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Being Organised: Guest Post by Milton Lowe – PropertyPIX

May 17th, 2009

WARNING – I am an analytical and very organised person. Some of this may bore the flighty “see how it goes, she’ll be right mate” type of people!!! But hey..if you only get one good idea out of this, it’s worth a read!

Taking the Order, Recording Requests
I use a 10 column hard cover ledger book to record requests as they come in. (In Australia it’s a Collins 61 Analysis Book – 10 Money Column). I tried using a Work Order Sheet on a clipboard for each job, but found this book to be more compact and easier to see the “big picture”.

I number the jobs…J0001, J0435
Have columns for :

  • Company/ Real Estate Agency
  • The person or agent requesting the job
  • Cost
  • Invoice No.
  • Notes on Delivery of Photos – by Web Gallery (WG), dropped off by download from USB (my normal procedure), CD sent/delivered; or photos emailed AND notes on invoice delivery – Invoice Posted (IPO) and the date, or invoice delivered (ID), or emailed (IEM).
  • Details of when job is required by; who to contact; time of day for best sunlight, special requests
  • If there is a night shoot required, I put that in as a separate Job number as often the day and night jobs can be spaced out during the week.

When a job is finished, it gets a “X” in the narrow column after the date. If it needs more photos, it gets a “/” , to indicate the job is started, but not complete.

Database
I am a great believer in database marketing and having contact details of people you deal with, at my finger tips. Consequently my database contains EVERY person I have ever done a job for. If I get a new client, at this stage of recording details in the Job Order book; I make sure that I record all contact numbers, addresses, email, Company details in Address Book ( on a Mac) or Contacts if you use Windows. I synchronize my iPhone regularly with my Mac, and have my emails pushed down to my iPhone . All clients are asked to email me with details of an order, or phone me for urgent requests.

Tracking jobs on City Map
I then do up a Sticky Note recording the address and place it on the large laminated street map that hangs in my office. This may not work in a big city!! But for Hobart. Tasmania it’s OK.

This gives me a quick reference point of jobs to be done in certain areas.
If I have a shoot on in a suburb, I check to see if there are any other jobs lined up, and that all previous incomplete shoots( i.e., view shots, house shots needing sun shining on them, internals that were not ready last time…(yes…I guarantee to go back..it’s part of the service) When you have so many jobs on, it’s no problem to include/finish off a shoot as you are going past.

As jobs are done, the sticky note comes down.

Diary
Once jobs are ordered and times confirmed, I enter them in my diary and highlight the entry in Green. Using colour highlighters in your diary, quickly highlights the important things!! (It’s something I always used when I worked in Real Estate Sales – Appointments for Appraisals or Listings were Green , Appointments for Buyers to inspect properties were in Yellow; and Appointments to negotiate a Contract or Offer with either Buyer or Seller, or discuss a Price Reduction with a Vendor; were recorded in Red.)

Against this note for the Photo-shoot Appointment I record the Job Number, the Invoice Number and the Cost, and highlight this in Purple (Anything to do with MONEY goes in Purple!!).

This is a double check that I have recorded all jobs ordered, and that they have been invoiced.

Every Sunday (end of week) I summarize the weeks’ shoots, which becomes a check on all jobs done and a statistical record to quickly confirm jobs.

PS – This diary I have done for an example is not used anymore, as I have updated to a “2 pages to a day” diary due to the build up in business. The reasons and benefits for this are another story!!

The Photo-shoot and Memory Cards
I have found that a small plastic box with partitions like you find in a craft store for buttons, sewing etc. ..or a fish tackle box; costing $2-$4 …like in this photo, keeps my Memory Cards organised on the day. Rarely does a shoot go beyond 1-2GB shooting in RAW.

So as a photo-shoot is finished, when I go back to the car and put the camera away, the Memory Card comes out of the camera and goes in the box in “shoot number for the day order”. I put the next CF card in the camera, make sure it is formatted, and I’m ready to shoot the next one! I do this so I don’t lose any cards, and also when I get home to download the images to my computer, I can do them in batch order..each card relates to one job only.
I name all my jobs in their number order (as given in the Job Book..i.e.…”J0701 – 10 Smith St Hobart SV” and of course keyword them in LR.

JOB DONE!! (After PP……Mmmmm..)
The job is now done, invoices sent out and I await payment.

There are many software programs out there to help in the Money side of the business. I use MYOB ( Mind Your Own Business) in Australia. I will not expand on this area…that’s another assignment!!

Invoices Paid
The majority of monies received is credited direct by Electronic Funds Transfer to my Bank Account. Each morning I check my Bank Account transactions on the Net and record payments received in my Diary, and highlight in Purple.

From these entries I then go back to my Job Book and mark off all invoices in the PAID column , and check the Job Number, the address, Invoice Number, the Amount paid amount off by drawing a green highlighter through the entries.

As I flick back through my Job Book I can easily see which jobs/invoices I haven’t been paid for. You can see in the previous photo example of my Job Book, that there were 3 lots of money received during this week from previous jobs.

Planning – Goal Setting
I have always been a goal setter and monitored my performance, whatever business I was in. I treat Goal Setting similar to a game of golf. You have a scorecard where the standard Par for the course gives you something to aim for. You keep track of your score as you play. It’s a record and comparison of how you have improved against previous rounds. I don’t know many golfers who play golf without keeping score.

