2018 was a great and challenging year! We started with shutting down my Downtown Studio, the hire of Kayla, and many new fun themed sessions! We faced many other things, but we ended pretty well.
I first, I want to send out an apology. I took on more than I could handle, the fact is (and if you ever met me), you know I hate saying no, I hate the thought of someone missing out on portraits because they didn't see, or they just didn't know how soon to book. This year I have decided I have to have set boundaries, and that boundaries are good when used correctly.
My first set. Each month I will only take on 8-10 full sessions, 6-8 full sessions during months that are busy with creative sessions (IE: Spring, Fall, Christmas), and we will have a set in stone turn around schedule. My hope this year is when I bring on this new assistant I will have her trained in all aspects that surround the business, designing, ordering, and editing. That is where I spend hours upon hours of time at.
My second boundary will be business hours. I will no longer answer messages, calls, comments, and so forth outside of those hours. I have decided that Monday, Tuesday, and Friday will be work days, and only one Saturday a month. I will go back to not taking sessions on Sunday as that is my time with my Church family. My business hours during those three weekdays are from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM, and then at 4:00 I will do one more email check. My goal is to end late night editing, and to end a crazy cycle.
My third boundary, well not even a boundary, but just something that I am actually establishing this year is with editing. Editing will be done to color correct, and make sure backdrop is filled in. I will no longer head swap (that is a $8 charge, I do not make anything off of this, that is what the third party editor will charge). Basic skin correction will only be done on purchased images, that way you don't wait so long to view and order your images. I'm trying to knock out wasted time, and this is where it begins.
My fourth boundary will be to not take any births past November 10th, and not until January 10th. That way I don't get pulled away from my family (plus we really want to take a trip that time this year so I don't want to freak out about leaving the state lol)!
My fifth set will be to not take on any seasonal sessions past November 5th. This right here will tremendously help me not feel overwhelmed in completing task so you get your Christmas orders in time.
My sixth boundary is we have set minimum order purchase requirements though. This is a big one for me (everyone already meets this, so don't let this scare you, this is for the new clients that will be coming on board). For full regular sessions, birth and newborn will now require a $500 each session minimum requirement. Once again, you guys already purchase this, this is just one of those "boundary" things I'm going with ;) Sitter, maternity, and family sessions will be $250, and one year session will be $350.
My last boundary is contracts. I have slacked on making folks sign portrait contracts, but so no miscommunication gets lost in what your session comes with, or studio policies, this will be a required signature with all clients, new and old!
You guys, those aren't rules, I just am setting up good work behaviors! I think this will be best for client/worker (and for my employees as well).
Next, the update on pricing structure. As I stated, pricing wasn't going to increase, but we were changing the way we are doing things, however...my frame vendor upped their pricing slightly, and the album vendor did away with the albums I had been ordering, and now they come with more cover images AND....AND the SILK portrait paper I already use, so I am seriously stoked about that! So, with that said, to match not having a loss of profit, the pricing on wall art and albums have slightly increased on my end (not barely though, so you are all okay)! I also got rid of all our pre-made collections! You can now create your own, and get 10% off your total! This will be the way that your digitals come as well, and we added digitals back to our pricing (yay)! We also have unit pricing on gift prints too! I really believe you will love the new structure as it just makes sense and you will truly be able to get what you really want without feeling like you are going into a collection just for the savings!
Frame delivery. As you know, frames typically take up to 15 business days (so that is typically 19 days counting weekends). I am officially moving that time set, my frame vendor started really small and has grown, they are growing their employees as well, but working with old wood as they do, it truly is an art, so until they are fully functioning with employs I am moving frame build time to 25 business days (so that would be 31 days from time to order). If for some reason they do not come in within 31 days, you will be notified but, February-November 16 time frame is 31 days fully. All frames placed after November 16th-January 15th will take around 60 days due to them shutting down for the Holidays. My hope is for them to arrive early, but instead of telling you guys 2 weeks, I am now just setting a more realistic goal.
Albums will still take two weeks, and prints the same, just setting more realistic goals on frames! My goal for my VIP clients (and ALL clients) is to be more open with turnaround times. More realistic, I was terrible with that this year, but I always hope for quicker times, and I think my hopes got lost in realistic status.
As always, I am open to how you felt things when last year and things that could have gone better. You know my top priority is customer service!
And yes, I completely just violated a "boundary" to type this lol, but it was on my mind, and if you know me, you know when it is on my mind I must say it then before I forget!
I am really excited for 2019! This is OUR year and it will be amazing and I will be more consistent than ever! I really appreciate your feedback, without it we couldn't make the changes that need to happen and I'm so excited to continue to grow with you all!
PS, Enjoy the "realistic" image of my kiddos and doggies from NYE, that was super interesting and I wish I wasn't sick enough to get my actual camera out that night lol. It is what it is and I love it! Thanks supporting my family, you make it possible for their roof over their head, food in their bellies, and the fun extra actives they do!