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We are the UK’s leading contemporary Portrait and Wedding photography franchise. Launched in 1995 and now with 18 franchisees, our franchise model continues to strengthen.
• Run your own professional photography studio within two to three months
• Full training to take cutting-edge images
• Studio appointments from day one
• Excellent earnings potential
What we look for in a Franchisee
• Business minded
• Committed to learn
• Determined to succeed
• Organised and disciplined
• A strong team player
Barrett & Coe is a leading contemporary portrait and wedding photography franchise in the UK. With 18 successful studios our franchise model continues to strengthen. In areas where a Barrett & Coe studio is not yet established we have a network of recommended, independent photographers who share our passion for photography.
Complementing the individual marketing undertaken by franchisees, there are national contracts in place for baby, family and pet portraits with the Emma’s Diary, Activity Superstore, and online retailer Wowcher. In addition, there are other ongoing local and national promotions to compliment a high volume of enquiries received from our website and social media activity.
Creative images are enhanced further with a superb product range containing a mix of traditional and contemporary frames, albums and acrylics to suit every home.
The training we give is exhaustive, and all-embracing, owing to the fact that new franchisees bring an array of different skills with them.
Our training is bespoke to each individual. Consequently, the training programme will vary greatly between different individuals, but no stone is left unturned to ensure that each new franchisee reaches the very high standards we set in all the key activities:
• Photography; including lighting, posing etc.
• Pre and post-production skills
• Business planning
• Financial controls
• Customer care
A day in the life of a franchisee involves welcoming clients, photographing them, preparing their images, conducting viewings and providing the finished portraits. In addition, the background work involves local marketing, telephone confirmations with clients and corporate partners, and networking. All of this involves face-to-face and customer service skills to achieve marketing and sales objectives. There is also the general running of the business and management decisions
I decided to go down the franchise route because whilst a keen amateur photographer, I felt that I needed further support and guidance in order to successfully make the transfer from amateur to professional. I felt that Barrett & Coe offered me that support. Being part of a recognised brand was also important. The business generation via the national contracts was also attractive compared to a slow start promoting the business locally, in competition with other local photography studios.
It was going to be very different from my last employment as a company secretary for a group charity. Prior to that, I spent 24 years in banking.
The training for the franchise is comprehensive. As a franchisee, you have both the wedding and portrait courses as part of your franchise package, together with 1:1 sessions with a very experienced photographer. In your early months, there are also regular photography development meetings where you can take items that you’re having difficulty with for guidance. I have found these really helpful in developing both studio and post production technique.
Aside from the photography training, franchisees also receive a few days of induction, supported by written materials, which covers the entire business side to the franchise. Coming from a corporate background, this was familiar ground in many areas, although aspects specific to Barrett & Coe processes were helpful to discuss.
Finally, there are regular meetings for all franchisees. Apart from the agenda content, it’s also great to mix with other franchisees, and is a great place for mutual support.
Every day is different now! But potential franchisees should be under no illusions regarding the photography. This takes up a relatively small part of the day. Nevertheless it is an important part.
Your day will be spent mixing between managing bookings, managing the photo shoot, post-production, viewings, marketing your business locally, networking with other local businesses, and actually managing your business (accounts, VAT, orders, bank reconciliations, sourcing supplies).
They say patience is a virtue and boy do you need it! After all those months training and planning you just want to get selling and it can be frustrating when clients like the photos but don’t buy them, or as much as you would like. Breathe deeply and move on to the next one! Another challenge to get to grips with is that the clients sometimes have a different perspective on the priority of the shoot, or the viewing. You will see a percentage of cancellations, deferments or simply no-shows. You need to learn to accept this, manage it as far as you can, deal with it positively (mentally), and move on.
Becoming a Barrett & Coe franchisee has enabled me to be in control of my own destiny – the buck truly stops here! The hours can be long but also rewarding when clients can’t choose between the pictures. I’d been out of a sales environment for almost 15 years and had forgotten what a buzz I get from a successful sale. Becoming a franchisee has also enabled me to take back control of my life. I also think that the Barrett & Coe training, brand reputation and quality of the product differentiates us from the competition.
I promote my studio heavily through Facebook and my local networking group, although both will take time to bear fruit. I also make contact with local charities and fundraisers to offer prizes for their events, as a way of getting foot flow through my door – once in, the rest is up to me! Another important source will be recommendations, and there are other things that I will try but before that, I felt that it was important to get my studio running as efficiently as possible; particularly in terms of shoots & viewings. I also benefit from national campaigns generated from head office.
Having said that, a successful franchisee is someone who is, or can become, very comfortable with selling, marketing generally and also making ‘cold’ contacts. You also need commitment, drive, enthusiasm and an ability to deal with people and make them feel at ease. You’ll hear the majority of people say things like they hate having their photo taken, or they never take a good photo, and you need to be able to get over this if you’re going to get something that they’ll want to buy!
When thinking about buying a franchise, first of all, take a good hard look at yourself. Do you really think you have what it takes to run your own business? Consult widely, with professionals as well as support organisations. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Involve your family in the process - they will give you a different perspective to your own. They also need to be committed to your life change and the implications it will have for them.
