Preparing for a Presentation Bidding Round
Let's say now, we've figured out this guy We've gotten in contact with him I found out that his little brother and I went to middle school together we went on a church trip, and so his brother got me George and... Got me George's contact information and now I'm in the position where I'm gonna start talking to George about doing pictures. I want to avoid at all costs, this job going to bid. I don't want them to bid it out. Bidding out a job means that they're literally going to sit down at a table with multiple print outs and flip through and pick one. I don't want that, I just want 'em to pick me. Let's skip all that crap. So, what do we do? I'd put in a very very good first bid. First offer. I'd put in something that is very aggressive, profitable, but aggressive. I want it to be everything I think this account could be. And what'll happen, I'll tell 'em, this is what I think you need. I'm happy to work on something custom for you, If this doesn't fulfill your needs, let me know where...
we're lacking, and we can maneuver things around. And um, let's start talking about getting this on the books for next year. Okay? I start with that mindset. But if it's going to go to bid, you gotta be ready. And bidding sucks. Like, I am barely literate. I am not a writer. I am awful at all forms of written communication. I am terrible at it, and you guys are gonna hear in my school, class you will hear the story about ... Honestly one of my most embarrassing moments was the first bid I ever put together for a school it's disgustingly bad. I'm terrible at it. I hired out now, and I work with a grant writer and all this other kind of stuff. So, now they're pretty good. But, you have to be ready. You have to be ready for a bid. So, the first thing you wanna do is play by the rules. Make sure you understand the terms and the rules the association is going to have then you have to work within them. Sometimes they will say, it has to be in by 2pm on Tuesday in a regular envelope that is on 8 and a half by sheets of paper, it has to be bound together, stapled together. And there are times that they will literally throw out your bid if you just think it's cool to do a 10 by 10 book. Pssh, didn't follow the rules. Can't follow the rules. Can't work with us. Play by the rules. Okay? Also, don't be shady and try to cheat and steal other photographers business away from them. Cause I've been on the other end of that where I find out other companies, like big companies, that we won't use their name, we'll just gonna call it refer to them as Voldemort. Uuummm. Sometimes people do shady things. Make sure that you're running an ethical business. Do the right thing. Just do the right thing. And it'll work.
Where does someone kind of find out what those standard rules are? Or what it is that they should be aware of given their particular marketplace or where ever they are?
That's a great question. So, most of the time if it goes to a competitive bid, they're gonna lay it out, bop bop bop bop bop Read. Read it thoroughly, understand it. If you have questions, ask. Seriously, it's that easy, cause they will say in the bid if you have questions, contact Joel at this email address. And then what'll happen is that you'll send Joel and email and you'll say hey Joel just curious, um is this contract going to, it doesn't say in the bid but am I going to be guaranteed that no other professional photographers will be allowed to photograph any teams. I wanna make sure that that's a thing that's gonna be in this bid. And then Joel will write back to you, and everyone else who's bidding, That clarification. They'll put your question, and they'll send it to everyone. So, it's kind of interesting when you're bidding stuff out, because like I get emails with responses to questions, I'm like, oh that was a good question. Or, something like, you didn't read it very well, you look like an idiot. But they will tell you how they want the bid, where they want the bid, how it needs to be presented. They will tell you all of that stuff in it. And then just don't ... it's not an opportunity to get creative. Like, you can show creativity in it but you have to do it within the confines of that bid. So don't just turn in a boring word doc. But, don't go outside of what they're telling you. Cause they're gonna hate it. And you're gonna get X'd. And in some cases, they legally can't even accept your bid. So, play by the rules.
For schools, like high schools when do bids usually happen?
