THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Credit crunch? How hard is it for me to spend my money?

Its a simple enough request. I need some portrait photographs for professional use. Easy enough project – black and white with me in work clothes. First stop – Ultimate Photography in Penryn, a mile or so from where I live and so I call in Saturday morning on the way to Truro. Walking through the front door, I see that there is a small reception area on the right – and a nail bar on the left, where a group of half a dozen young girls are either doing manicures, having manicures or waiting. I arrive and manicurist #1 asks if she can help. “I’d like to see the photographer please?” No problem, she says, take a seat. So I do. And wait. Tick, tock. Manicurist #1 returns to her customer – no contact with anybody else in the building. 5 minutes later a middle-aged lady appears from the back of the building, asks manicurist #1 a question, looks at me as if she has stepped in something – and then disappears. Tick, tock. 12 minutes – no communication. I rise, say “thank you” to bewildered nail bar group – and walk out the door. Cut to Truro 4 hours later. Venture Photographers. No problem – national franchise – they will sort me out. Walk up stairs to first floor funky studio and reception – lots of great pictures of families jumping around in bare feet. Ring bell – because the little sign blu-tacked to the wall says “ring bell”. Door opens and young girl emerges and asks if she can help. I make a mistake at this point. “I’d like some portrait photographs for business use?” Her eyes go misty – I didn’t say “will you take some pictures of me with my kids in bare feet”. She is out of her depth. She asks me to take a seat whilst she fetches somebody with a brain who can help me. Michelle arrives – she is more mature and wants to help. I explain what I want. She explains that if I wanted a family portrait she could help – but because I want to use the photographs professionally they could only do that if there was a strategic alliance relationship that would mean I would tell all of my Cornwall clients that they could come in with their families and have their pictures taken in bare feet. When I explain that my clients are all over the UK and that I have recommended dozens of dental practices to use Venture for their web site team pictures (in bare feet) – it has no effect on her. Shaking head – no can do – I have failed the interview process that would allow me to spend money with them. I emerge, downcast. Sunday morning – I’m Googling “photographers in Falmouth” and I’ve found site for a Ben Ellis, who seems to be able to take photographs of anybody who is prepared to pay him. I’ve sent him an email asking if he can help me. Lets see what happens. Morals: 1. If you have a nail bar in your studio, teach the manicurists how to deal with a new client enquiry; 2. If you own or have bought a franchise, be flexible and listen 3. if somebody wants to spend money with you in a credit crunch, make them feel special and not an intrusion.

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