A job that costs more to keep than what I make!…photography sales

I am presently hired as a portrait consultant for a photography company who make family portrait packages in institutions i.e.) churches, schools, banks and grocery stores for sheer profit dependant on high volume sales. I used to be a welder before this job, but illness had removed me from my trade and left me vulnerable to its industrial effects. I chose a sales position because it was clean and hoped that it would give me a new outlook on life as a professional. It started out like a budding new relationship. I was ambitious and driven in the hopes that selling to moms, dads and grandparents would give them a product they would be happy with. The idea of meeting the public and creating rapport for PR made me happy. I have come to realize in the last 1 1/2 years that this company is not concerned with the quality of the product but rather money…and numbers.
The photographic supervisor of the company is responsible for all photographers’ quality of work. He, however, has worked for the company since its inception 27 yrs ago and will not be removed. He has displayed the most off centered and out-of-focus work I’ve seen. When sales numbers drop in his work, I am blamed for being a woosey salesperson. And the categorized packages received with the portraits in them are often out of order numerically, leaving me to search for a customer’s package in front of them while they wait. Often the boxed portraits are sent to locations with my name spelled clearly in front, but the institution opens up the boxes before I get there anyway. Central office does little to discourage this kind of snooping, not even by providing memos to locations beforehand.
Locations known for good sales numbers are reserved for those salespeople who have been with the company the longest and get special preference, much to the denial of my sales manager. He will often show up at my locations unannounced and sit in a corner taking notes while I do my presentation with a family or couple. He calls it “critiquing.” I call it distracting and even “baby-sitting” but he tells me that I “got to get over that.”
I travel extensively throughout western Canada using my own vehicle (mid 70’s car) because the company does not provide company cars to its reps. I am entirely responsible for the upkeep of my car and its maintenance to do this job. They pay only 14cents Cdn/kilometer and only from location to location, when other institutions are paying 40cents/klm. Because of my expenses of travel and the ever-increasing cost of gas, I actually owe money after long road trips, having to use company revenue from cash sales to cover my costs.
There are no benefits.

I am also responsible for all of my lodging while on the road. I can be away from my family up to 3 weeks at any given time. My income is based strictly on commissions and has to meet quotas to make full commissions. My managers get a 10% cut off the top on all sales no matter how much or how little I’ve sold. The owner of the company resides in eastern Canada and has never taken a professional portrait or sold a package in his life, as he claims. But like a fat king, he bellyaches at poor sales without any knowledge of what is involved. Since there are 4 factors that determine profit; photography, location, lab editing and sales ability have to be at the top of their mark. The first three I have no control over. Like a waitress, I face complaints from customers about inexperienced photographers telling them false pricing, rudeness, touching-feeling and back-ups on their appointed times as if I’m responsible for all of this.

In addition, when I arrive at location miles from home, sometimes no one is there. So I wait, after a cell call, for someone to show up and again, running behind.

I do have a passion for the technical end of building computers; having done so for 6 years in my spare time for myself and for various friends. I’d love to be self-employed doing this kind of work utilizing my technical expertise as well as sales experience in this field. I’ve discovered I love to sell a product I believe in and this is definitely it. If I retire doing this and pass the business on to my son or daughter, that would make me happy.

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