Okay, so for the sports, what I would do for high school sports, you need to figure out ... where we are, it's really weird because, it's almost like a 50/50 split between schools that say the athletic department picks the photographer, They do everything, and half of them, they can do whatever they want. So, the they can do whatever they want? That's a real real tough one to get into because you're going to have to either get a conversation with an athletic director, who obviously doesn't care about pictures. Then you're gonna have to get him to change his mind that he's going to have to be responsible for telling everyone that they have to use you. So that's a real real tough one to do. That's a real hard battle. So those ones are rough, unless you have a parent connection or a coach connection. And you have to be aware also of like, we did a basketball program the mom that we worked with, the kid graduated, the kid not gonna be in there anymore. So we made sure we asked Who's gonna be in your role next year? I have that person's email address because I'm fully aware that they have no obligation to go with me. So if I'm going to keep that relationship going it's on me to reach out. I'm not gonna wait on the business to come to me I'm gonna go get it. Okay? With the athletic directors, I would say a good time to start reaching out is like, there's this weird lull after winter sports and before spring sports. And so you have to get 'em in that February, March that's when you have to start the conversation with them. Spring sports, at least in Minnesota, is like the worst season cause it's about 30 minutes long and everything has to be done. And so, those guys they're crazy busy and it's year end, and they got like the shortest season it's a real season, there's just as many sports, they just have a lot less time. And you get bad weather, and you get rain delays and all that jazz, so you've gotta get it before Spring sports start and a lotta times in the summer they're already gonna be prepped. I already have all my fall dates down. Like, I already know when I'm shooting all of my fall sports it's already on my calendar. So, you gotta get in there before now. Cause I already know what I'm doing. The other thing that we've learned about ... You have to make sure that you get everything that they want and you have to understand it. One of the problems that I ran into was one of the leagues that we worked with, as we were brokering a deal and it was all done and we were like, okay and I'm gonna have you sign the service agreement and, it's done, and we have packages and we have products and we have commitments and like, literally as we're about to sign it the guy is like, Oh, we need sponsor plaques, hundred and fifty. And they cost like 12 bucks a pop. Well, that was a detail that ... I took it on the chin. And I wanted the account, I knew that getting in and establishing a baseline with this company I would be continually successful off of this job and that we would rewrite the terms after I'd been in it would be hard to leave me. So we do take some jobs not knowing how much we're gonna to make the first year. Cause I'm gonna, we're gonna go over that, but I'm gonna overstaff the heck out of it. I'm gonna destroy it, like I'm gonna do such a good job we're gonna be so prepared, we're gonna have so many people there. Then, we'll pair it down. So, I go into some of 'em and I know I'm not gonna lose money. But I don't know what I'm gonna make. Cause I'm gonna be so prepared for the worst case scenario. And I've had people that have come and work sports jobs with me and I'm not kidding you, they're bored. And I'll say that we're shooting a 180 teams in a day and people that are working for me are bored. Which is crazy. So make sure you have it all in writing. Make sure you understand everything they want. Make sure it all makes sense. It's written down, you're ready to rock. Okay? Lay it out so that they understand your terms and your needs. Okay. We will not take jobs if they have unrealistic timelines. If they're saying ... this wasn't like a bid out job ... But I've had people that'll call and say we need to book in a lacrosse picture session and they'll call me and book it a month a half in advance, and they'll say, and we need the pictures the next day. No. No, I can't do that. I can't do that for you. You need to be very upfront about what you need from them. I need this much time to get you your photos for your program. So, since we're booking six weeks ahead of time let's move picture day two days earlier. Then I can get you your stuff by the time you need it for your program. But you need to communicate that with them. Don't take on jobs that are going to kill you with unrealistic expectations. Explain it to them. They'll understand. Okay? Make it as personal as possible. Whenever I'm doing bids, I will include pictures of kids that we've photographed from that school district. We will work with families that have kids there. We'll work with people we know. And so we want to put that in there. I will use their logos in the bids. I will push, push, push, personalization. I don't want it to look like every other bid. Highlight and focus on all the things you can do that no one else does. One of the things that we do for some of our accounts is the plaques. I had an account that had all these sponsor plaques. And they weren't getting handed out. Drove me nuts. I paid all this money to get all these plaques. And they sit in an office and they never get to anyone. It was incredible to me. So I actually take on the responsibility now, of driving around delivering the sponsor plaques. Sounds like a dumb job that's kind of below me right? No, I put on khakis, a nice button up shirt and I walk around to all of the generous business owners of my community with my business card. I shake their hand and smile and let them know that I can help them out with head shots. And let them know all of the things we can do for them. It's a brilliant use of my time. And what does it do? It's a service that no one else is doing. It's a personal touch. It's something that Voldemort can't possibly do Cause they don't have me. They don't have that guy there. So, make it personal, show it off. Alright? You have to provide your price list. You have to go through all of your products if you're going for an extended contract and you're going to have rate increases Hand them in. So we're gonna be 20 bucks for package 'A' now, in a year it's gonna be 21, in two years it's gonna be 22 bucks. You've gotta lay all that out. Take away any room for them to complain about