Know Your Numbers
I'm so passionate about profitability in business, I always find myself asking this one simple question: Is the juice worth the squeeze? Are we working too hard to get what we're getting? It's a really, really simple question that, I think, a lot of people don't pay attention to. I was at a convention. I met another photographer, and she had said, "There's absolutely no money to be made in $6 magnets." That you can't make money off of sports pictures. How do you make money selling an 8x10 for $15? It is simply a volume game. It is a numbers game. There is money in it if you do it right. The problem that she had, the notion that she had was, how are you going to retouch all these images and bring them in for an in-person sales presentation? And, how are you going to do this, this, this? And, I said, "We don't do any of that." It's a different model than a traditional portrait client. And, one of the things that we want to go over is staying focused on that, finding your product and the ...
way that you're going to retouch and deliver them. So, if you do it right, there's a ton of cash. But, you also need to know when to walk away. We had a client that worked with for years and years and years. They wanted to come out and rebid their job on us - a sports contract that we had had. And, essentially, they went through and looked at the current bid that we had done and they changed a ton of stuff. They said, "We no longer want to be... "We want you to guarantee that every team will be "photographed in two weeks from the start of the season, "but we aren't going to help you book any of them. "We want you to deliver all of the orders "to one of their games for every single team." So, that's four games because there's ninth grade A, ninth grade B, junior varsity, varsity. They wanted $7,000 in wholesale printing, not retail, was going to cost me $7, more than it had before. And, I sat down and I looked at it and we did some math and I carried the one and I realized there was actually a legitimate chance that I could lose money taking this job. And it's not even like I wouldn't make money, I could lose money. And if I'm not gonna make any money, I'd rather sit at home and play video games than go to work. So, we passed on it. We did a no bid. It was a big issue. Within that league, that was a big deal. We walked away from the job because it was so bad and the way that they had written their bid said, "If you can't do all of this, don't bother." I didn't bother. And, it sucked because we did like $60-$70,000 a year off of this job. That's a lot of money. But, all of the sudden, I realized that I was gonna drive up my cost dramatically, drive up my headaches substantially, and reduce my revenue. So, you have to be able to pay attention and be aware of it. Not every job is the right job to take. What's your goal? I want $20 a kid. That's what I want. I want to make $20 for every kid that walks through the door. Okay? To make money in volume photography, you have to know your numbers. This is the spreadsheet that is included. It's pretty, pretty basic stuff. It just loads up in Google Sheets or in Excel. But, we would go in and say, okay, we got 4,000 kids at 80% of them ordering, we're gonna have 3,200 orders at a $26 average, it's gonna bring us $8,300. And then we're gonna back out our sales taxes, this is how much we have. We're able to go in and write in if we're doing a commission percentage or dollars. Okay, we can figure out what percentage we're paying on credit cards. What we're getting docked for credit card fees. How many hours of labor we're gonna have the day of shooting and how many hours of labor we're gonna have in production. This allows me to sit down and work on a spreadsheet and figure out exactly what I can do. I'm not guessing when we do revenue sharing. I'm not guessing any of that stuff. We know, we have a pretty solid idea of where we're at. We aren't just winging it. And I don't just say, the guy down the street charges this much, so I'm gonna do it for 10% less. And the guy down the street gives you this much, so I'm gonna give you 5% more. We have a real understanding of our business. Okay? We live in a very, very good market for sports in schools. We average an 89% order rate, which is really good. There are some places, specifically with schools, we'll talk about that later, like down Florida, geographically, like those guys, they'll get like 50%. So, it does swing big and so my numbers on this are very good. If you aren't hitting these numbers, don't feel depressed. Some of it is just going to be based on your location and there's nothing you can do. So, take all that into account when you're working on your stuff. We average $26. Okay? That's our average and we create our packages with that average in mind. That's what we're working towards. We have certain margins that we want to maintain and goals that we have and that's what we're working at.