Island Photography- A ViewFirst™ Success Story

In 1986, Alex and Cheryl Ipiotis formed Island Photography in Long Island, New York. They began the business with the “Ipiotis Vision” of providing every client with great looking complimentary photo proofs of their special event.

Island Photography currently specializes in graduation, race, and sports photography. They cover more than one thousand events per year, rendering over one million images along the way. With over two decades of success, there are 2 things that Island Photography says have not changed: their love for the business and their lab and partner, Candid Color Systems.

The Challenge

Island Photography is located in the highly competitive New York market. The majority of the Island Photography sports business is conducted in the ViewFirst™ method at the middle school, high school and collegiate levels. The ability for athletes and parents to see their images before they purchase is a competitive advantage. Island Photo needs a strong lab and partner to ensure their ability to identify athletes, provide photo proofs in a timely manner and sell their images.

The Solution
Candid Color Systems is Island Photography’s choice for their ViewFirst™ method of shooting and displaying photographs. Alex is able to post photographs online for clients to view and order, rather than passing around order forms on photo day and forcing guardians to open their check book before they have even seen the photos. This way, students and guardians are able to view the pictures together and decide which proofs they are interested in purchasing.

Candid also provided Alex with the Candid Ordering and Reporting Environment (CORE) software for his business. With the CORE software, Alex is able to identify graduates, runners at races, and athletes of every sport. He is then able to use the program to create personalized proofs to send to these customers. Alex also uses the CORE software to send personalized emails to clients and their guardians. Not only is this email program a technological advancement for Island Photography to utilize, but it is also a convenience to them, as they are now able to focus on their future marketing efforts rather than re-marketing to existing clients.

When asked about his relationship with Candid Color Systems, Alex had this to say, “They are inextricably linked to the success of our business.” Candid Color Systems feels the same about its’ customers.

The Results
-With the assistance of Candid Color Systems and their cutting-edge software, Island Photography is able to remain on the forefront of the photography industry.
-Highly valuing turnaround time and innovative product development, Alex found a perfect match with Candid Color Systems, as these are two of their highly focused areas.

Hotshot Imaging Story

In 2002, Eric Kromps and Karl Schmudlach formed Hotshot Imaging near Sacramento, California. They began the business with a focus on the white water rafting that is popular around Lotus, but soon realized that they needed a less seasonal market, one with growth potential. With Eric’s business acumen and Karl’s photography skills, they began a push to incorporate youth sports photography as a market that they would serve.

The opportunity in the youth sports market was tremendous, but they recognized that they needed a strong lab to grow their business the way they envisioned. In order to do that, Hotshots needed to conduct business online in order to streamline the process, workflow and systems without hiring more staff. Although the pre-pay marketing method had been their business model since the beginning, they saw online images with emails as the way to get from one point to another.

The Challenge

Hotshots began to recognize that the prepay method of photography was a labor intensive process that took time away from cultivating new business or scheduling additional shoot days. “Prepay is a process that is layered with distribution forms, data entry, handling of cash, and several details that need follow-up when mistakes take place”, said Eric Kromps, President. “When a parent gives you a $30 check and orders $40 worth of product, the follow up to fix the error in their math is a nightmare.” Karl Schumbach, General Manager, adds, “I’ve had a three inch stack of checks and cash that take me longer to fill out the bank deposit form than it did to actually have the picture day. We really needed a more streamlined process for our business.”

After exhaustive research, Karl and Eric chose Candid Color Systems to handle all their lab work, order entry and backend software and technology.

The Solution

Candid Color Sports was the overriding solution with their ViewFirst™  method of shooting for several reasons.  Eric saw Candid as a way to begin thinking about more than one league at a time and grow the business.  He wanted to get out of the business of having 3 people spend all day on Monday after shoot day doing order entry and follow up.   Instead of passing out envelopes and doing data entry, Hotshots now passes out webcards and collects email addresses, so that when pictures are ready, it’s a simple email out to everyone letting them know to view their photos.

ViewFirst™  also allows customers to view all the options and lets them make the image choice for their photos, a huge competitive advantage that parents, coaches and leagues love.  With pre-pay, you are reliant on the photographer to choose which photo is best, and with hundreds of photos to choose from on any given weekend, that can become a cumbersome job.  ViewFirst also allows the customer to input the information, eliminating difficult handwriting to read and decipher and more time on staff to complete a job.

