“Google to Start FREE Photography & Makeup Services”

Now imagine you wake up on #Nigeria‘s #Independence day celebrations to discover that #Google just gave Nigerians a birthday present. Imagine they just announced that they’ll be starting, effective #October1, a #photography & makeup service arm of the multi billion dollar company. To make matters worse, imagine that you – the reader of the supposedly-good news – are either a #photographer or a #makeup artists.


My goal wasn’t to intentionally deceive you with a blog title that has the #potentials to render thousands of #photographers and #makeupartists #jobless. My goal is to bring to our conscious awareness the fact that it’s becoming paramount the need for us to reinvent everything we know about photography, makeup & business generally. Most of us never undertook any serious level of business education before starting our businesses and it’s affecting us whether or not we acknowledge it. My campaign is for us to have a serious rethink of how we run our artistic businesses.

I know for sure that many of us will be terribly affected if Google decides to launch such services. Their concept of #FREE will cause many of us to either sell our gadgets to survive, or move into other unconquered Google fields so we could barely survive. Imagine they start by #advertising that #passport pictures is for free. Anyone who goes to Google #Photos can get up to 200 free passport photographs yearly. Anyone who goes to any of their branches can have a free #portrait #session and get all their high resolutions softcopies for free. Anyone who visits their makeup saloons will get their first 10 sessions absolutely FREE. Truth is it won’t be funny at all. Many of us will literally cry, complain and declare that the #Antichrist has come in the form of an unmercifully evil company.

This may seem like an extreme example to give but if we don’t rethink everything we know about how to run a photography/makeup business (or any other business)…….. Everything about #pricing, #marketing,#copyrights, #negotiations, customer service, #EVERYTHING…..the end will definitely be upon us.

I’ve had my own share of challenges this year (& still going through some now) and my rethinking process has been the reason why I’ve not been active on some online social media platforms. My rethinking process has even led me to sell a few things many people consider as assets in order to invest in a BIGGER dream process. Trust me selling off our ********** wasn’t funny at all but I believe without doubt there will be results in a few months…. Many of us (myself inclusive) spend too many unproductive hours daily on #Facebook, #WhatsApp, #Twitter, #Instagram begging for people’s approval and attention when all we need to do is to spend time to invest in something so radically different that will make the likes of Ty Bello, President #Obama, Bayo Omoboriowo, Kelechi Amadi Obi or Santa Claus call us for advice. Some of us need to take 1-4 weeks off to restrategize and rethink our processes before the unthinkable & unbearable comes upon us.

Please note that this message is NOT for everyone. I don’t write it as someone professing to know much. It’s just a challenge to a few people who care to take note to invest radically in new #inspirational ways of doing things.

The #books we’re #READING and the friends we’re KEEPING (or #mentors we’re FOLLOWING) will very well be a BIG determinant in how we’ll be #LIVING in 2 -10 years. A word, like they say, is enough for the wise. What will you do if #Google decides to move into your industry and provide the #products & #services you presently provide? Well if you’re travel consultant or tour guide, you might want to unbiasedly analyze how Google’s new baby, #GoogleTrips, will affect your business. Happy Independence day to everyone.

For those that couldn’t make this year’s Nigeria Photography Expo & Conference (NiPHEC), all he videos have been uploaded to our YouTube channel for you to download. Even if you attended, you might still want to watch it over again at youtube.com/niphec

Why Your Best Client May Be Your Last Client

So I recently had the privilege of hiring a cobbler to do a customized sewing design on an album box I wanted to deliver to a client. I explained to him the design I wanted and emphasized the importance of delivering a neat job.

30 seconds into the sewing, I knew in my heart I would never work with this vendor again. His design was sloppy and neatness seemed to be enemies with him. I had planned to give him about 4 other materials to sew for me and decided right that moment that he will not lay his needle on another of my materials. At the end of his 5 minutes work of technical imperfection, he billed me N100. I hurriedly paid without negotiating; couldn’t wait to get him out of my sight.

