The Business of Volume School Photography

Lesson 8 of 20

Bid Questionnaire

 

The Business of Volume School Photography

Lesson 8 of 20

Bid Questionnaire

 

Lesson Info

Bid Questionnaire

Through the meeting book and we're going through the bid and what's the difference between those two things? The first book that I talked about, the meeting book, where I showed you the 20 questions you should ask, that's an album. That's the high quality thing that I can produce out of whatever I want to because I'm not confined to anything. That is a product that I would bring to an initial meeting if I'm starting to get a relationship with a school. If I'm wanting to do that. The bid is the specific response to the document they send me. So this has limitations that I can't vary from, going through the bid, where just the meeting book, I can do whatever I want. So, we talked about the initial part of the bid. Kind of those questions that I went through some of the answers, some of the things you need to be aware of and think of. All of these schools are gonna have different requirements as well. Some of the preschools too, and younger kids, we have to provide service stickers for th...

em, so literally a sticker with the kid's name on it. So a lot of schools that do kids with allergies. So they have support staff or not full time employees, they put stickers on, like, this kid has a peanut allergy. Things like that, so the schools will require those stickers and they need x number of stickers so they can put them on the files and put them in kid's reports and all that jazz. So there's different items that you're going to be required to provide schools with as well, but now it's the vendor questionnaire. This is when they're going to say here's a list of questions. Let's kinda see what you got. The first questionnaire in this one is we wanna see your pricing. So, what we do is we've created... And we're gonna provide access to our order forms in the bonus content of this course, so you will be able to see what we do. Order forms and packages can vary from school to school. Find out what the needs are and be willing to work with them. Figure out what your targeted sale should be and try to build packages around that, but don't be afraid to work with them. So you have to provide them a price list. Again, with our price list, whenever we're bidding on a school, we want to make it as personal as possible, so our price list would have their logos in it, their branding in it, their color scheme, it would be built out exactly for them with that district in mind. But we would also include in it, this is a sample of our pricing. We also offer hundreds and hundreds of other products that maybe you want us to add. We can add them, but this is what we think is a good fit for you. We want to make sure that they know if they really want an acrylic statuette. We'll get it for ya. We aren't limited to just this, but this is what we want to offer you. School photography is kind of like sports. When we talked about all the products that we offer on our sports order forms, but in the end, they all just order 8x10s and wallets. It's the same thing with schools. You have a ton of specialty products. They aren't necessarily big sellers. The bulk of your order is still just going to be traditional prints. So you would provide a order form to them. They say the school needs x number of camera stations. Are you able to provide it? This school was 450 kids, we said? They are asking for three. So you have to have three full set-ups. So of course we write, Kemmet-Mueller Photography will comply. This is no problem at all. Kemmet-Mueller Photography provides as many photography... Has provided more photography teams than this to other schools, as needed. We will also provide additional support people to help with registration, distribution of picture cards, so we say not only will we give you the three camera stations, we're also gonna give you more. We're gonna bring in more people than just that to make sure everything runs smoothly. Some of the complaints that I've heard is the distribution. We're gonna go over the distribution of the Photo Day card. Every kid has to have a card that gets scanned to get their picture taken. Some providers will have a table and every kid has to go up and get their card from the table, so there's like... It's all alphabetized, but it's a huge bottleneck in the workflow, where there's one person handing out cards to 450 kids. It's hard to keep up. So, we talk about bringing enough people, overstaffing, that's a common theme you'll hear from me. We are really, really, really bringing a lot of people to make sure your school is appropriately covered. We also talk about our photography team includes many photographers who have a Bachelor's degree in photography. So, we're bringing in great people. Our freelance photographers have worked in the industry for years. Some have over 20 years of experience. So we're really pushing that we're not just- I'm not hiring off of Craigslist. I'm not putting out a come and work for us for eight bucks an hour. That's not us. So we're pushing the competence of our staff, and our ability to take on a much bigger job than what they're even asking us to do. It'll ask what type of paper and cameras are you using? We are going to go over the software we use for flow. That 7D Mark II Studio version allows you to scan a barcode in and embed the file, the barcode data into the