Franchising The Photo Business

Why have franchises done exceptionally well over the past 40 years? A number of reasons:

  • It gives you the chance to be an entrepreneur with a lot less risk.
  • It puts the system in place for  you.
  • It gives you a recognizable brand.
  • It provides the marketing for you – you reap the benefits of having customers easily come to you.

So its no surprise that a number of photography IMG_0626businesses have popped up using the franchise model as its base.

After we got back in from Moab yesterday, we stopped by our local Costco to pick up groceries. And as we entered, there was a booth for Family Tree Photographers. So of course we had to play average consumer, hear the pitch, and get the info.

While not really a franchise opportunity, it is a way for photographers to join the network, and have potential clients fed to them, providing they go by the guidelines of the company.

The concept is an outdoor family portrait is much more attractive than an indoor, posed portrait. So you’ll be referred to a professional photographer who will meet you in an outdoor location to shoot your portrait. He/she will take a series of images; process them so each image is a high resolution color, black and white, and sepia tone; place them on a photo CD; and give you full rights to do whatever you want with the images.

And of course because its out of Costco, they also promote the consumer should be printing the images at Costco.

On their website, they promote all of this for $439.99. However their brochure promotes the package for $329, which has been crossed out and hand written with a new price of $279.

I would imagine the network gets a portion of that fee, so I’m assuming the photographer would gain less than the quoted price – I’ll assume for this post $200 or so for their time and expenses. With no hope of ever getting any more business from this new client.

Will this work? Only time will tell. But I have my doubts. If they are hand selecting professional photographers, and they have to be of a certain caliber, $200 for several hours of work isn’t going to keep him/her in business. I’m willing to bet they will quickly leave the network.

What are your thoughts?

4 thoughts on “Franchising The Photo Business”

  1. I’m not sure that is a franchise at all. Franchising is a very specific business model, heavily regulated by the FTC. What you describe is a business opportunity – an unregulated type of business model where you pay a single fee for advice on how to do or distribute something specific. There are a few (not many) photo franchises. Grins 2 Go is one I see from time to time and it’s investment level is far higher. You get what you pay for!

  2. Quite true – how can a experienced, professional photographer make a substantial living at that pay rate? Perhaps they hire the would-be amateurs and up and coming photographers. However, for the client fee of $279, that seems a bit steep for that level of professionalism. Nice article. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Well… as you said this is not a franchise but more of an affiliation or referral program far from a franchise. Will it work? I think it will for Costco but not for any one photographer in particular. That is a photographer may choose to supplement his/her income with these leads but it will never be a full time business. It is similar to what HomeDepot does with contractors. It is a way to make money and satisfy customers’ demand for a service they themselves can’t provide. It also may help part time, hobby or starting photographers. My 2 cents :-). Thanks for asking.

  4. Thanks for your comments.

    When we first started out in this business, we charged very little. When we first met some of the photographers in our original mastermind group, the first thing they did is sit us down and tell us we were WAY to cheap.

    It’s okay to make money. You have to look at every opportunity, and make sure the opportunity is there for you as a photographer and a business owner. It’s not about what the franchise or other business opportunity wants. It’s about what you want.

    To your success!


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