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Posts Tagged ‘customer service’

Keeping Up!

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

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Windows has announced they will stop support for any operating system older than Windows 10 on January 14, 2020. That means you have about seven months left to upgrade your old operating system.

Don’t worry. This is good news. You are going to love Windows 10! One of the most important new features is greater security for your files. Windows has installed a passive system update called LCU (Latest Cumulative Update). In other words, updates will be painless, fixes will be automatic, and security won’t be a worry.

Another great feature of Windows 10 is support for universal apps. This support is an expansion of the Metro-style apps introduced in Windows 8. Universal apps can be designed to run across multiple Microsoft product families. The support includes not only your PC but also your tablet and smartphone.

The Windows user interface has been revised to handle transitions between a mouse-oriented interface and a touchscreen-interface based on available input devices. Both interfaces include an updated Start menu that incorporates elements of Windows 7 and Windows 8.

The bottom line? Windows 10 offers a secure operating system and instant security updates. The new Windows 10 operating system will handle your growing business with ease. It will not only give you peace of mind, but it will also keep you productive and current in today’s competitive photography market!

Jim Giunta
Tech Support Supervisor, Pounds Labs

How Pounds Became a Game Changer for K.O Photo Studio

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

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Keith Owens bought a Kodak point-and-shoot camera in high school and was immediately hooked on photography.
“I fell in love with taking pictures,” Owens said. “This was back when the Polaroid camera was out, and it was so much fun to watch the image appear!”

Owens is largely self-taught, taking a few classes in his youth to learn the basics about using a camera and learning darkroom technique. He honed his skills on family members and evolved quite naturally into professional photography. Owens thought things were going pretty well. Then, two years ago, he attended a SYNC event and met Vickie Viera.

POUNDS: What happened at SYNC?

K.O.: I was hearing from other photographers at the event that your lab should be helping you grow your business and become more efficient. My lab was not helping me do either of these things. I saw the Pounds booth at the event, and Vickie asked me to come and sit down with her and have a chat.

POUNDS: Was that chat with Vickie a game changer for you?

K.O.: Yes! It worked out perfectly. She helped me get going. Sure, there was a learning curve, but we got it going! I had no idea what Pounds could do to help me with my workflow. I thought this is awesome! I love the professionalism of Pounds, and the staff is very friendly.

POUNDS: How did Pounds help you grow your business?

K.O.: They not only helped me integrate my workflow and get organized, but they also helped me change the way I approach a photo shoot. Pounds helped me to feel more confident. If a client contacts me with a large project, I know I can handle it now. I’d always wanted to shoot an entire league. I had done plenty of high school sports teams. Some have up to five teams at their school. It was great, but still I wondered if I could handle an entire league. I had never felt confident enough to branch into that. After SYNC, and learning and talking with Vickie, we developed a system to handle large volume photography. An opportunity came up, and now I shoot leagues!

POUNDS: What’s next?

K.O.: I’m expanding! My wife now helps me out full time handling the marketing, business, and organization. We do it all. We work with the kids until they go to college, and we hope they come back when they grow up with their own families so we can begin the process all over again!

POUNDS: How would you sum up what it’s like working with K.O. Photo Studio?

K.O.: Fun! I try to keep it real and have fun with it. You want to keep the kids at ease. Every parent tells us how professional we are and that the kids had a lot of fun.

You can see more of K.O. Photo Studio on their website

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

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!

The Client is Not the Enemy

Friday, December 5th, 2014

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Guest blog by Missy MWAC
The Client is Not the Enemy

A terrorist is an enemy.
A piece of French bread at a Gluten-Free Support Group is an enemy.
A pair of stilettos on your feet at an all day wedding is an enemy.
Off Camera Flash to a Natural Light Photographer is an enemy.
But a client? A client is NOT an enemy.

But you wouldn’t know that by listening to some photographers.

Now, I wasn’t going to even write a post like this, because I’ve touched on this topic before in a previous post. But after reading recently how some photographers:
*say they charge clients MORE if they can’t post their images online
*REFUSE a clients’ request to keep them off social media and post them online anyway
*say they charge an ADDITIONAL FEE if a client is running late to their session and make them wait…
well, I just can’t wrap my brain around this logic. (Note: I always marvel at the “additional fee/surcharge” option. Good luck on collecting that.)

And I wondered when this Client-as-Enemy thing happened? And why?

So, as I do when faced with a perplexing question, I popped a pod into the Keurig, and with coffee in hand, walked around the kitchen talking to myself until it all made sense. Now, I talk to myself a lot, mostly because I’m the only who will listen to my ramblings.

