SPOTLIGHT ON PHOTOGRAPHY
Focused on You
Spot On Images was born because Bill loves taking real estate pictures and Jane has a lot of marketing expertise, but that's not enough to start a business. We did our homework, taking a hard look at what photography services were available to agents.
Weekend after weekend, we got in our car, drove around and visited open houses. Many agents were perfectly satisfied with the service they were using, because setting up an appointment was easy, they got their photos on time and the images were great. Agents seemed to use two different kinds of photographers - an anonymous photographer sent by a big agency or a photographer friend who did real estate photos on the side.
We noticed a pattern for those using the big agencies. While many of their customers were happy, we kept hearing several things over and over:
"I never know who I'm going to get as a photographer and so I'm not sure what kind of photos I will end up with." These agents complained about different photography styles, levels of skill and equipment. They sometimes found the anonymous photographers uncooperative when asked to do something outside the ordinary. They complained of friction between their home owners and the assigned photographers. They complained of a lack of attention to detail since the company had grown.
"The prices sound good, but then they add on all kinds of fees." Trip fees, editing fees, rescheduling fees, green grass fees, blue sky fees, extra shot fees - the price of a shoot could double when all the fees were added up, especially if the listing was a little outside Dallas and its immediate suburbs.
"I can only use my photos for the MLS. I have to pay extra if I want to use them for other advertising." This was a licensing issue. The agents were only getting a limited use license for their photos.
Those who used a friend or acquaintance photographer, who did real estate photography on the side, had a different set of problems. They seemed to be able to get consistently great pictures from someone who was liked by the clients, but because real estate photography was a secondary job, they often had problems trying to get on their friend's schedule on a timely basis.
We built our company on the things we learned. First, we wanted to be a boutique real estate photography company and only a real estate photography company, offering extraordinary service to people who would appreciate it. We had no desire to build a company employing a stable of photographers, which set appointments through an app. Our business would be built on high touch relationships and we would build our business by referral, not depending on advertising or price-related promotions.
We also wanted to be predictably affordable. No advertising of cheap services which were then inflated by various fees - just a simple scale based on the size of the listing and whether or not aerial pictures would be required. We wouldn't charge trip fees, pen This included giving our clients an unrestricted license for their photographs, one that allows them to use the photos to market the home and themselves in any way they desired.
That was our plan and it has been a good one. We focus our efforts on the needs of our clients, offering reasonable prices, high quality and quick turnaround. Our growth has been slow, because we have built our customer base one referral at a time. As outsourcing of photo processing became more popular, we decided against using it and continue to edit all shoots in our own office. We continue in the vein we started - focused on you.
If you'd like to add a photographer to your team you can count on to do it your way, then give us a call.