KEEP YOUR BUSI­NESS EF­FI­CIENT

Glean ad­vice on how to suc­cess­fully run an ef­fi­cient pro­fes­sional stu­dio

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1 MAX­IMISE SPACE US­AGE A stu­dio is a big in­vest­ment, the main rea­son for which is the re­quire­ment for space. It is es­sen­tial there­fore that you make the most of it. Think of each unit of space in your stu­dio in terms of cost and look to utilise each unit for a prof­itable re­turn, di­vid­ing the over­all run­ning cost by floor area. Think out­side the box if you have ex­cess – sell­ing prints on dis­play for ex­am­ple.

2 KEEP EQUIP­MENT IN USE your next big­gest fixed cost will be pho­to­graphic equip­ment, so you will need to max­imise its us­age in or­der to en­sure a good re­turn on In­vest­ment (Roi). This ap­plies to the ben­e­fit of own­ing a piece of kit to your busi­ness, but also has im­pli­ca­tions for main­te­nance. print­ers for ex­am­ple re­quire con­tin­u­ous use to pre­vent noz­zle clog­ging, which can gen­er­ate re­pair out­lay.

3 DE­CIDE WHETHER TO BUY OR HIRE GEAR Not ev­ery as­sign­ment will yield re­peat busi­ness of the same type and re­quire­ments, mean­ing that, should you wish to take on such a job, in­vest­ing in lots of spe­cific equip­ment may not be a fi­nan­cially vi­able de­ci­sion. This is where gear hir­ing be­comes ex­tremely use­ful – tem­po­rar­ily rent­ing a cam­era, spe­cial­ist lens or ac­ces­sory opens up unique jobs, with­out pro­duc­ing ex­ten­sive lists of un­der­used as­sets.

4 AVOID STOCK BUILDUP Buy­ing small stock in bulk is a great way of keep­ing costs down, how­ever there is lit­tle ad­van­tage in buy­ing photo frames, mounts and spe­cial­ist pa­per if you do not reg­u­larly sell these. Make sure you un­der­stand what clients in your cho­sen genre reg­u­larly re­quest – can­vas prints for fam­ily por­trait shoots for ex­am­ple – and al­lo­cate your ex­pen­di­ture ac­cord­ingly. Tar­get­ing stock pur­chases en­sures the great­est re­turn.

5 OUT­SOURCE PRO­DUC­TION Con­trary to pop­u­lar opin­ion print­ing in-house does not al­ways en­sure the great­est qual­ity. While you have more con­trol over the process, ex­ter­nal print labs of­fer ex­cep­tional qual­ity re­sults at a far lower per print price and with less time in­vest­ment. The same ap­plies to fram­ing and mount­ing – these ac­tiv­i­ties can sig­nif­i­cantly erode your shoot­ing and edit­ing time.

6 MAX­IMISE THROUGH­PUT As with any prod­uct, the more im­ages you can cre­ate the more rev­enue you can gen­er­ate. Look for ways to stream­line your day-to-day work­flow, so that more can be achieved in the time you have avail­able. pho­to­shop ac­tions and batch pro­cess­ing at the edit­ing stage can be seen as es­sen­tials for a

pro­fes­sional stu­dio, where many thou­sands of im­ages must be qual­ity as­sessed and ad­justed. Cre­ate ac­tions for each job type, en­abling you to fit more as­sign­ments into your cal­en­dar.

7 OR­GAN­ISE YOUR WORK­ING WEEK Al­lo­cate dif­fer­ent as­sign­ment types to dif­fer­ent days or dif­fer­ent times of your nor­mal work­ing day, for a pre­dictable and fa­mil­iar work­flow. Keep­ing re­lated jobs to­gether al­lows greater pro­duc­tiv­ity, by min­imis­ing travel and re­duc­ing the time re­quired for re­dress­ing your stu­dio or al­ter­ing the setup of your equip­ment. The aim here is to group as­sign­ments so that more can be con­ducted with­out adding to your staff.