And after several laps around the kitchen table, I realized what I’ve known all along…that photographers have been tricked into this way of thinking by those who have sold them on the idea that as an Artist (read: Ar-teest) they should not go out of their way in the slightest to accommodate a client; that if a client has a differing view, then they are not respectful of you or your photography and should be kicked to the curb.

And while that may be true now and then, the vast majority have made Clients the Enemy due to a normal business situation handled wrongly.

In a Nutshell: We demonize a client rather than realize this is all just part and parcel of doing business; that most of what we encounter are not problems, but rather, the price of doing business.

Hello? McFly?

And it’s hard to fully blame photographers; it’s what many have been taught, even paid good money to learn.

Workshop Givers who teach the “Are You Good Enough for Me” Qualifying Methods: Namely, the suggestion that prospective clients should answer a series of email questions to determine if they are a “Good Fit” for you. My hand to God, those words “if we are a good fit” are part of the email. I’ll tell ya right now, if a business required me to answer that before they’d speak to me, I would press the delete key faster than I can down a vodka and club soda. And that’s fast. Because the words “good fit” are read by many, including me, to mean “good enough.” Are you “good enough” for me to photograph? Yikes. I even felt weird typing that just now. Qualifying a client through your marketing and pricing is one thing. Asking them to prove themselves is another.

Business “coaches” who preach in the church of “Make it All About You.” It’s a growing congregation filled with parishioners all named “ME.” The sermon is always the same: YOU are what’s most important; not the client. Now, they don’t come right out and SAY that the client isn’t important, but just as 2+2=4, you can reason that if YOU are what’s most important, then, the client must not be. (I hope that math is right. I’m bad with math.) Note: The church of “Make it All About You” will pass around the collection plate and you will be required to pay up. Oh yes, you will.

Charge ‘Em More if They Bother You: I see this a lot. I call it a ”how-dare-they” surcharge.
How dare they not want me to post their images?
How dare they run late for their session?
How dare they reschedule?
How dare they change their order?

Succeeding at making the Client the Enemy will win you a small victory. Sure. But it won’t win you a loyal client or repeat business. Remember, clients can spend their money anywhere, but if they choose to spend it with us, shouldn’t we make it the best experience possible? I mean, don’t we want the people with whom we give our money to bend over backwards for us and make us feel special and wanted?

Now, you certainly don’t have to listen to me. This is, after all, YOUR business, so if you don’t want to work with clients to make it a great experience, then don’t. I realize you might have paid good money to hear from a business coach that it should be all about YOU and you want to get your money’s worth. If that’s the case, then allow me to help you take those rotten clients to task and then shame them online.

Feel free to copy and past the following:

“I am Sooooooooo angry. I had a client: (pick one of the following issues)
*make me wait
*not like their pictures
*request I take more
*reschedule a session
*change their order

I am furious. I mean, who do they think they are? Just because they’ve paid me money they think they have a say. I’ve gone out of my way twice for them-what more do they want? At this point, THEY need to prove themselves to me, not the other way around, right?”

Yeah, that will show ‘em.

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!

Above and Beyond

Monday, April 11th, 2011

It isn’t hard to define the role of someone in customer service. They have to be a good listener. They can’ t make assump tions but have to anticipate needs. Resourcefulness and the ability to problem solve are essential. The bottom line is they really have to like people and want to help them. Darren Hanson fits every part of the customer service definition. He’s been with the Pounds team for thirteen years. “It’s the daily communication I enjoy,” Hanson said. “That and the friendly work environment, of course!”

Hanson spends most of his time in the office working with customers but once in a while he’s able to attend an event like Imaging USA and WPPI and get face-to-face feedback from clients. “It’s always a surprise and it’s always a pleasure to put a face with a name,” he said.  “I’ve worked with most people for years and when I finally get a chance to meet them in person, I feel like I already know them.

Going above and beyond is a daily occurrence for Hanson. He solves problems; juggles an array of client needs and manages to ensure no balls get dropped regardless of the circumstances.

A great example of this was recounted in a letter we recently received from a new client. This past winter, snowstorms halted a lot of business. Shipping schedules were disrupted and carriers were scrambling to catch up on deliveries. “An order placed a week and a half earlier had still not made it and had been promised to a client for Valentine’s Day,” photographer Jim Presley of Presley Photography wrote. “When I called, the gentleman I spoke with urgently reprinted the portion of my order promised for that Monday, had it shipped overnight for Saturday delivery and literally saved my client for me. I regret to say I did not take down the names of the people who made this happen but I get the idea that your company is packed full of good-hearted and generous people that know what customer service is all about.”

You guessed it, our own Darren Hanson was that gentleman and the Pounds team earned another loyal customer for going above and beyond, something that is simply second nature for Hanson and for Pounds!