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The End of an Era: Academy School Photography Goes into Liquidation

Updated: 2 days ago


Academy Photography recently announced its liquidation, sending ripples of concern and nostalgia through communities nationwide. The vibrant memories captured in school photographs are treasured by families, marking milestones from the first day of kindergarten to high school graduation. For decades, school photo companies have been the custodians of these memories, turning fleeting moments into lasting keepsakes. However, the landscape of this industry is changing, and not all companies are able to keep pace with the evolving market dynamics.


The Rise and Fall of a School Photo Giant

Academy Photography was a family owned & operated business, servicing schools Australia wide for over 30 years, rooted in the tradition of capturing school portraits for generations. Academy Photography grew from a small, family-owned business to one of the leading names in school photography. 


The Impact on Schools and Families

The liquidation of the school photo company has had immediate and profound effects on schools and families. Schools that had long-standing partnerships with the company now find themselves scrambling to find alternative providers. For many, the company was more than just a service provider; it was a partner in creating cherished memories.

Families are left with mixed emotions. On one hand, there is a sense of loss and nostalgia for the role the company played in their lives. On the other hand, there is concern about the accessibility of their existing photo archives. Many are wondering what will happen to the digital records and whether they will still be able to access and order prints of past photographs.


Navigating the Transition

For those affected, there are a few steps to consider during this transition:

  • Secure Digital Copies: Families should reach out to the company to obtain digital copies of their photos before the liquidation process is complete. This ensures that their memories are preserved, regardless of the company's future.

  • Explore Alternatives: Schools and families should research and connect with other school photography providers. Many companies are eager to step in and offer competitive packages and services to fill the gap left by the liquidated company.

  • Community Support: This is a time for communities to come together. Schools can support each other by sharing information about reliable photography companies


Common factors that contribute to a company's downfall :


Technological Advancements: Over the years we have witnessed globally, other school photo companies in the same predicament. A common underlying element seems to be that these companies have not had the right mindset for change and have been too slow to embrace new technologies to reduce fixed costs, manual labor and change workflows.


Sales Strategies: Companies that do not allow parents to view images and customize products before they purchase will certainly fall behind and lose school contracts. We are in 2024, parents can not be expected to pay for photos in advance without seeing the images and then wait months to receive them. Using a ‘post paid’ sales strategy inherently changes workflow, speeds up production and increases sales. Many established school photography companies in the Australian market still persist in the ‘old school ways’ of pre paid as sales strategy as they are fearful and do not fully understand what is required to change.


Operational costs - Growth V’s Scale: Traditionally school photo companies have used a growth model. This inherently means that costs rise at the same rate as revenue due to the amount of manual labor required for each new school acquired. A scaling model utilizing technology automates and reduces manual labor enabling the business to increase output and revenue while minimising costs. 


Fixed cost analysis - We performed a fixed cost analysis with the data presented to us of Academy Photography. We found that their fixed costs of full time staff would of hit around around 4 million dollars each year. From our experience working with similar size companies, their fixed cost of full time staff should have been 1/5th of that.


Market Competition: The school photography market has become increasingly competitive, with new companies entering the space and offering innovative products and services. Many of these new entrants have leveraged digital technologies and social media to reach customers more effectively.


Looking Forward

The liquidation of a beloved school photo company marks the end of an era, but it also opens the door to new possibilities. As the industry continues to evolve, we can expect to see more innovative approaches to school photography. Companies that can harness the power of digital technology and social media, while maintaining a personal touch, will likely thrive.


In the end, while the closure of a cherished institution is always bittersweet, it also serves as a reminder of the importance of adaptability and resilience in an ever-changing world.


Do we need to change our Business Model?

The short answer is ‘YES’ in our opinion - To future proof your business, your school photography business must have the below essentials in place:

  • Mindset to actual make a business model change before its too late

  • True scalable model that reduces manual labor fixed costs

  • Post Paid sales strategy with order customisation features

  • Ability to same day dispatch home delivery orders

  • Workflow changes to accommodate all of the above


Please feel free to read out presentation on this topic from our conferences (don’t forget to read the speaker notes)


Download Presentation below


Scaling business model
.pptx
Download PPTX • 24.95MB


Does your business need help?

For those companies that attended one of our conferences last year, perhaps we can now start to think about the valuable insights of the community, asking for help and learning from others that have successfully navigated and changed their business model to encourage fixed cost reductions and achieve scalability.


Below is a great video (from last years conference) on how the Swedish market joined forces to strengthen the industry.


Please feel free to reach out to us if your business requires assistance or thinking about changing your business model.





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It’s sad when any company big or small loses the battle to keep its doors open, so much hard work goes into building and maintaining a business and many people depend on these businesses to feed families. Unfortunately the big boys in our industry are little like the frog in the pot slowly simmering and blissfully unaware that the heat was turned up long ago but they didn’t see or perhaps ignored that the fact the water was boiling. I do hope in this case the work is spread across the market and not gobbled up by one of the greedy “school collectors” eager to count more heads while still unable to service properly the heads they already have🤔🙏

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