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PPA Today: Benchmark Financial Survey Archives

Recently in Benchmark Financial Survey Category

At PPA, we know that photographers are always looking for business guides to help them stay
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profitable. One tool provided by PPA that we often hear is useful for members is the Benchmark Survey! We've previously heard from June's winner Heather Sams, CPP and July's winner A. Michael Fletcher about why they find PPA's business guide, the Benchmark Survey, to be so helpful. But don't take our word for it; instead, take a look at what David. H. Smith of Phoenix, AZ has to say about it (he's the August winner!).

David has nearly three decades of experience in photography. At his studio, he specializes in high school seniors, engaged couples, families and fashion models. While he prides himself on creating unique imagery and experiences for his clients, the Benchmark Survey has also been essential to his success. 

"Learning, participating and using the Benchmark Survey has been extremely valuable in making sure I am able to keep doing what I love to do. Comparing the performance of our studio to the recommendations from the Benchmark has helped us put certain goals in place. It has also helped us position our business, so that it is financially profitable and remains as such for years to come; it was like having my own photography business guide," David said of his experience.
 
PPA's Benchmark Survey is the industry's only complete financial overview depicting what profitable studios look like (unlike other industry averages). As such, it has been helping photography businesses form a better idea of where they stand and how they can improve their bottom line. Participating studio-owners get a free side-by-side comparison of the Benchmark to their own financial data. Not only is this an in-depth source of information to help them grow their business, it is a $750 value (or more!), as PPA develops a customized comparison that is the first step in determining what to change for greater success! As a bonus, participants are automatically entered each month in some giveaway drawings for great prizes. For submitting his information in August, David won a $500 B&H gift card!

Ready to better your business and get a chance at winning September's prizes? There is a $300 Tether Tools gift card and a Spyder Pro 4 to be won! Go to PPA.com/Benchmark to participate!
 
But wait, there's more: all participants are also entered into a drawing for an all-expense paid trip for two photographers to Imaging USA 2015 in Nashville. That includes airfare for two, hotel for 4 nights and two all-access pass Imaging USA registrations. Submit your info today! 
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For photographers with businesses new and old, the Benchmark Survey has been proven to help their businesses. Don't believe us? You heard from June's winner, Heather Sams, CPP, who started her own studio seven years ago. Now, meet A. Michael Fletcher, CPP, of Figge Photography in Newport Beach, California. His family's studio dates back to 1946.

"We're a family of photographers," Fletcher said. "Two master photographers founded our studio, and though we lapsed as members for a spell, we rejoined PPA in 2008 and are so thankful that we did!"

PPA's Benchmark Survey is the industry's only complete financial snapshot and has been helping businesses get a better idea of where they stand and how they can improve their bottom line. Survey participants get a free side-by-side comparison of the results to their financial data. Plus, participants are automatically entered in the monthly giveaway for great prizes. This month, Fletcher won a $500 American Express gift card.

"The Benchmark Survey allows us to measure our success, ferret out our shortcomings and focus on creating solutions, not just for us but everyone who is a PPA member," Fletcher said. "We're proud to be included in this year's survey, and we can't wait for the results!"

Want to better your business and have a chance at winning August's prize - a $500 gift card to B&H? Go to PPA.com/Benchmark and participate!

Think about it: how useful has filling out a survey ever been to you? Well, for Heather Sams, CPP, from Fountain, CO, not only has it helped her business be more profitable, but she also won an iPad mini. How?

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PPA's Benchmark Survey, of course. The industry's only complete financial snapshot, it's been helping businesses get a better idea of where they stand and how they can improve their bottom line. Survey participants get a free side-by-side comparison of the results to their financial data. With that kind of valuable info, the monthly giveaways for survey participants only seem like an added bonus!

Sams has been in the photography industry for over a decade, and previously used the Benchmark to put together a business plan when starting her portrait studio seven years ago. "What's great about Benchmark is that it puts all the industry information in one location that businesses can easily use," she said.

Since building up her business, Sams knew the importance of the survey to her success. "I was excited just to have been able to participate in the Benchmark Survey this year! It's such an extensive tool that the industry has access to that it just made sense for me to take the time to do it."

She never considered the fact that she could win the monthly giveaway. "When I found out that I won, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. It was super easy to participate, but winning an iPad really takes the cake. I was on cloud nine!"

And as a true dedicated professional, Sams already has plans to incorporate the iPad mini into her business. "I photograph executives, and they like seeing portraits and galleries immediately. Having a device that can make this happen will be great for my business," she said. "I'm grateful that I had the chance to participate in the survey."

