Today’s Post by Joe Farace
“Beep beep and beep beep, yeah…”—Lennon & McCartney
Escalating gasoline prices affect small photography operations much more than it does larger companies. It seems that the smaller you are, the more windshield time you put in and the more gasoline that you burn. When gasoline prices hit levels near today’s, my old studio implemented several strategies to control overhead costs related to transportation. Here are a few steps you can take to keep your “behind the wheel” costs under control.
Use messenger services: Sending a messenger instead of driving yourself can eliminate unnecessary trips. There’s no doubt that face-to-face client contact can help build a relationship but you can overdo it too. You’ll be surprised to learn that even panic rush pickups and deliveries can be handled efficiently and inexpensively by a messenger service. Shop around for one with reasonable fees and a good reputation.
Work with vendors that deliver: Many suppliers will deliver their products directly to your office, studio, or home for free or for a modest fee.
Consider a fuel efficient vehicle: Diving a gas hog may be fun, but these days your gasoline card bills may exceed your car payment. If you’re going to run the roads, do it in a fuel-efficient manner. Why not make a visual statement and purchase or lease a hybrid vehicle.
Have client meetings at your office: Make meeting at your office more attractive so clients want to visit you. Spruce up the place, have the best bagels in town for noshing, brew some terrific coffee or tea to make your clients and potential clients feel at home. (Heck it just might just be your home, so take advantage of the atmosphere.)
Plan ahead for supplies: Don’t wait until you’re down to the last staple before re-ordering. Just-in-time delivery may work for the big boys, but photographers need to be more productive than large companies because more often than not, there’s nobody else to handle the small details. When you’re chief cook and bottle washer, you can’t wait until you’re out of Cascade.
Consolidate trips: Don’t make many separate trips, instead make many stops on one trip so your valuable time is used efficiently. Better yet, make better use of Internet resources to find and purchase supplies and products you regularly use on the Web. Remember, that big brown truck will deliver stuff right to your front door.
The key point to remember is that no matter what gasoline costs, when you’re driving a car, you are losing money. When you drive to a client’s location to pick up or deliver something or pick up supplies from a vendor, you’re not just adding wear and tear to your car and burning expensive gasoline, but are taking away productive time as well.