I need to confess something… I’m a bit obsessed with studio management systems. I “affectionately” call them CRMs (Customer Relationship Managers), but a good one will do so much more than just manage your relationships with your customers.
There are a plethora of systems out there, each vying for your attention and asking you to “pick me” over the others. There’s also a whole lot of personal anecdotes out there, with everyone being convinced their CRM is the best choice for everyone.
So, to clear the confusion and dispel all the chaos, I thought I’d spend some time analysing the top 7 CRMs for photographers, and put together a bit of a guide. Better still, I did it in quiz form, so it’s fun to find out which system will best suit your needs.
So by all means, do the quiz (the link is below), but also ask yourself these key questions to ensure you get the most out of your time and effort in setting up the best CRM for you…
How quickly do I learn new platforms?
I get it, not everyone spent their summer holidays learning more efficient ways to reformat their computers (just me, then?). Most people get into photography because they want to take photos, not set up admin systems.
Some CRMs are super simple to set up, and others take some getting used to. If you’re a quick learner of new software platforms, go for a deep dive into the most adaptable systems. But if you’re not so system-savvy, it might be a good idea to stick to a CRM that is good to go pretty much out of the box.
How detailed do I need my system to be?
If you’re a fan of old British TV shows, you might know Yes Minister. There’s an episode where the public hospital has been closed to patients, but the staff are still super busy with all their admin work. They couldn’t possibly open the hospital up to patients, because the staff don’t have the time to tend to them.
This is the danger of a detailed system - you can spend weeks or months setting up the perfect system, but not leave yourself any time to actually deal with your clients. So, be realistic and be sure not to get caught up in the red tape of your admin system - your CRM should make less work for you, not more.
What’s my budget?
Six of the seven systems I have profiled sport a subscription method, meaning there are monthly fees. This is great when it comes to platforms that are regularly updating, because you get all the updated features automatically included within your subscription.
A well-set-up CRM will save you countless hours each month in wasted admin time, so I see the cost of a good system being an investment in your business and in your sanity! Personally, I prefer a subscription basis for my CRM because I love the adaptability and cash flow, but it’s not for everyone’s business model, so keep it in mind if budget is an issue.
While we‘re on the topic of money, keep in mind that most CRMs are based overseas, so their fees are likely to be in foreign currencies. Travel on over to a currency converter to check out the current rate so you can compare the real costs across the different platforms.
Do I have access to my website’s back end?
Any good CRM will capture your enquiries straight from your website, but you’ll need to do some work on the back-end to integrate it. If you’re using Wordpress, Wix or Squarespace, this will be incredibly simple to do, but before you get yourself into gear to set up your new system, you’ll want to make sure you have the ability and knowledge of how to go into your website and alter your contact form.
Do I have all my business info and templates?
This will be your first step in setting up a new CRM, so you’ll want your business information handy, including logos, branding colours, ABN and contact info.
If you have used email, contact or questionnaire templates before, now is the time to round them up in preparation of your CRM taking on those duties for you. You can insert them into the system in the setup phase so they are ready to go from the moment you connect the system to your website.
Bonus question - How do I get a discount?
I included this question because the good folk at Studio Ninja have given me a discount code that entitles users to half price for their first year! Simply enter code “MACSTUDIO” when you sign up and they’ll whack 50% off your bill. We all love discounts, right?
By the way, they don’t pay me to say that, but Studio Ninja is the platform I personally use for my businesses and I really do think it’s great, so if you’re heading down that path, why not take the discount?!
Now that you’re mentally prepared and have had a think about some of the aspects of your CRM, click the button below to start the quiz on finding the perfect CRM for you…