metadata of the file. That will be really, really interesting software for some other implications that PhotoLinks uses. So we aren't really gonna go over that too much. So, currently, we just shoot on Canon 6Ds, we shoot tethered, 'cause that's our workflow. That's how it works, but we walk them through. We shoot these cameras, these lenses. We use the top of the industry leading software. We use Adobe, 'cause they all know Adobe Photoshop. We use the- Walk 'em through all of the stuff. We use top of the line monitors. we have this, this, this, this, this. We really want to push home that we are not a garage business. We're a real business, with great stuff. Can you supply each member an ID badge? Do you have the ability to include a barcode on the IDs? Remember we talked that a guy lost an entire school 'cause he couldn't do that. Super, super easy if you have the right software. Painfully easy if you have the right software. So, yeah, Kemmet-Mueller Photography will provide ongoing year round support for new hires, they can have their picture taken at our studio, our local studio. We can provide them a new card in a day. Some of the schools we work with, we actually provide them with a little office printer. A little ID printer that pops on the desk, and they can print their own out too. We give them the template, and they have- that's mostly like if they have a new janitor, new custodian that doesn't need a barcode scanner. He just needs a school ID when he's walking around. They'll just do an iPhone photo and pop in their own badges. But if they want, we will take a professional portrait and order them a new one. One of the things that you have to be aware of, with school IDs as well, is you're giving them all to them. What about the kid who loses his ID? Are you giving him another one? What about when the kid loses it 15 times? At what point are you able to charge? How much are you going to charge? What's gonna be the process for that? What's gonna be the timeline for that? One of the schools really close to my studio, they require all of the kids, you can't get into school if you don't have your school- if you don't have a student ID. That's a big thing. You can't get in if you don't have an ID. Every single kid. They had issues with their provider, a couple years ago, where they didn't turn the student ID cards until three weeks after school started. So, student IDs are really, really, really important to the schools. They have to be done. They have to be done quickly. They have to be done right. And you have to be able to replace them. So, the little printers that we have, we can do it there. Typically, how I write it in my bid is I will replace the first one for free on a kid and then every one after that, it's five bucks. And, so, that's not a huge thing. I'll give you one. I'll even give you a second one. But if you're gonna lose two, three, four, five, we're gonna start charging. And I don't think that's wrong. Can you provide... A lot of schools are asking you to provide a staff member with a free package. If a teacher wants, if the teacher gets their picture taken, can they have free photos? Those packages that we provide them with, typically it's just an 8x10, a 5x7, and a sheet of wallets. Now, what we started to do, and it wasn't really a money saving thing. That package doesn't cost much money. Whatever, they can have it. Couple of units at a high volume lab. You know, it's literally couple of bucks. Hundred teachers, you're gonna worry about a $300 order? Who cares? Just kinda because I don't like wasting. I don't like the idea that people get 'em and they don't really care and they throw them away. We ask. When we take their picture, would you like your complimentary package? If they say yeah, of course. Lot of 'em say no. They don't want it. So, why am I printing it? Why are we making it? Why are we delivering it for it to be thrown away? Doesn't make sense. So it's more just not wanting to waste resources, than it is a money issue. I just don't like that idea of producing stuff that isn't needed. It'll go through and say, can you do this? Will you provide us with the service stickers, we went over that. We said yep, we'll provide you with four. If you need additional ones, this is the cost. This is what you should expect to spend if you need more than what's in this bid. Does your company provide... Please explain how you will communicate the details and coordinate with the school about the photography session. This is a big one. Because what we found out was the bids that I have lost, where I've gone in and read the winning ones, They were so laid out. This is buh-buh-buh-buh-buh. Step one, step two, step three. Three months out, two months out, one month out, one week out. Day of. So, we push how are you going to communicate the details? Kemmet-Mueller Photography values accessibility, when it comes to communication with clients. With clients and staff. Every staff member has direct access to the owner of the business. They don't have to talk to anyone else. They can talk to me. All of my employees are empowered to make any decisions regarding any orders or concerns about any kid at any school. So, even if I'm not there. If I'm at Creative Life, teaching, and there's a problem, it's handled immediately. We walk through four months prior to the Picture Day. I will go. I will go to the school, and I'll meet the contact there, and we'll go, okay this is where we're shooting. Will this