by Tom Kwok Kam Hei
The business I am working on is Regatuna, which is a photo studio. Such experience is challenging yet so far satisfying.
My teammate is Blessing, who is a girl from Myanmar. We arrived at the photo studio at 8am, the day doesn’t start that well as it is a rainy day. Nonetheless, the son in my host family, EJ, made my day better by giving me a lift on the motorbike. The owner of the photo studio doesn’t speak English that well, so the accent is something that takes me some time to overcome.
As we have done some research about Regatuna before the interview, we have already found out that there only exists one competitor in the photo studio business, which locates not in Jagna. So our discussion is mainly surround the operation of their business. He showed me around his studio, basically the place he takes photos and he talked us through the reason he starts the business and how the business operates. Basically it is all technical stuff as for the finance perspective, it is mainly controlled by his wife who major in accounting.
Challenges we mainly faced so far is the attitude of the owner’s wife. She seems so reluctant to communicate with us despite the fact that her English is way more fluent than the owner. We first asked about the accounting book but then we realized that they don’t have an accounting book. Nonetheless, they have a record of sales, i.e. the record of various photograph taken, it is more a log rather than an accounting book. They don’t even add the numbers up, they just jot down the numbers and we even doubt if they will even check the numbers again. As continuous improvement in business requires monitoring how the business is doing, with the handwritten book without tracking past record, it is extremely hard to find out whether there are rooms to improve in each month and to figure out strategies in different months.
Our first idea mainly focuses on a simplified excel accounting template. We have basically draft several excel sheet which separate their business into a few main areas. After a brief glimpse at the photograph log, we found out the business are mainly separated into 2 areas, namely, big money which consists of over 1000 peso each time, for example outdoor shooting, photos with frame, organizational chart, etc; the rest consists of small money, which includes ID photo, rush ID, etc. We basically also create an excel sheet for expenses as they just book expenses as 40% of sales normally. With excel, they can just update the numbers and compare performances in different seasons.
Our second idea goes to promotion of big money, like those kind studio shooting and outdoor shooting. Although studio shooting is quite common in Hong Kong, it doesn’t seem to be a popular idea in Bohol at all. Regatuna get a studio for photo taking and it has high potential to further its advantage by purchasing some props and promote such studio photo shooting. The cost of such investment is relatively low but truly it requires a certain capital that’s also the reason why excel is to be implemented in first place. Free cash flows have to be determined before the amount to be invested can be determined. Our target audience does not limit to only students or teenagers but also families.
In our second meeting, we talked the woman, Carmen, through our plan regarding the excel spreadsheet. As we expected she might want to have some kind of visual, I created a simple version of excel which demonstrate how easy the business will be like with the excel. To our surprise, she seems interested in the first place and even more after the demo of excel. Everything went on nice and we are really astounded when we can literally see the difference in her response.
We also tried to find Regatuna on facebook. What amazed us is the fact that he have over 2K followers on the facebook page. She shares photos related issue on facebook. This may seem irrelevant in first place but the fact that they have a facebook page is actually really effective in doing promotion with our later plan.
As things just turn around when we get to know more about the business and Carmen, I do anticipate a smoother development in our relationship and a more active role in helping the business to grow from both perspective, i.e. Carmen’s and us. We also anticipated a more mutual relationship between us as the improvements requires the participation of both parties.