STUDIO NINJA - INTERVIEW
I have an imperfect memory.
What this translates to in my photography business, is that I need to create reminders and lists for everything I do, otherwise things get lost. And in this business, that is not good. Leads can get forgotten, not to mention email responses, invoices… the list is long.
As my business grew, I realized one thing: I needed help.
This is where studio management software came into my life. Now I have a system where website inquiries are automatically imported into my client management system. I can easily automate replies at the click of a button, or even have automated messages sent based on criteria in my workflow. I’m not writing the same emails again and again.
No more chasing after invoices, it all happens automatically. I have people sending me money without me ever having to ask them. Invoice reminders go out, money comes in. I can automatically send out questionnaires too…Custom designed questions based on the shoot type. So when the shoot or event comes up, I know exactly what to expect.
The system I use has reporting features built in, so I can monitor my business… Track my income, and analyze where I need to improve! Being able to keep track of my income and taxes collected also makes life much easier when tax season rolls around. It is all there, ready for my accountant. Best of all, I get some of my life back! By automating so much of the process, it frees me up to spend that time doing other things… Like shooting, or most importantly spending time with my family!
If you are struggling to stay on top of your photography business, then studio management software is for you. I have only touched upon the many features and advantages, and so believe me when I say it is worth the investment!
I caught up with Chris Garbacz, one of the co-founders of Studio Ninja to chat about studio management software, and how it can help photographers become more efficient, and get some of their life back! -Shawn Moreton (Support Manager)
I know you are a photographer yourself, so tell us how Studio Ninja came to be…. In other words, why didn’t you just use an existing studio management software, rather than decide to create your own?
I've been running my own businesses for 12 years and Studio Ninja has been my 11th business attempt.
I guess I've always been on the lookout for opportunities. So, I actually was using an existing studio management software for about 5 years and honestly, it was working fine for me (even if I was only using about 10% of the features). I had a few friends who were stepping up their photography game, and they were ready to implement a studio management software into their business, so I recommended the one I was using to them.
All of them came back to me saying it was too complicated, so I invited them to my studio for a group training session. After 1 hour of teaching and showing them how to use the software, their faces still remained blank, confused and they basically didn't even want to attempt to give it a go because it was too complicated and too ugly.
That was the moment!
That was when I thought there might be an opportunity in the photography industry for new studio management software. Something simple, beautiful, and actually enjoyable to use. So I mocked up some designs, put a website together and then spread the word through the forums. I told photographers that I was going to build a "new" studio management software and I was looking for early adopters.
Some laughed at me, some told me not to bother, some told me that I couldn't possibly compete with the current options… BUT 100 photographers put their hands up, they believed in me and paid me an annual subscription in exchange for a lifetime discount.
From that moment onwards I knew there was demand for what I wanted to build and the rest is history...
What is your elevator pitch for using studio management software, and Studio Ninja in particular?
Built specifically for photographers, Studio Ninja is a beautifully designed, super easy to use photography business app (for web and mobile) that will manage your leads, clients, shoots, invoices, contracts, workflows and so much more!
Some studio management systems are a nightmare to navigate on the backend… particularly for those that are not so tech-savvy. How does Studio Ninja compare?
This is our point of difference and part of our value proposition. We pride ourselves on being the world's most user-friendly photography business app. From the very beginning our mission was to keep Studio Ninja simple. Even as we develop and deploy new features for our users (at no additional cost) every month, we make sure that these new features enhance the experience for our users and NEVER complicate or hinder the user experience. CRMs (customer relationship management) are by nature very complicated, so it's been our biggest challenge to try and keep things simple. Studio Ninja needs to be intuitive, easy to navigate, and visually beautiful. One of our users has told us:
"The way that Studio Ninja is structured is perfect for the way my brain works! It has the tools we need without going overboard with any unnecessary elements."
DAN O'DAY AIPP, Wedding Photographer of the Year 2016 & 2018
You donate $1 of every subscription, every month to charity. Tell us about that?
From the very beginning we have believed in giving back. Living in Australia means that we have every opportunity to be and do whatever we set our minds to without many limitations. A large percentage of the world’s population does not have that luxury, so before we even launched Studio Ninja we wanted to team up with a charitable organization that was making a difference in the world and that was in line with our values. Then we found YGAP, an amazing Melbourne based charity. In their words: "We back impact entrepreneurs - or as we like to call them 'local leaders' - with solutions to local problems in some of the world's toughest communities. We believe this is the most effective, sustainable means of tackling poverty because these local leaders understand the unique challenges of their communities. Our role is to help refine and scale and support their solutions." More on YGAP here - https://ygap.org/ Instantly we were moved by their mission and wanted to support what they were doing, so yes, every month, we donate $1 of every subscription to YGAP (about 3% of our revenue) and it feels good.
In your opinion what are the 3 top reasons we should consider using studio management software?
As your business grows, you want to make sure you have the systems in place so you can:
1. Be more organized. You want to easily manage all of your clients, shoots, invoices, etc. without having to deal with or spend more time doing administrative tasks.
2. Feel less stressed or overwhelmed. You want to know the details of each of your bookings and what upcoming tasks you have. You also want to know that you'll never miss a session or meeting, lose paperwork, or double book a date!
3. Have more time. You want to free up valuable time so you're not bogged down doing boring, mundane administrative tasks, but instead your focusing on marketing, sales and shooting so you can make more money (or spend time doing the things you love).
Some of the most important features of our software:
1. Automation. Once setup, Studio Ninja will automatically respond to leads, automatically email your clients at various times throughout the job’s lifespan, and automatically chase due and overdue invoices.
2. Mobile App: Our Apple and Android app is kick ass, beautifully designed and like everything else, it's super easy to use. All the functionality is packed into the mobile app so you can basically run your business from anywhere.
3. Usability: Although this is not a cool feature, it is a cool fundamental part of our software that makes it super easy to learn, intuitive to use and quick to setup. Our users have mentioned to us many times that they got completely setup from scratch in under 30 mins.
4. Free pre-made templates. Inside everyone's account we offer free email templates, contract templates, questionnaire templates and workflow templates to save you time, help you get up and running quicker and also help you get on the right path from day one.
5. Bonus Studio Ninja perks: Again, not really a feature, but when you come over to Studio Ninja we offer a lot of extras, for example:
-Free 1-on-1 training calls with me to help you learn the system and get up and running as quickly as possible.
-Free data migration if you're coming to Studio Ninja from another studio management software.
-Amazing support over the phone, 24/5 in-app chat support, email and our private Facebook group.
-We’ve also negotiated amazing deals and discounts with some of the world's best photography products and services exclusive for Studio Ninja members only.
What do you do with all the time this is saving you in your photography business?
Hahaha, I do a lot of things :-)
• I shoot 40 weddings a year
• I work on Studio Ninja
• I talk to 4 - 6 customers per day on the phone to get more insight into how they are runnings their businesses and how they use our software to solve their problems. This also allows me to understand where we need to improve.
• I do Yoga everyday
• I do CrossFit everyday
• I juggle 2 kids (10 months and 3 years old) hahaha and a beautiful wife
• And I try and squeeze in a mountain biking or kite surfing session in once a week.
A very big thank you to Chris Garbacz for taking the time to chat with me about Studio Ninja. They have generously offered us a special discount too! If you are interested in getting your business more organized, feeling less stressed, and getting some free time back, then be sure to check out Studio Ninja at http://www.studioninja.co/