work? Yep. Okay. We're gonna do this, this is how we're gonna set up. We do four months out, we have that meeting. Two months out, I visit again to go with the... I go through the visit with the coordinator at the school. We determine the best area for the flow to go. We talked about that with sports stuff. How they're gonna come in and out. Actually walk them through. This is where camera station number one is gonna be. Two, three. This is gonna be the table where they check in. This is the flow of things. It's another meeting we have two weeks out. And we will confirm the picture dates at the end of every single meeting. Okay, September 12th. Okay, September 12th. Okay. We keep, keep, keep verifying that. We will also, at that meeting, two months out, start discussing the distribution of the Photo Day cards. Those are the cards that have the barcodes on it. So that's when we're gonna start figuring out how are we gonna get these to kids? When do you need them? How are they gonna get there? One month prior to the shoot date, I will personally deliver order forms. Okay? So I deliver all of them to the school. They start distributing those to parents. One month prior generally means that there's an envelope that will get sent home to parents with this is the stuff your kid needs for school. This is the supply list. This is the vaccination reports that we need. This is if they want to do athletics, and they put my form in there. I've set up the online gallery for them to pre-order at that time as well. So that opens up the prepaid online system, opens up one month prior. The week of Picture Day, I will communicate with the contact, twice, within a week before, to go over any last minute details or any changes that they might need. So, please don't move me. Please don't change the date. But I'm gonna go over that stuff two more times. And we also set up the set up time. We like to get in and set up the night before. So we go in, we set up everything, so that the day that we start shooting the school, all we do is walk in, turn everything on. We start, we're in business. Otherwise, you just gotta get up at four in the morning, to get there by six, to get set up by eight. It's a hard sell on my employees. So, being able to go there the night before and set up allows us a more relaxed environment. The other thing it allows us to do is we're set up and if we're missing anything, I got a night to go figure it out. So, we set up all that. Talks about, we can skip those questions. Talks about are you PCI compliant? How are you gonna verify that people pay? Yes, of course. We use that prepaid systems online, which uses authorized.net, which is a super secure way. It's just as secure as using PayPal or Square or any other processing service you've ever heard of. Then it says, what is your delivery method? How are you going to bring us the pictures? This is another one that I'm surprised- I actually don't understand how other companies can do it in a less organized way than we do. I don't get it, but our stuff, if we're going to a school, there will be a box. Within that box, there'll be a bag that'll say first grade. Within that bag, every order for every class will be sorted. So, first grade, Mrs. Smith, Mr. Jones, Mrs. Williams. Second grade, another bag. It's laid out. Labels, separate, organized. The first time I ran it into a school like that one time, the office lady, she's like, "I've never gotten it this organized before in my life." So, how the heck do you get it, then? (woman laughing) like, I don't know how you would even begin to hand out orders if this isn't how you're getting it. And not only that, they got so much stuff to do their jobs, these administrative assistants. The principals. People in school, they got so much to do. Why the heck would I want to make them handing out my pictures be a task? I want to make my interactions with them the easiest interactions they have. Of anyone they work with. I want pictures to be so, so easy. What's your final deadline? When are we gonna have stuff? From Picture Day to prints in hand. It's two weeks, we guarantee. Be there in two weeks. Now, some schools that we work with, I've said it'll be there on, we shot on the first, I'll have it there the 15th. One year, we had a school that said, actually, you know what? 15th is, we have a MEA, it's an educators break. They have two days off in the fall, every year. So schools are shut across the state. She's like that's the day before MEA. Just keep it another week. Bring it the Monday after. So they gave us more time to get our job done, but we will commit to two weeks and any other changes need to be done through them. Has to be done on time. Can't be late. Don't care if you gotta stay up and work all night. Gotta get done. What's your process for retakes? Do you provide a retake day at no cost? Is there a cost for parents who want retakes? The only issue that we'll have with retakes that we will not do them, we will take every retake, no problem. We'll take any picture back, no problem. We'll do it all. Whatever. The only ones that we don't do retakes for is if you got your picture done and you didn't order anything, and you just don't like your ID card. We don't do retakes for them. That's your picture. That's your picture. I mean, I guess if somebody really wanted to push it, we would, of course, but in general, if you don't order, if you aren't returning anything, we aren't redoing the picture. But you need to