CRM Software for Photographers with Chris Garbacz founder of Studio Ninja

June 1, 2020

Welcome Chris, I am delighted to be able to talk to you and share your experiences that all photographers have, one of those being time to do EVERYTHING and how you changed the face of ‘Software Management’

Let me start by asking

RISE: Can you share with us, a little more about yourself and how Studio Ninja was born?

My name is Chris Garbacz, I’m a bubbly, energetic, easy going wedding photographer from Melbourne, Australia. I’m still shooting about 40ish weddings a year in Australia, New Zealand and around the world, I’m a dad to two beautiful little kiddies (Lily 5 and Flynn 2), and I’m one of the co-founders of Studio Ninja. Let’s just say I’ve got a lot going on!

The interesting thing is that before starting Studio Ninja and before having kids, I in theory should have had WAY more available time… but I didn’t

I was feeling completely overwhelmed, disorganised and I was getting so stressed out. I was spending my days:

  • Following up with leads.
  • Chasing up unsigned contracts
  • Chasing up due or overdue payments.
  • Trying to figure out where I was up to for each wedding and what task I had to do next.
  • Constantly trying to figure out who I’ve emailed, who I haven’t and what I’ve emailed to who and when did I do that! 
  • Making sure I haven’t forgotten tasks or missed jobs or meetings. 
  • Plus so much more that I’m sure a lot of you guys can relate to.

I was seriously going grey way too early in my life so I knew something had to change. So I tested out all the studio management software that was available on the market for photographers and although some were better than others, in my opinion they were in general way too difficult to learn, almost impossible to setup, overly complicated to navigate or the UI was just too ugly and I just couldn’t bring myself to invest the time or money into any of them. 

That’s when I teamed up with Yuan, a friend of mine who was also a photographer and an amazing user-experience designer and we decided that we were going to build the world’s most user-friendly photography business app. Six months later, in February of 2016, Studio Ninja was born.

I honestly couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve been able to achieve. Today, it makes me so happy that Studio Ninja is helping over 10,000 photographers from all over the world, it really is an amazing feeling.

RISE: Has the business model of Studio Ninja changed since you first started?

A lot has changed since we started but the vision has always been the same: to help as many photographers as possible to get more organised, remove stress and save time. 

It’s funny because the CRM (Client Relationship Management) industry in general is kind of boring by nature, we help people manage their data! But even though managing data can be boring, our mission was to create an app that makes that process as fun and easy and as enjoyable as possible. 

We’ve learnt a lot over the years but one of the most important things we’ve realised is to be close to your customers. We (the founders) are super transparent and approachable, we listen to our customers, we take on their feedback and we continue to grow the product based on the feedback we receive. This approach actually has two benefits, one, we are building features that our customers are telling us they want and two, our customers feel like they are part of the Studio Ninja journey and helping to refine what Studio Ninja will become. 

We listen, we act fast, we release new features regularly and repeat. I feel like if we just continue to do this, we are setting ourselves up for success and our customs are getting as much value from their money as possible. 

RISE: What is the biggest advantage to a photographer investing in Studio Ninja?

Ha, there are many advantages! Here are a few:

  • You’ll have a system in place to help you manage and streamline your admin.
  • You’ll never forget to shoot a job, chase a payment, email a client or get back to a lead again.
  • All your clients will receive the same level of service from you because you (and the system) will be on top of everything. 
  • Your clients will appreciate your level of professionalism while you use our quotes, contracts, questionnaires, invoices, email templates, etc.
  • On top of that, our app is the highest rated and easiest to use so you can run your whole business on the go from your phone. 
  • We integrate with all of your favourite work tools, including Gmail, Google Calendar, Stripe, PayPal, Quickbooks, Xero, ShootProof, Fundy and more.  
  • We’ll migrate your data to us for FREE to save you the hassle.
  • We’ll give you FREE one on one training to help you get set up as easily and quickly as possible.
  • As a subscriber, you’ll get discounts to other photography related products and services through our Ninja partner program.
  • The list goes on…  

RISE: Can your software increase our bookings and sales?

YES it can. Having a system like Studio Ninja in place can free up so much of your valuable time so that you can take on more bookings without feeling the burden of doing the additional admin. Studio Ninja will simply handle all the admin for you. You can even setup a workflow to automatically get back to your new leads, automatically send them your pricelists and automatically follow up, all while you’re on holidays or sleeping 🙂 

Same goes for increasing sales. Using Studio Ninja’s “Pick & Choose” quotes you can easily upsell larger packages or offer your clients additional products. Hundreds of photographers have already emailed us saying their clients bought and extra album or canvas that they weren’t expecting and they didn’t have to do anything, the system did it for them! 

RISE: How easy is it to personalise your software to my business?

Very easily. Simply upload your logo, integrate your email account and you’re good to go. 

Every new account comes with free:

  • Email templates
  • Questionnaire templates
  • Contract templates
  • Product & Package templates
  • Payment schedule templates
  • and Workflow templates

So you can get up and running almost instantly by using any of our in built templates, you can edit them to be more on brand for you or simply make your own from scratch. 

RISE: GDPR is a big concern for photographers, does your software take this into account?

Yes of course. We are 100% compliant and verified. 

RISE: How easy is it to integrate my sales figures into my accounting software for my accountant?

As always, very easy! Integrate with Quickbooks or Xero and all your invoices and payments inside Studio Ninja automatically get copied over to your integrated accounting software. You accountant is going to love you!

RISE: If there was one piece of advice you could pass on to those reading this, what would that be?

I’m big on time management! I love my life and want to spend my time doing things that I enjoy like spending time with my family and friends, enjoying my hobbies and growing my businesses. For me to be able to do all those things I had to find out where my time was being spent and where it was being wasted. It turned out that retouching, bookeeping and managing my admin were the three biggest headaches and time wasters in my business! I absolutely hated doing those tasks and they would always take twice as long as they were supposed to. 

So I found better solutions! I outsourced my retouching, I outsourced my bookkeeping and I use Studio Ninja to manage all my admin. Now I have way more time to shoot more weddings, grow Studio Ninja and do all the thigns I mentioned above. 
I would recommend anyone reading this to do a little self audit for themselves and see where their time is being spent or more importantly, wasted. If you find yourself doing low value tasks or tasks that you hate, it could be time to think of a better and smarter way. 

Thank You Chris for sharing so much with us, it’s been an absolute please to feature you and Studio Ninja in our community. I know how much you have changed the productivity to some mean photographers.

As RISE Members, you can head over to your Members Login area and now watch the video Chris has produced on effective workflow

You can find out more about Chris and Studio Ninja and its benefits below…

Chris Garbacz Website

Studio Ninja

Studio Ninja on Instagram

Studio Ninja on Facebook

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