5 lessons COVID-19 taught me as a photo booth owner
1. Price is no longer key
We have all been guilty of getting ourselves embroiled in a pricing war with the many competitors you inevitably have in your local area. It’s a tale as old as time (I’m sorry Mr Disney, don’t sue me), you then add that thing your nearest boother doesn’t have to try and stand out. Before you know it, you are promising the world 6 hours, custom everything, 4 attendants, your house, car keys and your spare kidney for $350.
There is a lot to be said for losing that way of selling all together. If you think about all the other services you book, it is unlikely you could tell me the first thing about the tools they use to provide your desired outcome. Ask yourself, ‘do I know the brand of drywall the builder used on my renovation?’ I bet you couldn’t tell me. Yet you still booked them. The same should apply to us…
What is your customers desired outcome? I doubt it is a cannon 5D and a printer that can print 4x6 in 8 seconds. Yet this is what is being pushed.
Before the lockdown, price was the driving force of most sales conversations, but now, customers are looking at where they are putting their money. They don’t want cheap… They want to know you are established, you have longevity and when their event goes ahead you will be there to smash it out of the park… Luckily for us, those things are diametrically opposed.
Since Lockdown, I have had 0 pricing queries. I am still getting enquiries, I am still getting bookings, but the question about pricing is now irrelevant. It is time to let your quality and expertise shine through.
2. Trim down for lockdown
The saying goes… ‘the easiest money made, is money saved.’ Never has this been truer. Now is the perfect time to really run through your profit loss and see exactly where it is you can trim the fat, and what it is that will make you more profit.
This is not to say you need to cancel all your outgoings and go into hiding. That will not help at all. You have some spare time, build a platform to launch your business to the next level when the world opens back up. Take some time to review how you spend your money.
When deciding what should stay and what should go, follow these easy set of questions.
Pro tip: There were some things I had decided to cancel, but upon finding out more about it, I found that I was only using a fraction of the service and time spent on learning was returned 2-fold.
3. Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket
We are now all aware that being strong in the face of adversity is necessary to survive, especially when there is a global pandemic. What I have now come to learn is that if you want to do more than survive, if you want to thrive… you must be dynamic.
I think it is fair to say even the most fool hardy of us have pondered the fate of our industry over the next few months and years, it is quite reasonable to think the events industry is in an unprecedented time. The photo booth however, that has been around since 1923, This is the 4th pandemic in its existence, not even a world war could keep this guy down. The same is true of now.
So what can you do?... It’s time to pivot.
Look into other parts of your skill set you’re able to utilize…
On the first day of lockdown here in the UK, I saw a post from one of our industry leaders. They had just been told his business couldn’t operate.
The first thing they looked for was a positive… A way to react.
Within a day they had used their mosaic software to reach out to all their past clients.
They were sat at home, with nothing to do other than browse their phones after all.
They simply offered them a mosaic of all of their photo booth photos from their previous events. 0 additional investment for their business, just a new way of selling the same thing.
Another repurposed software to print personalized masks.
It can be as little as taking more private functions than corporate.
What you can not do, is feel sorry for yourself, do nothing, and expect the result to change.
4. Innovation beats desperation
We have seen it over and over; hard times have brought about huge leaps in innovation. Medical advances because of war, agricultural advances because of famine. Sufficed to say that lockdown brought tech to bring people together.
Within a month, the whole world has made a successful move to the digital world. People of all ages were forced in to becoming more tech savvy.
As soon as an issue was presented it was resolved. The worlds largest companies moved to remote working. Schooling became virtual… And it worked.
Something we can be sure of is that the post COVID world we are stepping out into has a solution for everything tech.
The photo booth industry was quick to react too…
Breeze for instance have released an intuitive, fully hands off photobooth solution for physical events.
Snappic released a virtual software which could be utilized before lockdown ended.
Fotomaster used gestures to launch a session.
People needed solutions, and our tech leaders acted. There needs to be credit given where it is due here, and we can all show our support by using this tech.
5. The world only pauses for a global pandemic
Through out this pandemic I have seen a few different responses from photo booth owners.
Some have decided this is a good time to make good their exit from the photo booth world. I don’t think anyone can blame them, there has been and will continue to be a hill to climb to make it back to normality.
Some have pivoted to something new to bring in revenue.
Others have seen the opportunity that is presenting itself within the pandemic.
What is that supposed to mean? Well I’m glad you asked…
Every good sale relies on supply vs demand. It is likely that you were near enough at your saturation rate for bookings before the pandemic arrived. By this I mean if you have 2 booths, and you have 2 bookings on most of your key dates.
Well now we have all the weddings from 2020 being pushed to 2021. Venues, however, don’t want to give away key dates to postponements, and people don’t wait until 2022 for their wedding they were supposed to have this year.
What is the solution?
Venues have been pushing postponements into mid-week or non-key dates. The result being, a higher perceived demand, and the ability to increase your turnover without the need for more investment.
We have been actively marketing and people are looking to secure their date knowing there is likely to be a higher demand due to the back up of 2020 bookings being postponed.
So your customer is at home engaging with your online presence with their new found skills, they are aware of your demand because your advertising is telling them about it, and as an extra bonus, a lot of your competitors will have paused their paid advertising, so you will get a bit of extra reach for your marketing budget.
In review, the pandemic is whatever you are ready to make of it. If you can adapt and use the tools that are available to find opportunity where others are yet to see it. You can take your new lean multifaceted business in to the most profitable year yet.
What are you waiting for? GO!