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Archive for the ‘customer service’ Category

Meet Jim Giunta: Head of Technical Support

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

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According to Dictionary.com a Renaissance Man is “a present-day man who has acquired profound knowledge or proficiency in more than one field.”

That completely defines our own Jim Giunta, Head of Pounds Technical Support. He’s been there and done that. Whether it’s skydiving, scuba diving, flying single-engine planes, shooting competitively, or working on his Harley, he’s all action, all the time. He’s also been a professional magician, which may explain how he makes so much happen here at Pounds!

Jim’s background includes a wide skill set. He worked in photography, missile electronics, and computers during time spent in the military. Then he expanded his knowledge base into video and broadcast journalism. When he was on the East Coast, he was in on the cutting-edge development of green screen technology and capture software.

He’s really done it all.

POUNDS: Tell us a little bit about your background.

JIM: I grew up in Rochester, New York, with seven siblings, one of which is my identical twin. Two of my brothers are magicians. My oldest brother was an electrician, a photographer, and a magician. I got interested in magic and photography through him. That’s how I put myself through college the first time, working as a photographer for schools during the week, weddings on the weekends, and supplementing that with magician gigs.

POUNDS: How long have you been in the photography business?

JIM: I’ve been in the business since 1972 when I was a military photographer. My first hitch was in Frankfurt. I was sent all over Europe because I had a security clearance. The majority of the work I did was classified. When I got out of the service, in Rochester, I worked in still and video, went back to school, and got another degree in broadcast journalism. Then I went back to the military and worked in electronics and computers specifically on the Pershing II ballistic missile.

POUNDS: How did your military career help you in your present job?

JIM: When I got out in ‘90, I had both camera and computer backgrounds. Everything was turning to digital, so it was perfect timing.

POUNDS: How did Pounds find you?

JIM: When I got to my first lab job at PCA, a guy working for them was trying to develop a department for specialty school and events and using green screen on-site. He hired me for the digital division. I stayed, he left. When they got bought out, he was involved in Pounds with a franchise operation and told them about me. He recommended me, and I got hired ‘07.

POUNDS: Tell us a bit about what you do for customers.

JIM: Support for volume photographers is more of a one-on-one service. They have a personal relationship with our people. We’re on call 24/7. We provide a more specialized and customized workflow for their specific business. We find out what type of business model they have, and assess skills, equipment, and resources. If necessary, we suggest equipment, marketing, or business support. We support them when they are up and running or if they are just beginning their volume careers. I also provide the support for customers that want websites and teach them how to use and maintain them.

POUNDS: What’s new and coming up?

JIM: We are expanding the customer support team, and we’re doing a lot of technical development this year. We will be enhancing our customer order submission softwares to give studios more control of the process. We’ll have the full capability of the PhotoLynx suite of software, and the website is offering direct fulfillment now.

POUNDS: What do customers tell you about their experience with Pounds?

JIM: The two points that come up time and time again are the quality of the product and the level of our support because it is one-on-one.

Meet Carolyn Taylor: Supervisor School Division + Order Entry

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

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Once Pounds hired Carolyn Taylor, we just would not let her go. When we bought another lab, a lot of us will tell you it was so we could hang on to her! She has done almost every job at Pounds and now holds the title Supervisor School Division / Order Entry. She also oversees the retouching department and Xerox printing. In other words, she’s still doing it all. It’s primarily due to Carolyn that the Pounds ship sails so smoothly every day!

POUNDS: How did you get started in the industry?

CAROLYN: I started working in the photography industry at Gittings Studios in the early to mid-80s. I was in the production department, and my responsibilities included filing negatives, wedding album and frame assembly, and portrait packaging. This was an awesome experience. The portraits assembled and packaged for presentation to clients were simple, a work of art! In 1987 the company was acquired by Paul Skipworth and became Gittings-Skipworth. I continued working a few years, then decided to apply for employment at Pounds as this was the lab that produced the work for Gittings and Gittings-Skipworth.

POUNDS: It sounds like you were destined to be with Pounds!

