I don’t like sure things. I’ve spent years living by them, but I think a sure thing is basically something so many people have done that common wisdom tells us it will work, which is the problem. Sure things are dull and lifeless. If everyone is doing it, you gain no advantage. If it’s accepted wisdom, there’s nothing new do discover. If it stirs no doubt, you don’t have a problem to solve. But all of these things are the tasks that teach you to make a business work. Business thrives when we force ourselves to work things out.
Here’s something I just discovered. Burning DVDs for a wedding on my computer sucks up about an hour of productivity. I’m not actually the one who does it in my office, but an hour’s time is certainly worth over $15. So why not just use USB keys for about $15 instead? It costs the same but allows for one hour more or productivity. What if I applied this to other aspects of the business?
For example, if I cut out engagement sessions to free up time, does it affect my sales? I’ve seen some people put e-sessions into every package. That could quite easily amount to 200 extra hours a year (I figure 2-3 hours for the session, 1-2 hours to process, and a little time here and there for administrative stuff) for a 40-wedding year. If that person were to close 50% of their meetings, that would amount to spending 2.5 hours of time per meeting. Is there a way to use 2.5 hours of your time per meeting to make up for what you lose from the e-session? Or, if someone’s time is worth $150/hr, that would be $375 per meeting. What if he were to give away $375 worth of stuff at the meeting? Is it possible to create enough of an impression to surmount that with higher packages?
I don’t know the answer – naturally, it’s different with everyone, but I think it’s an important question. Trade-offs are where learning takes place. We need to see what happens when we give up something for something else. Sure things don’t take us down this path.
Here are some random things I’ve been thinking about in no particular order:
– Are there any things I can cut out of my package that people don’t need?
– Is there a way to get as much as I do by putting in only half the time?
– Could I get just as good a result with only half the equipment?
– Can I make my client meetings shorter?
– What’s the shortest package I could feasibly sell?
– Is there a way to make 2 hours of coverage sufficient?
– How much album design is necessary?
– What are the fewest images someone really needs to feel satisfied?
– How many weddings a year can I reject before it costs me?
– Do I need any ads at all?
– How much should I invest to improve referrals?
– What can I do to leverage the office more?
– Do I really need more than one lens and one camera body (plus a back-up)?
– What venues do I not want to work with?