KEEP YOUR BUSINESS EFFICIENT
Glean advice on how to successfully run an efficient professional studio
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.
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