CAROLYN: I started working for Pounds in February of 1991. I was hired to work in the proofing department but was quickly moved to “cut neg” to operate the v7 and vp2 film printers. Printing on the v7 was my main job, but I filled in on the vp2 as needed. Back in those days, we kept a daily count of how many exposures the printer made. I hit the all-time high count on the v7. I don’t remember the count or the date that was, but it was a big deal then! In January of 1996, I was hired to work at Meisel.

That didn’t last long because Pounds acquired Meisel seven months later and I have worked here ever since, in almost every department except mounting and shipping. I was in on the ground floor when the transition from negatives to digital took place. My first thought was that we (Pounds) had lost our minds but look at us now!

POUNDS: Tell us a little bit about your family.

CAROLYN: I am a married mother of two children, a boy, and a girl and now grandmother to four beautiful grandchildren, two boys, and two girls. My oldest grandson lives with us and has brought much love and joy to our home. Our household has a huge heart for animals. We currently have two dogs and a cat, but we’ve had as many as five dogs at one time! My grandson enjoys school, school activities, and sports. If I leave work at a reasonable hour, it’s because I’m attending a basketball or football game! But don’t worry! I will always show up early the next day if necessary, to catch up on any of our customer’s work that may require my attention.

POUNDS: What’s new at Pounds?

CAROLYN: Our school division has grown by leaps and bounds since it first started. Today we have more than tripled our number of school customers and provide services to many studios across the United States. As always, we are looking to grow even more in this area. This year we have put into place new work-flows and processes to make the school experience here at Pounds more efficient, sustainable and pleasant for our customers.

POUNDS: What do you enjoy most about working with Pounds?

CAROLYN: I have always enjoyed the challenge of working at Pounds. Things are ever-changing, so there is no time to be bored. We are continuously improving and adding new processes and products to accommodate our customers’ needs. Each day is a new and different experience. There is always something to learn. If it can’t currently be done, our challenge is to figure out how it can be done and do it. We have moved many mountains over the years.

We are up to the challenge, so bring it on!

Inside Volume Photography with Vickie Viera

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

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Pounds is the leading resource for volume sports photographers, and a major reason for that is Vickie Viera. We sat down with her recently to gain some insight into how Pounds and Vickie are the best assets a volume photographer can have. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or have just begun your career in this lucrative and fulfilling industry, Pounds is your partner.

Pounds: What products have been added for sports photographers?

Vickie: We’ve added more graphics and more products targeted at increasing customer sales. We have increased what you can offer as add-ons to drive sales. For instance, our keychains are immensely popular. We have more than tripled the number of keychains we carry and added more sublimation products.

Pounds: Why are add-ons so important in volume photography?

Vickie: Add-ons are one of the things I emphasize most to photographers. The point of an add-on is to drive sales to your profit packages. Leagues look for photographers that offer a lot of fun products. So, if you want to sign a league, you have to remember they need items not just for team parents, but also for sponsors. We have increased our line of add-ons to fulfill those needs.

Pounds: Do you have advice for new sports photographers trying to figure out how to build packages?

Vickie: Yes! Come and see me! I have seen a 30% profit in one season. It has to do with how you build those packages and what you offer. For instance, when you create three packages, one is high, one is low, and one is right in the middle. That middle package has the right mix of cost and product. That is where your add-ons can be beneficial. How? By adding interest and value to your order form.

Pounds: How does the Pounds ordering system benefit volume photographers?

Vickie: Records is an industry standard for volume sports. It’s a fast and easy way to get everything ordered with the added advantage of having data that makes your clients’ sales trackable.

Pounds: What can volume sports photographers do to create an edge in today’s market?

Vickie: Well, consult with me of course! But, also attend conferences and trade shows like SPAC and SYNC. I consider SPAC the gold standard of training. They focus specifically towards the business client and offer classes from people that run very successful studios. You’ll learn the marketing piece, how to target, how to sell, and how to make your studio more efficient. And you’ll network! That’s extremely important. We have quite a few people in Texas who began as competitors, became friends, shared information, and became the leaders in entire markets. You will learn how to increase your business and how to turn what you spent going to SPAC into a profit!