any rate increases later on because they already knew when they signed your agreement. Proof the hell out of it. Told you guys I'm not really good at this writing stuff. So, I go through it about 9,000 times. I go through it, I read it. I make my employees read it. I make my wife read it. I might make one of you guys read it. I put so many eyes on it. I go through it. I make sure that my grammar and my spelling is on point. Because if it isn't, you look like a hack. And it's an unacceptable way to present your business. Like that's one of the dumbest reasons you can lose a job, is because you didn't spell check and proof read your bid. And you will. Okay? Define the length of the contract. You have to have a start date and an end date, or it's not a contract. No contract goes forever. So, I try to get three years. Three years I'm comfortable with. We're gonna talk about the expense, and the money we put out every time we get a new account. For me to do that, I just want to make sure I have three years to try to get my money back. That's just what I wanna do. We had an account that we worked with for over 20 years. And we were really really comfortable there and then all of a sudden I got a letter, and this was one that kind of transitioned from when my Dad owned the studio to when I had taken over the business. And it just was kinda one of those things that I just was like, ah yeah we're good, we do all their stuff, whatever. And then there were a couple of changes in administration and stuff and I got a request for a new bid, which we'll talk about later on, but I got a request for a new bid and I had realized that our contract actually went out of force, like two years earlier, I didn't know that. So, at that point, they could walk away and leave whenever they wanted. Wasn't a problem. We just weren't paying attention. So, not only do you have to know the terms and the length of your contract, but you have to stay up on it. Because you're assuming liability risk by not, they can just leave you, whenever they want. And if you are planning and intending on this work, it really can come back and bite you. So, if I was going to go in and meet with someone, I would prepare a little book. It looks something like this. My beautiful face. Make it personal. I would put their logo in it. Hi, my name is Matthew, I don't put the body in this stuff. Okay? I have shirts with collars. But I would go in and I would say This is what's going on. I wanna do some work with you. Allow me to partner with you in a conversation about Kemmetmueller Photography and how we can benefit your association. Then I'll flip over and I'll say here's a bunch of pictures we took. This is the things that we can provide to you. Okay? Then I will show some more pretty pictures. Then I will go in and I will include our packages. I would go in and change all of the logos to be the association that we're going after. People can't see it the way you can. Okay? Then, there's the back side, there's the a la carte items. Alright? Then I'd go in and I would say these are some of the accounts that we work with. Then I would show more pictures. Obviously this was something I worked for for a lacrosse team because I have a bunch of lacrosse photos in it. Alright. More sports photos. Show them our range. Alright. That's the book that I would go in with. You have to be prepared if it's going ... You have to be prepared for your meetings, though. A book like that, you need. You need to make that. Because walking into a meeting and sitting down and just trying to sell a vision. So, we're pretty good and we're gonna do like a great job and the pictures are gonna look awesome Oh, I can't show you. No, I don't have anything to show you. But it's gonna be great and we're gonna do like ... people are gonna have so much fun. They don't care. Walking in with something is important. And beyond that, I use it as a way to guide the conversation. All of those books are set up in a way where it's like this is what we are, this is who we are. This is what we do. This is what we can do for you. Here's some examples of how we're doing it, where we're doing it. Let's chat. So, it's something you can sit down Oh, I didn't put this in there ... Big tip. Guess how many copies you bring if you're going to a meeting with two people. Guess how many copies you bring. One copy. You bring one copy. It's what you put on the table. You sit down on the other side. You hold the book. You put them through the book. If you give each person a copy, some guy is gonna be sitting there going [Page Turning Sounds] And then put it on the table like this. You have to run that meeting. Now, you bring one book and then at the very end you go, Okay, I got one for you here and I got one for you here and you bring out your little bag. And you give it to them, but you only bring one out for the meeting. And you should know it backwards and forwards, you don't need a copy.
What do you do if you are new to the business and you don't have that range of work yet. And a portfolio if you will.
So that was something I can relate to not in sports because I acquired a company that was already active in it. And we already had footholes now we've grown into the big volume stuff. That was something my father had never done, so we've grown into that, but where I can relate to that is in our school stuff. And for years, I wanted to do schools. I wanted it really badly. And I couldn't get anyone to talk to me. So the best advice I can give to them, find a mentor, find someone that's doing something that you find remarkable. Find people that are running the businesses that you want to. And just try to mentor with them. Work for free. Show up. Work you butt off. Learn what they're doing. I have people that come and work shoots with us, big volume shoots, and I will allow them to use the images that they take when they work for me I will allow them to use that. Nothing wrong or unethical about that. And it gives them an opportunity to actually see it done and build their portfolio. If you can't do that, if you're still struggling, buy a sports jersey, go get a football jersey and shoot a kid. I had to do some of that stuff before this class. Cost me 15 bucks an hour. I had a list of kids wanting to work for 15 bucks an hour. Walkin' around in a football jersey. But you gotta have it. So, the answer is not having it is completely unacceptable, So how do you get it any way you can get it. By networking, by working for free, by hiring models by offering to shoot a team for free and give them all a package 'A' for free. You've gotta get the samples.