If only he knew that I had budgeted N2000 for all things I wanted to sow. If only he had asked for my opinion on the sloppy job he just delivered. If only he had been more technically proficient in the carriage of his expertise. He looked at my expressionless face and perhaps thought he had secured a great client in me. I thanked him for his time and sent him away.

I immediately summoned my colleagues to share with them a customer-service revelation I had stumbled upon. Sometimes when we deliver our jobs to clients that don’t seem to say much (apart from paying and thanking us), we should be a little skeptical. It is important to prod customers that “seemed” to be satisfied and ask what they honestly think of your service delivery or product quality. Sometimes we’re happy for the $2000 we just harvested from our best client without being conscious of the fact that “our best client” might not have been completely satisfied. Hence we ultimately loose out from the $20000 jobs he would eventually bring our way.

Buttom line is for us not just to be quick to charge and collect money from our clients; we should try to be 100% sure that they are satisfied. For only 100% satisfied customers will help to be your loyal and faithful BRAND MARKETERS.

A MEDICAL DOCTOR’s Photographic Perspective: wHaTeVeRiTtAkEs

My name is Femi Adewuyi. I am both a medical doctor and a professional photographer. I started out as an amateur photographer in 2003 , the year I gained admission into the medical school. I  have since developed my expertise over the years and have a number of accolades on my head.

I have always asked a few questions to my mentors and senior colleagues in this business of photography ” How do I get to sell my pictures at a good price ?” , “How do I ensure that my brand remains in business while competing with colleagues who photograph at prices that are too good to be true?” I got answers to these business questions and many more at the whateverittakes seminar. A summary of the seminar in three words would be  HUMILITY, INTEGRITY and PROFITABILITY

As a photographer in the service delivery business, my customer’s experience while relating with me goes a  long way in determining if I would be hired.  Client satisfaction is hinged on how good our customer service is not just on technical competence. Satisfied clients will bring more referrals .

My character  has a direct influence on my photography business. I learnt to be on time with my appointments and in delivery of clients work . Learning to be accountable for my mistakes was another twist to the lecture. A client can end up being a friend and  champion marketer of my business if I show integrity in my dealings.

I learnt basic accounting techniques for tracking my income, expenditure and profit.  I was also shown how to identify my ideal client and  get a formidable marketing strategy to guarantee more sales. Learning to write a business plan and budget was quite new to me.

Other things taught include how to start a website at minimal cost, how to overcome our fears and learn to question stereotypes.

In less than a week, I’m starting to see business in new light. I am relating better with my clients and already working on my online presence.  If I have the chance to go to whateverittakes again, I  won’t go alone. I am taking my photo assistant along.
Whateverittakes Lagos Workshop (3) Whateverittakes Lagos Workshop (4) Whateverittakes Lagos Workshop (5) Whateverittakes Lagos Workshop (6) Whateverittakes Lagos Workshop (7) Whateverittakes Lagos Workshop (8) Whateverittakes Lagos Workshop (9) Whateverittakes Lagos Workshop (10) Whateverittakes Lagos Workshop (11) Whateverittakes Lagos Workshop (12) Whateverittakes Lagos Workshop (13)


When BAD Customer Service is GOOD

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Twas lunch time at eloPhotos Academy on Saturday April 28, 2012. I asked my colleague to help get lunch at Mr Biggs (Lateef Jakande Rd, Agidingbi) for the students in the class. She returned 30 minutes later with a few packs of lunch one of which was gotten at Chicken Inn.

The pack from Chicken Inn belonged to the youngest student in the class, my almost-four-year-old daughter. I couldn’t join her until about 1 hour after she started eating. She was almost through with the chicken breast when I reached out to grab a portion of the burnt offering. To my surprise, the chicken had a stench smell as if it was 5days old and rotten.

I was angry especially because 80% of the chicken had already by devoured by the youngest student in the class. Is it possible that the “great” Mr Biggs outlet sell rotten chicken to hungry customers. I was bent on bringing this to their attention.

Within 15mins, I was at the Mr Biggs outlet. I went along with a lawyer-photographer friend whose first question to me was whether I wanted to sue them. I replied that I probably don’t have the energy for a suit but I’m sure the issue can be resolved amicably.