Pounds: How does SYNC differ from SPAC?

Vickie: SYNC is about more of what to do once your business is running. It’s a smaller conference, and the focus is solely on sports and the challenges related to sports. For instance, banners are a huge thing in sports. Everyone has to have one. How do you sell that banner? Do you give it away free, how do you wrap that cost into your charges? You’ll learn that at SYNC.

Pounds: What puts Pounds above every other lab out there when it comes to serving the needs of volume photographers?

Vickie: People. Marion, Darren, Tracy, Chris— we all offer personal attention and true partnership with our clients. When you need something, you can call. We will make a difference, and we will increase your business. Partnership is the Pounds difference.

Be sure to visit with Vickie at SYNC 2018! REGISTER TODAY

Matt Scoggin: New School and Sports Product Manager

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

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Meet our new School and Sports Product Manager, Matt Scoggin! Matt is located in the Baltimore offices of Nations Photo Lab and will be implementing changes to enhance school and sports products and services. Matt was the operations manager of a high volume school and sports photography studio and a Pounds customer, so he is well acquainted with the unique challenges volume photographers face. Having spent ten years in the trenches, he gets it!

POUNDS: Why did you decide to join the Nations family?
MATT: When Pounds was purchased by Millman Multimedia in early 2016, Ryan Millman, the CEO of Millman Multimedia and Nations Photo Lab, came down and visited my studio. We hit it off. I was looking at a transition and excited about the Nations family. I reached out to him and flew to Baltimore to interview. I was familiar with Pounds because they were our lab. Pounds is great at being a partner and doing what they say they will do. They always go above and beyond in all facets. That is what I loved from them as a customer. Now I get to return that and carry it forward in my position as the School and Sports Product Manager.

POUNDS: What do you enjoy most about your new position?
MATT: What is exciting for me is being able to work with a lot of different studios, take the knowledge I’ve built up over the past decade on how to take a great school picture, and help those studios. Making schools, parents, and kids feel special, that is the crux of volume photography.

POUNDS: What are the most challenging aspects of volume photography?
MATT: Juggling multiple customers! Not only do you have the student or player that needs to feel special, but you also have a school principal or coach and parents that need to be happy. Each school has their own personality, wants, and needs. It’s essential to be able to think on your feet.

POUNDS: When you were working as a photographer, what attracted you to volume photography?
MATT: I loved the rush of it. My background in college was in restaurant work. I loved the excitement and getting through it. Your timeframe is compressed in volume school photography. At our studio, we had 400 schools to photograph in a 3-month period. It’s the same sort of rush. It’s an accomplishment when you get through it, and very exciting.

POUNDS: What is driving the volume industry right now?
MATT: Sports is a growth segment. Youth league and sports activities are driving the industry right now. We are seeing cool products and services like shooting on a green screen and dropping the player into a great graphic background. The industry is pushing the envelope and creating highly customized products that parents, kids, and coaches are excited about.

POUNDS: What would you like people to know about Pounds?
MATT: Pounds is the lab. It goes back around to the partnership level. There is a relationship that everyone at Pounds strives to build with the client. That attitude of customers not being just a number is what I love about Pounds. Our customer service rep, Vickie Viera, always says, “They are not just customers, they are my friends.” Pounds builds relationships.

New Team Member: Dannette Cornelison

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

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We’d like to introduce the newest member of our Customer Service team, Dannette Cornelison. She joins Vickie and Darren in supporting our clients with information, education, and solutions. A Texas native, Dannette has over 20 years of experience in the photography industry and is a self-proclaimed photo nerd!

POUNDS: How did you get into the industry?
DANNETTE: I love photography. From the first contact sheet I made, I was hooked! I still shoot today. I shoot anything and everything. I call myself a photo nerd! I started working in a camera store in Garland, TX. After that, I worked at two high profile professional photography labs doing custom order entry.

POUNDS: How did you decide to come and work at Pounds?
DANNETTE: Some of my co-workers came to work for Pounds and I heard good things. Because Pounds specializes in the school industry, I knew there was stability and longevity. Pounds has been around a long time, and they are a trusted lab.

