As a volume photography studio, it’s safe to assume that expanding your client base is a crucial part of your business strategy. However, as you gain more business and your studio grows, so do the tasks you must juggle to manage and retain those clients.
Even with a single client, there’s plenty to manage: contact information, important dates, payment tracking, and lots and lots of communication—among a whole host of other items. Multiply that by ten clients, and it quickly becomes overwhelming. Multiply that by potentially several dozen, and you will have to adopt tools that manage these relationships efficiently.
Thankfully, these tools already exist and are used everywhere in the business world—from small mom-and-pop shops to the big-name corporations you’re exposed to daily. They’re called Customer Relationship Management platforms (more commonly referred to as CRMs) and are highly necessary to all kinds of businesses.
However, did you know that a CRM was developed specifically for the needs of volume photographers? Meet ShootAssist: a CRM created for volume photographers by Andrew Vernon, a volume photographer himself!
What is a CRM?
First, let’s establish what exactly a Customer Relationship Management tool is and how it can help you as a photography studio owner. CRMs usually present themselves as software applications that organize the individual moving parts of a business relationship on a grand scale. They can blur the line between customer management and customer service by allowing you, as a business owner, to iron out requests and potential issues that may arise during day-to-day operations.
ShootAssist is a highly specialized CRM that tracks every element of information about a studio's various clients, schedules, and workflows and automates pre- and post-picture day communications.
The Genesis of ShootAssist
Photography runs in Andrew Vernon’s DNA, creator of ShootAssist. His family owns and operates Vernon Photography, a volume-specialized studio based in Tampa Bay, FL. From a young age, Andrew has always been interested in technology and how it can be utilized to make things easier.
“I've always been fascinated by technology and specifically how it can make you more productive, efficient, or both. One of the things we identified as our business was growing was that it was getting harder and harder to stay on top of all the little details.”
When it came time to try and help Vernon Photography manage their ever-growing client base, he found that no tool fit every one of their needs that also helped them provide the same level of service for which they were known.
“Most of the photography-specific CRMs were geared towards wedding and portrait photographers, which tend to have pretty different workflows and client types.”
This motivated Andrew to put his tech know-how to use and take matters into his own hands. Armed with his software development experience, he laid the foundations for what would evolve into ShootAssist. The goal? To create a highly specialized CRM that accommodates all of a volume photographer’s unique needs—one that tracks every element of information about a studio’s various clients, schedules, and varying job milestones, as well as automating pre- and post-picture day communications without losing the personal touch of a small studio.
ShootAssist does just that by meticulously tracking every step of a volume job, ensuring photographers don’t miss a critical point in job management, which can happen when juggling a large volume of clients.
Along with creating a management tool for volume photographers, Andrew wanted to make one accessible for anyone to use without an intense learning curve. In fact, one particular person notably acted as an inspiration during the development of ShootAssist.
“The original concept of ShootAssist was built with my mom in mind. Easy to learn, easy to explore were both goals of mine.”
What eventually arose was a highly customizable CRM, something very adaptable to a studio’s existing and sometimes unique workflows. Andrew does warn that, as with all customizable software like this, putting in the initial work to get things just so will pay off in the end. “This is an area where you'll really reap what you sow in terms of tailoring the system to your specific needs,” he adds.
And studio owners aren’t alone when it comes to this setup process. Andrew makes himself available to assist personally when setting up ShootAssist or with any other troubleshooting needs. “I'm happy to help along the way. I can import existing data, consult on setup questions along the way”.
However, the question remains—at what point should a studio adopt a CRM? Is it a tool that should be used right from the get-go, or is it only truly useful once a studio has a specific number of clients in their roster? According to Andrew, a wide range of studios use ShootAssist, from photographers with only ten or twenty clients to much larger ventures servicing hundreds of accounts. So, while there isn’t an exact science behind when a studio should adopt a CRM like ShootAssist, Andrew believes the earlier you can adopt a CRM, the better.
“In general, if you figure you may need a CRM at some point, it's better to jump in sooner because it'll mean more of your historical data is centralized in one place, and the system can grow as your business grows. The hardest transition is to try to jump into a new system only after you're overwhelmed.”
Though ShootAssist is still a relative newcomer on the market, it has already made impressive waves within the volume photography community. By cornering such a specialized section of the industry, ShootAssist has secured itself staying power that will last for years to come. As he looks to the future, Andrew is constantly brainstorming innovative ways to make his platform even more effective for photographers and studios.
“My goal has always been to make ShootAssist as helpful as possible to volume photographers, and I have quite a few ideas of how to continue pushing in that direction. Integrations with other tools and AI both feel like opportunities worth exploring. And, as I've created more apps for volume photographers, I'm thinking strategically about how they could integrate to provide even more value to my users.”
In conclusion, managing a growing volume photography studio can be overwhelming, whether you have a client base of 2 or 200! Fortunately, ShootAssist solves the problem by intelligently meeting the needs of volume photographers with its highly customizable functions and adaptable workflows.
Want to learn more about ShootAssist or even jump right in? Visit www.shootassist.com to get started!
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