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The Repeatable Pattern

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  • The Repeatable Pattern

    I joined the group with the hope that I could help some of you who are struggling to become more successful with your businesses. In some cases I goofed by introducing basic sales principles into my posts. If you think you "hate selling", theories don't help you at all! Others here seemingly interpret promotional programs that make money as "snake oil" or a "dog and pony show" and, while keeping rebuttal subtle, continue to hold to a belief that a building a professional business on profitable sales practices is demeaning and/or implies an ethics problem or requires killer instincts, none of which is true.

    I'm stubborn, I'll try again! Everyone will have to agree that without a customer you don't stand a chance to show how great you are ....and the customers are not going to materialize by osmosis! This thread will help (I hope) to hone in on SPECIFICS and, instead of drawing fire from critics, perhaps it can grow with dozens of similar ideas ...- it's the "REPEATABLE PATTERN".

    Every job that comes in your door came to you for a specific reason - you worry about how to DO the job (99.7 % of this forum is here to help you with that) but when the job is done, see if you can figure out how to get more of the "same type" of jobs - that is the way you build a profitable business!

    REPEATABLE PATTERN IDEA # 1 A few months ago we were ask what could be done to preserve the fading 30"x40" graduation class composites for a local Christian school. I said that we could make a 4x5 negative on each for archival storage and any future publishing or replacement needs. After that I'd scan the negs to a CD or DVD for immediate referral use. I gave them a quote of $40.00 each to make the initial archival negatives. Three weeks ago, they placed the order for 130 of them and brought me a deposit of $2,600 to get started on the job.

    In my years in the school business I made hundreds of these composites. The walls of every school is lined with them dating back as long as the building has been standing - making this job repeatable! If possible I'll get newspaper publicity out of this "preservation project" that will include "news" photos in the school hallways, the deteroriating condition of the originals and perhaps an MP4 setup at work in our shop to add to my promotional material. As soon as it's done, there will be a general mailing go out to other schools in the state letting them know about this. More assignments will follow and the more we do, the more the rest of the schools will insist on having it done - not just in Oregon but in your state as well!

    This type of job is, of course, not suitable to everyone - but I'm willing to bet that if ALL OF YOU on this forum KEEP THIS THREAD ON TOPIC by adding just ONE REPEATABLE PATTERN idea to it - a lot more of you will be smiling on your way to the bank next month! :-)

    Jim Conway,
    Timemark Photo Conservators


  • #2
    Others here seemingly interpret promotional programs that make money as "snake oil" or a "dog and pony show" and, while keeping rebuttal subtle, continue to hold to a belief that a building a professional business on profitable sales practices is demeaning and/or implies an ethics problem or requires killer instincts, none of which is true.

    Promotional/Sales programs which are Ethical and avoid exaggerated claims, high pressure tactics, and are truthful in their presentation are to be lauded, studied and used...all else is to be avoided. That is the point I have been trying to make, and it has served me very well. It is just my opinion though.
    Repeatable business I have had great successs with has been designing and printing custom "wallet sized" photos for Senior Highschool graduation announcments. Each year a new crop appears. Tom
    Last edited by thomasgeorge; 05-19-2002, 05:41 PM.


    • #3
      I agree completely with that, Jim. People aren't likely to quit having children or sending them to school any time soon. It is constantly replenishing resource. Same with weddings, sports programs, bar/bat mitzvahs, quinceñeras or any other social standard.

      If you can tap into those constantly replenishing sources with a valuable idea, good quality, and a reasonable price, I believe you have a better chance at establishing a good, solid business. And it really doesn't mean you have to be "slick" or sell "snake oil" to do it...

      Most of my past employers have really done well with these types of ideas. Ever heard of Northwest School & Sports Photography in Beaverton? I worked there when I lived in Oregon. They started in the garage of the owner's house, and now they are a multimillion dollar a year business. They ONLY do school photos. They never run out of kids...


      • #4
        More on repeatable pattern business

        Repeatable Pattern sales are based on doing good, and high pressure tactics I would think are nearly impossible in this business! That being said, I had hoped there would be dozens of responses here so we are not doing very well with input on specific "repeatable pattern" assignments so I'm going to offer another one that cannot be interpreted as anything but doing good anyway you look at it.

        I was reminded of this just this past week by a man in his late 70's who told me his wife cried for three weeks when she was told she was going to have to go into a nearby nursing home. I happen to know the people who run that home - and I know them because of a series of assignments that started over eight years ago - so I told him to talk to them about putting up a photo display for her - then go home and start digging out the ones that are her favorites - so the room will be "hers" when she gets there.

        The first time I had an assignment like this, it came in from a male nurse who was working in a elder care facility. He told me how horrifying the transition is for most people no matter how nice the place is - and he asked what it would cost to do about a dozen enlarged photos for a woman that had no family left except in those old photos. I don't remember what that assignment amounted to financially and it really doesn't matter.

        Over the next few years, we contacted (or were contacted by) most all of the nursing homes in this area and even some of the hospitals ...sometime the managers will make the suggestion to the families making the arrangements and sometimes it's from word of mouth about the displays that we have done - but the result has been "repeatable pattern" business with dozens of orders every year many in fact that it's a routine part of our business now and I wouldn't even have thought about how it all started if I hadn't started this thread.

