Client Changes

How to Handle Client Changes

Now, if you're any creative, “client changes” is a phrase that can send fear into your heart.

However, client changes are really just a part of life. They don't have to be scary.

When they do happen, how do you handle them in a respectful and time-saving way while also keeping your couple happy?

The best offense is a good defense

When it comes to client changes, 98% of them can be avoided before you even deliver the video. 

Step 1- The Phone Call

  • Do an initial phone call with every inquiry who is a potential target bride. 
  • Log all the information you find out about the wedding and the couple.
  • I use HoneyBook to log everything and also handle all our payments. Click here to get 50% off HoneyBook.

Step 2 - The Questionnaire

Send out a questionnaire 30 days before the wedding. It contains questions for all the basic information about their day:

  • Where are you getting ready?
  • Are you writing your own vows?
  • What is your reception location?
  • Are you having a sparkler exit?

Download Wedding Questionnaire

Step 3 : The Video Call 

Do a video call 30 days before the wedding with your couples. 

The call is 30 minutes to 1 hour. 

During the call, talk to them about:

  • What they’re looking for in a wedding film
  • What they do not want in a wedding film
  • What they like about your films
  • What they really want captured on their day

Use this call to get to know them as people—what their likes and dislikes are and what their story is.

That way you can use everything you learn to make the best choices for shooting their day and editing their film.

Step 4 - Putting It All Together

Before you start the edit, open up HoneyBook and review all your notes from the initial phone call, questionnaire, and video call. Use these notes to put together a game plan for your edit, and plan out what is important to the couple that you need to include before you start editing. 

I guarantee that doing these 4 steps will shave off 98% of the change requests you get. 

When you still get changes

Tip #1 - Capture Family

In the last 10 years, 90% of the client changes I've received have been regarding family.

  • "Hey, can you add my brother in?"
  • "Can you add in my grandma dancing?"
  • "I noticed there is only one shot of my mom. Is there any way to add just one extra shot?"

Knowing that 90% of your changes will be related to family, you can get on the offense.

At your next wedding, shoot all of the family portraits. Don't make them overly cinematic or artistic. Just shoot all of them.

Now when the couple asks for that family member change, you will have the exact shot, and you can put it in the film in 5 minutes or less!

Tip #2 - Include Family 

While you're editing, try to include as much family as possible.

There are too many wedding filmmakers who get too caught up in the artistry and don't include any family and then wonder why they get so many change requests. 

If there are only a couple shots of family, you will get a lot of changes. I can almost guarantee it. 

Try to put as many family moments in as you can. 

Tip #3 - React Calmly 

You deliver the film, and the client asks for changes. 

  • Do you freak out?
  • Do you say “heck no”?
  • Do you charge them?
  • Do you put in 40 hours of extra work just to make them happy?

The first thing you need to do is change your mindset. When it comes to changes, 99.9% of the time, the client doesn't want something major.

Embrace changes as part of the process. Don't see them as: "Oh, they asked for changes. They must HATE the film."

Most of the time, they just really want an extra family member, like I said, or another little change. 

"But if I give them one little change, they are going to want 247 more changes!"

The solution?

In your contract, say:

If you need any changes that are related to obvious errors in the video—jump cuts, spelling errors, dropped frames—these will be fixed at no fee. Any additional change that takes more than 1 hour of editing time will be subject to a $150/hr editing fee. 

That being said, you don't want to be dogmatic about this. Aim to be flexible within reason. 

This will make for much happier clients, reviews, and future bookings.

For example:

If the couple just needs a few changes, and it takes you 1 hour and 30 minutes, I would suggest not kicking in that $150 charge.

The good will you will get from the client will be worth far more than the $150 you charge. 

*Tip: If the couple requests changes that are above 3 hours in edit time, it would be wise to kick in the $150/hr edit fee. 

When enforcing the fee, you can say:

Thank you so much for sending in those changes! I just want to let you know that it will take me 5 or 6 hours to make them, which is no problem. The editing fee will be $150/hr. Let me know when you want me to start on these, and I'll get everything done asap.  

Artistic flow

What do you do when a couple wants a change, but it actually makes the film worse?

First, realize that the client isn't attacking your artistic vision. More than likely they just want a couple quick changes.

Don't make a big deal about it. 

The simple solution is to make 2 edits: 1 for the couple with the changes they requested and 1 for you to post on your portfolio or Instagram. 

Remember, you can avoid most changes by including a good amount of family in the first edit of the film that you deliver to the couple. 

Frequent change requests

If you are getting massive requests for changes on every wedding film, something is wrong. 

You're probably not understanding the problem couples are hiring you to solve. 

If this is you, the best place to start to fix this issue is in pre-production. If you are not already, start doing initial phone calls with every inquiry as well as Skype calls with couples 30 days before their wedding.

Make notes on everything this couple is looking for in a wedding film. Implement these notes in your edit. 

As you do this over time, your change requests will decrease substantially. 

In Conclusion. 

The ultimate goal should be for you to only get simple change requests on 3–5 films a year and big change requests on 1–2 films a year. 

However, as you understand your target bride more and more year after year, those big change requests should reduce down to 0. 

Just remember: Client changes are a fact of life as a wedding videographer. Don't take them too seriously, and keep your focus on serving your couple in the best way possible! If you keep this attitude year after year, your business will be set up to thrive. 

David Reynosa

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