There were other reasons that Candid rose to the top of the competition of photography labs: turnaround time and delivery options.  “There are some photographers who wouldn’t have the pictures to customers until after the season is over”, said Karl. “Everyone likes to shoot on opening day.  But let’s face it, you can only shoot so many teams in a given timeframe, and ViewFirst allows you to spread out the schedule because turnaround is so quick.  This, coupled with the option of delivering it straight to the customer’s home, frees us up from the administrative headache of order distribution to concentrate on our core business.”

The Results:

-Grown from 1,000 kids to 15,000 kids photographed
-Taken the business from pre-pay envelope method to Candid Color Sports ViewFirstmethod, where all photos are posted online for ease of ordering.
-Reduced the amount of time spent on data entry after a shoot day by 50%

Candid Color Systems offers great tools for pre-paid and speculation sports programs. We offer online proofing, online ordering, order envelopes, password cards, mailing direct to your end customer, software to print paper proofs, an amazing array of sports products, photographer order entry and over 30 years of photography experience!

 

For help or questions, please call Brian Speers at 800-336-4550, Ext. 251, or Dan Hays at Ext. 227.

Preparing for the Upcoming Sports Season

Preparing for the Upcoming Sports Season

The slow winter season is a great time to do the preparations to maximize your sales for spring! This downtime is a chance to reorganize your business and begin planning for the busy spring sports season. Organizing a matrix with last year’s events and their sales, along with prospects and their projected sales, is a good place to start. You can also evaluate next year’s goals and fine tune packages for the next season. Beginning your planning now will set the stage for success in the spring.

Creating a matrix will help you assess your sales calls for the upcoming season. To begin, list every event that you shot last spring, as well as new prospects for this spring; across the top create columns for last year’s sales, estimated sales for the new prospects and goals for this season. The new customer estimate can be gathered by figuring the average sale per player from last year and multiplying this by the estimated number of players on a school team. For an entire league you should also estimate the percentage of participation. In the corresponding boxes, place last year’s sales from the event and the estimate of the potential customers. By creating this matrix you can evaluate which jobs were the most successful, and which prospects should be aggressively sought after. Sales calls should be based around this matrix. Don’t limit yourself to the events that are the easiest to book; sometimes the most difficult jobs to book can turn out to be the most successful.

Goal setting is a great way to drive sales calls. Determine how many calls you can make in a day and how many should result in connecting with someone. Reach for this goal everyday to maximize your success in booking jobs. To further organize your sales calls, create a spreadsheet with the contacts along with their phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Referring to the matrix, determine which jobs from last year are your top leads and begin calling and sending out e-mails to your contacts. Although some of these contacts may not be ready to book for the spring, stay persistent, keeping in contact with each lead every four to six weeks. Continue to do this for 3-5 years if necessary to book a valuable league or school.

Finally, set goals for this next year. Determine which events you want to book and how many new jobs you want to attain. Consider leagues that you want to gain contracts with and other sports that you haven’t shot before. Set goals for sales calls per day and a desired percentage of jobs booked to result from these calls. Preparation several months in advance is the key to a successful spring!

*Candid Color Systems offers great tools for pre-paid and the View First™ sports programs. We offer online proofing, online ordering, order envelopes, password cards, mailing direct to your end customer, software to print paper proofs, an amazing array of sports products, photographer order entry and over 30 years of photography experience

The View First™ Program

The View First™ Program

Most of the sports photographed in the U.S. today are sold on a pre-pay basis. Coaches distribute envelopes, orders are marked on the envelope and payment is then enclosed. The envelope is handed in at the time the photographer takes the picture. Parents and players do not see their images before the prints arrive. Typically, only one picture is taken of each player who is placing an order, so those who forget, or can’t afford pictures, are not photographed. This system is almost universal among youth leagues and is prevalent among the middle and high school markets. But, there are other options!!

Candid Color Systems is offering View First! We have the tools you will need to present a completely different option to leagues, coaches, parents and players. Here is how it can work! 1) Market your products at the photo shoot! 2) Collect e-mail addresses and fresh home addresses for each player photographed. 3) Remember that you can photograph everyone! Shooting multiple poses is also important! It provides more incentive for parents to look at the proofs! Be sure to offer a group picture to every player photographed! 4) Advertise where and when images will be available! If images will be posted online, provide a web address and password on the day of the shoot. If you will be mailing proofs home.let the customer know when to expect them. Speed is important! The faster your images are available for ordering, the better your sales will be! 5) Set a deadline of no more than 10 to 14 days after the shoot and use the email addresses to send well-spaced reminders! 6) Fill orders promptly! Don’t wait to batch orders after the deadline date.

The pre-paid sports system is not very customer friendly and places a burden on the coaches by asking them to distribute the envelopes in advance. Offering the View First system can be a great selling point to leagues and coaches. The View FirstT system can be your point of difference when booking spring sports!

