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Need a little help boosting your numbers? Have you considered PPA's Studio Management Services (SMS)? You should.

We could tell you all about SMS, but why not hear it from someone who has actually been through the process? Arkansas photographer Clark Sanders, CPP, knows well the benefits of SMS and shares his experience below. It's the first in our new PPA Member Story series.

How was your business doing prior to signing-up for SMS?

It was going well, but I knew I needed to make some changes if my business was going to continue to grow and become more profitable.

ClarkSanders1.jpgWhy did you decide to sign-up?

I attended Imaging USA in Atlanta in January and visited the SMS booth. I had already been interested in a consultation for a while. I knew that many profitable studios in the country had already benefitted from an SMS consultation and knew if I didn't seek the advice/counsel of SMS my studio might wind up being less than profitable and I didn't want that to happen.

What were your emotions going into the consultation?

I was excited and nervous all wrapped in one!

Can you take us through your mentoring experience?

Prior to visiting on the phone with Bridget Jackson, CPA, and Allison Rodgers, Cr.Photog., CPP, I completed a comprehensive list of items they needed to better help me out. Just going through that task alone really opened my eyes! I thought I had all my numbers in my head, like the number of sessions, average sale of those sessions, who I photographed the most, was I really pricing my work to make a better profit, etc. Boy was I wrong!

Seeing the numbers on paper (actually in excel) really took me back! WOW. Bridget helped me set up a budget, set a plan for how many sessions I should book during a month and more. Allison helped me make sense of my price list and gave some amazing suggestions to improve it as well as advice on some of the promotions I was working on.

One big thing I learned is I don't have to photograph everyone in my market! There are lots of prospective clients in my area, and surrounding area, that are who I consider my ideal clients and who aren't afraid to invest both their time and money in me. That's who I want my business to benefit from. The numbers Bridget helped me understand who my ideal client really is, and helped me to make a "road map" of sorts, not only for 2013, but one that will help me be even better and more profitable in 2014 and beyond!

How did you use what you learned?

After my consultation with my SMS mentor Allison Rodgers, who I think she's the best thing since sliced bread, by the way, I made lots of changes to my price menu and have even more planned for 2014. I love that the Rodgers' provide such an amazing experience for their clients from the moment they call and have a session consultation until they come back to pick up their portrait order. The experience you provide your client with will determine the outcome of your sales session and will lead to future business with them and their friends that they're going to talk to you about! We discussed some of the mini-sessions I had planned and Allison again gave me some amazing advice for them.

ClarkSanders2.jpgHow has your business changed since your consultation?

I raised my prices after my consultation and will be increasing them again soon! I had always been scared to death to raise my prices to a point where I would lose clients, but as a lot of successful studio photographers have said in the past, you'll attract the clients who value what you do and will make up for the ones that don't. And that has rang true! I'm able to prequalify clients based on the price of my session fees and my collections.

Why should someone consider an SMS consultation?

The old saying, "don't reinvent the wheel," comes to mind when seeking the services from SMS. If you're currently operating a studio or thinking of starting one, there is a wealth of knowledge from the SMS mentors that can help get your business off on the right track. My SMS mentor was able to take a look at my pricing and other aspects of my business during my consultation. The suggestions she made have helped steer my business down the right path. If anyone is struggling with their business and don't know what they should do to turn it around, an SMS consultation is a no-brainer!

So what's your number? Do consider PPA's Studio Management Services (SMS) if you need help finding it.


PPA Member Stories:

This series serves as an opportunity for you PPA members to tell your story. How has PPA membership helped you and your business? It could be PPA's Studio Management Services, copyright protection, PhotoCare equipment insurance, the Indemnification Trust, Imaging USA--whatever! We want to hear from you, and so do your fellow members.

Have a story you'd like to share? Shoot John Owens an email at jowens@ppa.com.

Are you stalling to take your photography business to the next level? Running out of ideas, time, or motivation to make the plunge? Then the SMS Business Breakthroughs series is for you. These workshops target the business side of photography--the behind-the-scenes stuff that, you know, helps YOU make some real money!

The next Business Breakthroughs workshop will be held in Cincinnati, Ohio, from July 15 to 17 with instructors Allison Rodgers, Cr.Photog., and Beth Forester, M.Photog.Cr., CPP. These well-established and respected photographers will lead the three-full-day hands-on workshop while helping you increase your sales, take more money home and get your life back.

OH! And there's a bonus!

The first 10 of you who register for the workshop will receive their choice of a blog template from Rockstar Exposure (this freebie will keep your blog fresh with completely customizable Photoshop® blog templates).

Allison and Beth's Business Breakthroughs workshop will cover a variety of topics that will help you maximize profit and streamline your business. Here's some of what will be covered:


Marketing & Promotions

·         Effective ways to get the word out

·         Attract your ideal client

·         Refine your brand and promotions

·         Partner to grow your client base

Business & Financial Management

·         Evaluate your overhead spending

·         Hone an effective price list

·         Implement a price increase and keep clients

·         Set a realistic salary

·         Keep more of your tax dollars

Sales & Customer Service

·         Match your studio style to client experience

·         Encourage customers to spend more

·         Provide top-notch customer service at no cost

·         Tips to get you comfortable with selling


SMS Business Breakthroughs workshops have been organized for years and continue to receive raving reviews and referrals. Here are some examples:


"I attended the SMS Business Breakthroughs workshop. After the class and the guidance I received from my one-on-one consultations, I am recording record monthly sales! I would have never guessed that I would be able to say I brought in over $18,000 in one month, but I did! AWESOME! We wouldn't have been able to progress this much without what we learned with SMS!"

-Callie Page - Callie Page Photography


"We attended the 3-Day SMS Business Breakthroughs Workshop and were so impressed with the instructors and information! The information was so practical and relevant that we were able to put it into use immediately. In under a year, our studio went from breaking even to record profits that have changed our lives and allowed us to do things we had only dreamed of doing. We recommend SMS to every photographer, starting out or established. It will improve your business as well as your life."

-Matt and Allison Ragsdale, CPP - Allison Ragsdale Photography


"The 3-Day SMS Business Breakthroughs Workshop was a huge help to our business--I can't say enough about how important it was. And it just made sense to attend a one-on-one consultation to make sure we were on the right track. I will be talking with my PPA accountant every year for her wise advice; and hopefully, I'll still be learning and changing and growing!"

-Debbie Riggs - Pure-Photography


Business Breakthroughs workshops are your chance to address your most pressing issues and areas of concern, get questions answered, develop priorities, and identify actions to launch your business to the next level. There's more money to be made! Let us help you cash it in.


For more information on this particular photography business workshop or to register, please visit the dedicated page for this PPA SMS Workshop.

Graham Wilson's Vision Photography was almost out of business in 2003. Thanks to a revamped incentive program and a few years of help from PPA's Studio Management Services (SMS), they grossed $1.1 million in 2008.

Just two years after Todd and Jamie Reichman posted a 12-month loss, they were able to pay salaries to themselves and their employee and finance a $33,000 studio renovation...solely with their 2008 net profits.

After the SMS workshop, we literally saw results in our bottom line overnight. And they continue to help us each step of the way. - Rebecca &  Michael Zoumberos, Limelight Photography

If those aren't success stories, what are? Be inspired by these stories in May's Professional Photographer. And don't miss the "Ask the Experts" column, where the SMS team answers questions about specialty marketing, payroll services, and generating more cash flow for your business.

This year, we're taking our SMS Workshops on the road, as well as hosting them at PPA headquarters in Atlanta. Space is limited so register today! Contact us at sms@ppa.com, or call 888-851-0405 to register and learn more.


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