What Client Management Software Do Real Estate Photographers Use?

March 9th, 2017

CMSRobert in Virginia asks:

I was looking for information on CRM platforms that might be used by other real estate photographers but couldn’t find anything in the search function. I know I can use excel to list all of the agents and their contact info but with a background in sales and marketing, I am used to using a dedicated CRM platform. Have you written about this before or can you point me in a direction for more information?

This is a good question for readers to give feedback on. Here are several client management systems that I know real estate photographers use:

  1. FullFrame Systems
  2. View Shoot
  3. 17hats
  4. Cradoc FotoBiz
  5. TourBuzz

When you are comparing client management systems be careful because many of these systems have much more than client management. Also, PCmag.com has a recent article that reviews all the popular systems that only do client management (usually referred to as CRM).

What client management system do you use?

 

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19 Responses to “What Client Management Software Do Real Estate Photographers Use?”

  • Robert – I don’t use client management software. I needed to create my own as a commercial photographer (nothing worked well for the variety clients I help).

    Mine works better, takes less time and costs virtually nothing. Look into the power of your current software, website, ftp options, google analytics, etc.

    However, if you’re used to using dedicated CRM, I believe Larry has provided a good list.

  • I use Marketcircle’s Billings Pro program for invoicing, client contacts (syncs with Address Book), expense & mileage & time-per-job tracking + project status. Marketcircle also have dedicated CRM software which can work alongside Billings Pro, called Daylite — see: https://www.marketcircle.com/daylite/
    Note, its for Mac OS / iOS users only…

  • I could never really find a site that I liked that didn’t try to sell me all sorts of things that I didn’t want or need. I use a free accounting app called Waveapp for my accounting. I send invoices, generate reports and generally do all the accounting for free. I can turn on or off the app to allow payment by credit card. As far as my picture storage and delivery, I struggled. I thought dropbox was easy but I got a lot of calls from non tech agents saying they could not figure it out. I built out my site not so much as a flashy site but more of a functional site. It is word press based and I added a free form builder in there where agents can place an order and it comes to me as an email. I added a photos gallery and then purchaed an extension that allows for downloads. Additionally, there is a function to make is to the galleries can be purchased but I have not turned that on yet. I want to load up the site with stock photos from communities, drone shots and drone videos and then re-sell them as low cost galleries that can be purchased and downloaded without my needing to be involved in the transaction. Often I hear people getting all bent about the re-use of their photos but rarely do I see anyone actively trying to profit again and again from the photos. This is still a work in progress but it’s working ok at this time.

  • I am looking for this too. I am also trying to find a good(inexpensive) way to have contracts signed online. Just starting out, all the x per month fees really start to add up…I have committed to Acuity for my appointment management. This is nice because they integrate with stripe which I use on my site with woocommerce for invoicing. Acuity allows me to collect down payments, as well as configure appointment block sizes. I am using it mostly for the portrait side of my business; so it may not be useful for the RE people; but its an option in your workflow.

    Like I said, my main hitch right now is trying to find an easy way to get my contracts signed online, then my clients shuttled to Acuity for DP and appointment scheduling. (still mostly on my portrait side, but will be a factor for RE too)

  • A lined, yellow pad of paper.

    I suspect a lined, white pad would work just as well, but I’ve never tried it.

  • @Scott Hargis you are living in yesteryear. My lined paper is spiral bound, with dates printed in the corners of each page. Totally cutting edge.

  • I know several photographers and other businesses who are using Outlook as their CRM. There’s quite a bit of information online that I just briefly looked at. There also appears to be some plug-ins for Outlook. The best part is that I already have Microsoft Office so I already have Outlook. Now I just have to motivate myself to set it up.

  • I am using Insightly (free version). Simple, somewhat short in functions, but enough for my needs.

  • I have been doing more research today. I found Apptivo which seems to be a full featured CRM with Invoicing, Contract Management, and more…. http://www.aptivo.com it also is relatively inexpensive for the next tier over the free version.

    Since I am trying to tie in electroning contract management and e-signing into my workflow, I also did some digging and found a contract management site that seems to be reasonable and well liked as well. That one is http://www.concordnow.com which also meets my requirements of inexpensive. I will be trialing both of them.

  • I’ve been using Cradoc FotoBiz ever since it came onto the market, I think about 1999 or so. It’s a great little billing program and easy to keep track of billing.

  • FullFrame was my chosen solution.

    What I really needed was a way to manage clients, delivery and payment as efficiently as possible. I had reached the point where I desperately needed to be more efficient. Just raising prices isn’t always the best solution. Sometimes refining your systems and making your business more efficient is needed.

