The Ultimate Photography Business Management Software

As a professional photographer, you’re also a small business owner, I know that administration can take up a lot more time than I like.

I’m talking about:

scheduling appointments,
processing payments,
running reports,
managing clients,
managing staff,
dealing with supplies and inventory,
marketing, and
all the other “background” tasks that keep my business going.

That’s why in recent years I’ve become very interested in embracing technology to automate and centralize as much of these “administrative” activities as possible.

As a photography business owner, you no doubt love doing photography – but in order to do what you love, you must administer your business and get new business through marketing.

For example, how much time do you spend managing your appointment schedule or dealing with payments by cheque or cash, or sending out appointment reminders to minimize no-shows?

These tasks are necessary, but do take up a lot of time.

Of course no software will replace you and your vision, but you can use software to automate some processes to free up your administrative time. The key is getting the right photography business management software that won’t cost you a fortune.

Unless you shoot exclusively in a studio, you’re likely off-site regularly photographing clients. If you spend a lot of time off-site, it’s tough to administer your business – unless you’re able to access your photography business management software.

How You Can Bring Your Office Anywhere With You

The easiest way to bring your office with you is with a mobile computer and using cloud-computing software. The mobile computer is simple – an iPad or laptop will do. It’s the cloud computing software that you need.

What is Cloud Computing Software?

It’s software you can access entirely on the Internet. It’s also called web-based software and it’s growing dramatically in popularity. The days of desk-top software that requires installation on a local computer are disappearing.

Have you ever been on a photo shoot and get a call during down-time for an appointment? If you don’t have your schedule available, you have to call them back – possibly losing the booking. If you have complete access to an online schedule, you can book the appointment right away.

Automate Photography Bookings

If you offer set photography packages, you might want to consider offering clients the ability to book their own time on an online schedule they can access with an Internet connection. You could create a web page explaining your packages and the time required.

Put the control in your clients’ hands and they’ll be delighted they can book a photo shoot without minimal hassle. You’re delighted because you booked a client without getting involved.

Reduce No-Shows

One of the worst money-losers in any business that books appointments – such as a photography business are no-shows. Yet, you’re probably too busy to sit at a phone each day making reminder calls.

What if you could automate reminders? This is ideal, and with top-of-the-line photography business management software this is not a problem.

How it works is your online scheduling software is linked to a powerful e-mail delivery software application that automatically sends out e-mail and text messaging reminders to clients at a time before the appointment you specify. Even if you prevent 2 no-shows in a month, the software will pay for itself.

Running a Photography Business is More than Managing a Schedule

Do you hire independent contractors or have staff photographers?
Do you offer payment by credit card?
Do you have any time left to market to your existing and past clients?

You can certainly get individual photography business software applications to manage each of these 3 types of administrative activities. You can get payroll and staff management software.

It’s not hard to find credit card processors to integrate into your system. And of course there is no shortage of marketing software applications available – especially e-mail and text messaging software services.

But, if you could centralize all these types of administrative activities in one software application, you’ll not only save time learning how to use it all, you’ll save time and hassle integrating it all together… because it already is integrated.

What I’m talking about here is ramping up your administrative efficiency by using an all-in-one photography business software that offers all the systems and processes you need to manage your photography business.

I’m a huge fan of all-in-one software packages because I need only learn one type of software. How much software have you bought only to never really use it fully because you didn’t take the time to learn it.

I’ve got all kinds of software on my computer just sitting there. The software I do use extensively is that which is central to running my business and that basically manages most of my administrative activities.

Here’s the Real Value of All-In-One Photography Business Software

The true asset of your photography business is your database of clients – past and present. Those clients not only provide you work, but refer you to their friends, family, and acquaintances. Your database is your gold and so you must harness that database in order to build your business.

If you have different software applications managing individual tasks, you likely have a mish-mash of contact lists and client profiles scattered in various files and software applications.

When you centralize your entire photography business management software, you’re able to centralize your client database – and then leverage that database in all your business management activities.

An Example:

I’m a huge fan of communicating with my database of clients via e-mail. If you use different software applications for different activities, then when you book an appointment, you must load that contact into each database – perhaps in the scheduling database and then your e-mail marketing database. You end up managing multiple client contact lists.