*Candid Color Systems offers great tools for pre-paid and the View First™ sports programs. We offer online proofing, online ordering, order envelopes, password cards, mailing direct to your end customer, software to print paper proofs, an amazing array of sports products, photographer order entry and over 30 years of photography experience!

For help or questions, please call Brian Speers at 800-336-4550, Ext. 251, or Dan Hays at Ext. 227.

Speculation Photography for Sports

Most of the sports photographed in the U.S. today are sold on a pre-pay basis. Coaches distribute envelopes to players or parents, orders are marked on the envelope and payment is then enclosed. The envelope is handed in at the time the photographer takes the picture.

Typically, only one picture is taken of each player who is placing an order, so those who forget, or can’t afford pictures, are not photographed.  This system is almost universal among youth leagues and is prevalent among the middle and high schools.  But times are changing! This pre-paid sports system places a burden on the coaches by asking them to distribute the envelopes in advance.  The system also requires parents to place an order without being able to view proofs. They also have no choice of poses. This is not very customer friendly. Photographers generally like the system, because the sales are good and they receive their money in advance.

Almost every photographer in the country can offer this program which creates stiff price competition and thin profit margins.  It also makes it difficult to retain business for a long period of time. League directors begin to select photographers based on the lowest available price or “freebies.”

Now, contrast a pre-paid system with the speculation system!  The speculation system was “made in heaven” for coaches!  Since coaches are the gatekeepers who make the decision about who photographs teams at most Middle and High Schools, this system is tailor made for those markets.  It is also attractive to league boards and coaches who make the decision about who shoots the youth sports leagues.

 

Here is how speculation sports photography works!

Market your products at the shoot! Take product samples to the shoot and display them prominently!  This will get the players and coaches fired up about your pictures!  Be sure to make check lists that include: samples, password cards, name/e-mail/mail sequence cards, extra pens, etc…

Collect e-mail addresses and fresh home addresses! Collect this information for each player photographed.  An administrative assistant will be necessary to do this at larger shoots.  Keep the email and/or address cards in the same sequence as you shoot the players to facilitate identification.

And remember- you can photograph everyone! Shooting multiple poses is also important! It provides more incentive for parents to look at the proofs! Be sure to offer a group picture to every player photographed also.

Advertise where and when images will be available! Post a web address and password at the school at the time of the photography session to allow players who do not have e-mail addresses to view the proofs.  Also, distribute password cards to each player with this information.  This is essential! Parents and players need to know where to find their images! Speed is also important! The faster your images are available for ordering, the better your sales will be! Posting your images on the internet is probably preferable to increase speed, lower proofing costs and to give more users access to their proofs. Sending paper or hard copy proofs are still an option.

Set a deadline and send reminders!  Setting a deadline date of no more than 10 to 14 days after the shoot helps to motivate parents to purchase! Extended deadline dates only encourage procrastination. Make sure that the deadline dates are the same online and for paper proofs. Plan an e-mail campaign and send out a minimum of two or three reminders to all of the players for whom you have e-mails, at well spaced intervals.  In that e-mail explain your ordering options and emphasize the deadline date.  Make it as convenient as possible for the customer to order!  You can also provide multiple ordering channels such as internet, mail-in and phone ordering.

Fill orders promptly! Don’t wait to batch orders after the deadline date.  As orders are received by players and parents they serve as reminders and incentive for others to place an order too! So, remember these things when considering a speculation sports program.

Why do coaches like this system? • They are not responsible for passing out envelopes or reminding kids to bring money. • The shooting typically goes faster because of the absence of collecting envelopes and money. • The prints can be mailed directly to the players’ homes, eliminating the need for the coach to pass out prints.

Why do players and kids like the system better? • Because they get to have several poses taken, buddy shots, and even posed action shots so that they have a number of choices.

Why do photographers like this system? • Because it is easy to sell, easy to shoot, and usually results in as good or better sales than the pre-pay system. • Customer satisfaction is usually higher because of the choices; because the players and parents view the proofs before purchasing; because the parents can decide what they want to purchase in the privacy of their own home; and because the prints can be mailed directly to the end customer (making a profit on shipping and handling to boot).

Candid Color Systems offers great tools for pre-paid and speculation sports programs. We offer online proofing, online ordering, order envelopes, password cards, mailing direct to your end customer, software to print paper proofs, an amazing array of sports products, photographer order entry and over 30 years of photography experience!

For help or questions, please call Brian Speers at 800-336-4550, Ext. 251, or Dan Hays at Ext. 227.

 

 

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