POUNDS: What do you enjoy most about your new position?
DANNETTE: I’m enjoying serving our customers and just talking to people, helping them solve challenges and making sure they receive the best information to help them achieve their goals.

POUNDS: Have there been any challenges?
DANNETTE: There is always a learning curve with a signature system, but PROS was very easy. Pounds does specialty prints that I’ve never encountered before, so I’ve had to learn about a lot of new products!

POUNDS: What would you like our customers to know?
DANNETTE: That they should never hesitate to call and if I don’t’ have the answer, I’ll find the answer!

FedEx is coming!

Friday, March 11th, 2016

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Whether you are Irish or not, March 17th will be your lucky day! That’s when FedEx becomes our primary carrier.

In a continuing commitment to streamline shipping delivery and offer the most economic pricing to you, Pounds is pleased to announce that we will be transitioning our UPS shipping services to FedEx on March 17th. If you are currently set up in our system for UPS shipping, we’ll change your account settings to use the same level of service with FedEx.

As always, customer service is here if you need us!

We appreciate your business and look forward to another great year of working together to help your business grow in 2016!

Turn Up The Volume!

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

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Volume photography is a lucrative business. In the simplest of terms it boils down to photographing a high volume of customers in one location or venue. Think about it. Photographs are taken each year of every single public and private school student for yearbooks and class photos. Parents can always be counted on to order substantial photo packages from school shoots. Add to this the ever growing sports photography field and volume business is definitely a great market.

Participation in high school sports reached almost 7.8 million last year, according to a survey released by The National Federation of State High School Associations, a record high. The Sports and Fitness Industry Association keeps track of how many kids between the ages of 6 and 17 are involved in sports. In 2011 they reported 21.47 million participants. Remember this does not include children that begin sports before age 6 so that number could easily top 30 million.

What does this mean to you? It means business and a lot of it!

High volume photography is a highly sought after service and a great way to increase your revenue. So where do you begin? Right here! Pounds is the industry expert at volume photography. Marion Hughes has been in the trenches and understands the needs of volume photography. Marion and Jim Giunta, our photo-technical advisors, have over 70 years of experience between them. Marion has trained thousands of volume photographers over the last 25 years and lectures on a regular basis for photography associations and franchises. Vickie Viera is not only a fantastic customer service representative, she is the go to expert for information on products and building packages.

Let’s get the low-down from Marion and Vickie on volume photography.

Volume photography is lucrative but can be intimidating and overwhelming for a new photographer contemplating entry into the business. How can Pounds help that photographer penetrate the field?

Marion: We’ve been fortunate to help many studio photographers add profitable school and sports business to their operations. They’ve received assistance that has sped up their workflow and improved the accuracy of their exposure and color. Besides experienced personnel, we have extensive and exclusive documentation on volume and studio operations. Manuals on school day sales and photography techniques, green screen, simplified outdoor shooting, volume family photography, spring school programs and a host of other subjects are all available to our customers.

One of the biggest challenges in breaking into volume photography is the data. Images must be matched to basic school information such as the student’s name, grade, teacher and id number. We’ve simplified this by creating an easy to use software package that does most of the work for you. Ask us about ProMatch.

Vickie: We have staff that will help with sales, marketing, capture and software. At Pounds Labs we become partners with our studios. We provide training in all aspects of volume photography from capture to package delivery. We’ll be with you every step of the way.

Ok I’m a newbie. I’m in the door at my local school. How do I add more schools?

Marion: Pounds customers have access to a wonderful resource book, “School Days Photography – A Sales and Planning Guide.” It outlines the basics of approaching the decision maker and closing the sale. Pounds Labs is also a sponsor of an excellent three-day School Day Boot Camp. This is an intensive training on all aspects of developing a school program.

What products are going to be easy add-ons that will essentially sell themselves?

Vickie: Novelty products are a crucial aspect in volume photography. Not only can they help to increase your profit, but they also generate interest in the order process, helping to drive sales to the profit packages. One of the services we offer is assisting with add-ons. We will discuss the events in your location and suggest products doing well in the area and for the specific event.