know that that may be an issue. That if you just have a blanket thing, and a bunch of kids come in, and you don't have good order rates and you're paying all this money to have all these IDs made, bunch of kids come back and say we want new IDs, but we aren't buying anything. We just want you to take our picture again, process it again, order us new IDs. Are you gonna be okay with that? Stuff you need to know. Our retake policy is all students who submitted an order or were absent on Picture Day will have an opportunity to be photographed a second time for any reason. They will have two options. Parents with special circumstances can bring their students to Kemmet-Mueller Photography's local studio on a first come, first serve basis. So, if you want to take your kid in, if you want retakes and you can't bring your kid to school the way that they want it. Or maybe your kid has a level of autism and crowds are an issue and they would interact better in a less busy environment, we'll say bring them to our studio. Come on in. We'll shoot them there. If you want to just bring your kid on Picture Day and you want to be present to verify the quality of our work, and make sure that our picture meets your needs, you're welcome. Come on in. We'd love to see you. We'll be there before school starts. Yeah, we'll photograph 1200 people and less than an 8% return rate, which is exceedingly low, to only get 8% of the orders back. What process will ensure quality service happens with teachers and students? Is your staff open and approachable? Matthew will work with school administrators directly and I'm real friendly. They get my cell phone number. They get responses to emails, right away, like it's an all hands on deck with our big accounts. Whenever something comes in, (snaps) we're on it. We're one of the largest and longest running photography studios in the west metro. We're quick to provide your school with amazing service. We'll go through and say every staff member is empowered, so no clients will ever get a runaround answer. All of our people know where all of the files are. No one has to wait for me to get something. I don't have to tell Jordan where to look to get this picture to send to the school. He does it. Right away. Happily. And we also talk about our studio training, that we focus an environment that's like it's no problem. It's no problems. You aren't happy with something? Don't worry about it. We'll take care of ya. You're gonna love it. Just give us a chance. So focusing and training on that is big. Right? How do you continue to provide service after Picture Day? This we talk about, we can provide you with a ID printer. We can provide you with retake services for new hires. We can provide you with free photo booth use for your events. If someone does have a question or a problem, what's your turnaround time on handling it? They want to know these things and these are all timelines that you're going to commit to. One of the best things, we do in-house printing. So, if somebody comes in with a picture they don't like, they can have a new one in five minutes. Really can't beat that. And if there's somebody who's really upset and they want to bring their kid in, and they want to see us do it, I'll shoot it and I'll print it right there. That's 15 minutes you got a new order. That's incredible service. And the best part about it really isn't just that we're providing that great service. The best part about it is that no one else is doing that. That's a service that we offer that isn't comparable to any other provider. This is always my favorite question. They have this in every bid I've ever gotten. How do you ensure your photographers are professionally trained, friendly and helpful? 'Cause I'll beat the heck out of them if they got a bad attitude. We are focused. We smile all day. It doesn't matter. You're smiling. You're making money. Smile. Alright? If you're gonna have a bad day, go somewhere else. It's not here. So for these four hours, we're happy. And when kids are snotty, and when kids are being diffcult, and kids are causing a problem, smile through it. We'll talk about it at happy hour, but we're gonna smile through it right now. And we're gonna be professional photographers that don't lose our tempers, alright? If you have experience providing service for a school district this big? If so, how many years and how many schools? This was a tricky one when I had no experience. It's a really hard question when they say have you ever provided service to a school of 20 kids, I hadn't done. So how do you answer that question? What we would do is we answer that with, Kemmet-Mueller Photography has 20 years of experience in volume photography. We photograph thousands of sports players every year in a situation that is as high paced, if not faster, than what you will need. So, I might not have a list of schools, but I can tell you a list of work that I've done that makes me prepared to do this. Now I can say, yes we've done this school. Yes, we've done this school. But that question sucks when you're just starting. And that one they'll get you on. You gotta be ready for it. And then it gets into school benefits. What is the benefit of the school to work with you? Exclusive, customizable, accessible and local service. Complimentary community photography support. I charge at my studio if you want me to come out to your event and shoot something, it's 300 bucks an hour. It's 300 bucks an hour and you get all the JPEGs. That's what I charge. Our schools that we do not do photography work, there's a few schools that we do not do these jobs for that use that a lot. They get a half off rate. They still pay me 150 bucks an hour. The schools that we work with get 20 hours. 