Want to get in on all the Benchmark awesomeness? Check out PPA.com/benchmark and enter for your chance to win this month's prize. And don't fret! There will be more through the end of the year!

PPA's Benchmark Survey can seem like a bit of an abstract concept. How in the world can sharing some of your financial information with PPA help you make more money? 

When you participate in the survey, your information gets (anonymously) combined with hundreds of other profitable photography studios from around the country. Professional studios that have: 

• Grossed a minimum of $25,000 in sales in 2013

• Received at least 50% of their business from portraits (including high school seniors) or from weddings

By comparing how the top businesses (in the same boat you are in) perform, PPA's Benchmark helps you easily understand why some studios are so successful, why others fall short on profitability, and what pitfalls you should avoid. It is the one and only comprehensive financial analysis available that helps study profitable professional photography businesses. 

You already work in a very specialized field, so this is good information and financial guidance that takes your specialty into consideration. Use it! When you participate in PPA's Benchmark Survey, there are a ton of benefits too! 

• You get your very own, personal, tailored copy of the Survey results and how they compare to your business. 

• You'll see in plain English where you're falling short and where you are kicking business butt. 

• You'll be able to fix the items that need a little love and you'll be sure to be raking in the profits! 

"I was so excited and proud to participate in the Benchmark Survey, as it meant my business was at the level of other participating studios! It was super easy to enter my information, and I am glad I could contribute to something that I have used in my business," said Heather Sams from Fountain, CO who participated in June this year. 

Not only did Heather get her data in, she also walked away with an iPad mini! - did we forget to mention that? Every month there are some crazy awesome drawings! If you submit your information by July 30th, you'll be entered to win a $500 American Express gift card! 500 bucks! That's some serious dough for a little bit of work. Oh, and those who participate will automatically be entered in the drawings each month!  

Are you ready to create a stronger and healthier business? Start here! 



Want to work less and make more? Awesome! Have a plan on how to do that? Don't worry--PPA's got your back (and it's not as complicated as you'd think). 

Every few years, PPA invites studios from around the country--from home studios to brick and mortar locations, weddings to pets and everything in between-to complete the Benchmark Survey. This survey gets stronger with the more studios that participate. (Hint, hint - sign-up here to be an integral part of the upcoming survey! The information isn't difficult to obtain, in fact you'll have plenty of it readily available since you just completed your taxes!) 

Here's another way to look at the Benchmark survey: 


Once the survey is complete, PPA's CPAs and industry experts create an all-encompassing photography business guide and compile other resources that will show you where to increase your own business' profitability. And if you don't want to wait for the results of this year's survey, check out the new tool that  helps photographers plan for a profitable business model by beginning with their/your end in mind. How? Easy! 

  1. First, you'll start by deciding how much you'd like you're annual net income to be each year, then the tool works its way back to show your cost of sales and overhead and how they impact your profitability from get-go. All of these calculations come from past Benchmark Surveys, so you know they're based on real life examples of what's worked and more importantly, what hasn't. 

  2. Second, the survey will help you sidestep common mistakes many photographers unknowingly make. It will help you understand  how to determine or adjust your pricing (and it's not based on what the guy down the street is charging)! You'll also be able to determine if it's financially realistic to hire an employee or if it makes sense to move into a retail space. And the best part is, you'll be able to make sound calculated decisions, not just based on your "gut" feeling!

  3. And third, we understand you don't know what you don't know. That's why there are additional Benchmark Resources--resources, tools and guides that can quickly impact your bottom line! You'll get things like a comprehensive guide to the results. This will allow you to get the most from the survey by breaking it down to plain English and extrapolating the results into things you can do to change your business for the better. It will also give you access to comparison tools that allow you to size your studio up to the top performing studios in the nation (and learn from how they do business), along with how to see where you fit in the bigger picture of the photographic industry. 

It might sound too good to be true, but we assure you it isn't! You just fill out a few simply questions and you'll be ready to see how many sessions you need to book and at what prices to make the money you want. Get started at square one today! 

And there's a bonus if you participate in the survey: you'll get side-by-side results (personalized just for you!) from the 2014 Survey for free! This is HUGE! Best part: If you're a PPA member, this is included in your membership. If you're not, join today to improve your bottom line now! 

You can't afford to wait. Access these great resources today and sign up to participate in the 2014 Survey!
PPA is dedicated to helping professional photographers be more. From techniques for photographers to better business practices, PPA and PPA's staff are here to help you take your photography business to that next level. 