Can you help me learn how to “talk the talk”?

Marion: Booking that first school can be scary. Our advisors will help you know what to say and when to shut up!

I now have several schools and I want to add their sports teams into my mix. Am I going to be overwhelmed? How can Pounds help me with sports?

Marion: Don’t worry! We’ve already been there. We’ll show you the most effective method of shooting school sports without having to go to every game.

Vickie: We have easy to use software, training for capture and data entry. We’ll introduce you to order forms, marketing, sales and how to set up the shoot.

I heard you’d meet with me personally? Do I make an appointment? How long do you meet with me?

Marion: Absolutely! We can meet with you at the lab, by phone, on Go To Meeting or even at your location. Call to schedule a time that is right for you.

Vickie: We would LOVE to see you! It is a joy to meet our partners. We love to show off our facility and introduce the people that produce our products. Depending on your needs, such as green screen training, marketing or software usage, a visit can take a few hours or we can arrange multi-day training. Please call me at 469.341.6719 and we will schedule a tour and training.

I’m an old pro at this and know a lot. What can Pounds do for me?

Vickie: Pounds Labs has partnered with studios for 40 years. We can suggest products to increase sales, marketing and volume training. We know the products that work in your area and for your events. We’ll help you train your employees to streamline your workflow.

Marion: How about free software that will speed up your data entry several fold? Then there is the fact we have one of the most completive print prices in the industry and we offer free shipping. Don’t forget our fast turnaround!

Are there any new products that are particularly suited for volume?

Vickie: We recently added new press trader cards. The cards are always favorites with events from sports teams to school clubs.

Well, how do I really know you can help? Do you have proof?

Marion: You bet! Here’s a letter from one of our customers:

From: Greg Lamb
Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2015 10:00 AM
To: Pounds Labs
Subject: Praise

Good Morning,

As a professional photographer for over 30 years I had watched as my volume had steadily decreased over the past few years due to the increase of digital and cell phone cameras. I had originally tried school day pictures 30 plus years ago with a split 70. I hated it. It was hard to focus.

As we “tried” to get into school day pictures again, I met Marion from Pounds Labs and was blown away with his knowledge and likability. He has made a couple of trips to my studio to help get us started and he AND the Pounds staff have been on the phone with us as we started this past fall with eight schools. We will double that number this year.

This has been a very profitable decision on our end and could not have been possible without the help of Marion and the staff at Pounds Labs.

Are you ready to get started in volume photography? Give Marion and Vickie a call at 469.341.6719!

Print What You Want to Preserve

Monday, September 15th, 2014

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Guest blog by Missy MWAC
#whyweprint

[The discussion recently arose on my Facebook wall about giving clients digital files because that’s “what they want,” and I’m glad it did, because it’s an important discussion to have. This is my response to the “digital only” conversation. Warning: I took it waaaay down. So far down, that I became exhausted and had to watch SNL reruns on Netflix to counter the effects...]

I may be out of touch, it’s true. And while I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, I really do try to stay on top of what is trending and what is about to trend. It’s kind of my thing.

As you recall, back in the days o’ film, the phone would ring and the caller would ask that question that made many a photographers’ eyes roll: “How much is an 8×10?” If I had a dime for every time, right? And, we knew…just knew… that what they were asking was not really the price of an 8×10 (although I’m sure there was a percentage for whom that was ALL they wanted to know.)

No, they asked “How much is an 8×10?” because it’s all they knew to ask. They wanted to know price, sure, but what that question really meant was:

“Why should I pick YOU?”
“Am I going to love these?” “What if I don’t?”
“Are you right for me?”
“If I pick you, will I be happy with my choice.”
“Tell me why YOU are the right photographer for me.”

Of course, they didn’t come out and say that. Instead, they asked, “How much is an 8×10?”

Now, that question could be answered according to the “what clients want” theory: they WANT the price of an 8×10, so give it to them and be done with the phone call.

Or…we could dig deeper to find out what they REALLY want.

