❌ Don’t be an Electric Vehicle

Hi Friend!

Quick round of where’s Waldo - do you know what city I’m sending this email from?

Having never driven an EV (Electric Vehicle) before, having no idea how to charge one, and doing very little research - I rented us an EV this week. It’s just a car … right?

It was only $15 more to rent one, I mean how could I pass that up?

Then I had a realization as our airplane was touching down in Phoenix - none of the electronics I own like getting hot, and it’s gonna be like 110F every day were here - maybe there was a reason no one was renting the (aka they were cheap)

TLDR it’s been a fun & learning experience. But it’s made me think, what does the experience of renting an EV teach me about how we work with our customers?

Lesson #1 Do you onboard for success?

I’ve never rented an EV car from a rental car agency before, so I was expecting some instructions upon renting - turns out the person at the rental desk also hadn’t rented an EV to someone else before either - when I walked up to the counter he went down the line asking other employees what the car code I rented meant. It was really confidence-inspiring when it took asking 4 people for him to learn that it meant he should be giving me a Polestar 2.

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Upon going to the car lot having learned nothing from the front desk, as I was walked to our car I asked a simple question, “So any advice on charging?” to which I got a very helpful (paraphrased) “I think there’s a cord in the trunk to charge in your garage” (I’m renting a car at an airport… you think I have a garage to park this in…?) “or you might be able to use tesla superchargers” (yea no, there’s literally 1 tesla charger in all of Phoenix with the right plug for a Polestar 2)

And then I was told, “Have a good visit to Phoenix, and return it with a 70% charge”.

Aka: you’re on your own figuring out how to charge this thing, we don’t know how to help you.

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If I think about our branding photography offers, when we sign a new client - does it feel like this to them?

Do we explain everything in a way that makes sense to them or do they leave scratching their heads and asking their friends to explain things for them?

I’m a huge fan of follow-up emails that include summaries (this is what we talked about, this is what we understood you need, this is how our services will solve your problem), this is what to expect (process break downs, next steps, specifically what we need them to do), and resources when necessary (link to blogs/gallery, pdf guide/freebie, screenshot, Pinterest board, loom videos).

Side note: we sold a 4 figure client this week (in hours) following that specific formula - 3 min rambling voice note inquiry from them → quick reply with their 3 specific pain points summarized, our custom solution, & next steps → 👇

Shameless plug: in Capturing Luxury, our 4-week group program for branding photographers, we spend a whole session on building out an amazing client experience; down to the template we use for follow-up emails and examples of real emails we’ve sent. Our next round starts on July 2nd. We would love to have you!

Where I see us coming up short on this is I think we could do more education around the merits of Branding Photography for someone’s businesses. People who have worked with a branding photographer almost always understand the value (and how it works), but if you’ve never heard of it before, we still get people occasionally confused.

This is exactly what I went through with renting an EV… people who drive EVs, don’t need any tutorials, guides, or resources (unlike me). For us I think I’ll be first approaching this with some explainer blog posts, maybe a pdf resource for new clients… open to suggestions

Lesson #2 Do the third parties you rely on work reliably & intuitively?

Now we have a Polestar 2 (EV car company owned by Volvo), honestly, I love the car. It’s a ton of fun to drive, and if I had a garage to plug in every night this email would be going in a completely different direction.

After 2 days of driving around Phoenix & running the AC a ton (did I mention it’s 110F?), we got down to 45% charge, and I really needed to start figuring out how to charge.

