Photography Franchise UK – the TOP 10 MUST KNOWS about finding and running successful UK Photography Franchises.
The photography business has managed to withstand technological challenges. Is it, however, a good idea to buy a photography franchise UK?
A common (and fair) question to ask whenever you’re considering a business or investment opportunity is this: What will this look like down the road?
At franchise4u, we regularly discuss how various franchise sectors answer this question.
When, however, we sit down to dissect everything that is good and bad about UK photography franchises, things get more complicated than we like.
There’s a simple reason for these complications – photography businesses touch multiple other industries that have little in common in terms of being future-proof. Art, lifestyle, technology and services, just to name a few.
Regardless, it’s safe to say that photography franchises UK have managed to not just survive – but thrive, whenever faced with challenges.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how a typical photography franchise UK makes money, what the downsides to your investments are and how to make the most of opportunities afforded by the UK market.
Understanding The Market Situation For A Photography Franchise UK
- The overall photographic industry in the UK generates close to £1.7 bn per year. It should be clear, if you follow our blog regularly, that this isn’t exactly a huge canvas for new businesses to operate on. This, however, is rarely the decisive factor – market size merely indicates the total spread of utility, not the prospect value. (In other words, large markets aren’t necessarily easy to breach – the retail sector is a great example of this).
- Over 8,000 distinct businesses operate within the UK photographic industry. This includes all UK photography franchises. Again, not exactly a promising number – but that’s fine.
- UK photography businesses have grown at a rate of 2% per annum over the past four years (2014-2018). This number is well above the average growth of the UK economy.
- Close to 18,000 people are directly employed by UK photography businesses. For an industry as small as this, this is definitely an impressive number.
- The majority of photography businesses in the UK are run as sole trading businesses (freelance activities). Here’s our take on what various business structures mean for UK franchises.
- From the point of view of a photography franchise UK, the focus sub-niche will always be events and wedding photography – the biggest contributor to the overall turnover of UK photography businesses.
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The Simplest Question Every Photography Franchise UK Has To Answer: “Is This Still A Thing?”
We started this review of UK photography franchises with a simple argument.
That naturally leads to would-be franchisees having to grapple with another question – are photography businesses STILL needed in 2019?
We all have state of the art cameras in our smartphones – and we love using them all the time. Even the elderly demographic is often seen fiddling with not just their smartphone cameras, but with elaborate filters too.
Talk to any pro photographer and they will tell you – everyone is now a photographer, but not every picture is a photograph.
So, in other words, the smartphones may well dictate the future of photography, but it won’t necessarily be a bad thing for a photography franchise UK. Professional photographers are still in hot demand for events (think conferences, parties and, of course, weddings) and other B2B requirements (think construction photography, travel photography, sports photography, product photography, locational photography and so forth).
What Do UK Photography Franchises Do?
Photography franchises are a curious blend of product and service businesses – you’ll struggle to find a business sector just like this one in the franchising world.
So, what exactly does a photography franchise UK do?
The short answer is – they provide photography and videography services on demand.
The long answer is, however, what we are after.
If you have ever run a franchise business, you know that the ultimate bottom line is almost always proportional to the demand forces that are in your favour AND the brand value/expertise you get directly from the franchisor. If you are new to franchising, here’s our guide to running your first franchise.
Therefore, what UK photography franchises really do is a unique mix of selling services that aren’t always going to attract repeat customers. To bring down the obviously high customer acquisition costs, a photography franchise UK has to subsidise their marketing through word of mouth.
Walking on this tightrope means that typical UK photography franchises don’t just provide services – they create demand through serving their customers.
How Much Does A Photography Franchise UK Cost?
Even though photography franchises UK form a tight niche sector, the initial investments vary wildly from one type to another.
As we have noted repeatedly in many of our posts, the minimum initial investment for every franchise depends on the market goodwill the franchisor brings to the table.
As far as UK photography franchises go, this factor is largely a non-starter – because there are very few independent franchisors out there that can claim to bring customers in based solely on their market reputation.
So, it all eventually boils down to the type of services on offer and the kind of expertise you receive from the franchisor – not just their brand name. An average photography franchise UK can be bought and run for a minimum initial investment that ranges from as low as £5,000 to as high as £100,000.
Franchisees, in most cases, receive the licencing rights to the brand name (and proprietary techniques, if any), training, marketing support, ongoing business assistance, exclusive territory and varying levels of equipment for the initial investment. To know more about some of the top photography franchises UK, read on.
Photography Franchises UK – How Do They Make Money?
Our research shows that photography franchises UK usually break even within 12-18 months of trading – provided that there are no abnormal market forces holding them back (and, of course, the services provided are top notch). Here’s more about why meticulous market research is necessary before you buy a franchise business.