        You can start out by putting together a brochure or presentation of work that you can send (or preferably take) to the nursing home managers. Some of them don't want holes in their walls from hanging frames and in that case you can use sheets of foam core. The idea is to find out what they will allow. They will thank you for asking and refer the people to you when they know you can help them and believe me the displays DO help them!.

        I don't know how many on this forum can or will pick up on this - I hope a whole lot of you will. I'm a businessman and have always considered myself a good one - but, at age 73, this is something I understand deeply and something so easy to do - yet so important for the people involved - that I am recommending it to you from the heart!

        Jim Conway


        • #5
          You have so many good tips and ideas. I just wanted to say "Thanks" for sharing.
          And please, don't stop.


          • #6
            Ok Jim,

            I'm gonna post an idea... since we've had two from you.

            I've been thinking that Grad picture collages would be a great keepsake and sure to be a big seller. The collage would include a booklet they get from the dinner and possibly other school memerobilia (can't spell).... Blended with several images of the grad. Maybe the corsage or flowers. I made a mock image up to show the concept. I'm lousy at collages but I'm sure you get the idea.

            Attached Files


            • #7
              Jim, First I want to echo what Vikki said. I do read your posts and take them to heart, though I don't always respond. And I do appreciate you taking the time to share your experience and wisdom with us! THANKS!

              Second, in thinking about "repeatable patterns", I can't help but think of births. A collage (similar to what Lisa suggested for graduations) of the baby and parents, along with the birth announcement would make a beautiful image for new parents. I haven't done one of these myself, but it seems like an idea that has merit. Perhaps I'll try to put one together from my nephew's early photos.



              • #8
                I too read your posts with interest Jim and while I won't likely follow your suggestions to the letter, I will follow them in spirit.

                I'm in a strange position this year that if I earn ANY money for the rest of the year it will boost me into a higher tax bracket and you don't want to know what that would mean to my bottom line LOL

                However, I am taking the rest of this year to think seriously about how and where I want to grow my business.

                An area that hasn't been mentioned is funeral photos. It is rare these days to have an open casket (at least where I live) so the family opts for a nice large photo of the deceased to place on top of the casket. Most funeral operators will also print a photo on the programme cards that are handed out.

                Few people plan for their funeral by having a suitable formal portrait taken and the family is left scrambling to find a candid photo that can be modified quickly to serve the purpose. Being able and willing to quickly extract Grandpa from the Christmas dinner group shot could make for a lifelong customer in the grieving family.

                A bit of subtle advertising through funeral directors might get your foot in this door.

                Just a thought,


                • #9
                  Thanks for the compliment Jeannie (and the rest of you) but to understand the principal, nothing I've mentioned here is "my idea".

                  Like a portrait photographer learns to "see" the subject, growing your business depends on how you look at EACH sale. Looking for the "repeatable pattern" is like using a fill light in the shadows - you look at the WHOLE PICTURE - only in this case it's your own sale - to see how it fits into your own scheme of things. (experience, equipment, location, financial resources, interests.)

                  When a new order comes in, ask these questions; Where did this order originate (in other words what prompted the need)? Why did this client come to me? (Did I do something to bring him or her to me) Do I want more orders like this one?

                  Once you start looking at your EXISTING SALES in this way, "ideas" will come to you as easily as they come to the greatest sales people on earth. Don't be afraid to ask why and how they happened to come to you, then really listen. So often references here are being made to selling as something apart, giving it some kind of mystery or requiring some special talents when it simply a case of looking, analyzing and acting on it like you'd move your key, fill and accent lights around in the studio.

                  Try it - pick ANY ORDER from your own books and see if you can find a repeatable pattern in it. If we get a good dialog going on this, you'll all become super sales people without really trying to be! There are billions of photos self-destructing out there and plenty of work to go around! Now, thanks to Doug's making this forum available for everyone to learn something from the other guys conversations, we have a golden opportunity to save bundles of them if we uncover the repeatable patterns in the "clients ideas". All we need to do is just repeat what they've told us and that's all I've done. It's great to see so many jumping in here!!!

                  Jim Conway


                  • #10
                    Lisa's contribution

                    Lisa - loved the composite you did! I've got three grandchildren graduating next month - so that's one I can use on a very personal basis - Thanks!

                    Jim C


                    • #11
                      Margarets contribution

                      Margaret you've hit on TWO great ideas - one of them perhaps without realizing it??? By doing some pro-bono work for your local historical society, you can enhance your skills as well as your reputation as an expert in this field - plus get a tax deduction for the expenses that you incur while helping them out. A triple header in your situation that will benefit you later when you want to go into it on a larger scale.

                      Jim Conway


                      • #12
                        You're right Jim - I hadn't thought of that!!

                        I've been hounding family and friends for all their old photos to practice on, but I never thought of offering my services to the historical society. I will give them a call and let you know how it turns out.

                        Thanks for the tip,


                        • #13
                          A large percentage of my business at the moment comes in the form of referrals from frame shops. I supply them with a damaged original (gotten from an antique store) and a restored print. They frame them and display them and whenever someone comes in asking about having anything repaired before it's framed, they are shown the display and referred to me.


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