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360 Tour Designs: A Way for Real Estate Photographers to Get Help with Starting a Business

Published: 18/02/2017
By: larry

Last week James in Georgia summed up the two classic approaches for beginning real estate photographers. He said:

I consider myself a businessman with a camera instead of a guy with a camera trying to make a living.

That is, some of us are born business people, and some of us are artists that need more help with the business part. If you are that person with "a camera trying to make a living," chances are, you could use some help working out a business plan for real estate photography.

360 Tour Designs and Marketing LLC, is a company that can help you get started in real estate photography with a successful business model and marketing approach. For an upfront fee plus a monthly royalty, they will train you to deliver quality photos, videography, aerials, and staging. You end up as an independent business owner and within the first 18 months can expect to gross $10,000 per month. 360 Tour Designs has over 30 territories located throughout Eastern and Central United States and are expanding. Check out their website to see if your area is available.

19 comments on “360 Tour Designs: A Way for Real Estate Photographers to Get Help with Starting a Business”

  1. Okay, I apologize for my doubtfulness but it just seems like something is missing here... 40- 50 appts per week? Huh. 8 or 10 homes a day. Huh. Really?

  2. Like I have always said, if your a newbie and have no talent/experience, working for an outfit like this could be a way to get your foot into the door. That said, as attractive as they make it sound...there is a price that has to be paid. Using their figures, say 45 shoots a week and grossing $10,000 a month, you would only be grossing $55.50 a shoot..............before your costs of doing business, not to mention their "Upfront" fee and their ongoing "Monthly" royalty just to use their proprietary software.

    So, the company is taking a lions share of the shoot fee and that is as it should be. They have built and developed the system you are taking advantage of and you, the newbie are getting some experience and training. You just have to decide if the cost of this training/experience is worth it to you. My thought, it is a quick shortcut to making a decent living if you have the drive.....After you separate yourself from them and go out on you own. But that is going to cost you $$$ and time first.

    $55.50 a shoot..... is expensive, but then if you figure what it costs to get a college degree....$100k + well, you just have to put things in perspective.

    As to Dave's concern of 8 to 10 homes a day, well, that is a stretch, when you consider the time on location, the time to get between locations and the amount of light available during the time of year...just to mention a couple of concerns. Summer time.... yeah, I do it, but winter time.... no way, unless the homes were next door to each other and we all know that never happens

    Bottom line, it's like your an intern paying for the privilege of education

  3. Ditto what Jerry said. This is so much BS that I'm surprised it was even posted here. They are looking for "guys with a camera" who "don't know business" because they don't expect you to do the math. The errors are so blatant in their math I'm astounded.

    This has always been a business. It is not a hard business to learn the business part. It's posted all over here and other forums. It's written down for, you believe it.

    Even if you "like taking pictures" it's still a business. Few if any "like" taking the same pictures over and over and over again. But if you like taking pictures and you like technology and you like business and you like to make a decent living and you like being your own boss and you are willing to work hard and you are willing to work smart, then this is great but you don't need them.

    These guys know business and they are "looking for interns"

  4. Their upfront fee is $18,000. What you're doing is buying into a franchise and not being an employee or contractor like one would do with a TourFactory.. They do not offer area exclusivity however.

  5. This is a route I would consider taking to jump into the business. And here's why.

    I'm a stay at home dad whose children will soon both be in full time school. I've been working towards a photography career the past 6 months (lurking and reading and learning here) and trying to decide ultimately how I'm going to get into the field when ultimately I still have to take care of my kids. I'm lucky enough that I don't have to be a primary bread winner because my wife is in the military. This seems like a good option for getting started - an apprenticeship is exactly what I need.

  6. To be honest, I've had very mixed feelings in the past about advertising or even talking about these type of companies in the past. This is the first one that I've ever featured on PFRE. The reason that I did a post on this one was that I knew there were people out there like Niles above that may be more inclined to start their own business if they had this kind of help.

    Sure, to photographers that have already started their own businesses, this kind of business model sounds crazy but there ARE those like Niles that can and do use this kind of help. Open2view in AU and NZ is an example of this type of business model that has been successful for a long while. BTW. This is technically not a franchise although their direction is to grow to the point they can become a franchise.