My plan for the future is to grow the business to a point where it achieves the financial objectives that I have set myself; whilst enabling me to have the lifestyle approach to my working life and giving me the flexibility to have time to support my family when needed. To get to the financial objective, I am clear that I need to develop the reputation of the business locally to become known as a premium service provider, backed up by high quality products.
People ask whether I would do it again! Its early days yet as I’ve only been trading for a few months but so far, there have been no surprises, or hints that would scare me off in the future. So long as the business continues to develop broadly in accordance with plan towards my objectives, then yes, without doubt!
My working life was in print before I talked to Andrew Coe at the Barrett & Coe stand at the National Franchise Exhibition and talked about the possibility of fulfilling a lifelong desire to become a professional photographer. In March 2011 I opened my studio in Caversham, Reading and have a rapidly-filling diary of family and baby portrait shoots!
The process in between has been exhausting and exciting in equal measure. The initial training really does prepare us to be able to take professional-looking photographs within the first few days of the course.
Like the others on my courses I found myself dragging families and friends into makeshift studios at my house and even in their own homes in order to practice my homework assignments. I was amazed at how good everyone thought my photography had become.
Alongside the creative and practical camera work the business training is second to none; I just can’t imagine how it could have been better. The basic grounding in establishing a photographic business and, more importantly, making it work through well thought-out marketing and sales processes is absolutely essential.
It just wouldn’t have been possible to set myself up in the time without this franchise support. Elaine’s studio visit prior to opening really brought everything into focus for me, helping to prioritise my actions and focus on what is most important.
Now I’m a franchisee the level of support and guidance has actually increased. I get help from the Barrett & Coe team and particularly from other franchisees, all of whom are happy to share their experience and knowledge either at regular group meetings or informally over coffee!
It’s a good position to be in, knowing that there are others in the group who are determined that both my photographic skills and business sense will be developed with equal emphasis.
“Running a photography business was quite a change for me as I had been working as a bodyguard in London for many years.
The training I’ve received by becoming a Barrett & Coe franchisee covered everything from practical photography to how to run a business, for example the practical side of running a business such as marketing, administration, the day to day running of a studio, budgeting and sales etc. I feel confident of the service I can offer to customers because of the comprehensive training I have received and the ongoing training I receive now.
I love the fact that no two days are the same! The quality of service that my customers receive from me – and the images I take for them – will differentiate my business from the competition.
There is not really a typical day, but I normally start by getting the studio ready for the day, preparing the paperwork for the customers coming in that day, making calls and replying to any emails that have come in. Each appointment lasts for an hour with shoots and viewings, so on a full day I can have 7 or more appointments. Then I have to fit in editing, paperwork and ordering of images plus other things!
I love the fact that no two days are the same! The quality of service that my customers receive from me – and the images I take for them – will differentiate my business from the competition. You only get out of anything what you put into it, and taking images of babies/children, families and pets is an enjoyable way to spend a working day!
I have recently located my studio to new premises. It’s a very exciting time as the building I’m going into has been a renovation project, so I have had been able to set up the studio exactly to my requirements. There is parking available and it’s located just out of the city centre, so easy to get to.
My aim is to continue improving and building my business, to make my studio the one that everyone wants to come to in Norwich and I expect to be here for a while!”
Originally from Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, Matthew first moved to England in 1987. He has been married for almost 24 years, and has two teenage sons. Matthew previously spent over 25 years in management roles in the distribution/logistics industry, managing large vehicle fleets and warehouses before deciding to pursue his ambition to own my own photography studio.
“I had previously considered setting up as an independent, but decided against it when I learned of the franchise opportunity. On balance, I took the view that it represented a sensible compromise between owning my own studio but having the support of a larger business and a community of other franchisees. Early in 2018 I undertook the fast track program – this involved spending time with existing franchisees in their studios, several days spent at head office in Norwich, and a program of studio photography training. I was also allocated an experienced franchisee to be my mentor on an ongoing basis.
There are no two days the same really. I usually open the studio at 8.30am, and spend most of Tuesday to Saturday with a full diary of both shooting and viewing appointments. Both types of appointment generate a workload – shooting appointments mean the images taken need to be selected and have some basic editing done to turn them into a slideshow presentation for the customer when they return. Viewing appointments mean that the portraits the customer has selected need to be fully edited for printing and the orders processed with the lab. Monday is set aside for admin and marketing work. The accounts need to be kept up to date, and studio voucher packs need to be distributed to the local businesses which distribute them on my behalf.
Easily the biggest challenge was finding suitable premises to operate from. I eventually found somewhere that I am very happy with, but it was difficult. Aside from that, there are varyng systems I have had to become familiar with and these have taken some time to get used to but I’m getting there.
Operating my own studio has been a change for the better. My previous career had a number of downsides – long commutes and being on call twenty four hours a day seven days a week, for example. By contrast, I now live less than five miles from my studio, and although I am in the studio six (and occasionally seven) days a week, because I am doing something I really enjoy, and doing it for myself, it genuinely doesn’t feel like work.
If anyone asked me what my advice would be when starting out, I would probably just repeat the best piece of advice I was given by my mentor, which was to trust and follow the process. I have tried to follow the processes as closely as possible, and as a consequence, the journey of opening the studio, taking my first bookings, and making my first sales all happened on schedule.
I’m looking forward to carry on as I have started, and complete the journey of turning my studio into a profitable business, while simultaneously improving my photography”.