PPA Today: Benchmark Financial Survey Archives
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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.
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.
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/
Simply put, a benchmark is a standard by which something can be measured or judged. What does that have to do with PPA benefits? Well, PPA surveys hundreds of photographers and studios across the country to establish benchmarks specifically for you! It's PPA's Financial Benchmark Survey, Analysis & Toolset.
Where They Come From
To develop these tools, we collect photographers' financial data, analyze it with accountants from our Studio Management Services (SMS) team, and then establish benchmarks (or goalposts) for different financial categories. These benchmarks are designed to help you set sales and expense targets, and then use those targets to develop goals for your business. The end result is a unique set of tools to help you set goals and measure your studio against many others in key financial areas (cost of sales, revenue, expenses, net profit and so on).
So far, PPA has held three surveys--2005, 2008 and 2011--and the latest survey is being analyzed right now!
How They Can Help
In a sense, the Benchmark Surveys provide financial snapshots of the industry, showing what it takes to achieve specific financial results in a photography business. For example, they make the connection between your total sales and your take-home profit, so you can determine how much you need to sell to support your family. They also help you gauge expenses, like how much you're really spending to produce your products and operate your studio.
"The Benchmark Survey has been a good way to measure our costs to an industry standard," says Susan Hoermann, M.Photog., CPP, of Evergreen Studios in Texas. "It gives us an overview of where our industry is headed, what is an acceptable cost of sales and where we are in relation to other businesses."
In fact, with the Benchmark Survey findings, you'll discover not just where you should be, but where you could be profit-wise...and start learning how to get there.
To get a sneak peek at the 2011 Benchmark Survey results, watch "How to Measure Success: Key Findings from PPA's 2011 Benchmark Survey." If you have an Online Learning Pass, you can get this and unlimited access to all live and archived webinars for just $99!
PPA's Studio Management Services team has created a suite of nifty Self-Evaluation Tools to answer some questions that members often ask about their finances and their business plans. A brand-new version is coming soon, but in the meantime, these free tools will guide you step-by-step in calculating how your studio measures up to the Benchmarks:
- How Does Your Studio's Cost of Sales Compare to the Benchmark?
- How Does Your Studio's Overhead Compare to the Benchmark?
- How Does Your Studio's Marketing Compare to the Benchmark?
You can also check out free online articles, PPA Benchmark Reports and the PPA Business Handbook for more critical insight on what it takes to run a profitable business--and how the PPA benchmarks can help.
Did you know that your photography glossary should include a few vital accounting terms, too? Of course, if you're a staff photographer, you may never have to translate "charts of accounts" and "costs of goods sold" into something that makes sense to your creative brain. If you're an entrepreneur, though, all bets are off. As an entrepreneur, you need to know your numbers and how to make smart business decisions based on them.
The good news is that PPA members have tools to help: PPA's Benchmark Survey, Analysis & Toolset. With these tools, you can get a handle on your numbers and, by doing so, set key performance metrics and start regularly measuring your business against them.
But to understand the Benchmark--and be able to take advantage of it--you need to speak a little accounting. Read more here.
The Benchmark Survey Pays Off
Both the Sarvers and Jensens have used the previous Benchmark Survey resources to help their businesses, and this all-inclusive trip is an added bonus.
For example, the Jensens used the Benchmark resources to build their studio's budget. "These are essential tools for photographers who actually want to make a living doing photography!" says Paula. "They help studios understand how much money should be coming back to the photographer and where they should be budgeting."
"Rather than plan in a vacuum, the Benchmark resources enabled us to compare our status to other PPA home studios. And for the first time, it was easy to identify our strong and weak areas," add the Sarvers, who used the Benchmark as a blueprint for their planning process. "It showed us where we were out of range from the norm and gave guidelines for improvement."
Heading to Imaging USA
The trip the Sarvers and Jensens won will help them continue to push their art and businesses forward--that's one of the purposes of Imaging USA!
"Imaging USA lets us see what is working for other studios and marketplaces and then decide how to implement the best aspects into our own business," says Paula. For example, she's looking forward to the "Business Breakthroughs" pre-convention class, and Russell is eager to "get the nation's pulse in photography" (along with seeing his first Loan Collection image displayed in the International Photographic Exhibit)!
And the Sarvers are doubly excited for Imaging USA. "After attending our first Imaging USA, we decided it was the conference not to be missed," they say. But it wasn't looking like a viable option this coming year...until they won the all-inclusive trip! Now they are looking forward to "taking back to our studio those important elements that will set us apart," from artistic and technical elements to business know-how.
Grab that business know-how yourself--join these winners at Imaging USA and check out these Benchmark resources.
Have you read the "How We Did It" and "Ask the Experts" columns in Professional Photographer? Heard success stories from PPA's Studio Management Services clients? Many of those photographers' turnarounds happened in part because of information from the Benchmark Survey.
After all, the Benchmark Survey is what SMS bases its financial and business guidelines on. It's helped hundreds of photographers! And we need YOUR help to make it even better this year.
Help others. Help yourself. Participate in the 2011 Benchmark Survey!
- Complete the Participant Demographic Questionnaire.
- Gather a few financial documents.
- Send them to PPA by October 31.
If you have questions, just call Melissa Kriest at 800-339-5451, ext. 227. She'll walk you through it.
- Drawing for TWO all-inclusive trips for two to Imaging USA 2012 in New Orleans
- Personalized financial analysis of your studio compared to the 2011 Benchmark results.
- Benchmark webinar to guide you through the results
- Advance copy of the survey report