  7. You can get your foot in the door with TourFactory or CirclePix as a contractor. I want to stay independent myself and use TourBuzz which has a great format for 360 degree images which I rarely do because the agents in the Monterey Peninsula do not like them. They do like 180 degree panos though. Why pay upfront and continue to pay them royalties when you can do all the leg work yourself by going out and meeting the agents at open houses, office meetings, and one on one.

  8. I am one of the owners of 360 Tour Designs, and we appreciate all comments both positive and negative and I wanted to respond to some that have been posted already. For starters we have already opened over 30 new territories in just over years of branching out and have received five new inquiries from this blog alone that has only been up since Friday, to correct one thing the 40-50 jobs a week and $10,000 gross a month are two different numbers, early on you can get to 10k a month and grow to 40-50 jobs a week, so they should not be calculated together. Also, pricing is completely up to the territory owner, so in no way is anybody making $55 per job, in fact we would not allow you to price it that low because it's not a sustainable model. We are not looking for just photographers, we want people who want a successful business of their own and we are with you every step of the way to help you grow. We understand this isn't for everyone, but we are more than happy to answer questions you may have through this blog or contacting us directly. Thank you!

  9. Thank you Keith for correcting the original post "You end up as an independent business owner and within the first 18 months can expect to average 40-50 appointments a week and gross $10,000 per month." While I think I understand your goal, I think it is important that people like Niles understand the real numbers and what they honestly can expect to make and what it will take in time from scheduling to sending out the finished product. From experience, I still think your 40 to 50 shoots a week comment leads the newbie to believe that is an average over the year and should be scaled back to a realistic number for a single photographer to shoot and generate good photos within the 24 hours you claim.

    To Niles, from experience, your wife could be transferred to another location at the drop of a dime, so I would make sure that if you invest in this company $18,000+ as I understand it (and it seems a good fit for you) I would demand a clause in your "area exclusivity" that you can transfer it to another location if you have to move (assuming there is no one else already there). Make sure you have everything in writing. Also understand that it takes awhile to build a clientele and you will be starting from square one again at the new location. Also, all of your clients you have built up at the present location will be passed on to their next them a huge leg up

  10. I don't have problem with using a company to get started in this type of business. I think it's a great way to gain experience, network, etc. The things I would like to know would be 1) if you decide that paying royalties isn't your thing and want to leave, what are the realities of a non-compete clause being in the contract you sign at the start up? And 2) I don't like the idea of the "client" owning the photographs. I gound that looking in their service offers. Starting at $ own the photographs. I only assume that means the client. Rule #1 is never give away the copyright to your photos and this company seemingly requires it

  11. "to correct one thing the 40-50 jobs a week and $10,000 gross a month are two different numbers, early on you can get to 10k a month and grow to 40-50 jobs a week, so they should not be calculated together."

    I'm not sure what this means. Let's try it another way - how much income would a photographer earn for him/herself from 40 to 50 jobs per week? How many jobs per week would one need to do to earn $10k per month?

    I assume the $10k is net of fees to 360TD.

    Another question would be what percentage of the workforce currently average 40 to 50 jobs per week, and out of them what is their average monthly income after 360TD fees?

  12. More great questions, we do offer exclusive territories that only you can operate in and also give you the right of first refusal if someone wants to buy a connecting territory. I don't want to get too bogged down on the math because every area will be different, I can tell you that our corporate area averages about $150 per visit to a home and during our busy time we are averaging 40-50 homes per day. Obviously it takes time and staff to get to that point but just using it as an example of how large the business can potentially grow. As far as copyrights, it's a mutual agreement, they can of course use the pictures for their listings and whatever but we also have the rights to use any photos in our advertising and marketing. If an individual owner insisted on copyrighting their photos we wouldn't tell them they couldn't but I do think it's a hurdle for getting some Realtors to use the company. Keep the questions and comments coming.