It’s far more effective and efficient that when you book a client into your schedule, that client is automatically logged into a central database with all their information, from which you can then launch e-mail messages, text messages, and even then generate business reports informing you about how a particular client is contributing to your business.

The key is moving toward a one-step process. That step being once you have a new client scheduling, that client is now part of your entire photography business software platform from which you can completely manage that client.

The same goes for centralizing your independent contractor / employee details into the same system. You can then generate payroll reports showing your payouts to each photographer on your payroll by client.

Take Your Photography Business Software to the Next Level

Do you offer pricing packages? Probably. Is it a hassle managing all those packages? A centralized, all-in-one business management software specifically for photographers lets you create pricing packages that integrates with your credit card processing and your client management.

Not only this, but the right software will also make it easy for you to create gift cards, track your client’s referrals (then send out thank you messages), pricing packages, discounts, etc. – all in an effort to increase your sales and offer your clients more choice.

What About Selling Products on Your Website?

As a professional photographer, you can get great deals on photo-related products and services. You can create another profit center on your website by selling products and services. Because you know the business so well, you can offer only the best to your clients.

Moreover, because you’re a professional, you’ll have instant credibility and trust and could create a profitable e-commerce store that earns revenue with minimal effort and time.

In a nutshell, the best photography business software is web-based and offers the following centralized functions:

Scheduling – online, centralized, and self-bookings;
Credit card processing;
pricing packages and gift cards;
E-commerce and online store opportunity;
Payroll and staff management;
E-mail and text messaging capability – automated reminders and marketing channels;
Total client data management totally centralized;
Client referral tracking (this alone should be harnessed to the maximum);
Financial and performance reporting that uses all the centralized data for comprehensive, up-to-date information.

Why Consider Network Marketing As Our Home-Based Business?

We are not asking that anyone get involved in network marketing and change everything immediately. We are however, suggesting that people consider the addition of the right home-based Network Marketing business starting their journey of financial success in a different direction. Having a home-based business is not a new concept. Network Marketing is not a new concept. Having a home-based Network Marketing business is not a new concept. However, never in the history of our country has the concept been so prevalent and is fast becoming the norm rather than the exception!

The reason is very simple. Our concept is providing American’s with what they want; control of their time and financial opportunities proportionate to their abilities and effort.

With the right home-based Network Marketing business, one has all of the benefits and advantages of a home-based business and unlimited financial opportunity usually associated with a large traditional business.

Employees and Debt
Rather than having several employees working with other employees under one roof for the benefit of someone else’s company, with Network Marketing, we have a bunch of home-based business owners, working under their own roof, networking with other home-based business owners, all working for their own companies. This concept provides an incentive and opportunity of multiplication and duplication for each home-based business owner equal to or greater than that of the owners of traditional businesses with multiple employees and locations, with out all the hassles associated with traditional businesses! It requires no debt, no employees and no complicated administrative procedures. With Network Marketing, we work with and for other people and other people work with and for us.

What is Network Marketing?
When you purchase a product or service, usually over 50% of the retail cost is associated with marketing! That would be any cost associated with getting someone to buy the product plus any cost incurred once it is produced by the factory. With Network Marketing, the products are shipped directly to the consumer from the factory. Those monies normally associated with marketing are paid to several home-based Network Marketing businesses owners which had previous network marketing or internet marketing influence in the referral of the customer!

Are the products less expensive?
Most customers will not buy inferior products and there is limited benefit to paying a little less for a product on the short run. Let’s assume that you sold yourself a product, ordered it from a Network Marketing company and in return the company paid you a 50% commission or rebate. In effect you’ve saved 50% on the products you purchased. That may save you a few dollars. Although saving money is important, the concept of earning money on products that we are already buying is far more exciting.

The concept is to redistribute the marketing dollar!

Imagine having a network of thousands of customers purchasing quality products or services each month where you receive a few dollars per month for each customer! Remember, these are products or services that we are all already buying, or should be, and this is money that is normally paid to others. In essence, the simple process of referring other customers who also refer other customers to a Network Marketing company, presents an opportunity for a redistribution of the wealth to you and I, the consumer!

