As a portrait photographer, my clients include families, graduates, weddings, and children of all ages. With most sessions taking place during evening and weekend hours, I used to have a lot of under utilized time. I had to find a way to make those hours profitable. This is where Future Stars Sports Photography and Pegasus School Images enter the picture.
Future Stars and Pegasus are franchise opportunities—Future Stars is for the youth sports market, Pegasus, for school photography—that offer top-quality service for customers and lucrative opportunities to prospective franchisees. After looking at my schedule and mapping out when I had time to devote to a new venture, I realized my weekday hours during the school year were relatively free.
School photography seemed like a good fit. The hours and seasonality were perfect, but it was a bit of a departure for me. Though I had owned my own studio for 27 years and was well-versed in operating a small business, I needed advice when it came to buying and running a franchise operation.
Future Stars Sports Photography and Pegasus School Images, in business since 1987 and 1999, respectively, have created many successful and satisfied franchisees. I wanted to find out exactly what to expect, so I contacted the company president and founder, Joe Bruno.
Bruno explained that my initial assumptions were correct: I could have thriving school and sports photography businesses without jeopardizing the success of my company, Michael's Photography. Since I already had a business in place and a wealth of equipment, the initial cost to invest in the franchise was relatively low and the company would provide continuous support and customer service—two often costly and time-consuming factors plaguing businesses in their formative stages.
Imagine photographing thousands of kids then taking phone calls from every parent with a question. I couldn't, so having the support of a successful customer service system in place from the beginning was a huge plus.
Pegasus Takes Off
Signing on with a franchise is easy, but as the owner it is your responsibility to build your clientele. We began by contacting the schools in our area to solicit contracts. We decided to focus on quality over quantity. Sure, it's impressive to lock down the biggest schools in the area, but loyalty from smaller institutions is also important.
One of my first clients was a very small school that liked us so much they mentioned our name at a regional school meeting. Soon we had booked six other schools based on that one referral.
Entering the school market also brought in additional business we didn't anticipate, including sports packages and yearbooks. That was a nice surprise. Producing quality results on a consistent basis will always result in a healthy client base. Pegasus is always updating their business with new and better technologies, which they, in turn, can share with their franchisees of all experience levels.
My down time was suddenly overflowing with appointments—so much so I had to hire additional staff to handle the new business. The payback has been quick; each year, a larger and larger portion of my income comes from Pegasus. While school photography does consume a great deal of my time, especially in the fall, I am still able to integrate this work into my regular studio business.
If you are looking for a way to branching out—and want to keep your primary business—these franchise businesses may be the solution.
Michael Meuret owned and operated Norfolk, Nebraska-based Michael's Photography for almost 30 years before purchasing Pegasus School Images in 2005. Meuret holds a photographic craftsman degree, as well as state credentials, including a Fellow of Photography.