Having great images is important, but as any photographer would agree, if you aren't managing your business properly, your path to success will most likely become an arduous one. That's why PPA created the Benchmark Survey. 

Periodically, we survey hundreds of photography studios to compile a comprehensive photography business guide that can help you increase your profitability and help you avoid some all-too-common (but also some not-so-evident) business pitfalls. These are the Benchmark Resources. At first that jargon-sounding name might sound a tad corporate, but those who use the Benchmark will tell you: this tool will make a difference in your business! And PPA members can access these Benchmark Resources at no extra cost. This comes with your membership!

To get started and see how the Benchmark can help make a significant difference for your business, let's look at it from square one. PPA recently added a new tool to the Benchmark Resources to help professional photographers plan for a profitable business by beginning with the end in mind. What do we mean by beginning with end? Just what it sounds like: the tool will start by asking you what you want your annual net income to be. Then from there, it will help you work backwards to help you realize how your cost of sales and overhead percentages affect your profitability (all as determined by the Benchmark Survey). You'll see a very clear picture of how many sessions, at what sales average, you'll need to reach the income goal you've set. 
You've been hearing about PPA's Benchmark Survey and how it can help you better manage your business. Now it's time for action! Don't worry, though, we never leave you alone with those scary numbers. In fact, we're holding TWO free webinars (Oct. 25 & Nov. 5) to give you step-by-step guidance in using two of the newest resources.  

This isn't a promo video--it really can show you what you can make of your numbers. Best of all: It's free (if you're a PPA member)!

In fact, the response has been so great to this announcement that we already filled up the Oct. 25 webinar. That's why we added that new date (Nov. 5)--we want to accommodate more of you who want to ask your questions!

For an opportunity to ask your questions about the Benchmark Survey tools in the Q&A, register & save your spot pronto! There's only room for 70 attendees during this live webinar. 
The wait is over! PPA has posted the 2011 Benchmark Survey Analysis and five--count 'em, five!--Summary Reports that break down the latest guidelines to building stronger, healthier photography businesses! Dig in and see what the numbers say about the health of your business--where you are and where you should or could be. Members can access the reports here.
Money...it's a tricky thing. But if you're going to go through the trouble of earning it, then you might as well keep it. By following the PPA benchmarks and setting goals, you can enjoy more of the fruits of your photographic labor. And that's why we're posting this article for PPA members only, with some basic strategies for optimizing your bottom line. Get the scoop here
PPA recently finished analyzing the 2011 PPA Benchmark Survey, the latest comprehensive financial review of a broad range of PPA member studios. Compiled from 2010 year-end financial data, the 2011 Benchmark Survey follows two previous surveys, one conducted in 2005 and another in 2008. The surveys have led to a series of benchmarks, or recommended financial targets, that PPA's Studio Management Services (SMS) has put in place to help member studios reach a higher level of success. By adhering to the benchmarks, you can lower costs, improve profitability, and make well-informed business decisions based on real financial evidence.

One of the most useful byproducts of the 2011 Benchmark Survey is the evidence of how the benchmarks could guide studios through a difficult economic period. From 2006 to 2010, the combination of a nationwide recession and a massive influx of new photography studios into the marketplace caused a significant drop in sales for most existing studios. However, the studios that followed the benchmarks performed much better than those that missed the targets. Some even managed to increase their bottom-line profits despite an overall decrease in sales. In our ensuing coverage of the Benchmark Survey's latest results, we'll detail how these studios kept profits high even when sales were low.

In the coming weeks, PPA will roll out a series of member-exclusive articles and financial tools to help members take advantage of the 2011 Benchmark Survey:

  • We'll boil down the exhaustive analysis into easy-to-understand summaries and follow up with clear action items for your studio.
  • We're working on some interactive resources and handy guides so that you can keep your critical numbers in mind without losing your mind.
  • We'll explain why SMS opted to adjust several of the key benchmarks.
  • We'll discuss what you can do to enact positive change at your studio.
This all may sound like heady stuff, and you probably didn't get into photography to play around with accounting, but here's the good news: By following the benchmarks, you will improve your profit margins, you will gain a better idea of how much you need to sell to take home a suitable personal income, and you will understand how your expenses affect your bottom line. At the end of the day, you'll be able to manage your business better, make more money and, hopefully, enjoy a less stressful relationship with your studio.

Now those are some results that we can all applaud.

Want to learn more? PPA members can peek at the key findings and new benchmarks here.

Remember that PPA's Benchmark Survey details are only available for PPA members, so see how to join here: www.ppa.com/joinppa/ 


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