    While there are many ways to skin this cat, for me, FullFrame offered the best all around solution in making my business more efficient.

    The system has been very easy to integrate with my workflow. While there was the need for a little adjustment in my systems, the truth is that, the changes I made to adjust to FullFrame were probably changes I needed to make anyway. The very few things I questioned “Why do they do it that way?” Quickly ended up with “…that makes more sense” in more cases than not.

    It has been surprisingly easy for my customers. This was one of my biggest fears. We all have those “Seasoned Agents” that are afraid of technology. The number of clients that I have had to hold their hand is much smaller than I anticipated. On the upside, the ones who are more adept, accepted the system willingly.

    Ordering Services: While my customers had been used to texting or emailing for scheduling, this was the biggest adjustment. Now, they go online and tell me their preferred time and date and we adjust from there. At first I thought this was a silly way to do it but then I realized, this is EXACTLY how most of them go about scheduling showings. Duh, I should have anticipated they would like this! Do some still want to call/text? Sure they do. They’ll get used to the new system.

    Image delivery is easy. I had been using Pixieset with no real complaints at all. FullFrame works as easy for me and provides me more efficiency. Print and MLS downloads are easy, as they should be.

    Property Websites: something I wasn’t previously providing and my clients love it. Branded and unbranded (for the MLS) versions are included. Certainly a value-added proposition.

    Photo (Virtual) Tours: I was using Lightroom to make slideshows, uploading to Vimeo or YouTube for clients. A system that worked well and was reasonably profitable. With FullFrame, they do the work and I make more for doing less. AND they automatically show up on the Property Website? Win-win. Third party like TourBuzz? No Thanks, to inefficient to go to another source. This is all included and integrated. One upload many products delivered.

    Flyer Maker. Seriously? I would have never put this on my list of things to offer…but my clients LOVE it!

    Payment is a non issue. Images uploaded to the FullFrame system are watermarked until payment has been received. Want to proof the images before payment? Sure, go right ahead. I opted for Stripe for my payment integration within FullFrame. As a loyal Square customer, this was hard for me to do. I loved Square. Unfortunately, there was no way to trigger image delivery to the client immediately upon payment without going to Stripe. They offer another service through FullFrame but this was the choice I made as it seemed more like Square. Ill live with Stripe and adjust accordingly. ESPECIALLY when I don’t have to manually send links when payment is received, etc.. You get the point…

    Now, the best part…My average price per shoot is increasing. Why? The intuitive way that the projects are ordered, where they are taken to my optional services page as a part of the flow, has increased my add-ons significantly. I’ve only been fully “up” on the system a short time but my average sales are up just over $25 each. I expect as the season continues, this trend will increase.

    So, one piece of software is handling everything from ordering to delivery with more options for my clients? The price seems high only until you understand exactly what you are getting. It is making me more efficient, up-selling my clients, eliminating worries. I should have made the jump sooner.

    If you have any questions, please respond here or feel free to text/email me. I would be happy to share my experiences further.

    David@DaytonHomePhoto.com
    937-343-1034

  • I’ve used both Tour Buzz and Full Frame. I’ve been using Full Frame for the last 7 months or so. I’ll gladly write why they beat out TourBuzz.

    But First…

    I don’t understand some of the comments on here. I feel that it’s extremely disingenuous to make comments like “A yellow pad works for me”. Does it really? Scott, you are a professional photographer and a worldwide photography teacher. I don’t see anywhere on your Lynda.com lesson that you use a yellow pad. I just think it’s irresponsible since we all listen to your advice. I say this out of respect since I’ve learned a few things from videos I’ve purchased of you.

    No, I will not be running my livelihood on a yellow pad. So here is why I chose Full Frame in the end.

    (I’m following David Kingston’s lead and enumerating the reasons – No, I don’t know him but I like his post.)

    1. Flexible Pricing: It’s not a big deal anymore but when I was starting out I had a few months where agents weren’t calling for photography. Full Frame kept changing my pricing each month so that I could pay less during the rough times. I was paying anywhere from $2.40 to $4.50 per listing, depending on how many shoots I had during that month. I like that they charge you after the fact as well. It let’s me collect from my clients before I owe them.

    2. Flyer Creator: This is awesome for agents and easy to use. I charge a little extra and set it up for them if they would like.

    3. Add-ons: This is by far the biggest difference in my business between now and when I was not using FF. The way that agents chooses a photography package, and then are taken to an add-on screen, is key to me making more money. I used to include add-ons in my packages. Now I can price them out separately and let the agent choose what they want to pay for. I’m making more profit per listing.