Quick EV explainer - basically all EVs, except Tesla’s, rely on third-party charging networks if you don’t charge your vehicle at home (Rivian has their own small network also). Basically like how you fill up gas at a BP or Shell (not car companies), charging cars is the same. The difference is not all chargers are made equally. In a gas car, your tank is measured in gallons (in America). EV’s batteries are measured in kWh (KiloWattHour). And chargers are rated by kW. Our Polestar 2 has a 78 kWh battery, and the charger 0.5 miles from our Airbnb is a 6.6 kW charger… meaning it would take 11.8 hours (78kWh/6.6kW=x hours) for a full charge from 0-100%. For comparison, some Tesla Superchargers charge at up to 250 kW…

Since I couldn’t use a Tesla Supercharger (don’t get me started on EV plug standards…) I figured we could find a charger near coffee shops we work at and places we went to eat. Charging a little at a time while we were out and about. On Tuesday we went to work at a coffee shop in Old Town Scottsdale and tried to charge at 3 different 3rd-party chargers and you could say we ran into some roadblocks: charger #1 couldn’t find it even though the 3rd party app said we were right next to it (later figured out it was in a below ground Valet parking garage?), charger #2 in an apartment complex’s tenants garage, charger #3 inside a swanky gated community… we gave up.

Basically what we’ve ended up doing is plugging into a charger by an Office Max(?) 0.5 miles from our Airbnb and I end up just walking back & forth to pick it up after charging it (painfully slowly) for a few hours.

You may be reading this and saying, “None of my offers require chargers… how is this a lesson?”

I can guarantee you use 3rd party tools - your clients probably sign contracts & pay invoices in a CRM portal, access documents in Google Drive or Notion, attend calls on Zoom or Google Meet, and receive photos in a gallery operated by a 3rd party (🙊 shameless plug: you can get 2 months free of Pic-Time with our code: JOANDCO).

Your client experience when you sell an offer includes how they experience all those third-party experiences as well. Thinking about vetting tools or even paying a little more if it improves and experience goes a long way. This is why we pay for Zoom every month, everyone knows how to use it already compared to cheaper/free alternatives that people struggle with.

For example paying someone to build out a custom Notion client portal, or custom Dubsado/Honeybook proposals & automations is a really easy thing that can take your 3rd party experience from decent to great. Also linking to an explainer or loom walkthrough to anything remotely complicated that you’re asking your client to do proactively solves problems that might occur. Oh and it may make you more money as well… upsells, add-ons, referrals, endless options

If I was the rental car company, I’d think about developing a simple pamphlet or QR code link to a blog post that they could put in their rental EVs that broke down the charging stations in the area, which apps/networks work most reliably, and what to keep in mind when considering charging (eg. you get charged extra money for leaving your car sitting at a charger after it finishes charging).

Lesson #3: Sometimes a great offer isn’t enough

4 days in and with mixed feelings I can honestly say, I won’t be renting any EV other than a Tesla for a long time. I do really like this Polestar, it’s great, but that’s just not enough. It’s dependent on charging networks that just aren’t convenient enough yet.

If I lived at home and could plug into the wall and slow charge all night once I got home, that would be a totally different story - but generally, when we’re traveling we don’t have a place to plug in overnight where we’re staying.

Tesla identified years ago that if they were going to get people to buy cars, a reliable quick charging network was of vital importance. And they built out an honestly impressive charging network that can mostly charge a car over a lunch stop that I found (most) 3rd party charges took my non-tesla half a day plus to charge the same amount.

In business this is roughly described as things that happen before or after you in the value chain. Sometimes for your really good offer to do well, it needs to have a good offers before and/or after your offer to make it truly valuable. In Branding Photography, the space “before” could mean adding or partnering with someone on Branding or Messaging Services to have a clear idea of the client’s brand before they have photos or a stylist/makeup artist to feel good about how they look. Or “after” could be social media services, web design, blogging, or even PR services.

This is all about finding ways to make it worth it for people to invest in your arguably great services once they’re able to use those services effortlessly to achieve their goals.

As I wrap this up I’m sure someone wants to know, did I enjoy the experience?

Yes I honestly did, as someone who loves tech and new things - I’m honestly really excited for where EVs will be in 5-10 years. They’re a ton of fun to drive. I think they’re more renewable. But right now there are still some growing pains with changing how we think about driving - which is very difficult for someone who grew up filling up a gas tank in 5ish mins and being able to drive another 350 miles before having to fill up again.

Have you rented an EV and had a different experience? It’s totally possible that I just did this all wrong (which would kinda reinforce my lesson 1 & 2) - hit reply and tell me how to do it better next time.



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