20 hours. For free. Two hour minimum. So 10 times, at least. They can have me come out and photograph anything they want. If they want me to walk around, take pictures of the kids playing at recess because they need stuff on their website. If they want me to come out and photograph a fundraiser. If they want me to come out and photograph a new teacher banquet or a retiring teacher seminar, they will get all of that service done for free with high-res, unwatermarked JPEGs. Now, even if I grew this business huge, let's just say I grew it to a big massive company. I'm doing 100,000 kids a year. I personally can't go and do all those accounts. But I guarantee I can't go and shoot all of those events myself. I do them all right now. Very few get double booked, and when they do get double booked, I send them employees, we bring people in. But even if you're growing, stuff like this? You can get a list of people to go out and shoot for you for 25 bucks an hour. On a Tuesday night. They'll go out and shoot event coverage for ya. So, 25 bucks an hour, it's not a sizeable investment from you for a labor expense to be able to provide them with ongoing support throughout the year. We will do this for you for the entire year. We also provide our clients with wholesale printing. Now, wholesale printing is kind of tricky because I don't actually want to get into my accounts knowing exactly what my printing costs are. I don't want them to know how much it costs me for an 8x10. I don't want them to know which labs we use. I don't want them to know who prints our banners. I don't want them to know any of that. So what we did is we made up wholesale pricing. So our 4x6's are two bucks, our 5x7's are 2.50. Our 8x10's are five bucks. Our 10x15's are seven. I went through all the sizes that we print on that Noritsu machine and I assigned a value to it. It's a $2,000 value. They get it for free. So if they want prints from that, they get it for free. Now the way it breaks down is if a school were to maximize this, it would cost me about a roll of paper. 300 bucks. 400 bucks, for the paper and the printing. They never, ever use it all, but the reason why we have a value print attached to it is in case I were to get a school that just went crazy and said we need a 5x7 of every picture you did at that event. We want a 5x7 of all of them. Well, there's 300. Oh, we need two. Well, we need- and they could abuse it if I just said it was unlimited. So, we put a limit on it to make sure that we don't get taken advantage of. Cool? We do all the free group days for the yearbook. So, there's different video game clubs, Spanish club, amateur chef club. We go, we shoot all those. I never make a penny off of it. Never sold a print from any of them. We go out, we shoot all day. They get it for free. So we include that. We include image archival. We keep everything. As long as we work with you, we keep everything. We don't delete your files. Keep them as long as we can afford to. And we walk through providing them with the photo booth. They get three three hour sessions. Now, the photo booth stuff, we push that's like, we'll set it up at your carnival at your welcome to the school party, and if you want to donate it, and use it as a donation for any auctions or fundraisers that you have, you can do that. It's yours to do whatever you want, but you do have to assign one person who's in charge of it. So we assign that responsibility to the principal. He can tell us when they want to use it, 'cause otherwise, you can get into a tricky situation where some teachers might be calling and booking it and the administration doesn't know that they've used all three of theirs, but they had plans to use it for this, and stuff like that. So you gotta have a key person identified. So, walking you guys through this bid, that's the basics of bidding. That's a real bid. I could, theoretically, put out a copy of my bid. I won't do that, for a variety of reasons. I have so much time and energy and emotion and money invested into that thing. That is mine. We've worked so hard on it. That's my baby. I don't want you to take it. I want you to make your own. I want this to be- I want to inspire you guys to put the time and dedication and work into making your own that's as good or better than mine. Because it has to be. Because it has to be. So I think it's important that we sit through, we look at who the people are that we're trying to work with. We look at what we need to do to make them happy. We look at the pain points. We figure out the things that we can give back that no one else is giving. We push hard on services, not on money, 'cause then I'm going up against the biggest company in the world, money's not a good way for me to win. Discounting my rates and doing it for super, super cheap doesn't create good customer loyalty, they're just looking at you as a dollar sign. So we give back in services. Big time. Cool. Any questions? I just want to say tell us how you really feel. (Matthew and Woman laughing) I did have a couple questions. Not sure if this is an issue. I know in your other class here, on CreativeLive, about volume sports, we talked about revenue sharing, or the kickback Yep. Evil