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PPA Studio Makeover: Krista Newbill Update #1 - PPA Today

PPA Studio Makeover: Krista Newbill Update #1

We're back with an update on Krista Newbill's Studio Makeover. Check out the previous post on the project overview if you need a refresher, and take a look at Wes Roberts' first update from last month.

Below is an update on what Krista has been doing with her team of PPA mentors, the early progress she's made along with some of the obstacles she's facing. Some of it surely applies to some of you and your business... maybe you can consider applying similar changes to Be More Profitable too?

The Financials

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Krista first came to PPA for help with her business back in 2012. At that time her studio's gross sales were down 21% from 2011 and what was more telling, expenses were up and her bottom line suffered, going down 52% during that time.

In 2013 Krista focused on cutting costs. Her sales that year increased and her bottom line recovered. Then in 2014 the stress of running and paying for a retail location caused Krista to rethink her location. She opted to co-lease a space with another photographer. With sales up 14% and her expenses once again down, Krista was keeping almost 61% of every dollar she grossed. According to PPA's Benchmark, top-preforming retail studios keep about 39% of each dollar, proving that Krista was doing a great job keeping her expenses in check.

As she started planning for 2015, Krista was feeling that she was working too hard, too many hours, and not spending enough quality time with her family. "How long can I keep up this pace?" is a question most business owners ask themselves at some point during their careers. That's why the concept of sustainability is one of the most important things to consider when you're planning each year.

What affects your business sustainability? The number of hours worked, stress levels, income, family life balance, and pretty much anything else that affects you as the business owner. Simply ask yourself, can your business continue on the same track it's currently on with you, as the business owner, doing everything as-is? Sometimes it simply comes down to time (or lack thereof). In the long run, can you realistically continue to put in the hours/week that you are currently spending and be achieving your life goals?

Krista realized that she's too busy and is now looking for ways to work smarter, not harder. Her main product lines include weddings, portraits and headshots. She lives near Nashville and has a very large clientele. Up until 2014, Krista created albums and sold prints to her wedding clients, but she only sold digital files to her portrait clients.

From Krista:

Three years flew past. I hardly saw my family, I didn't have time to see my friends and was constantly worrying about what was going to happen to my business if I didn't work 14+ hour days. I was exhausted. It started to show in my work. We did absolutely no planning before a person showed up for their portrait session. We didn't even help them with wardrobe or planning the end use for the photos. They just showed up, and we took photos, and then we mailed them a disk. End of story. My business was based strictly on quantity and I could tell my customers were starting to feel like just a number to me.

Making the Change from Digital-Only to Printing & Products

Krista has taken the challenge of switching her business model from selling digital files only to offering prints and products as well. This change originally seemed daunting, especially since she was making money. But too much of a good thing is, well...not a good thing. Krista had too many clients and her portrait averages were fairly low. She was working too much and not making enough money to justify the time she spent working (read: the true value of her hourly rate was drastically going down given the amount of hours she was working).

Krista met with PPA mentor and CPA, Bridget Jackson to go over her financials. Together they created projections for her sales and sessions objectives, so Krista could start rethinking and re-strategizing her business to be (way more) profitable.

Once the new sales goals were in place it was time to work on a new price list. Krista met with three other PPA mentors (Mary Fisk-Taylor, Gregory Daniel and Angela Kurkian) to  work on her pricing strategy.

Pricing can be a challenge. Why? Because for a small business owner, who is also a creative, pricing becomes intensely personal.

When working on pricing, the goal is to create a system that works for you, your sales goals, your personality and your net income goals. Those need to be based on your unique set of circumstances (such as overhead, income needs, lifestyle etc.). Krista is hard at work developing her sales strategy and sales plan. At this point she already created:

1.     A session consultation script, which made her think about the words she was using and the way she phrased things. She has incorporated different keywords in the language she now uses and makes a conscious effort to be more aware of and address her clients' needs while providing them a great experience.

2.     A written sales plan that helps her keep a clear understanding of what how much each sales appointment is meant to yield in order for her to meet her goals.

3.     A new price list that makes it easy for her clients to buy, but that also helps them understand fully the value of her work.

What Krista has to say about the changes thus far:

"I have now booked six clients at my new rate, without giving any free digital files on a disk! Amazingly enough, they haven't even batted an eye. Several of these are brand new clients who want to try us in hopes of a more high-quality experience. Since I changed my prices, I have had several phone and email inquiries who politely said we were out of their price range. But that's okay; I'm getting really comfortable with having this conversation.

As for the new product line itself, it's been a little overwhelming for me to try and figure out exactly which products to offer, as there are literally thousands of photography product options out there. But I finally have a plan of attack. The hardest part for me here is going to be talking myself into being confident in these prices because it only takes a few people saying, "you're changing WHAT?!" to unnerve me. But I want my products and services to be a status symbol. Not an everyday, run of the mill product. I want clients to brag about having worked with me, and not because they bought a Groupon. I'm slowly beginning to realize, that it's so much more about perception and service than a low-price-tag competition."

We'll continue to track Krista's progress as she moves forward with her new pricing and product line. This adventure is supposed to make both studios, Krista's and Wes' Be More Profitable. So stay tuned for the next update on PPA's two Studio Makeovers!

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) published on May 21, 2015 12:09 AM.

Update: Drone Legislation Proposed in Washington was the previous entry in this blog.

Scam Alerts, Drone Legislation and 44 Ways to Improve Your Photography: Top 11 Blog Posts from 5/16-5/22 is the next entry in this blog.

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