Traditional Marketing versus Network Marketing
A traditional company would typically have a Vice President of Marketing with several regional managers reporting directly to them. Those regional managers would recruit, hire, train and manage several area managers who, in turn, would each recruit, hire, train and manage several sales representatives. The sales representatives are then responsible for selling the company’s products or services.

Plotted on a piece of paper, the shape of the traditional organization would look like a triangle or pyramid. It’s quite obvious that the higher the level the higher the pay and that there is less room at the top for advancement. It is also evident that it is mathematically impossible for each and every sales representative or employee to rise to the top regardless of how good a job they do!

The Difference
First and foremost, Network Marketing is different. Each individual starts at exactly the same level – at the top of their own organization, has exactly the same opportunity as everyone else and is compensated in directly proportion to the activity or success that they have had an influence in generating. Secondly, one doesn’t need to be a sales person to reap the level of financial benefits normally associated with company owners, sales managers and marketers. Thirdly, in Network Marketing we work with, when and for whom we choose. And last but not least, different than in a traditional company, we only work for ourselves and those whose activity generates income for us! We may also choose to work with those which we are generating income for, because, in most cases, they don’t make money unless we do.

How does it work?
In Network Marketing, there are customers and also independent representatives who operate as a home-based business. The customers may also be independent reps. Independent reps can earn management positions if they so desire. Different than in traditional business, each independent representative is given the opportunity and responsibility of both recruiting customers and other independent representatives. Each independent representative is owner, president, and vice-president of marketing for their own home-based network Marketing business.

Network Marketing is a word of mouth business. By spreading the word, the network marketing marketer identifies others who desire to be customers and or independent representatives (home-based business owners). The independent rep helps those newly recruited independent reps build their own home based business by helping them identify other customers and independent reps who desire to own their own home based network Marketing business. In a mature organization, it is normal for there to be 50-100+ customers for each customer/independent representative that you personally refer! Through this duplication and multiplication process each home based business owner can recruit and sponsor a few customers and/or independent representatives and, as a result, generate a sizable organization of consumers and marketers.

Referring
Does this sound like a foreign and awkward activity to you? How many people have you referred to your favorite restaurant or to your favorite movie. How many more have gone because the people you told enjoyed the restaurant or movie and told someone else who went? How much did you get paid? We are all already referring customers everyday! It is just that most of us don’t get paid for it.

The question is not whether we refer customers, the question is whether we are getting paid for the activity!

In network Marketing, customer/independent reps receive an income for “marketing” the products for the company simply by referring other customers! Normally, we receive compensation through 5 – 10 generations of this duplication activity. In addition, there are usually additional performance and leaderships bonus compensation structures! Assuming an association with the right company: Network Marketing is the one of the very few processes I know of where you will earn in network marketing relation to your ability and effort with virtually unlimited potential! Although most people are looking only for a few hundred or few thousand of supplemental monthly income, I personally know, know of, or have met a substantial number of people who earn several tens of thousands of dollars per month from their home-based network Marketing business!

Choosing a Safe Business Opportunity
Once it has been determined that a home-based business is appropriate, and further determined that a home-based Network Marketing business is even more appropriate, the real difficulty is in determining which network Marketing opportunities to become involved in. Without experience in the industry, unless you’re extremely lucky, it is next to impossible to pick a winner on the first try! Unfortunately, it seems that experience in the industry is not always sufficient for the proper evaluation of a network Marketing opportunity. As is the case with traditional business, there are good opportunities and bad opportunities. As is the case with traditional business, unfortunately many people let their emotions cloud their rational judgement when it comes to evaluating a network Marketing company and/or business opportunity!

Evaluation Process
There are certain criteria which must be used rationally when one does an evaluation. Technically, these could be divided into two categories: absolutely necessary characteristics and desirable characteristics. For me, the desirable characteristics are also necessary, therefore, I will not distinguish between the two and will address them in no particular order.