    4. 24/7/365 Access for Agents: I don’t miss having to find a download link, usually a few months after the shoot, and sending it to the agent because they lost theirs. Agents can change their information and access their photos and video anytime they choose.

    5. It’s not a Virtual Tour Creator: Honestly, I found Full Frame because I was looking for a way to make virtual tours. I was used to Tour Buzz and how creating a virtual tour was the main reason to upload to their system. I can order a tour, if needed, but I like that I don’t pay for a tour if the agent does not want it. This is also another way I’m making more profit per listing. Don’t make the same mistake I did and get hung up on the tours. I quickly realized that Full Frame was helping me organize and grow my business. I thought I was doing a good job until they pointed out how much time I was spending on the phone with agents. I’ve been able to take on more clients because I don’t have as many customer service calls from agents.

    6. They Care: I know this seems like fluff but I had a bad experience with another software provider. In the end, that company simply told me there was nothing they could do to fix the issue I was having. Full Frame hasn’t been like that at all. They are constantly updating me on their work and adding new features as needed. I’ve requested 2 features/fixes and they were able to help right away.

    I really hope this helps!

    David –

  • I consider anything online as ephemeral and not worth placing to much work in. Most accounting programs such as AccountEdge, have lots of fields for keeping track of all sorts of customer data and even a free form notes area. I don’t know Quickbooks, but it probably has the same thing. I am able to run a reports and look at all sorts of information on each client from how much business I have done with them to when they last booked a job. I can even make a note of when I last called them. If I’ve promised to call them in the future, I’ll whip open my calendar program and jot it down so I don’t forget.

    Scott’s comment about a yellow pad is a little cheeky, but right on the mark about the time that’s prudent to spend on CRM in this field of work. Scott’s so old-fashioned (and we’re probably around the same age) and I’ve gone high tech. I have a spreadsheet that I use for my marketing list. I collect agent’s names, contact information and the office they work in or own in the case of a broker and when I last sent them some marketing materials or an email and also whether I have met them in real life (IRL) at an open house or other function.

    Agents come and go like cats. Just because you have customers doesn’t automatically mean that you need a formal CRM to track them. In aerospace we called the syndrome “Analysis Paralysis” when engineers spend too much time collecting and analyzing data instead of getting dirty and building something tangible and testing it in the real world. If you are just getting started, keep it simple and see how much your accounting software is going to help you before adding another layer of work to do instead of going out and enjoying some free time doing something other than work. If you just must work, go out somewhere to meet potential customers in person and shake their hand while looking them right in the eyes all sincere like.

  • Is anyone using View Shoot?

  • Steven Schafer, I looked at it. It seemed like a good piece of software just not exactly what I wanted. Software is not (usually) one size fits all. I would suggest taking a look at all of them and decide what fits you best.

  • What solutions are missing from all of these Management Systems?

  • I have not posted here on the forum before but I am an active reader and participate in the photo contest! I saw this post and wanted to make sure that I voiced my opinion about Full Frame and what is has to offer.

    I have been using Full Frame since I started my business and there is no doubt that it has helped my business have a professional and technologically advanced look to it! It is great for ordering, delivery of photos, and for the property websites! They are about to launch some new features that I think will make it even more top-notch and a great system to use. I know most people out there probably use a multitude of systems for the ordering process and that creates a poor user experience. If they have to call you to schedule, you have to email an invoice that maybe they can pay online, then receive photos via DropBox, and then send videos via YouTube or Vimeo links…what a horrible experience and so much work for the owner of the business. Full Frame handles all of this for you! I would certainly recommend this to anyone out there looking to better manage their business.

    Another great thing about Full Frame is their variable pricing. So many subscription services require that once you hit a higher tier, you can’t go back down. Full Frame is different every month and that is great. If you have a business greatly affected by seasons or just busy and slow times, Full Frame is great for you!

  • I used to be a database programmer, wrote a point of sale package for the firearms industry to deal with the BATF as well as a engineering revision database for one of those Processor manufactures Starts with (I). That said, I do it all on spreadsheets. Tracks where, when, mls number, when sold or if builder, re-modeler, stager etc (even FSBO’s ). Speed sheet is 8 tabs as it covers other income sources and is laid to rest 01/01/—- with unfinished business carried over to the next years. Everything is visible and easily tracked. Any CRM platform just takes to long to input and you have to run reports. With spreadsheets you just do sorts and functions and the data is visible for everything all the time.

  • What I don’t like about the solutions Larry mentioned is that I have to work my business around them so I use Square. It handles my appointments, credit card processing, invoicing, capital, payroll and my email marketing. It’s not the be all end all, but it works for me and if I had to create everything myself, it would cost me a small fortune.

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