Fast forward to now and the digital age. I happen to love it. I really do. Digital photography has made possible things that have stretched the imagination and broadened the mind. Heck, you and I are talking because of digital communication. And, for many photographers, digital technology has changed their final product.

Why? Why did it change? Were clients banging down the door demanding digital images only…or were we quick to hand them over, stick a fork in it, and say, “I’m done.”

Personally, I think it’s the latter.

Again, why? Well, with digital only, we don’t have to sell. And selling, well, the thought produces tremors in a lot of people. And then, having sold, we have to produce a product. And then, we have to hope the clients like the product. And then, we have to deliver the product.

All that…when you could slap ‘em on a CD, grab a little pocket change and be done? Well, it’s easy to see, at least to me, why that became attractive and “the thing to do.” (Not to mention this was advocated and promoted by those who stood to profit from the shift to digital only. Of course, that’s a whole other conversation.)

But…I submit it is not always what clients want…even when they say it is. Like the 8×10, they think they need to ask: “Can I get the CD?” That’s what their friends did, right? And that’s the offer they are getting everywhere they turn, so they figure it’s “what’s done.” And, having received the CD, or USB drive, or online gallery, the images will be shared for a week or so, and then, the excitement will wane and the disk will be placed in a drawer.

And it will be forgotten.

Sure, a handful might, just might, print them. Will they look how YOU intended them? After all, your name is on them, so you better hope so. I say the odds are doubtful.

The bottom line, at least, to me, is that we have devalued many things in this industry: the work, the final product, the relationships between client and photographer, the way we market…(examples are happily given for all of these upon request) and it’s time we get back to making things MEAN something again.

I believe we do that by creating a print for our client…something that lasts. I might give a social media copy to share online, but I believe my job isn’t done until I place a paper photograph in their hand, because I believe that the ONLY tangible thing we give our clients shouldn’t be a USB drive.

And, I believe their grandkids will one day be grateful.

xoxo

Hand-Holding To Hand Delivering: Cheryl Wemp Does It All!

Monday, September 16th, 2013

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Cheryl Wemp holds down our Fort Worth operations. She not only manages the office but is also in charge of customer service and accounts receivable. She’s been a part of the Pounds family since the very beginning. Born and raised on the west coast, she arrived in Texas 35 years ago and has 3 beautiful grandchildren!

POUNDS What do you like most about your job?
CHERYL Sitting down with a client and showing them how we can help them grow their business. One tip I always tell photographers is to show 16 x 20 prints and larger. If you show small prints you sell small prints. If you show large prints, you sell large prints and make a greater profit!

POUNDS How do you think Pounds differs from other labs?
CHERYL Personal, one-on-one communication with customers. We take the time needed to solve individual situations. We hand-hold to hand deliver if needed!

POUNDS Customer communication is important at Pounds. You come into contact with clients on a daily basis. What is the thing you most often hear that is reflective of how we serve their needs?
CHERYL We solve problems and that saves the customer money! For instance we look carefully at each order. If there is an out of focus image in their $300.00 album we contact them the minute we see it and that saves the customer time and money.

POUNDS What is one thing you’d like your customers to know about you?
CHERYL I will do whatever it takes to get it done

POUNDS Tell us an “above and beyond the call of duty” story.
CHERYL I answered the phone one afternoon and it was a panicked Austin photographer. He left some equipment in the mid-cities area where he was shooting over the weekend. He was trying to retrieve his equipment but could not physically get out here to get it and wanted to know if I knew of anyone going to Austin that could bring it to him. After talking with him for awhile I learned where the equipment was located and told him I would stop on my way home and retrieve everything package it up and send it to him via UPS. He would have it the next day. I called him with the tracking number, he received the package and he was very happy!

POUNDS Do you ever get to meet the people at the other end of the phone/email? If so what is it like?
CHERYL Sometimes you create relationships with people over the phone. When you meet them in person it just makes that ‘bond’ stronger. It’s exciting to put a face with a voice!

POUNDS What is the most important thing everyone should know about customer service at Pounds?
CHERYL We are here for you!