When I used to coach my son’s football team, we had a saying: “Know your role- Do your job” What it meant was that if a kid didn’t know what his assignment was, it would be incredibly unlikely that he would complete that assignment. A photography studio is like a football team in some ways. Not everyone is cut out to be quarterback or running back. Somebody needs to block, someone needs to play defense, someone needs to kick, etc. The trick is evaluating the roster so you put the right kids in the right positions. As a studio owner, you need to do the same thing.
There are many roles in a photography studio – the photographer, the sales person, production, marketing, etc. Do you need to be good at all of these? Absolutely not. In fact, I doubt there are many people out there who ARE good at all these areas. Art is very personal and it is hard to be objective when selling our photography. The important thing is to evaluate your skills and figure out what you are not good at – then hire someone else to do that.
In many cases, that weak spot is sales. A studio can survive with a mediocre photographer and a phenomenal sales person. However, the best photographer in the world will go out of business if they have mediocre sales. This brings up the big question: Can you do your own sales? Ask yourself these questions:
1. Do you hate doing sales at your studio?
2. Do you often find yourself lowering prices during a sales session?
3. Do you “throw in” extra prints and poses to make sure the client gets everything they want?
4. Are you more of an Order Taker than someone guiding the client through the process?
If yes, then there is a good chance that Sales is one of your weak spots. How do you fix that? Well, there are a few options.
The first option is to take classes and train to become better at sales. Like any skill, you can get better at sales with some education and practice. Luckily, sales is a very common topic and there are tons of educational options out there. Another option is to hire a full time sales person – if your studio supports it. If sales is your weak point, hiring a good salesperson will probably pay for itself with higher sales. You can spend the extra time marketing to bring in more business. Of course, that is assuming you are good at Marketing – but that is another article…
Another option is to hire someone to do sales for you on a part-time basis – maybe once or twice a week. You might even find someone willing to work strictly on commission- based on a percentage of the sale they make. If you can find the right person, this is a relatively low-risk way to test your sales system. If the new person is getting higher average sales than you were getting, then you know that you need help with sales.
At the end of the day, it is just like being on a football team. You need to put the right players at the right positions – including yourself. A few tweaks to your sales program can have you making lots more trips to the endzone…er, the bank.