I approached the Chicken Inn attendant who had sold the meal and asked to see his supervisor. He asked what the problem was and I did not hesitate to let him know. I was surprised when he put up a defensive demeanor. He insinuated that I was wrongfully accusing them of wrong-doing since he had been selling the same “similar” chicken to customers all day long. I insisted that I needed to see the Supervisor.

Mr Tayo, the Supervisor arrived and I explained the saga once again. He looked at the piece of chicken and reached out for a fork to raise the chicken to his nostrils for some sensory tests. He asked for the receipt and I explained that none was given. The attendant however was able to fish out the receipt from the trash can where he had dropped it and we were able to confirm that we actually bought the meal there.

The Supervisor’s next response would surprise me once again. He said the chicken smelt bad perhaps because of the length of time that had elapse between when it was bought and when we were “returning” the merchandise. I was shocked. I never new fried chicken can get rotten 1 hour after you buy it from a Mr Biggs outlet. A scientific discovery that perhaps explains all the farting that emanated from my being in time past after a meal of fried chicken at Mr Biggs.

I asked him to listen to himself talk. How can fried chicken rot within 1-2 hours. Maybe the chicken had collapse from the side-effects of the removal of oil subsidy and the eatery did not quickly prepare it in due time. Only God knows. He looked at me as if I was bent on defrauding them by lying that they sold me rotten chicken.

He asked me what I wanted and I told him I would appreciate a refund of my money (something I would have been surprised at if they effected) or a replacement of the rotten offering. He stressed that since I was a previous customer of Mr Biggs I should know better that they would not willingly sell me rotten chicken. After staring at the remains of the chicken for about 7 seconds, he ordered that my “rotten” chicken be replaced with a fresh one.

I wasn’t satisfied with the way he handled it because of the way he was defending his staff and his “organization”. I guess according to him, this customer is wrong. I left the eatery with a vow not to buy from that branch again. My only regret was that I did not “smell” the replacement in their presence before leaving.

They looked at me as if I was a “troublemaker” and I left there thinking of how BAD customer service has been the norm in many organizations in Nigeria. Was it a bad thing for me to ask for my money back.

So what GOOD can come out of such an experience, I asked myself? Well, I realized that perhaps I should consider other options for eating. The food wasn’t healthy anyway even if it wasn’t rotten. Maybe I should consider getting a cook. Maybe I should…… The longer I thought, the more I realized there were “good & better” options to eating food that isn’t gotten from this branch of Mr Biggs or any other branch.

If a management of Mr Biggs happens to be reading this, please kindly do something to address this issue. Or at least “attempt” to do something. A suggestion would be to install “smelling” machines (or humans) that would be responsible for the final “smelling” of foods & snacks before they’re handed to customers. Just thinking aloud. At least that will significantly reduce your chances of being sued by a customer in the future.

And if you’re a fan of Mr Biggs (of any branch), it might be wise for you to smell your meal before leaving the eatery. You could be saving a life by so doing.

Fast forward to April 30th. As if the initial customer service experience wasn’t traumatic enough, I would be facing more terrible customer service MOUNTAINS. My Canon Pixma Pro 9000 printer just got faulty and I needed to do a couple of prints for a few clients. So I decided to do the very thing I dread doing with our jobs: visit a print lab.

I asked my colleague (another one this time around so u don’t start thinking that I have colleagues with BAD LUCK) to take a few of the jobs to a print lab (I had previously recommended to others) in Surulere, 5d Imagery. The total bill was supposed to be N4400 but due to the fact that the lady taking the order was engrossed in an “important” discussion, we were charged for an extra print we did not order for. At that junction, it definitely was my colleague’s fault for not checking the bill properly before paying the cashier N7250 that was asked for.

Upon realizing the mistake a few minutes later, my colleague brought it to the attention of the staff who made the mistake. She admitted that it was her mistake but insisted that the extra N2850 can not be refunded. She said that she can only give a credit on the account worth N2850 whenever he comes back to print more pictures. I was surprised. Very surprised. Isn’t that another definition of robbery. Why can’t they refund money that was “mistakenly” billed to a client. This was (and still is) a mystery.

