Today is our last day of Mentor Week and I am so thrilled that we have had such awesome photographers donate their time to help other photographers.  One-on-One education is an excellent opportunity to ask questions to one person and get candid and valuable answers.  It is your opportunity to ask all those questions you have been dying to know!  It is a great chance to get information regarding something that you have been wanting to improve on.  This week we have had Amii Wroblewski, Lisa Carpenter, Courtney DeLaura and Brittney Kluse give one hour mentor sessions to some very lucky readers.  And today, I am giving away a mentor session, and I am extremely excited to see who I get to chat with and answer questions for!!

But first, yesterday’s mentor session giveaway was from Brittney Kluse and the winner of that is…Susanna Merkulov!!  Congratulations Susanna!

The question I get asked more than anything else is about Senior Rep Programs.  How to do them, what incentives work, how to find the right reps, etc.  What I have learned over the years, is that Senior Rep Programs are an important part of your senior photography business as they allow you to get the word out about your business.

Senior Rep Programs are your advertising and marketing campaign for that year’s senior class.  They allow you to have representatives that are of the very age you are marketing to and allow them to help get your name out to their friends.  Seniors like to know what their friends are doing and they want to have the same experience as their friends.  So by having seniors as reps or models, you can get them to share what a great experience they had and get their friends interesting in doing the same.

A few of the most popular questions I get about rep programs are below.  I thought I would give you these answers to help you along your way to creating YOUR senior rep program.

Is it too late to start a rep program?  In my opinion…NO!!  I don’t think it is ever too late to start one.  Whether you start one for the current year, or you start working on one for the next year’s senior class, don’t wait.  Start working on your program NOW!  Educating the seniors or juniors or even sophmores about what a rep program is and getting the word out that you do one is important.  Let potential clients in on what you are doing.  Use Facebook to share that you are so excited about your new rep program and you can’t wait to share it with them.  Get people wondering what it is all about and create excitement about it.  But don’t wait.  Start planning yours now!

Do I charge my reps to be in the program?  This is a question that honestly has many different answers depending on who you ask.  I don’t charge my reps but I understand the philosophy behind those that do.  I personally am not trying to make money off my reps but rather make money off the referrals they send my way.  I think no matter which way you create your program, charge or don’t charge, you need to be confident in the decision.  So if you decide to charge your reps, know the reasons why and be able to confidently explain it to your potential reps.  Rep programs cost money so having the reps who participate contribute to be in the program will offset those prices.  However, if you decide not to charge them, realize your rep program is your marketing campaign for the year and that is a business expense.  There are ways to reduce the cost but budgeting to include a rep program is very important.  In my program, I don’t charge the reps to participate in the program.  However, if they don’t get the minimum amount of referrals they do have to pay a discounted amount to get their actual senior photo shoot.  This way they really work to get at least the minimum amount of referrals.

How do I find reps?  When you are first starting out with a rep program, you will have to utilize your connections, ask friends and work to find those first reps.  You can contact cheerleading coaches or other coaches and ask for their suggestions.  Ask babysitters.  Ask youth at your church.  You only need one to start your program.  When I first started my rep program, I called a friend of mine who had a son in high school and asked her for names of senior girls.  She gave me one or two and I asked those for more.  I ended up with four reps total that year.  Each year after that, I have asked past reps for suggestions for new reps.  After my rep program was established, I then was able to advertise it on Facebook, my website and blog to get even more people interested in the program.

After your program has had a chance to be noticed in the community, it will have a domino effect and more and more teens will start to want to be a part of your program.  You can create a rep application and start accepting these.  A rep application is a great way to get information on potential candidates and ask the questions you want to know.  This will help you figure out which potential reps will be a good fit for you and your brand.  You can also interview these candidates to further determine if they will be a good rep.  Look for those that are friendly, outgoing and excited about the opportunity.