Competent Company Management Team
Normally it is very difficult for us to know any more about the network Marketing company’s management team than what they tell us themselves. The evaluation of the management team only becomes an issue with a new company! If a company has been in business three to five years with a well documented and stable growth record, we really don’t need to waste our time. New network Marketing companies are starting up at a higher rate than ever before. It seems that every person who has ever been successful at network Marketing wants their own company. Surprise, running a network Marketing company is traditional business and new network Marketing companies fail at near the same rate as traditional businesses!

Age of the Company

The most common mistake made by the masses is getting emotionally tied up in the “ground floor opportunity” pitch which caters to our “greed” and the “fear of loss”! If a person is determined to get involved with a new network Marketing company, they should do so because they understand totally the market for the product(s) and the experience of the management team. Being on the ground floor is usually not best because a majority of new companies will fail. Even if the new company does succeed, there will be many adjustments and changes during the initial growth and there usually is a lack of proven marketing procedures, materials, and training support. The attrition rate is usually much higher during those first years because most individuals are not emotionally flexible enough to accept the changes and turmoil. A network Marketing company experiences four basic phases of growth and market penetration. The risk of the company failing during phase one (usually first 3-5 years) is 10-20 time greater than in phase two. Contrary to popular belief, it usually is far better to be involved with a network Marketing company after they’re entered phase two. The risk of their failure is negligible. Their success indicates that their products are acceptable and that their marketing procedures and materials work! Then, either fortunately or unfortunately, our success depends only on ourselves!

Remember, the Vehicle must never be the limiting element in our success!

No Major investment
With the right network Marketing opportunity, one should be able to start their own home-based business for hundreds of dollars, rather than the normal thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of dollars usually associated with other traditional businesses which have any serious financial potential!

No Inventory, No Receivables, and No Collections
I will not spend time on these. If you have ever experienced them as an owner, they need no explanation.

No Employees
Employees require a tremendous obligation from the business owner; mentally, emotionally and financially. With network Marketing, other independent distributors in our organization, while working their own home-based business, supply the same benefit to us as employees would to a traditional business. We have no payroll, no benefit overhead, no space requirement, and no management duties other than a moral obligation to help others in their business just as others will help us.

Residual Income – Persistency
Unless you have been a successful network marketer, insurance agent or marketer, author or actor, it is really difficult to understand the tremendous benefit of residual income.

Starting on a part- time basis, a sincere person or couple with desire and persistence can, within a three-to- five year period, build a meaningful residual income to last a lifetime and then some.

Building a residual income is a little like flying a big jet. It takes a significant amount of fuel to get it off the ground, but once it has reached altitude, it can throttle back and fly on a fraction of the fuel needed for takeoffs. The big difference is that a residual income can “fly” seemingly forever with a little refueling along the way. The income stream can be passed from generation to generation.

Unique Shinning Points, USPs for Your Business in Tough Times

It doesn’t take a downturn in the economy to create problems for your business. Every business has its ups and downs even in booming markets. The question is; Are you and your business well prepared and equipped to face the challenges of a soft or hard economy?

Many entrepreneurs fear the downturn, and dread the prospects of losing their customers, their people or their profit. They reason that if the economy is weak, clients and customers will cut back on projects, stop spending and might even seek cheaper alternatives from the competition.

All of this is true, but only to certain extent. Sure, an economic slowdown and negative consumer sentiment can be challenging for your business. Or on the other hand, it can present you with an opportunity to gain new customers and boost your sales by developing effective strategies that can work best in a declining market, and brilliant for the boom times.

Depending on the industry you are in, there are numerous strategies that you can deploy to maintain and even increase your sales, while your competitors struggle to stay afloat.

The following USPs “Unique Shinning Points”, define measurable objectives and recommend key strategic initiatives that will assist you in steering your business effectively through uncertain economic times, while others struggle to get by:

USP No. 1: Utilize the slow down time to enhance your business’ basics and fundamentals

Like a machine that needs fine-tuning, after a long period of operation, so does your business needs tightening of its knots and bolts, and greasing of its parts so as to stop the squeaks. Start from the top by revisiting and re- enforcing your company’s values, vision and mission. Ensure that your people are motivated to keep the torch of the company’s spirit alight, by demonstrating a clear understanding of the business challenges and by articulating their contribution to uphold the company’s values at all times.

