On Trends and Staying Power, a Chat with the Guys Behind Sportography
Michael Blumberg and Steven Clark have been running Sportography, Atlanta’s premiere sports photography business, for over 25 years. Although the two don’t consider themselves techie trend setters, they are early adopters of PhotoDay.
I recently had a chance to sit down and chat with them about changes they’ve seen in both the volume photography business and the families they serve. A lot of what we discussed hits on some of the central issues that PhotoDay solves, including an annoyance with order forms, the importance of good customer service and how parents are more connected to their phones than ever.
Here are some of my favorite take-aways from our chat.
On Owning a Business:
When we first started, we probably would have said that our favorite thing was being our own boss. But today we have 380 leagues, so we know that really means we have 380 bosses. We love serving the leagues but probably the best part of our jobs is what we provide both for customers and our employees. The women who run our lives and our office [our employees] are mostly moms. They like that they can work during the school year and have the summer off. We offer a great, well-paying job with flextime and a great atmosphere. A lot of people have been with us for more than 15 years.
We went digital in 2003 or 2004. We aren’t a company that jumps on trends, we’re careful. That may be why we’ve been in business so long. Most companies that do what we do, focus solely on sports volume photography, last 3-5 years. We’ve been around for 25 years.
On Customer Service:
We believe in customer service. We kill them with kindness, and we’ll jump through hoops to make leagues happy and handle complaints. Unless something is ridiculous, we take people at their word and resend orders and do whatever it takes to make things right.
On Today’s Parents
When we first started if we were expecting 500 kids, we only needed 500 order forms. Now, we need double, because not every parent does them at home, or keeps track of them. This isn’t a reflection on parents, it’s a reflection of today’s world. The world is too busy and difficult for parents. They’re under a lot more stress than they were when we started in 1994.
On Mobile Phones:
Cell phones have helped a lot. Now if a picture day gets moved back, or moved inside because of weather, the president of the league can make one call or send one email and we can move the date or the location. This is the reality today and the more aspects of picture day that can be moved to mobile devices, the better!
On Online Shopping:
We used to do $17,000 a year with [an office supply store]. Now, we spend less than $7,000 a year with them because now I order everything online at night. It’s more efficient, it saves on time, gas, everything. Online shopping works for people.
Success for us means fewer customer complaint calls, better customer service, quality pictures, and quality products. Running Sportography has provided us with a very good life. We have job security, unlimited creativity and we provide a good workplace for people.
We know the convenience factor of PhotoDay will appeal to the next generation. I talk to younger people, Generation Z, Millennials … they want to watch movies their way, do things their way, order their way. This is what they want. Think about traffic and what apps like WAZE have done for getting us around, this is the way business is going.
On the Mets:
They’re killing me!