What incentives work for reps?  This too has many, many answers depending on who you ask.  What I have personally learned from trying different things over the years is that a combination of things that attract both the teen and the mom work.  One of the main things that motivates these teens is their actual senior photo session.  So I create a fun, styled shoot to get photos for these reps to use as marketing items but it is not their actual senior photo session.  Therefore, the first thing my reps are working toward is getting that individual, personal senior photo session.  I have found that this is something they want and are willing to work for.  After that, I give a combination of cash rewards and product rewards.  This motivates the teen because they love the idea of cash and motivates the mom to also give my name out because they want the discount on products or free products.

Incentives are the things that help keep your reps working for you but really educating the reps on the program is also a very important piece to this puzzle.  So make sure you plan out your program and really detail it to your reps so they completely understand what is expected of them.  Make sure a parent is present and fully understand the program their daughter or son is participating in.

A great way to communicate all the information about your program to your potential reps is by creating a Rep Magazine.  This is a great way to detail what the program is, what reps are required to do and how they will get compensated for referrals.  Just like a Welcome Magazine that you may send senior clients to explain why you are different and why they should hire you and what your pricing and policies are, a Rep Magazine allows you to educate your reps.

One of our favorite vendors, Bird Design Shop, just released a beautiful Senior Magazine that I think could be used perfectly to explain your rep program to potential reps or models.  They are offering a special intro rate for this magazine until August 31.  Use the code SENIOR25 to receive 25% off.  To purchase this magazine, click here.

However you create your rep program, make sure you educate your potential reps about the details.  The more info you can give them, the better they will work for you.  Answer all their questions, give them tools to make their job easy and keep in touch with them throughout the year and you will be able to create a rep program that works.

If you would like to talk about rep programs or ask questions regarding your senior portrait business, enter to win a 1-hour one-on-one mentor session with me!  I love helping other photographers and watching their businesses grow!  See below to enter!  Entries are accepted until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time tonight!!  So make sure to enter while you can!  The winner will be announced tomorrow on the blog!
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Mentor Week Giveaway Day 5 – {Leslie Kerrigan}

  1. Kristie says:

    Would love the chance to chat with you Leslie!

  2. Stefanie says:

    I have tried for two years to get Senior reps and I have one. It was by word of mouth (through a friend). There are 4 HS’s in my area and no big Senior photographer. I have put stuff on Facebook looking for reps but no luck. I’m looking for other ways of getting my name out there and drawing clients in. What are your suggestions?

  3. Nicole H. says:

    This is only the 2nd year for my senior rep. program, and I am definitely seeing the benefits, but I would LOVE for Leslie to look at my program and tell me how I can improve it! PS – Can’t wait for the Shoot-Out in Charleston:)

  4. I would ask about marketing among other things.

  5. Sue Senseney says:

    Great information! Thanks for Sharing!

  6. Melanie says:

    I love giveaways! If I won, I would ask Leslie what she wished she knew when she first started her business.

  7. Lorie Hall says:

    Hi, I would like to know how Leslie helps her seniors to express their personalities in their images! Thanks!

  8. Hey Leslie! Great info! If I won, I would ask you about your most popular senior products and more about your rep program 🙂

  9. This is such a great opportunity! Thanks for the chance to win. Loved the advice given.

  10. Renee Buckles says:

    I want to start a senior rep program. I teach at a high school but I can use the students at my school because it would be a conflict of interest.

  11. Melissa Ramsey says:

    I would ask about marketing. I am struggling at how to get my name out there and the few seniors I has as reps last year I really didn’t use it to my advantage.

  12. Kelli says:

    I would love the opportunity to learn from such a talented photographer!!

  13. I would love to ask how to maintain that personal connection with my senior reps that keep them talking about me all year. Thanks for another great giveaway!

  14. Mariah says:

    I absolutely love this website! SO helpful! I would like to know how you conduct an ordering session and help sell the parents on the products you offer?

  15. Karina Bravo says:

    I just discovered you from your feature in Rangefinder, and I recently decided that yes…my strength is senior photography…so I’m starting from scratch. I’d be like charity to you! haha!

heck, yes i do!

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