School photography: average percent sales and pricing.

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by john_e|2, Nov 7, 2012.

  1. I'm considering entering the elementary school photo market. I've been told by other local photographers that do this to expect 25 - 35% sales with package prices starting at $10, plus the school expects at least 40% commission from gross sales back. I'm interested to hear from school photographers to determine if this is the case in other areas.
  2. John -
    I don't know what market you're in or what grades / schools you intend to market to - but my experience in the Twin Cities Market (MPLS / ST. PAUL) is that Lifetouch is an 80000 lb gorilla. Especially in the public school segment where photos are cookie cutter and they have 2 hours to do 800 kids.
    You have to be careful computing numbers on these things:
    1) not everyone will buy - even a $10.00 package may be asking a lot - again depending on the school. Lifetouch's cheapest package here is $15 or $20.00 - so if you doing 200 kids - figure a 40-50% sales rate. The 25% rate seems low - but some of that depends on location and school population. Some parents will splurge and get the deluxe (rare, but it does happen). But now alot just want a digital file or are happy with the photo being in the yearbook.
    2) Since they (school) probably want 30-40% of sales - no worries - if you don't sell anything - you don't pay them anything.
    3) that percentage (40%) seems high. I would suggest 10-25% max. (Payed to the school)
    Also make sure what the school expects from you in terms of Yearbook photos and deadlines for producing those. In the old days, we'd get a roll (litterally a roll) of images 1x1.5 by grade. We'd to id each student and cut their image out and paste it onto the book page.
    Finally - does the school expect any extras? i.e. - Photo-id cards, missing kid / child id cards, etc..?
  3. I would suggest 10-25% max. (Payed to the school)​
    Ditto, and that percentage comes from your PACKAGE sales if you word your contract correctly. At the same time your packages should be structured so each is lacking an essential item the parents will want to buy as a la carte add-ins which you do not include when calculating the total from which to take the school's piece of the pie.
    Lifetouch's cheapest package here is $15 or $20.00​
    When I worked for Lifetouch the territories were given four price lists. The list given to the school varied depending on the per centage kickback each school was promised. That way the net package sales the territories retained remained the same and the money you gave the school came from the parents, indirectly. YMMV.
    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video
  4. Lifetouch and Jostens used to be big in my area of South Texas, however, lots of screw ups and it takes forever to get corrections back. Local photographers are doing most of the school photography based on what I've been finding. I've had more and more schools asking me to do their school pictures. Trying to decide if it's worth it. Thanks for the info.
  5. Henry: What does the Lifetouch cheapest package contain?
  6. John -
    Having 3 kids in school (one that use Lifetouch) - their cheapest 2012 package was $10.00 - and that was 2 - 3x5's and 4 - wallets. If you ordered an 8x10 for $9.00 extra you get a free lo-res digital image. Elementary School had that one - but they also had a $16.00 package 4 -3x5's 8 wallets and a class photo. The $16.00 package was the 2nd cheapest and the lowest priced one to include the class photo.
    This year (as in the last 2 years) - they shot on a green screen - so the parent could choose one of 10 "looks" (aka - Digital backgrounds).
    I'm not sure what the rebate is here - but knowing Lifetouch - it's probably in the 5-10% range. They actually are headquartered here in the Twin Cities.
    They do a pre pay setup - where you log into their system, type in a student # (unique), and then place your order. A bar coded order form is then printed which the student brings with them to photo day, and in about 4 weeks you get the pictures.
  7. It sounds like you may be in TX. We do a lot of schools in North Texas and the numbers you described seem spot on. All public
    schools here require a 40% commission minimum. Most private schools are the same but you will find some with lower requests. I've
    never come across a public school bid that is less than 40% and they will usually want 30% spring and 10-15% class groups. High
    schools will want seniors, sports, and dance commissions as well.

    Average sale is usually $25. Lowest package will vary depending on the services the school wants. Of course they will always want
    service strips and yearbook CDs but will sometimes want ID cards and other services so you may adjust your packages around that.

    The area the school is in will determine the buy rate. I think 40-50% is about average but we have some schools much lower around
    10% and much higher.

    Turn around time and flexibility will be your biggest sellers to schools...of course commissions and services are also very important.

    Make sure you have a good work flow system in place... and if you decide to do it now is the best time to start sales. Good luck!

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