word. Issue and we have a couple questions around that. From Kaisee Son, do the school specify whether or not they require a percentage of your sales prior to submitting your bid? And then Bob had asked, there's a company in our area and they pay the school a dollar for every paid order. Have you had problems with this or do you offer it or how does that work? So, really swings from account to account. I don't want to get into specifics with our agreements. Most of our schools that want money, if that's what they want, they get a lot less services. And that's it. And it's fine if you want to get into a percentage or a per rate thing. There are certain areas of the country, where school photography, like geographically, is big, big, big swings. Down in Florida, down in that part of the country, I've heard of commission rates being half. So if you sell 10 bucks, you gotta give five bucks to the school. That's crazy. But that's why the packages are also really, really expensive and the participation rates are really, really low. I think that in my area, most of the stuff I'm hearing is in that 10% range, is what the schools are wanting. That's kind of what we hear. But in that situation, that would be, they would get that money, and then they don't see you again until Picture Day. That's not going back and doing printing for them. That's not going back and doing coverage for them. That's not doing any of that stuff. So, yeah. So, it sounds like you have some really good schools in your area, which is fine, but do you ever have issues with security? Like, you put your equipment in that night before, and I mean, I've been in places where kids have a key to the gym or something like that. Have you ever had issues? Okay. I have not. The schools that we work with we're lucky they're really good schools. They're locked up at night. They lock up the room that we're in at night. There are security cameras on it the whole time. I'll tell you, in all honesty, if I was at all mildly concerned about it, I'd get up at 4 a.m. and set up that day. If there was even a minute hairs on the back of your neck standing up, I wouldn't do it. 'Cause showing up the day of and not being able to do the shoot, that's a real bad look. So, then just get up early. Have a 5-Hour Energy. A little Red Bull. Call that an RB5, drop shot. You'll be good. (laughing) But yeah, no, not for us. We haven't had that issue. Alright. Thank you. Yeah, cool. Lorenzo's loving that. He wants to do an RB5 later. (laughing) The last thing that you need to talk about with your schools is, of course, child safety. And you were talking about some bad schools. There's a couple stories we'll talk about later on, but I've even heard of- There have been photographers that lose jobs. There was a guy that dropped a gun. He had a gun in a holster. It fell out of his holster in a school. That really happened. And a kid found the gun and walked it to the office. No one got shot. Everybody was fine. Child safety is incredibly important. You can't bring guns to school, okay? I searched it online and I think there's literally three school photographers in the last year that have been child molesters. The school found out. Background check your employees. It's sad that I have to say this, but this is stuff that real- People are really losing jobs and accounts over this. I'm not making it up. It's not a punchline. This really happens. It's happening, like, frequently. So, remember, and this is again, we have more relaxed standards with school sports, than we do with yearbook photography. When you're dealing with the school, they're gonna tell you what the background check must be, and generally it's not even that you can't hire someone who has been convicted of a crime. It's you can't hire someone who's been convicted of a violent crime. You can't hire someone who's been convicted of a sexual assault or domestic violence or crimes against nature. I had to look that one up. But they tell you what'll play and what doesn't. And make sure that you pay attention to it. Don't get caught telling them you're background checking when you aren't.

Class Description

We’ve all had our annual school portrait taken over the years. Of course you didn’t think about the hard work and organization that it took for the photographer to get hundreds of images taken during that day, but volume school portrait photography is a great way for photographers to add additional income to their business. Matthew “The Body” Kemmetmueller has broken into that competitive market and wants to share his knowledge of that industry with you. He’ll explain:

  • How to get into the schools that are right for your business
  • The best way to choose the software and gear you’ll need
  • How to put together bids and win over the schools
  • The most efficient way to order and deliver products
  • How to automate the retouching process

School photography is not an easy market to conquer, but Matthew will walk you through everything you’ll need to know in order to become a successful school portrait photographer.

Reviews

Diane Yvon
 

I was looking to add preschool photography to my business and this course really was thorough and helped me prepare. Matthew is so friendly and always makes learning easy! His courses are very organized. Highly recommend, Diane Zarlingo

Dorine Rosier
 

Matthew is very good in his teaching style and makes me want to watch the whole thing! The information he gives is priceless!