Before opening a studio of her own, Michelle Lindsay Caucutt was the director of marketing for a large family portrait operation. From 2005 to 2007, she shot some portraits and weddings on the side, and in 2008, she picked up the pace with the goal of going solo by year's end. Her plan was to make weddings her main source of income, with portrait sessions filling in the gaps. By July 2008, she felt ready to take the plunge, quitting her day job and opening Michelle Lindsay Photography.
The first year, Michelle booked 22 weddings. She also had that many booked at the beginning of the 2009 wedding season and was convinced she could increase her sales. To make that goal come true, she went to a PPA Studio Management Services (SMS) workshop in June 2009.
"Attending SMS completely changed my perspective on my business," Michelle notes. "Before the workshop, I thought I was years away from accomplishing many of my goals. But SMS made me realize that the biggest thing holding me back was myself."
What helped Michelle were the little things, perspectives and ideas that just hadn't occurred to her before--like the fact that she could project images for her clients in her 900 sq. ft. condo. "SMS gave me not only the knowledge, but the confidence to take smart risks," she adds. "As long as I understand my numbers, I can make major changes within the realms of what I am financially comfortable with."
Michelle's willingness to apply what she learned is paying off. With hard work, she increased her average wedding sales by 16 percent for the rest of 2009. Projected sales for the 2010 wedding season, based on her year-to-date bookings, are more than 30 percent higher than her average sales before she attended the SMS workshop and implemented the changes.
"Less than a year later, I have a beautiful home studio, am projecting a 30-percent increase in my average for 2010 and, most importantly, am running the business model I want and am seeing the difference and rewards in my sales," she says.
Top that off with her low cost of sales--just 16.5 percent in 2009, nearly 19 points better than the PPA Benchmark for home studios--and Michelle is poised for a very successful future.
Interested in attending an SMS class like Michelle did? You can learn more here.