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Venture Studios was established in 2000 and continues to redefine family portrait photography. The company captures each family’s unique story and designs bespoke and exquisite pieces of personalised framed art. The expert photographers, in its network of studios across the UK and internationally, create breath-taking images for families to treasure forever.
The Venture experience not only gives a one-hour photoshoot, two hours of professional digital retouching work and a one-hour cinematic viewing – it gives every family a lifetime of memories.
Venture has operated its franchise model since it launched in 2000, and now operates across three continents, with 17 studios in the UK, as well as studios in Hong Kong and the USA. We pride ourselves on a tried and tested business model, which combines world-class customer service, market-leading standards of photography, effective routes to market to generate customers, and a unique and contemporary range of products. All of which can result in excellent financial returns.
In the UK, It is the only nationally recognised brand in its sector, making it truly distinct as a franchise concept. It dominates the space that it occupies in the market and supports studios from day one. With an exceptional training programme, we have taken a non-photographer to a franchise turnover of £500,000 within their first year of trading.
Venture has been training franchisees on the implementation of the Venture model, regardless of their background, for the last 20 years. Training predominantly falls into two areas, the output of which is to deliver a high average order value and the required customer volume:
New franchisees complete a mixture of classroom and studio placement training. The objective of which is for them to be able to manage each part of studio operations and ultimately deliver the required customer volume for the studio. Training courses are also available for all studio roles once staff are in place.
Venture Studios is a full member of the BFA, meaning that the Venture model and training is endorsed by the regulatory body for the UK franchise sector. Venture is a previous winner of the BFA’s franchisee of the year award.
Our franchisees manage a small team in a studio environment with the objective of delivering a fantastic photography experience, excellent customer service and a high-quality end product. They also have to manage the business against a simple set of performance indicators and work closely with the head office team to maximise the success of their business.
While the Head Office marketing team works hard to generate leads for all studios (circa 20% of all leads), each franchisee must market the local area and build relationships with retail and corporate partners, while developing digital and social campaigns, to ensure that the studio generates enough quality customers to meet volume targets.
Martin and Michelle Hillman joined the Venture brand in 2011, opening their studio on London Road, Southampton in January 2012.
“We had looked at several franchise opportunities in the market, as had considered working for ourselves for some time, we were open minded about what type of business we wanted to get involved in, but the more that we looked at the Venture Model it became more appealing over others that we had looked at given that Venture provide a unique experience, which creates a product full of emotional value to the customer.”
The opening of the Venture Southampton studio followed a well-defined end to end process, which is fully supported by the Venture team. This begins with locating a suitable property, helping on presenting business plans to the bank to raise funding, through to full training for the franchisees and recruitment and training of the studio team.
“We worked with Venture extremely closely for a full 6 months prior to opening the studio, a key part of the opening process was obviously both me and Michelle being trained on how to operate the venture model, and we spent time in other studios to observe the model in operation. As you can imagine it was an incredibly busy time in the run up to opening the studio! Key to a successful opening was making sure that we had an effective marketing plan in place in the 8 weeks prior to launch, which subsequently would ensure that we opened on day 1 with a diary full of customer appointments. It obviously worked as we turned over £100K in our first two full months of being open!
The Southampton studio continues to be one of the most successful studios in the Venture network and has turned over an average of £600K over the last three years.
“Being completely honest the first two years were a very steep learning curve, and it’s been hard work, however that hard work has paid off and the financial returns of the business have exceeded our expectations. Coupled with this it has been really satisfying to be involved in such a unique and powerful brand, every day we see how thrilled customers are when they see the amazing photographs that we take of their families”
Martin and Michelle Hillman, Venture Southampton
Venture’s Eton studio was bought by Jonny Foster in 2012 from the existing franchisee. Prior to purchasing the studio Jonny had worked in Venture as a photographer, but he had always wanted to own and run his own studio.
“I’ve built Venture Eton up since I purchased the business, the studio team have worked incredibly hard over the last 5 years and am very proud to have been awarded the Studio of the Year three times since I bought it. With turnover averaging £650K a year we have always been one of the highest performing sales studios in the country.”
With a view to expanding his business portfolio, Jonny looked at alternative franchise models predominantly in the well-known fast food market over the last 6 months.
“I had no intention of leaving Venture, but I had learnt from my time in Venture that I enjoy working in a franchise environment, and I wanted to look at the potential returns from other franchise models. I went through the full assessment process with one of the biggest fast food franchises in the world, at which point they shared full financial information relating to set up costs and potential return. Based on this it was apparent that I would have to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to open at least two restaurants, in order to get the same return that I do from running a Venture franchise”.
Jonny Foster, Venture Eton