Most photography franchises in the UK generate revenues from two major streams:
- Regular clients (applies for B2B variants within the industry)
- One-off assignments (applies for B2C variants, primarily operating in the lifestyle segment of the industry)
The incomings are derived from service fees and rental fees (applies for studio rental businesses), along with creative fees (applies for art/publication/modelling variants).
The outgoings are predictably consistent with all service businesses:
- Office/studio rental
- Equipment purchase, rental and maintenance
- Staff salaries
- Other inventory
- Franchisor fees/royalties/commissions
Here’s Why Micro-Niches Matter For Photography Franchises UK
It may seem counter productive to divide an already small market into micro-niches – but that seems to be the best way forward, when people are willing to pay a premium for highly specialised (and localised) services.
From that sense, a UK photography franchise has the best chance of succeeding when they offer highly specific, preferably B2B services.
“UK photography franchises are a great endorsement for the ‘go niche’ argument – you can generate the same business by doing one thing really well than by doing an array of generic things at an okay level.”
A good case in point are construction photography businesses.
It would seem that there won’t be many takers for such a thing, but that simply isn’t true. Developers and builders now know that the best way to make them look good on their advertising materials (and social media) is to have premium, top-quality pictures speak for their expertise.
Take a look at this drone shot (courtesy: Drone Photography Services UK):
A well-funded developer will be more than happy to commission the services of a specialist company to create such stunning shots that make their sites and projects look great!
How To Market A Photography Franchise UK Without Breaking Your Bank
Every photography business has one advantage over other service businesses – their good work is there to see, quite literally.
Marketing Costs Add Up!
As is the case with every ‘local’ business out there, the marketing costs do add up really fast for photography franchises UK. To avoid having to deal in the ‘negative’ cashflow territory forever, you’ll need to employ smart marketing techniques that generate leads and sales fast, at cheap prices and on a consistent basis.
Here are a few ideas:
We talked at length about the important of networking for franchise businesses while discussing property and estate agency franchises UK.
The same tenets apply for photography franchises.
It doesn’t matter which micro-niche you operate in, it’s always beneficial to establish reliable industry contacts that keep putting your name ‘out there’, giving you a passive marketing edge over competitors.
A Website That Works For You
While you will only be able to ‘close’ customers when you meet with them in person and let them see your work, the first impression is almost always going to be created via your website.
So, make sure your website is designed well, presents your portfolio well and is optimised for search (SEO).
Social Media – A Gamechanger For Photography Businesses
Many talented photographers have successfully harnessed the reach and recognition that social media can grant.
If it fits your budget, do consider hiring a specialist digital marketing and social media management agency to automate all your tasks and keep generating leads for you. A good agency should be able to return your investments 2-5x, if not more.
Here’s a good lowdown on some creative marketing tactics for photography businesses.
Recommended: Here’s How UK Franchise Businesses Are Taxed
Is It Possible To Run A Photography Franchise From Home?
If the business niche you want to operate doesn’t require maintaining a dedicated office space or a studio, it’s definitely possible to turn a photography franchise into a full-scale home-based franchise business.
This applies particularly for businesses that require you to travel to the customer’s location.
Top UK Photography Franchises
Here’s our shortlist of some of the most popular and innovative photography franchise businesses in the UK:
- Minimum Initial Investment: £70,000 (plus VAT)
- USP: Renowned portrait photographers
- Exclusive territories
- Bespoke techniques and equipment
- Marketing support
- Full training
- Ongoing business support
- Full BFA Member
- Minimum Initial Investment: £15,000 (plus VAT)
- USP: Portrait photography services for children
- Home based franchise opportunity
- Mobile photography franchise
- Finance support (whenever possible)
- Full training
- Ongoing business support
- Minimum Initial Investment: £147,000 (plus VAT)
- USP: World-leaders in construction site photography, videography and monitoring solutions
- Thorough business knowledge and expertise sharing
- End to end software and technology support
- Proven business model
- 15+ years in operation
- Minimum Initial Investment: £4,900 (plus VAT)
- USP: Drone photography for B2C and B2B customers
- The initial investment gets you a state of the art drone, accessories and Unmanned Aircraft Pilots Licence Course
- Full training on offer
- Dedicated account manager
- Marketing support
- Social media support
5. POP! Studios
- Minimum Initial Investment: £100,000 (plus VAT)
- USP: High-end editing services and professional photography
- You don’t need to work as a photographer
- Unique and successful business model
- Full training
- Business insurance
- Full training
- Furnishing support
- Finance support
- Equipment and IT package
UK Photography Franchises – The Takeaways
- Choose your niche carefully.
- You don’t necessarily have to be a creative genius – just get the numbers right.
- Focus on efficient marketing methods.
- Networking is the key.
- People skills matter in this line.
- Photography franchises are tough to scale – invest accordingly.