Tag Archive: chicago small business

Our business’s COVID-19 procedures

May 25, 2020 Published by . 1 Comment

Man, this pandemic has been rough.  On everyone.  And especially on small businesses like ours.  But we’ve been happy to follow all state and city guidelines for closing, reopening, and operating safely.  Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our clients and staff, so we will be taking thorough precautions before, during, and after every photo shoot, and adjusting our procedures as we all learn more about COVID-19 and how it spreads.

To that end, here’s a breakdown of changes you’ll be seeing in how we operate:

General procedures:

  • Increased cleaning in the studio and equipment, using cleaning supplies with disinfectant.
  • Appointment booking and reminder emails provide instructions for a safe shoot.
  • Staff is required to alert the Studio Manager if they feel any symptoms or have been in recent contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 so their shoots can be covered or rescheduled and they can self-quarantine for at least 14 days.

In the studio:

  • Both you and the photographer must wear a mask / face covering and refrain from handshakes / physical contact during the shoot.
  • Everyone must immediately wash their hands upon arrival at the studio.
  • Instead of the photographer adjusting your hair or clothing during the shoot, a mirror will be provided, and/or live-viewing of the photos on a monitor.
  • After every shoot, high-touch areas will be wiped with a disinfectant before the next visitor is allowed entry.
  • Upon arrival, you will also have your temperature taken with a contact-free thermometer and asked the following questions before being allowed entry:
    • Have you had a fever, cough, or cold/flu-like symptoms in the past 14 days?
    • Have you had contact with anyone who has shown any cold/flu-like symptoms in the past 14 days?

On-site shoots:

  • All our staff members will wear a mask / face covering.
  • We will maintain social distancing and no physical contact with your employees while in your office.
  • When each person enters the room where we are set up for photos, we will ask them to sanitize their hands (we will bring hand sanitizer).
  • Surfaces and objects touched will be wiped with disinfectant (we will bring disinfecting wipes) between each person.
  • Instead of the photographer adjusting your hair or clothing during the shoot, a mirror will be provided.
What you'll do to keep us safe

Hair and makeup artists:

  • Hair and makeup artists will wear a mask / face covering and, if available, a face shield.
  • All surfaces will be sanitized between each person.
  • In the studio only, if you are having makeup done you will be asked to wash your face before makeup begins.
  • Since a mask is not possible during makeup application, you will be given some paper towels to hold so that if you feel a cough or sneeze coming, you can cough/sneeze into the paper towels.
  • As is already customary, all makeup is applied with as many disposable products as possible and all non-disposable products are used once and sanitized.
  • Hair and makeup artists already wash their hands before beginning, but you will now have the option of them using disposable gloves if you prefer.

My small business hero is my mechanic

April 28, 2015 Published by . Leave your thoughts

rod-60I drive all the way from Logan Square to Forest Park every 3 months for my oil changes because I freaking love my mechanic. Rod at Elite Tire was referred to me by an old friend of mine several years ago after I had this conversation with the Honda dealership I was taking my car to before:

Dealership:  “You need to have your oil pan replaced.  The threads on the cap are all worn and the cap could fall off at any moment and your engine will explode.”

Me:  “Umm… how on earth did the threads get worn?’

Dealership:  “It usually happens when the morons who change your oil tighten the cap too hard.”

Me:  “But I only come here for oil changes.  Wouldn’t that make you guys the morons?”

Dealership:  “I don’t see the connection.”

My friend insisted I go to Rod instead because he recommended she get a new car when her old beater-mobile was giving her some trouble.  He said she’d be better off selling the car while it would still get Blue Book value and getting a newer, more reliable car.  She was impressed that instead of bleeding money out of her by insisting on costly repairs to an old car (as the unfortunate mechanic stereotype goes), he gave her honestly good advice about her car- advice that makes his bills and income lower than if she kept her old car.

Portrait chicagoFor my first oil change I sat in the waiting area and watched Rod have the absolute most patient conversation with a customer I have ever witnessed in my entire life.  A little old lady with a bit of a nasty attitude was angry because she needed some parts replaced since they were worn down and corroded.  She threw her hands in the air and said, “I can’t see how they possibly need to be replaced!  I’ve had the car for 10 years and only drive it once a week and have never had anything go wrong with it.”  She was actually the quintessential “little old lady who only drives her car once a week to church and back and is terrified of being ripped off” right there in the flesh.  Rod brought out an example of what her car’s parts looked like, and a fresh sample, and proceeded to not just explain, but physically demonstrate exactly what was happening, why, and how.

He stayed with her and talked to her like an intelligent human being for a solid 20 minutes until she was confident and satisfied.  He never talked down to her or lost his cool.  He stood next to her instead of talking to her from behind a counter.  I sat there thinking THIS IS MY MECHANIC FOR LIFE NOW.

Every time I see Rod and his crew for my oil changes I’m visiting a model for how I want to run my own business.  The office is a well-oiled machine where every task gets the time and attention necessary to get things done right, and each customer who walks through the door is treated like a good friend.  Someone always answers the phone and is always at the desk to greet the next customer (99.9% of the time it’s Rod himself), and everything is done quickly as a priority but without it feeling like a frantic, high-stress environment. rod-31a-bThere’s no clutter in the workshop or the waiting area: everything is clean and under control at all times.  At my most recent trip one of the mechanics had some time between cars to service so he thoroughly cleaned an already spotless bathroom.

When I talk to a new client about their photography project I channel my mechanic and treat each client like they’re my only client while I talk to them.  We work together to figure out what their photo needs are and how I can take photos for them that are exactly what they need and that they can be proud of.  When they have questions, I have quick answers.  When my answers don’t suffice or there are follow-up questions, I keep with the conversation until there is mutual understanding and trust.  I’ve had hour-long phone conversations with clients who didn’t even book me and I don’t see it as wasted time.

Keep up the good work, Rod- you’re my small business hero.

PS- there may actually be a post-it note on my desk that says “how would Rod handle this situation?”

Feeling warm and fuzzy

June 27, 2014 Published by . Leave your thoughts

headshots, organic headshotsThis is going to sound like a cheesy small business owner statement, but here it goes… Every time I pick up the camera to take a headshot, I try my hardest to get some photos for my clients that they can be proud to have.  I do my absolute best to listen, coach, and work with my clients to get the best photo of them possible.  (Too cheesy?  Feel free to finish rolling your eyes at the marketingspeak.)

Every so often I get a personalized thank you card in the mail after a session or a shoot, and it’s always unexpected and always makes my day.  Today is one of those days.  I checked my mail and found an awesome little thank you note wrapped around a gift card.  I feel so warm and fuzzy that my clients love their photos and the experience so much that they go out of their way to show that appreciation.

It makes me love what I do even more.  I may or may not have hugged the card.