It was 9pm when my colleague got back to the office and narrated the whole ordeal to me. Maybe I should attend “anger management” classes because as you would have guessed by now, my anger was aroused once again. I called the MD of 5D and explained to him what happened and he apologized and emphasized that my money was not lost and would be refunded. This post would probably have been totally unnecessary if the staff of 3 ladies had the same heart the MD depicted on the phone.

May 1st was quick to arrive. I asked my colleague to go back to the Surulere office and get back my hard-earned money. I wonder why he even came back to the office without seizing one of their equipment in the first place. I guess some people are more gentlemanly than others. May God help me.

I was surprised when he called me at their office to tell me that they were refusing to give him the refund. Even other photographers present were angry at him for making “much ado about nothing”. Maybe their uncle is Lamido Sanusi and they get their money easy but not so with me.

I asked to speak with the person that was “refusing” to refund. A lady by the name Nkechi came on the line. I asked her why she was putting us through all this trouble just because of a financial mistake that was theirs. She said that it is against their policy to issue a refund. I was shocked: AGAINST YOUR POLICY EVEN IF THE MISTAKE WAS YOURS? I told her that I had spoken to their MD and that she should call her Boss and confirm. She said her MD’s line wasn’t going through and that she’ll have to wait for him to call before she issues the refund.

I asked her why she can’t pay with her personal money and collect the refund from the Boss later and she said that she can’t do that because “THIS IS AN ORGANIZATION”. And she was right: a TITANIC Organization that was bound to sink to the buttom of the ocean if care is not taken.

It was at that time that I vowed to her never ever to print again at 5D Imagery. Her response: “Oga, why now?” I told her that supposing I were to show up at their office and seize one of their apple computers, would she then issue a refund? I hung up.

I was surprised, I was frustrated. Why do organizations even have staff like these. Perhaps its a family business and they couldn’t be fired for such irresponsibility. 10 minutes later I got a call from my colleague that the refund had been miraculously issued.

Now the reason why I’m writing all these is most importantly because of the statement issued by the ladies when the refund was made. They told my colleague “YOU & YOUR BOSS ARE TROUBLEMAKERS”. If standing on my right is being misconstrued as “troublemaking”, then crown me King of all troublemakers. If I were the MD, I probably would not hesitate to fire the staff that messes with my clients. But then again, who am I.

What was more sad was the fact that this same erroneous mistake had happened to some of the photographers at the lab in times past and a refund was not made. One even said (upon seeing that a refund was issued us) that he will also be calling the MD whenever he had issues with the staff upon which one of the ladies replied that “You’ll just be wasting your time”.

So what GOOD came out of such BAD customer service experience, you ask? Well, I decided to keep to my promise of not printing with them again. I sent a broadcast to the 100+ photographers on my BlackBerry asking:

Can anyone recommend a print lab in Lagos State where I can print 10 by 20 and 12 by 36 prints. Any lab apart from 5d Imagery. Thanks

I was happy to discover that there were enough print labs that I could try out and hopefully not have the same experience. I’m now confused as to whether to choose Fotospeed (in Ikoyi), Skysnap (in Opebi), Swift (in Toyin street), Picture Works (in Yaba), Memoriez (in Surulere) or Dudu Prints (in Ilupeju). Now, please don’t take this as any form of endorsement on my part for any of the aforementioned Labs. The point is that now I have the option of choosing where to spend my money for printing services. Heck, I might even discover that I can get better image quality and customer service from any other company apart from …..

And even if all the print Labs in Nigeria have it as a nature to talk to customers any how, then perhaps its time for me or anyone else reading this to open up a world-class printing lab and let us know that world-class customer service is possible in an environment like ours.

P.S. If you’re one of the 500+ photographers reading this and you happen to know any other printing lab in Lagos (that has not been mentioned above) and has great customer service while simultaneously churning out great prints, PLEASE don’t hesitate to drop your comment and provide their details.

Even if you still think I’m a “troublemaker”, kindly drop a comment to advice me on what I should have done to “better” handle the customer service scenarios in both instances. As you do so, may your business not sink like Titanic.

Plan to attend the next session of Basic Course in Photography
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