  13. Don't see it. Doesn't mean it isn't real... But still can't get past the 40 or 50 shoots per week...

    Having shot 7 homes in a day once (builder, same street, long day in July) and 5 in one day several times: I personally think it's just plain silly. And please make no mistake, I'm 97% businessman 3% artist. But at some point, you really have to ask yourself how long it takes to make a decent photo? I'm confident it would be easy to take clients away from a photographer that delivered quality based on a 40 or 50 shoot per week business plan.

  14. @Dave - Based on Keith's comment above where he says, "Obviously it takes time and staff to get to that point but just using it as an example of how large the business can potentially grow." I don't believe they were claiming that one photographer is shooting 40-50 shoots week. What they are saying is as a business you could eventually get to the point that you are averaging 40 to 50 APPOINTMENTS a week for all the photographers in your business to handle. The underlying assumption is that your business has multiple photographers.

    I should never have put the 40-50 appointments part in the original post. I took it out.

  15. Where you are located will have a huge effect on bookings and potential income. Many companies such as Uber have had to be slapped by the FTC and other agencies about advertising inflated numbers and income figures that are unobtainable or have only been achieved by people numbering in the single digits. What might be achievable by a single person with boundless energy might be far out of reach for somebody that has family responsibilities and works at a more moderate pace.

    For somebody like Niles, I'd suggest taking the time while the kids are in school to take some basic businesses courses. An independent photography business isn't as difficult to manage as a Fortune 500 corporation and a semester or two of accounting and learning how to analyze a P&L and Balance sheet plus maybe courses on taxes will be a good start. This is applicable whether you plan to be an independent business or a franchisee. Being part of a military family also has its own concerns. If you buy into a franchise and get relocated, can you transfer your locale or will have have to sell it to recoup your investment? Are you allowed to sell your franchise? If your spouse gets deployed and you have to spend more time taking care of the children, will you still have to meet performance requirements in your contract? Are you being asked to sign a non-compete agreement that prevents you from continuing to photograph RE if you decide that the franchise isn't giving a good return? If your area gets busy, will you be given the opportunity to expand your business to service it or will the franchiser sell another franchise in direct competition with you?

    There are some good posts on figuring out a Cost of Doing Business (CoDB) here in the archives. If your estimates are honest, some simple arithmetic will show how much business you need to do every day/week/month/year to break even and also to earn a good living. Just add the monthly franchise fees and the cost of the upfront payment to see where you would need to be to meet your goals with an eye to what being a franchisee brings in return. Being part of the franchise will need to bring in much more than it costs each month to counter the investment risk. It could turn out that what you really need is a coach/mentor to double check that you are charging enough and not spending too much with some marketing advice. There are some groups of retired executives that provide mentoring for a fee and sometimes for free. Check around. Being part of a franchise might wind up being just a very expensive mentor with horrible on-hold music.

    I have my general limit set at 2 homes/day. I service a large area and I can drive 100-175 miles. The upside is that traffic isn't a problem. I have done 5-6 jobs in one day a couple of times, but they were for fewer photos than my standard package (10-12 vs. 20ish) and all in the same general area. Those are still long days and nights getting images delivered the next day. My most productive days are when I'm photographing vacant homes and have key box combos so I can let myself in when I get to the property. If I have to set appointments, I have to make sure that I will be on time to each one every time. If I try to line up many sessions in one day and there is a issue on the first or second property, the rest of the day can turn into race, a skipped lunch and a headache. There could be a penalty if the franchiser has too many reports of late arrivals.

    It's mandatory to get an experienced attorney to review a franchise contract and discuss with you the pros and cons for your individual situation and goals.

  16. Just answering a few more questions, if you would be relocated in the example of the military, the business is yours to sell and if there was availability in your new location, you would also be able to start a 360 there if you wanted to. As with any service based business scheduling can be a challenge sometimes and unforeseen delays can always come up but 99% of the time as long as we call the agent or homeowner to let them know we are running a little late, they are very understanding.

    We are definitely not trying to give inflated numbers and expectations, the examples we use are real owners, but as with any business the amount of time and effort you put into it is big factor in how successful you are.

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