Sometimes it takes a while to get the message but when a business does…

The scene

A successful photographic studio, operating past the five-year mark and feeling pretty secure, woke up one day to a harsh reality. Everyone who had a phone had become a photographer. Business started to dip.

At Omania Terry Efficiency Experts, we work with businesses that can be shaken by the advent of modern technology. If these businesses don’t shift the way they move as a result, they’ll lose out.

The studio owner was tired and fed up. Finances needed sharpening, outstanding invoices needed to be paid, orders brought up-to-date and the studio needed a big spring clean.

The situation was affecting the owner’s health and disturbing work-life balance. But where to start?

Omania Terry to the rescue

We reviewed operations inside and out and identified a raft of problems that needed addressing. What did we uncover?

Finance

We reviewed finances from top to bottom. The book keeper was coding items incorrectly, which meant the studio’s true financial position wasn’t reflected. The tax bill was overdue. The studio was working with too many credit cards and bank accounts and too much money was being juggled—robbing Peter to pay Paul. Aged debtors needed to be called to account.

The studio required a new accountant who cared and a new book keeper who could properly look after the accounts.

Brand refresh

We identified that while the studio’s brand had served it well, it was also tired. It was time to refresh and revamp.

Clients and business streams

We conducted an audit of all the studio’s clients and determined which were making money, and which were costing money.

The family portraits business stream was taking too much time and wasn’t profitable. The pricing structure wasn’t right and most clients didn’t re-order as the owner had hoped. It had to be adjusted.

Weddings were also consuming too much time and effort, but they could be lucrative. It was time to restructure pricing, take on fewer clients, and be more selective on which clients would generate a healthy return.

Corporate photography was a mega breadwinner but wasn’t being nurtured. The business had a long list of faithful and regular corporate clients, with strong relationships and repeat business. This business stream needed to be refocused.

Costs and pricing

We reviewed the costs and pricing of all business streams and introduced an hourly rate on the owner’s time.

Studio declutter

We checked out the studio and storeroom space and added decluttering to the list of things needed to restore order, and a sense of calm.

IT systems

We examined all aspects of IT. Files were being saved on hard drives stored under a desk. The antiquated IT system was slow and kept crashing.

What we achieved in the beginning

We made two immediate and major improvements.

  1. Decluttered – We sorted office items into six categories—throw out, recycle, shred securely, send to client, file, client to sort. We cleaned and organised the storeroom, repacked boxes and labelled shelves. We archived old jobs in clearly marked boxes for quick and easy retrieval of old jobs for new projects.
  2. Debtor control – We recommended the studio hire a part-time temp to work on aged debtors and call in overdue accounts. This relieved the owner’s stress and allowed the studio to focus on billable projects.

Results 12 months later

Not all clients can immediately see the benefit of our recommendations. They certainly do over time, however. Twelve months later we caught up with the studio owner and discovered that:

  • a book keeper was managing accounts and keeping everything up-to-date, including paying tax, invoicing and calling in money owed
  • a new accountant had secured a $25,000 tax refund
  • corporate clients were now paying upfront for work
  • weddings booked were paying well
  • family portraits had reduced in number and the owner was only handling the long-standing, trusted and well-paying clients
  • the owner was now ready to let go of the tired branding ready for the brand refresh we had recommended
  • the owner’s health was getting back on track.

Every business is different and not all owners or managers are ready to move when we think they should. But with solid recommendations they inevitably do—when ready—and the results speak for themselves.

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