So the confetti has been swept away, the presents unwrapped, all the holiday delicacies digested, and it's a new year... But the remnants of last year's economic downturn haven't quite resolved themselves yet. Are you prepared? Is your business ready for 2009? This month's Market Pulse asked our readers what they are doing to combat the frigid economic climate, and what new business strategies they've considered for the New Year?
a. We plan to review every aspect of our business from appearance to policies and try to make everything as efficient as possible. Dropping services and products that are not profitable and looking for new ones that are; saving time should save money. Also, we plan to continue our policy of under promise and over deliver. We don't want to give our customers a reason to go elsewhere.
Brent Kepner, Elkins, WV
a. One thing that I think will help business in the new year will be the fact that with the 'slowdown' many other retailers have reduced prices on digital cameras, which may see an increase in our print business, further reducing the film to digital ratio. This will probably help save some money in chemicals, which have gone up and allow our people to work in other areas instead of 'dropping rolls', so we can get more profitability out of the same team and same amount of sales hours. We installed new kiosks which are further reducing wait times, as well as giving our customers more options.
Honestly, the economic downturn is a buzzword, not everyone is that affected by the economy, people will still spend money. People still want their prints, they still want archive CDs or DVDs, and they still want to share their pictures. While yes, there is a drop in higher end camera sales; there is still a demand for things like memory cards, compact cameras and photo frames. I look at my roll counts from this year compared to the last few years, and it seems like we are doing less than half of what we did last year, but our digital orders are increasing by leaps and bounds. My average order sizes are 50+ with many over 100+ prints, and my kiosks never seem to be unused.
But I think there is a place for other retailers/specialty shops to improve on and that's their editing and retouching services. So to stay relevant, we need to increase the services we offer that don't really have a barcode. If we can make our customer's pictures look AMAZING, then they will come back and tell friends. That is what photofinishers need to strive for, anyone can print a picture, but it takes a photofinisher to make a photograph.
Dominic Cheski, Photo Specialist,
The Photo Guys, Milwaukee, WI
a.Things are tough right now for a lot of people. But now is a perfect opportunity to get creative. I enjoy the challenge, which inspires me to drum up creative marketing campaigns. I plan on using the internet as a resource to market, and to organize charity events within my community. Charity is ideal for raking in new business. It's good to help others and it helps get your name out there. I opened my studio in November, and local participation has helped me reach out to the community and network. It helps to have friends!
J. Douglas Spillane
a. My professional photography services are offered to numerous types of clients, including commercial, architectural, corporate, creative, fashion, glamour, weddings and events, environmental, and fine art. However, the recent economic downtown has not had a serious effect on my overall revenue, as different market sectors still need photography. Although budgets have become more restricted, I am able to adjust project fees slightly to accommodate the depressed economic conditions. Additionally, my strategy to combat the economic downturn now includes 'added services' to my basic photography, mainly presentation prints, photo albums, compilation CDs/DVDs, and online photo preview and ordering services. These added services create more value and convenience to the clients while budgets are tight, and allows me to be more competitive.
Randy Photo Art, Amston, CT,
a. We are identifying those markets and companies that will continue to be strong in a poor economy. We are creating new products to capture a greater market share. We are taking advantage of free publicity and marketing. We are going back to our satisfied customers and getting referrals. Most of all, we are keeping a positive attitude, and being aggressive in going after a greater share of the market.
Michael Monsen, Sales Manager,
Alpine Innovations LLC, Lehi, UT
a. As a commercial photographer, I simply refuse to participate in 'downturns.' Catalog photography is up since advertising is still a necessity. Headshots are still a huge part of our business, as well. It's simply a matter of cultivating your niche.
Old Loft Ent.