The Business of Volume School Photography

Lesson 13/20 - Pre Paid Sales Vs Proof Jobs


The Business of Volume School Photography


Lesson Info

Pre Paid Sales Vs Proof Jobs

School sales. There are a few different ways that I've seen different school photographers deal with sales. There's a couple of great ways and a couple of awful ways. One of the things that I've seen that I can't believe people do, but they actually will send home a package with parents. They'll just take all the kids' pictures, they'll send home prints, and then they say, return what you don't want. And if you do it that way, uh, you have to, like, so you're putting pressure on the parents to return it. Okay? It's kind of like, have you ever been to an amusement park, or something? We just went to Alcatraz, and they take your picture before you get on the boat and then you come back and they have all the prints made, "You wanna buy 'em? 40 bucks? No?" And they throw 'em away in front of ya? So, that's kinda what they're doing with school photography. I think this is a bad idea because I don't like the pressure it puts on parents for how they would buy the product. I don't like that. T...

he idea is that they would be able to see the picture before they buy, which isn't necessarily bad, but I don't like this pressure that you have to do work or you owe me money. It's actually kind of illegal to, in some states. I did a little bit of research on this, and in California, one of the biggest places that they were doing this, California's Civil Code, Section 158.1584.5 basically says, if a company is giving you something that you didn't order, and it's not a good faith mistake, you can consider it a gift and keep it. If they're sending you stuff that you didn't order, and it's under $2500, so technically, it's illegal for them to operate that way, as a sales tactic, and if your school, if you're in California and your school works that way, you can keep 'em and write back, I don't wanna pay for these, but I appreciate the gift. Um, it's just an unsolicited product that they aren't ordering, and you're putting the expectation there. We use Prepaid Systems. Prepaid Systems is an online, an online ordering process. It works with, which is a huge credit card processing firm, and then they tie that in with our Squarespace websites. We kinda went in-depth with some of the analytics you can get from this, but this is a really cool piece, uh, this is a really cool service that we use for schools, too. I can go in and see my average orders, I can go see which products are working. We incentivize people to prepay online ahead of time. The incentives that we do is, I think they get like four wallets if they order before picture day, depending on the software that you're using and the integration that you can get, you can actually automatically tie orders to the kids through the spreadsheets. So you can just, so when we go and shoot this kid, if they prepaid online, we know exactly who it is, what they ordered. So it even saves us time on data entry. It streamlines our process, the fulfillment process. Schools like it more if parents can order online because it's less things for them to hand out. They don't have to hand out the order forms. They don't have to collect stuff for you. Um, and beyond that, there's the whole idea, I don't see it very much anymore, but I've been a photographer for a long time, I used to see a lot of people that would have, like, if you wanna order and use your credit card, write your credit card number on this sheet of paper and send it in. I used to see that all the time. All the time. It's like, you don't report your credit card number on a sheet of paper and send it with your kid. You don't even have to send check or cash with your five year old. And because we integrate this in with the PhotoLynx Flow software, you don't even need to bring your receipt. You can go home and just order. I'm gonna know your kid ordered, I'm gonna know what they ordered and who it is. We put in the fields that they have to have the names, obviously they have to know their kids names, but they have to know the Student ID number, which I wasn't positive if that was going to be an issue or not, I don't have kids, um, but I wasn't positive if, like, are parents gonna know all that? They all know it because they all use it to put money in their kids' lunch accounts. All of these parents know this information, they have it memorized. So tie it in as a required field, and that's it. I think last year we had like two people who punched it in wrong. Then we just call 'em. Or we search the kid's name. And there's only one John Jacob Jingleheimer. And plug it in. All right? The Prepaid System process is something that I really really really like for schools. It's not that big of a deal for sports. It's nice. It's good. It's a big thing for schools. So, uh, the online ordering does need to go out at least two to three weeks out. One of the things we've found is really good schools that we work with, the amazing ones have an email list that they email and contact parents pretty, like, their direct communication with parents through email is pretty consistent. Those schools will send out our email, or the prepay link, and, like, I instantly start getting orders. And it's kinda weird, too, because like, I'll be in bed, and I'll check my email, and I'll be like, "Honey, somebody was ordering pictures "at 3:30 in the morning." Like, it's weird to see the consumer behavior, like when people are buying and how. We'll have, like, orders where people were like, in Japan on business and they order from overseas. It's crazy. Um, but having it go out two to three weeks early is important, and I also think you need to do a hard end date. We've had issues in the past where we'll say, like, "Oh, we're just gonna leave it open for a month. "Who cares? Whatever. "Three weeks after the shoot date. "Two weeks after." What ends up happening is you're still waiting on orders to come in, and it's delaying your production time. Because with volume stuff, we wanna take all of the work, all of the orders, all of the everythings and put it in. And no matter what you do, there's gonna be a huge segment of people that are gonna wait until the 12th hour to order, and there's gonna be even more people that are gonna order after, that are gonna be late. So waiting a week or two weeks or three weeks isn't gonna change the fact that there's still gonna be a bunch of people that order that last day that's one, two, or three weeks out, and there's gonna be a bunch that come in after. Charge more for late orders, ship direct. Get a hard date that you close this on, though, So that you aren't sitting around waiting to start. We talked about paper forms. Those need to go out at least 10 days prior. Uh, we advertise, we try to use, like, colorful fliers, we try to use kids from that school. You want it to be personal. We use the school's colors, the school's logos, the school's branding, that's intentionate, uh, intentional and on purpose that we need to do it that way. We want it to be as unique and custom to that school as possible. Students have to bring in, it's a number 10 order, a number 10 envelope, they gotta bring it in with their payment or their receipt or cash, which we don't get much cash off of these jobs. Almost all checks, actually almost all online stuff. We did 70% of our orders were prepaid online orders last year. So that goes through, so that's how they bring it back. But give them the order forms, make sure it's a envelope that they conceal so that parents feel more secure giving their kids money if they're going to school.

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.


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!