It’s the same in business. You must have goals and maintain records to keep track of self-improvement and how you are going against your expectations. I use my Job Book at the end of each month to summarize the number of, and income earned from photo-shoots each month, and where they have come from.

I transfer those figures to a simple Excel spreadsheet where I have set my goals. Each month I update my GOAL GRAPH BOARD which hangs on my office wall as a constant reminder of where I am as ‘I play this round of golf”.

So that’s about it for PropertyPIX and how I keep myself organised. If anyone has any particular queries I’d be happy to answer them. There are a lot of things that I do, that I have reasons for doing it that way; but until I am prompted..it’s often difficult to explain!!

Happy snapping…and have fun!!

Milton Lowe
Hobart Tasmania.

Larry’s note: For those of you not familiar with Australian spellings, organised and colour are not spelled wrong! My spell checker complains about these spellings but that’s just the way these words are spelled in the UK and Australia.

Thanks a bunch Milton for taking the time to share your business work flow with us!

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14 Responses to “Being Organised: Guest Post by Milton Lowe – PropertyPIX”

  • I’d love to know what those column headings are. This looks like a really good idea. I usually grab the first scrap of paper I can find and write down the info until I enter it into the calendar on my phone.

  • Oops… sorry. I cut off the end of the article before I got to the column headings. I’ll just put on my dunce cap and go sit in the corner.

  • Good post, thank you Property Pix, what idea I got was a way to organize my “cards”, my thing to do list just got longer a note added in the iPhone app “Get Fish Box” at WalMart. Great Idea. !! Thank you

  • Thanks for the post Larry. Good organization is key to run a good business.

  • What a great post! I shy away from the term analytical, because ‘friends’ focus on the “anal” part of the word in their ribbing… So I claim myself as Neurotic. Sounds sexier to me (probably only because it rhymes with erotic). So glad to see a detailed post of the daily life of running such a business. THANK YOU! Oh, and “Spellcheck ain’t worth shirt.” 🙂

  • Milton: Great post. I am somewhat like you, in that I try and keep things organized. I’m not as good at it as your are, but this gave me some ideas.

    Michael

  • Different types of people organize differently. I know some that organize like Milton while others have papers scattered everywhere, yet they both can get things done the right way. I just got a Blackberry, and its helped me stay organized. Its great being able to get e-mails, plug appointments into my calendar, and set reminders for what gear I need to grab before a shoot. Great post.

  • HOLY CRAP …. are you organized. I highly admire you. Daylite for mac does much of what you are doing electronically other than the map and stickies. I just ditched it because it took me too much time to enter all the stuff. Have now gone back to Address Book – Icalender – Notes in the Mail program and another bit of software … SOHO notes and that all winds up on my iphone so I have everything with me.

    Great post – I now feel so unorganized and out of whack …. that I will make a new ToDo …. get organized a little better.

    M. James

  • […] Source and Read More: photographyforrealestate.net […]

  • Larry, it has been a long time since I’ve been on here, but I stumbled across your post on the LensMate attachments for the G10. It was the first post to come up in my Google search, so way to go! Your info helped a lot, too. I’m not shooting real estate anymore, but I am switching to G10s in our photobooths. I want to use the lens wide open at 28mm, but Canon doesn’t make an adapter that will allow me to place a UV filter over the lens. After reading your post, I found that Lensmate makes exactly what I am looking for. So, thank you!

    The reason that I am commenting on this post is because organization is a major issue for photographers, and real estate photography is no exception. I have moved on to weddings and portraiture (I needed to interact with people more). But, keeping on top of things is of major importance. I found a Studio Management program that helps me keep organized and stay in touch with my clients. My clients are able to access an online portal and sign contracts electronically, accept quotes and pay their invoices online. I’m also able to keep my info all in one place, and it has made life so much easier. They are adding some upgrades this week that will make life even simpler. I just thought that Tave Studio Management deserves a mention here because they have been so extremely vital in taking my business to the next level. I would love for you to check them out at http://www.tavestudio.com and maybe even dedicate a post to them. I think that they could help out Real Estate photographers everywhere! They offer a 30 day trial, too….

  • Databases are not just good, but great. Personally I recommend that anyone who is computer literate learn databases to a degree. Open office base is a pretty simple database program which is pretty simple to learn. I use mine for keeping track of client’s contact information, marketing status, past job history, printing new marketing materials and automated email marketing campaigns. Also they can be used to store realtor’s photos along with their contact information for all of us that can’t remember a name, but never forget a face.

  • You should make a video about all of this and post it everywhere.

  • Hi Milton,
    I am Graeme’s friend in Rancho Mirage, Ca. USA. I have not heard from him and am wondering if you have. I hope all is well in Phuket and he is feeling OK. I am concened about his health. Please let me know if you have heard from him and ask him to email me or call to let me what is going on.
    Thanks,
    Terry email: terryinrm@gmail.com

  • I am also working on software and have one product on the market now. It is designed for a specific market, Radio Controlled Aerial Photography. I am working on a second version though that will be marketed to free lance photographers. The RCAP version does not have features like a Shot List, since each job will be unique. If someone would like to send me an example of a Shot List I will make sure this gets incorporated into the free lance version. Any other suggestions would be welcome. You can get a look at the RCAP version by going ro http://www.fotocaptures.com and then clicking the Screens button at the top.

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