COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Practical Steps For Your Professional Photography Business

The information about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is changing daily, so we are doing our best to gather some practical steps you can take to minimize the impact of this event on your business. Please continue to check back with this article, periodically for updates.

March 18, 2020 Update

BE PATIENT WITH YOUR SCHOOLS

Best approach is to be one of support and flexibility.

School administrators are dealing with a myriad of urgent issues. Everyone is worried about what the future holds and most genuinely want to help. But understand, the school/league does not have enough information yet to determine when life will resume. Let them know you aren’t going anywhere, you’re there if they need help, and when the dust settles you look forward to seeing them again.

IT IS SAFE TO RECEIVE PACKAGES

The WHO has answered that question.

You will likely get the question, is it safe to touch my print package? The WHO has made it clear, it’s safe to handle your prints and the package they arrive in, even if it has come from an area where COVID-19 has been reported.  Keep checking any of their updates!

WHAT TO DO WITH ORDERS THAT CANNOT DELIVER TO THE SCHOOL

Ship-to-home!

The short version is ship-to-home can help you bring happiness to families’ lives during this uncertain time. Not sure how? Give us a call and we can talk you through it.

There are 2 versions of this.

  1. For orders that have been collected, but not yet processed: Add the ship-to-home addresses before placing your order.
  2. For orders that have already been sent to the lab: Call us as soon as you find out the school is closed.
    1. If the order is still in processing, we have a few options.
    2. If it has already left the lab, we don’t have as many options. But we can still help.

Collect Addresses

OK, you’ve got the order stopped, now what? You now need the addresses. If you sold using hhimagehost, you already have the purchase addresses in the order data reports. Another option is to ask your schools for a mailing list to only be used for this special circumstance.

BE REAL WITH WHERE YOUR CUSTOMERS MINDSET IS

Understand many of your customers are currently focused on physiological and safety needs.

They may not be ready to talk about preserving and sharing memories. Be appropriate with your customer communication. But after 15+ days of staring at their living room walls, they might be ready to change out the family portraits!

Remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

https://www.stemlynsblog.org/better-learning/educational-theories-you-must-know-st-emlyns/educational-theories-you-must-know-maslow-st-emlyns/

DON’T CREATE SHORT-TERM SOLUTIONS THAT TURN INTO LONG-TERM PROBLEMS

There is nothing like “doing something” to make you feel better about “doing something”!

When your clients are ready, consider pre-selling sessions at a discount. This would provide cash flow now for portrait days later. Just be wise in what you spend now and what you set aside. Don’t create short-term solutions that turn into long-term problems.

We have all been blindsided by the rapid changes and shuttering effects. Many small businesses and entrepreneurs are substantially down. We are hearing promises of financial help, but at this time we don’t know what that might look like. In the 2007-2008 crash a number of our customers got temporary jobs to keep just enough money flowing to avoid dipping into their reserves. This is a different time with different rules, but there is nothing like “doing something” to make you feel better about “doing something”!

UNDERSTAND YOUR EXPENSES AND BE PESSIMISTIC ABOUT SPRING REVENUE

We’ve reached out to our friends in the banking industry for advice to share with you.

They recommend if you are looking at how to cover your expenses during a time of lost sales, consider asking your bank for some relief. If you have bank debt, talk to them about going interest-free (only for a period of time) to reduce the cash you are spending until things get back to normal. You may also be able to draw on your line of credit. Or, if your situation allows, you might be able to wait it out. But the most important thing is to understand your expenses, be pessimistic about what revenue might come in, and make changes sooner rather than later.


March 12, 2020 Original Post

EDUCATE YOURSELF

And encourage your team to educate themselves too. Knowing and communicating practical steps to your employees will let them know you are engaged and care about them.

  • Read and become familiar with what the CDC has to say about keeping workplaces, homes, schools and commercial establishments safe.
  • Decide how you want to handle employee travel and interactions with clients who have traveled overseas.
  • Read up on recent outbreaks which may provide perspective of what has happened in the past that we can learn from.

