Apologies for the absence of recent posts. I’ve been trying to find words to explain the feeling of selling my ‘baby’ of 16 years, and the first photographer’s agency in New Zealand, The Collective Force.
Not that I’m sad- I am over the moon that the business will continue with a new lease of life. And chuffed that the new owner, one of my clients in New Zealand for many years, is so enthused and motivated to develop the brand further.
In fact, as you may have read in one of my early posts, I actually closed the doors of Collective Force in April 2011. I had decided it was time to move on, and work more in a consulting capacity.
Quite frankly, I was relieved not to have to deal with late night calls and Emails from far flung places wanting a quote for a huge job by the next day. Or a treatment from a photographer who had dropped off the face of the earth two days earlier without warning. Or the eleven further requests for revised estimates which would keep the producers busily pulling their hair out for another few months until the job evaporated into thin air….. only to return a month later in sudden urgency causing mayhem as all the crew we needed were scattered around New Zealand filming goblins & hobbits.
It was definitely the right decision.
Nevertheless since I had ditched the office, the staff AND (more crucially) the photographers, it does beg the question; what was there to sell?
Well firstly there was the name. We did have a pretty big profile throughout Australasia (and it still does). There was the website, although it desperately needed upgrading. There was a domain name and key Email addresses. But the buyer was more concerned that there were systems and processes. REALLY concerned actually. I believe it was the deal breaker.
Luckily I’m a Virgo. I say that because, true to my star sign, I love systems and processes. When I built the business, I wanted clients to have the same experience whether they dealt with me or one of the producers. And I learnt the hard way that new staff are rarely mind readers, and much as we’d like it, osmosis is not a typical information sharing process within offices. So I wrote, and had all my staff write vast pages of instructions on how to manage photographers, how to prepare and manage a sales trip, how to quote and negotiate a job, when to pick up the phone (within two rings of course), how to follow up from jobs, etc., etc…..
There’s a lesson in this. Having a process which says when ‘a’ happens ‘b’ must be actioned is a great way to ensure that anyone coming into your business, long term or contractor, can do things without being told. Even photographers who hire contractors can have systems. How to name files, where to find what equipment, how you like the gear packed, a list of your expectations on any given shoot (you could have several depending on the nature of the shoot), when they should answer your phone and what to say, how you like your coffee….etc., etc.
A few months ago, as part of due diligence, I met the prospective buyer in a cafe and heaved my freshly printed and bound tome of systems and processes onto our table. The grin on his face was capacious. i knew the deal was going to proceed.