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I joined FocalAgent as peak season kicked off last year [Case study]
It's official: peak season is here. In January, we've been seeing a 60% increase in orders week on week, and already this year, we've had our busiest day ever - multiple times!
To cater for this huge increase in orders, our recruitment activities step up a gear between December and January every year, which means that many of our photographers start their FocalAgent career in the busiest time of year.
Photographer Mikael Lamber joined us in February 2016; just days before what was FocalAgent's busiest day (at the time). With the right preparation and support from his Business Coach coupled with an outstanding attitude to quality and customer service, he used this to his long-term advantage.
ML: My partner Julie and I were lucky enough to live in St Lucia in the Caribbean for many years. It's a beautiful place with stunning architecture, which drew me to working as a photographer for real estate and hotels.
We eventually decided to continue our lives together in England and relocated to South Yorkshire. While on the house hunt, we became friendly with an estate agent who told us that she worked with FocalAgent photographers to position her listings in the best and most professional way possible. Julie and I were intrigued, so we got in touch to find out more.
Getting to know FocalAgent
I didn't know it before we spoke, but FocalAgent was hitting its busiest period to date. I was out on shoots from the moment my training finished. I remember my first property; it was on an estate with a standard layout, which made it a little easier for the first job.
An ambitious start
I set myself a goal: I wanted the home owner to think I was a seasoned FocalAgent photographer, so I practiced sketching floor plans before going out on my first job. This experience helped make sure the shoot went smoothly - goal achieved.
Preparing for success
Planning the shoots allows me to maximise my efficiency. One of my main concerns when planning my busier days is location - I don't want to spend too much time travelling between shoots.
Another thing to consider is home staging. I always communicate with the home owner to make sure the property is ready for the photoshoot. I normally upload the floor plan sketches via the app while I'm in the car, and wait until the end of the day to bulk-upload my images - but that's only if I don't have time in between shoots. Estate agents care about efficiency in peak season more than ever, so that last point can be the difference between good service and great service.
Oh, and one more thing: when you're planning your day, don't forget to allow time for lunch!
Embracing the opportunity
Getting thrown in at the deep end was a good experience. Doing lots of properties in a short period of time helped me get into a routine of how to shoot without compromising efficiency or quality. By the summer, I'd built up a brilliant rapport with my repeat FocalAgent clients, and was able to do up to four or five shoots a day.
Something for everyone
As photographers, we're more comfortable behind the camera. I'll be honest: the idea of sketching floor plans might seem alarming at first. I'd recommend doing a few practice drawings of your own home to make sure you're comfortable with them. I find it easier to always start the drawing at the same corner of the house and work from there, but I'd love to hear your tips as well.
We all know that being polite, courteous and professional helps any job, but explaining to the home owner about what you'll be doing at their house means that they have that extra bit of faith in you. I personally find it stressful to have the home owner follow me around, so establishing that trust from the moment you walk through the door puts their mind at rest and you can get on with the job.
Bear in mind that it's a small world, and you're likely to meet people again at some point down the road. As it happened, the estate agent who introduced me to FocalAgent became one of my clients - good relationships breed good business, no matter where you find them.
All property photography in this post is attributed to Mikael Lamber. You can see more of his work here.