Many organizations and school administrators are looking to the CDC and the State Health Departments for direction on what action they should take. Some colleges and businesses are making their own independent decisions. Spring breaks are underway.  Look for schools to keep school closed after spring break.

TECHNOLOGY MATTERS

  • If you are not already, you should offer online sales in conjunction with your printed order forms. Sign up for hhimagehost for schools and sports work or N-Vu for portrait and wedding photography. Then call us to help get you started today. Online sales allows you to continue taking orders without having to be personally at an organization and with online being an electronic transaction, your clients will not have any hesitations about spreading germs.
  • Ask for the mailing address in your online orders. This will give you the option of mailing orders directly to your clients’ homes using H&H’s mail-to-home capabilities. Instead of delivering package envelopes to the school or holding orders until classes resume, you can have paid orders mailed directly to parents.
  • Look into your business phone capability to forward calls to cell phones. This may come in handy in case it becomes necessary for employees to work from home.
  • If you do In-Person Sales, look up and PRACTICE using N-Vu’s Room-Vu and Dual-Vu. These powerful capabilities allow you to remotely sell to your clients while you drive a high-end sales experience.

TIME MATTERS

  • Schedule your picture days as soon as you can. When you do this you have given yourself the opportunity to continue to sell should the environment change.
  • For the same reason as above, distribute your sales materials as soon as you can. Whether you are selling via prepay or proof, give yourself the opportunity to take orders as soon as you can.
  • Don’t sit on your jobs. This one bears repeating. Speed always matters. But in times of uncertainty, you’ll be thankful you put in the extra work now to get orders to the lab. And we will do our best to turn around your orders quickly!

PICTURE DAY DETAILS

Consider procedures that help ensure you are not contributing to spreading germs.

  • Put a bottle of hand sanitizer out on picture day and have your photographers use it.
  • Use a forehead temperature scanner to take photographer temperature at the beginning of the day before heading out to schools.
  • Tell your employees you don’t want them to come to picture day sick.
  • Wipe down your equipment with disinfectant wipes at the end of the day before you take down.

HUMAN RESOURCES POLICIES

  • Look at your attendance policies and consider making temporary adjustments that encourage employees to not come to work if they are sick.
  • Put together your thoughts on how your business is responding. Be able to articulate your thoughts to employees, contractors and customers.

BUSINESS PLANNING

  • Look at your cash flow. If organizations shut down for 2 or 3 weeks this spring, and the sales during that period are delayed or go away, what changes do you need to make now so your cash flow will get you through your slow time?
  • Talk to your bank about your line of credit. Do you have the flexibility in place if spring sales are not what you expected?
  • Look for other non-traditional jobs you can take on now to get ahead of potential stoppages this spring.

LISTEN

You’ve probably noticed that there are many people with many different perspectives on this event. People matter. Making sure people feel safe to express their concerns without judgment builds trust. It’s possible that, as leaders, we may also need to provide some perspective and context. But doing so without judgment in an emotionally charged time will go a long way to building long term relationships.

THE WEATHER

This has been a mild winter for most of the country. Most schools have snow days available to use.  Look for schools to use them up if there is any question of an issue. Be especially prepared for picture days that are up against a spring break or weekend. These will likely be the first places school administrators will cancel school.

Spring is coming. With that, we should see a decrease in cold and flu issues. Let’s hope and pray this virus comes under control sooner rather than later!

Lastly, I want to share something a city leader friend of mine just told me. Most of us will likely be exposed in the future as it takes a while to produce a vaccine, but we’ll get through it. Keep moving forward in a positive way. It’s our job to show stable leadership and integrity by being smart, humble, listening well, and providing truthful perspective and knowledge to our customers and our employees.

Team H&H

H&H Color Lab is not only the market leader in the sports photography business, we are your partner. We’ve been helping independent sports photographers run profitable businesses for 50 years.

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