Back in the mid-1990's, I got a call from Jeff Grann, who asked me if I would be willing to consult with him on the development of a comprehensive studio management software application. I had met Jeff through his wife, Judy, who was one of my first (and best) business students. As a brand-new photographer in her early 20's, Judy was highly motivated to move her fledgling studio business from her townhouse basement to a retail location so that Jeff could use the space at home for a pool table. As cumbersome as business planning was back then—you had to do all your calculations by pencil, paper, and adding machine—Judy understood that a financial and marketing plan were the only option for achieving her goal. I've never seen anyone attack a business plan like Judy did. She made the plan, then worked the plan, and soon she was in a lovely studio space in downtown Fairfax, VA.
In those days Jeff was working in Washington as a TRW computer engineer, and I was struggling with how to automate my monthly accounting chores. I showed Jeff the home-made management system that I had cobbled together from three off-the-shelf applications, and he set up something similar for Judy's studio. Jeff was amazed that no one had developed a true financial management software for the photography industry. In those days there were some systems that handled income and client data, but nothing that integrated all the elements that photographers need to run a studio using a single data file. So when I got Jeff's call I was intrigued that he and Judy had decided that her business was sufficiently profitable that Jeff could quit his lucrative software development job to work full time developing what would become SuccessWare. I was particularly pleased that the software would include not only tracking features, but also business planning and pricing modules. We began a series of meetings so that Jeff could understand exactly what financial management features photographers needed to help them make more money, doing so according to industry standards for financial management. During those early meetings, I could never have envisioned that SuccessWare would become the incredible multi-faceted tool that it is today. In fact, SuccessWare has added so many mind-boggling features since those early days when I was in weekly contact with Jeff and Judy, that I have vowed to attended one of their SuccessWare "immersion" classes before the year is out.
Knowing that I was involved in the early development of SuccessWare, I get lots of questions about SuccessWare and why I believe SuccessWare is essential for profitable studio management. Here's the answer I give:
SuccessWare is the industry's ONLY fully integrated financial and business management software that encompasses all of your studio business needs—business planning, product pricing, scheduling, client and prospect tracking, order tracking, bill paying and complete financial management and reporting. Everything you need is always in one place: no double entries, hunting for cheat sheets, etc. I've lived through the days when you had to do daily hand entries and then spend three days each month to hand-create your financial records. Things improved with computers, but you still had to work in 3 or 4 applications and create your own personalized reports. With SuccessWare, once you enter data and pay your bills, reports are automatic, and this is the way it has to be for busy, successful people. When you look around and see who's making money in this industry, it's not a coincidence that most of them are SuccessWare users.
You can learn a great deal more about SuccessWare by going to their website (SuccessWare.net). You'll find all kinds of resources—from video tours to a free download demo. Just click here to take a look.