At the 2016 Real Property Photography conference, Alicia Harvey was recognised as the “Franchisee of the Year”. In order to honour this incredible achievement, Alicia will be the first franchisee featured in this new space – which will highlight the individual workings of certain franchisees. We asked Alicia some questions about her franchise and her average day.
What does an average day look like for you?
Wake up (I sometimes wake up earlier if I didn’t get things done the night before or if I have a lot of batches to send off from the day before). After Skyping with head office about a couple of things, I check that the batches for editing were uploaded overnight and send the batches off.
Leave home. This is usually at 0800 when I have to drop B off to day-care, but my husband does this on a Monday. I stop at a local coffee van for my pre-ordered coffee. Any day that starts without a coffee does not go well. I’m not joking.
As I drive to Rockhampton I get a phone call from an agent letting me know that he won’t be at my second appointment. I also get a phone call from a previous client (who is starting his own agency) regarding website photos and a catch up.
I go to the agency to get the keys for my first appointment. While waiting at the front desk, I send an email to my accountant regarding information for BAS and also take a booking for Friday.
I arrive at my first appointment – a vacant bank repo. I receive a call from a client (in order to answer questions about a floor plan from Friday).
To return the keys, I go back to the agency. I stop off at McDonald’s for a drink on the way to my second appointment.
My second appointment is a lite package and a floor plan.
After I finish the appointment, I have lunch at Zambreros and a bad coffee.
I have an appointment with a client. It was 18 stills, but I could only get 15 images. After the job, I check my emails and an agency in Yeppoon wants a new building photographed for rent.
Once I have collected the keys from the office, I drive to the address. I photograph it as a “gun and run” (an agreed style for a cheaper price).
I head back to the office to return the keys. I reply to an email regarding a drone arrangement that is being set up. Once this is done, I go to the day-care and play play dough with the kids for 10 minutes. It is then time to go home.
In the cul-de-sac, I ride scooters with B and the neighbour’s kids while their mum is busy talking with a tradesman. We then come in. I put B in the bath, transfer files to the computer and do a Lightroom update as it keeps crashing. We then have tea.
I get B to sleep. It is then time to send off batches, check images and invoice jobs from Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
I go to bed. It has not been this late for a while. However, this is about to be the norm.
What drives you to want to take your franchise further?
Firstly, I love $$$$.
Secondly, I like to be the best at what I do. At the start I wanted to be THE PROPERTY PHOTOGRAPHER that everyone had to have in Rockhampton/Yeppoon.
I have always been like that.
How do you tackle daily challenges that may come up – such as conflicts with scheduling and children?
I can think quickly and organise as needed. I was previously a Woolworths Store Manager – when time is limited I know how to quickly make informed decisions to get the job done. I know my appointments (i.e. which ones are for the paper, which ones are vacant, which ones are getting mowed on what day). I also know my husbands roster.
Work smarter not harder. The busier I am the more efficient I am. I am a procrastinator otherwise.
How did you end up in real estate photography?
I bought a Real Property Photography franchise.
OK… the back-story.
I had been interested in photography for a long time, and had also been a keen real estate watcher. When I went on maternity leave (which I extended to 2 years), I began to think that going back to being a Woolworths Store Manager would not work for me or B.
I had always liked the idea of having my own business, and there were two ideas that I was thinking of: coffee and photography. I love them both. I also did numerous Google searches on things such as home-based business ideas and franchises – just incase I was missing another option. I bought a couple of franchise magazines and went through them thoroughly to consider what was on offer. When I kept going back to photography and coffee, I researched the two heavily. I decided that coffee would ultimately end up with me working a lot of hours behind a counter and I would not have much flexibility regarding hours.
I researched what photography franchises were out there. I made numerous inquiries into the real estate photography business. I then had the idea to invest in a business that I was aware of in Mackay. This business involved baby hands and feet being casted in a frame, usually with their photo. The owner of this business was also a newborn photographer. I really liked this idea and I enquired. They had that area available but then decided to re-zone and joined Rockhampton to the Bundaberg area. A larger area meant a higher price and it was more than I was willing to pay, considering the area would not have been fully used.
I couldn’t find a real estate photography franchise that felt right. I thought I would try my hand at portrait photography, although I just wasn’t that keen on portrait photography. At the time, we were looking for a house to buy and I could see that photography and property marketing was lacking in my area. I happened to do another search for real estate photography franchises months after and came across Real Property Photography. After about 6 months from my first enquiry – and lots of procrastination – I handed the cash over.
Can you tell us about a moment when you felt the most accomplished in this profession?
I don’t know if there is just one.
The moments that stand out are being selected by an agent for an important campaign (his compliments and further training meant a lot to me), having a local developer choose me over two others he had previously use for his beachside apartments and winning the 2016 Franchisee of the Year award in June.
Essentially, all of these moments were recognition for hard work by different people.
What was your most difficult situation to date and how did you overcome it?
That would have to be the first six months with a particular client. The client I worked with prior was an independent so they could do what ever they wanted. However, this client has a lot of guidelines to work within, as it is “a big engine” and requires uniformity across all offices. As each issue arose, it caused some tension and I felt somewhat deflated at times. Whilst I did not think it was worth the stress, we now have a great working relationship in which both communication and the results have improved.
Trying to keep multiple clients happy all at once is certainly a struggle at times. However, my job becomes easier the more that I profile my clients and identify their exact needs and preferences.
If you could give yourself some advice before you started this job, what would it be?
You don’t have to be everything to everyone. Work out who you like to work with and spend time working on those relationships.