Photographers tend to be creative souls. Unfortunately, innovative individuals sometimes aren’t the most organized when it comes to keeping an office space in shape. Improving office organization applies to everything from decluttering to instituting better business processes.
Studies show being more organized boosts stress management and well-being, which in turn leads to better productivity. Getting organized just feels good to most people. You can better focus on other challenges when you aren’t spending untold hours searching for missing items buried under clutter.
You’ll find many reasons why your photography business needs better office organization. Here are a few of our favorites and tips for embracing the change. Cover photo via Startup Stock Photos.
1. Find Important Documents
Clutter tends to make it difficult to find what you need. Perhaps you finished a photo shoot for a local school and kept a sign-in sheet for each class. Now, you can’t find the sheet because it’s buried under a pile of paperwork.
Solution: Get rid of extra clutter and place paperwork in a file cabinet immediately. It doesn’t really matter how you organize your files, only that you understand the system so you can find things quickly when needed.
Photo: Thijs van der Weide
2. Direct Others
Perhaps you take a vacation or hire additional help. Will other people understand your office organization if you aren’t available? Take the time to create maps with vinyl signs and other indicators to show people what to do.
Imagine one of your clients arrives to pick up a big order when you aren’t there. They want their wedding proofs because their grandparents are in town for two days and want to help them decide which ones to buy in print.
If you aren’t organized where your help can find the right photos, then you may miss out on a bigger sale. Not to mention, your client walks away feeling frustrated and unlikely to refer you to others. Increase customer satisfaction exponentially by labeling everything.
3. Create Work Zones
Do you work with a team of photographers or have some additional office staff for scheduling and other tasks? Photographers often need space to sit and edit their snapshots or lay out examples so they can figure out what works best for the client. The last thing you want is to stumble over each other as you’re working.
Set up work zones to avoid such an issue. Work zones may also help you in the buyer’s journey with your clients. For example, you might have an area where they can look at other work you’ve done and for the initial consultation, another for taking studio portraits and a third for showing them the finished photos and selling them prints.
4. Straighten Up Your Desk
Imagine you go to meet a couple of different photographers to hire for a big commercial photo shoot. One seems talented but their office is a complete mess of papers, old photos, loose files and clutter. The other is also talented but has a neat space with everything well-organized.
Which one would you be most likely to hire? First impressions can make a huge difference in whether someone hires you to take their photos or not. Make your office as inviting and organized as possible. Buy storage units for housing anything you don’t want to leave out.
Photo: Jeff Sheldon
5. Revamp Digital Files
Did you know in the United States about 140,000 hard drives crash each week? Around 60% of the issues are due to mechanical failure and not fault of the user. What does this mean for your photography business? At some point, you can and will have a failure and lose data.
Since photos are stored digitally today, you can avoid a catastrophe by backing up everything. Don’t just store digital files on one computer. Set up a system where files upload automatically at the end of each day. You should have files on a backup drive, a cloud server and your business computer at minimum. It isn’t a bad idea to have a fourth source, such as DVDs, to be on the safe side.
Not only do you need to keep recent photographs, but you may want to keep older snapshots for a number of years in case the people come back and want to order prints or other products.
6. Improve Customer Experience (CX)
If you want your subjects to walk away feeling as though they’re important to you and happy with the finished product, you must work hard to improve the CX of your business. The best way to do that is to create a process you walk the client through to avoid any missed touchpoints.
Write out how the customer goes through the buyer’s journey from the time they contact you until they pick up their order. What are the most important details they should know?
In photography, once you schedule the session, you should then move to the preparation portion of the interaction. The user needs to know what to bring to the session, how many clothing changes you allow and other details that help them prepare for the big day.
You may want to work with one of your top customers and ask them to share what helped them and what would make the process easier. Offer them a free photo shoot or some products in exchange for their input. The more you see the process through your customers’ eyes, the better you can meet their needs.
Train and Tweak
Train anyone who works for you in your office processes. Keep them on the same page for filing away paperwork and backing up images. Automate what you can to save time and leave your staff open for more creative endeavors.
Once you have a process in place, tweak anything that isn’t working. Look around your office every so often and see what might be improved. Ask your customers for feedback and strive to continuously improve the customer experience.