8 STAY CON­NECTED While you are away from your stu­dio on as­sign­ment, you need to be sure that prospec­tive cus­tomers can still con­tact you with en­quiries. Have calls to your stu­dio pushed to your mo­bile and set up au­to­matic con­tact ser­vices, so that any missed calls trig­ger a stan­dard text re­ply to the caller, in­struct­ing them to email their de­tails, so you can re­turn their call. This re­duces lost rev­enue through un­ad­dressed en­quiries – es­pe­cially im­por­tant when work­ing in­di­vid­u­ally.

9. OUT­SOURCE AD­MIN Mas­ter the use of vir­tual as­sis­tants to take care of time-con­sum­ing ad­min tasks As a small busi­ness, you may find that ad­min oc­cu­pies a sig­nif­i­cant amount of your time, which is prob­lem­atic at peak times when photo-edit­ing re­quire­ments in­crease. Vir­tual as­sis­tants are re­mote work­ers that pro­vide of­fice op­er­a­tion sup­port, from an­swer­ing cus­tomer en­quiries to or­gan­is­ing pa­per­work and fi­nances. there are mul­ti­ple op­tions avail­able on­line, for a range of prices to suit your bud­get. VAs help you fo­cus on the cre­ative tasks with­out adding full­time, in-house staff.

10. CUT UN­PROF­ITABLE JOBS Not ev­ery as­sign­ment is worth pur­su­ing. Iden­tify which will ben­e­fit your busi­ness While it may seem that, in such a com­pet­i­tive in­dus­try, the pho­tog­ra­pher should chase ev­ery avail­able job, you may find that some prove more trou­ble than their fi­nan­cial re­turn can jus­tify. one-off large as­sign­ments, which ne­ces­si­tate ad­di­tional gear, hu­man re­sources and time, may prom­ise high pay rates, but once the ex­tra in­vest­ments are fac­tored in, the over­all worth can be sig­nif­i­cantly lower. sim­i­larly, reg­u­lar work from the same clients may pro­vide se­cu­rity, but if they re­quire ex­ces­sive travel and im­age pro­cess­ing time or stu­dio work, you may find them in­hibit­ing client list growth and pro­gres­sion onto other jobs with bet­ter per-hour re­turn.

ALL IM­AGES © PAUL WILKINSON

BUILD AROUND YOUR SPECIALISMS FO­CUS­ING ON ONE GENRE, OR AR­EAS OF PHOTOGRAPHY WITH SIM­I­LAR RE­SOURCES, EN­ABLES YOU TO HAVE A FO­CUSED BUSI­NESS PLAN AND TO MORE EAS­ILY TRACK THE PROF­ITABIL­ITY OFYOUR AS­SIGN­MENTS

Vir­tual as­sis­tants are an af­ford­able so­lu­tion for out­sourc­ing busi­ness tasks that you may not have time to con­duct, or any that you are less than con­fi­dent in man­ag­ing your­self

Top leftSHOOT SE­QUENCE con­sider re­ar­rang­ing the or­der of shoots dur­ing your work­ing day to see if you can make more use of the avail­able time

Bot­tom left SER­VICE AND PROF­ITABIL­ITY Any stream­lin­ing ac­tion you take should be achiev­able with­out im­pact­ing on the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence. Look to re­move un­nec­es­sary ac­tions or rep­e­ti­tion from your work­flow be­fore ad­dress­ing ‘front-of­house’ op­por­tu­ni­ties Bot­tom rightPLAN YOUR TIME or­gan­i­sa­tion is key – when you have to spend time out­side of your stu­dio base, cor­rectly an­tic­i­pat­ing the nec­es­sary time in­vest­ment is vi­tal for min­imis­ing lost rev­enue

Top rightDE­FINE EF­FI­CIENCY busi­ness ef­fi­ciency does not nec­es­sar­ily re­fer to pho­to­graphic pro­cesses. While shoots them­selves can be made more ef­fi­cient, these should be seen as fixed ac­tiv­i­ties that should only be al­tered af­ter gen­eral ad­min im­prove­ments

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