Photography for successful people

Sian Zalick gained a background in photography in the RAF and now runs her Photography for Little People franchise operation from her Hertfordshire home. Sian’s achievements show how it is possible to build up a franchise business through enthusiasm and hard work. The Franchise Magazine reports

Then I was in the military, I was working 12 hour shifts,” Sian explains. “Now I get to work the hours I want. I can take my son to school and pick him up. I can work all my shoots around him and work on marketing, either in the evenings when he’s in bed or during the day while he’s at school. I don’t have to miss his school plays or parents’ evenings and I have moved closer to my family so I get to spend a lot more time with them, too.”

In order to get to this state of complete flexibility, Sian has worked hard within the framework of the Photography for Little People business model and it has worked exceptionally well for her. “When I have a photo shoot, I pack all the equipment into my car, including any props I need, plus all samples of frames and canvases for the clients to see,” she says.

When Sian is ready to start taking individual and family shots, there is one rule of thumb guaranteed to make the shoot run smoothly: “I try to keep everything as relaxed and fun as possible,” she adds. After the session, Sian spends time showing the family the images she has taken and the products that are available. Once they have chosen the product they want and the pictures from their shoot, Sian goes home and places the order.

If she has the family’s consent, Sian will use some select photographs for her marketing by putting the images up on her Facebook page for them to see. On other days, Sian will focus on marketing to build the business by working on her website pages. A marketing day also sees her building alliances with other local baby businesses, contacting potential clients, or dealing with enquiries from interested families and looking for possible shows to attend. With Sian’s background in photography, the opportunity to run Photography for Little People fits perfectly with what she wanted. “I decided to look at a franchise rather than set up in business on my own because of the support I knew I would get from the Franchise Manager and the already well-developed product.

“I started out in the RAF as a photographer in 2004 and carried it on as a hobby once I left. Although I knew what I was doing photography-wise, I wasn’t as confident about the business side of things, such as marketing and product sourcing.”

Photography for Little People has helped Sian become a successful businesswoman doing something she loves. Originally she chose this particular offering because of the quality of products, there’s no need for a hard sell as the frames and canvases literally sell themselves. “I also feel that with Photography for Little People being a family business it was a lot more personal and not just about how much money you were making. The franchisor helps me grow and supports me all the way, with advice on hand pretty much 24/7. It feels more like working with a group of friends than for a big, faceless business.”

Sian is the proud winner of the national sales competition for all Photography for Little People franchise owners and is happier than she’s ever been since leaving the RAF in 2008, with a quality of life far beyond her expectations. “I’ve gone from being told what to do as a guard in the army to doing what works for me,” she explains.

Since taking on the franchise in 2012, Sian already has many awards under her belt. She won ‘Best Family Photograph’ in the national Photography for Little People Awards in December 2012 and was also a finalist in the ‘Best Newborn Photograph’ category – a huge achievement for someone who had only been a franchise owner for four months. Although Sian’s talent as a photographer is clearly helping her build her business, the fact that the franchisor offers a service that is second to none has helped her grow. “I have weekly mentoring meetings, with targets and advice about things to do in the next week in order to build my business. If I’m having problems, or struggling with new ideas, Mel and Jan are always at the end of the phone. The support is amazing,” concludes Sian, a decidedly content franchisee.