The Logistics of Placing Bids
Once you find out all of this information, you've got your list of schools, you're looking up these schools on public school review and private school review, you're finding out the demographics, you're looking through to figure out who you wanna work with, it's important that you start learning the bidding laws, okay. There's a ton of stuff that could DQ you from a job that you might not even think of. If I were to take a principal to lunch to talk about working with their school, someone could very easily make an argument that I was influencing them by buying lunch. Could be a conflict of interest. If I offered somebody a free family session so they can come and see how good my work is, and they don't pay for it, that's a bribe. So you have to know these rules and you have to play within the bounds of them. Because if you start getting into that, where anyone could even imply that something happened, that way, you're out. You're screwed; it's done; move on. You also have to find, ano...
ther thing like the bidding rules are even as ridiculous is if a bid were to go out and I were to ask a question for clarification on it, they then have to take my question and email it to everyone else who's bidding on it, with that question and the answer. Because if I ask the question and you didn't ask that question and I got the bid, you could say I had more information going into it than you; wasn't fair. You have to know the rules.
I have question about you saying that if you were to offer someone, not necessarily knowing that they are, I guess, with the school or district or what not, and they do get a free session or something like that, has nothing to do with the bidding, do you run into a problem where somebody may say, "Hey, you know, looks like you were doing, that, it's all the perception thing, so how do you--
I'd be careful and I'd make sure that you have a traceable or trackable way of explaining how they got the session.
So like we had a guy that works with one of the districts that we're trying to work with. I donated a $500 gift certificate for family portraits at one of their silent auctions and one of the higher up people in the administration purchased that at the auction, and he got a really good deal. He got a great deal, but we were able to show, we were able to take this that he bought at the auction, we leveraged that deal with other promotions and sales that we had going on. So we walked him through it. But it definitely wasn't a bribe. He got an amazing deal, and we could show that. So I think it's important that if that happens you have to be able to show that you aren't trying to grease a palm.
And some of this stuff is crazy, man. Like, my bidding is intense. And so I would go up to schools, one school district I wanted to work with everyone and I found out that they had a meeting with all the school board members and I couldn't get anyone to talk to me so I made a 12-by-12 album with all of my information in it. I customized it for each school board member. I went to the session. I got up and I talked about it, and I handed everyone a book that I made for them, an album that just had all of our pictures, all of our products, all of our pricing, all of our stuff, why we're a great resource. And I noticed that as soon as I handed them out the superintendent walked behind me and picked up every single book back. And so hundreds of dollars dumped in buying these books. And he took them all, and I emailed him, 'cause he was done. That was the end of the meeting. But he took all the books. And I emailed him and I said, "What was that about? We had made these books for everyone." He said, "We had to take them to legal to make sure that there's nothing in there that looks like a bribe." They had to verify that I wasn't offering any of those people free product, free session, free anything. So until their legal team went over them, I mean, this stuff is crazy. You can't wing this. A lot of the stuff was sports that we talked about. Bidding on sports and getting into sports photography is tough, can be hard. But generally what you're doing is you're working with a parent volunteer board. It's not nearly wrapped up in as much tape. And there might be a lot of concessions, and it's easier to get through this. Schools, you're dialed in. It's gotta be exactly what it is or it doesn't work, okay. Play six degrees of separation. One of the biggest accounts I have, I got the original meeting because my old boss, my old boss' dad was the guys' basketball coach. Like, the craziest line. I've gotten meetings where I'll look up who's in charge, and literally I'll just go on Facebook, boom, three mutual friends. Who are the three mutual friends? "Hey, Ben, how do you know this guy?" Can you set up a connection for me?" Reaching out and just playing, making that connection is huge. Making a personal connection to somebody will make it much more likely for them to want to talk to you. You're skipping the cold call, which they probably don't want to just change because it's a risk.