Most importantly, align your company’s objectives and values with your team’s incentives and rewards. Share the information across the whole business so as to allow your people the opportunity to show initiative. Involve your team in problem solving and ask them to come forward with innovative ideas to increase profitability, enhance productivity and reduce costs.

USP No. 2: Out think your competition

Pause for a moment and ask yourself the following question; if what I sell or offer is essentially the same as my competitors, what do I need, to be different and better in many aspects including my level of customer service, my approach to marketing, promotion and sales?

The answer to this question goes beyond creativity and innovation, to positively differentiating your company from your competitors utilizing “thought leadership” with inspiring ingenuity, which will have to become a second nature to you and your business in challenging times. Your ultimate objective is to truly stand out in the minds of your customers by utilizing visionary sales and marketing strategies to create a Unique Shinning Points (USPs) that are exclusive to your company and unique to your industry. In other words, differentiate your company positively from its competitors or die.

USP No. 3: Reactivate old leads

With just little extra sales effort, old leads can be converted into profitable business. Many leads that you gave up on in the past can be reactivated and turned around, you just have to persevere. A study by Harvard School of Business in 2007 revealed that most sales people regardless of the industry give up too early. According to the study, 75 percent of sales to business or clients are made on the fifth sales call, 25 percent of salespeople call beyond three calls!

USP No.4: Give superior level of service to your clients

Holding on to your existing customers during tough times is like holding on to fire in your hand, it is therefore of paramount importance to your business’ survival and longevity. Going the extra mile, pleasing your customers and giving them more than their money’s worth by maintaining a sales- service excellence culture, is a sure way to sustaining the impetus in your business. Now is the time to do that extra bit that can mean the difference between just merely satisfying your customers and flabbergasting – dazzling them.

USP No. 5: Plan and Implement an aggressive new marketing strategy

The truth of the matter is that, to prevent a lull in your business from ever happening in the first place, you should market consistently and aggressively all year long and every week. Not just when you need the business. Planning an ongoing marketing strategy ensures a steady stream of new business leads. Marketing done today begins a selling cycle that will result in new business when you need it six months down the track.

USP No. 6: Add value to your existing products or services

In a downturn, customers are more concerned with price than ever before. So address their concern by making sure you give them the best value for their dollar. There is no need to “give the store” or to provide an excessive level of service. Just a little extra effort or service will be perceived as a significant increase in value by your customers. Utilize technology and social media to drive business growth and in the meantime as an added value to customer service, communication and follow up.

USP No. 7: Be positive and enthusiastic

It is imperative that you stay positive and not to become depressed in slow business periods. If you are depressed, your people and your customers can sense your depression which might have negative effect on your internal and external business. Don’t despair, be enthusiastic, believe in your people, your products and your services, and transfer that energy of enthusiasm and belief to your people and your customers. Don’t give up too soon, remember that you are not alone, because in a downturn everybody in the market place are under the same umbrella and going through the same conditions as you are.

Seek the help of a professional coach and mentor who can assist in addressing your strengths and weaknesses while helping you discover your inner motivation and refocusing your efforts on the big picture

USP No. 8: Suspend any planned price increases

Needless to say that a business downturn is not the ideal time for you to increase your prices, even if you feel you deserve it, and that an increase is long overdue. Rearrange your prices during this transient period of business respite to accommodate a wider range of customers.

USP No. 9: Control negative and incompetent people in your business

Negative people at the best of times can be detrimental to your success. The last thing you need during tough times is a negative or incompetent person that does not “buy-in” to your values and your enterprise culture. Control and handle these situations with courage promptly and swiftly, and remove any one who does not “buy- in” to your business culture, as it takes just one incompetent or negative person to hold back the entire team.

Finally and simply put, in every business cycle, and in every businessman’s life term there are defining moments that require remarkable actions congruent with the task at hand. However, due to the pressures of the challenging moments, business people tend to overlook the big picture. Ensure the right coaching for yourself and your team so that you can focus on “back to basics” and take your team to the next level where everyone in your company is proficient at the basics and the fundamentals. Above all, keep sight of the big picture while defining the best strategies, programs and services that will boost your revenues, position your company for continued success, and most of all, that will truly differentiate your company from the others in your marketplace.