It’s great to be busy. At least, it’s good for business. And we’re all about maximizing profits, but at a certain point, you can’t invent more hours in the day. And when you’ve reached the limit of what you can handle, and then taken on a few more things, it might be time to find some help. If, as they say, time is money (and often, it is), sometimes it’s worth spending a little money to save a ton of time.
Doing everything by yourself can keep costs down, but think about the amount of time you spend doing things that aren’t actually your job. Getting from place to place, loading the car, going to the post office, etc, are all necessary tasks, but you don’t necessarily have to be the one doing them.
Think about help for:
Assisting: Sometimes there’s just no room in the budget to hire an assistant, but whenever you have the chance we think you should take it. Who wouldn’t want a second set of hands and eyes on a job? (Not to mention someone to talk to). The job of an assistant is to have your back, from handling gear to making sure images are in focus. It may save you a little time, or it may save you having to reshoot a whole job.
Editing/Retouching: If you’re turning down jobs because you won’t have time to edit what’s on your plate already, source a professional to help. There are companies and individuals who will make this part of the process a breeze. You can outsource as much or as little of the process as you want. Someone can just cull your images down to final selections, they can make basic adjustments so you can show the client, or they can retouch the nitty-gritty according to your specifications. Lots of photographers outsource their retouching so they have more time for shooting.
Delivery/Courier: Sure you can hop on your bike, pedal that disc to your client, and then head back, but by now you’ve lost at least an hour of your day. Most couriers price based on distance and the speed at which you need something delivered. (For example, one-hour delivery costs more than a next-day service). Similarly, having rental gear delivered may mean you have the time to adjust your call sheet for the next day, or finish those previews for your client.
Taxis: I’m all for the TTC, but if you need to be on location at4am, the Bloor night-bus can be a horrible thing. You can phone a cab to your front door. Taxis will cost more, but are more direct, have lots of rooms for gear, and are temperature controlled. Showing up to a gig on time, looking less frazzled, and easily unloading your equipment on the spot can be invaluable. (Note: an exception to this can be rush hour in downtown; I can usually carry 50lbs of gear seven blocks in heels, faster than a cab can get through an intersection. Consider the subway.)
General help: What do you need done? Hate the time it takes to enter your tax receipts? Wish you weren’t spending valuable time cleaning your office bathroom? Want someone to spend three days printing and folding your mailer-promos? The help you need probably costs less than you think. But even if it doesn’t, it’s important to weigh money against time. If you spent those three hours on a paying job, would you make more than the cost of hiring an office helper for those three hours?
Price out a ballpark figure of what it would cost to incorporate help into your system, and figure out if you can raise your rates accordingly. A client isn’t likely to balk at an extra $10 for courier service, especially if it means they don’t have to wait for you to finish your lunch before you run the package over to them.
What are you willing to pay for to make some time in your schedule?
image source: Dimitri N