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Executive Director's Letter: Reminder of our purpose

I have personally spoken to companies across the globe over the last several months. It has been interesting to hear what other countries' products and services are like, especially what they see from a participation standpoint. Many of them have shared their individual company surveys and shared their findings. I cross-referenced that with our Industry Report done just this past year which captured tens of thousands of responses from parents and schools from all 50 states.

Do you know what they all have in common?

Parents want to purchase pictures and yearbooks. They have a relative idea, however, of what they are willing to pay and if they are priced in that relative ballpark, they purchase.

Do you know what reduces parent participation more than anything? Commissions and rebates.

I have had so many conversations lately with consultants, educators, company owners, districts, yearbook advisers, and industry suppliers all about this topic. At the end of the day, I am not talking about profit. I am not talking about price. I am simply explaining and expressing to everyone that we know commissions and rebating raise prices. And raised prices reduce participation. This is an unhealthy business practice for the students, schools, and parents we serve.

Today in schools, we hear the word "equity" almost every day. So let me: How is it equitable for all families to mark up pictures where only certain families can afford to purchase them? How is this good for all students and all families? Does this align with the school's mission and vision or their district's mission and vision?

SPOA's mission is to educate, advocate, promote, protect, and preserve the great tradition of school photography and yearbooks. This means making sure everyone understands the impact of your actions on the industry, much less your regional marketplace. The world we live in today is much different than five years ago, much less 10-20 years. Our economy is challenging, interest rates are climbing, unemployment is rising, and inflation is real! Parents and families are struggling. They want our products but in many cases can not afford them simply because of the commission/rebating practice.

I hope each of you and your photographers and sales professionals are educating educators on this fact. I personally believe a significant number of school administrators, when educated about this issue, will do what is right for their parents, their students, and their community.

We will be offering some online training around these topics and building an administrator fact sheet showing survey results and parent feedback to help educate schools on these topics and to help our members and nonmembers be informed.

We are committed to keeping our industry strong and growing for generations to come and helping educate on unhealthy business practices like this and the impact it has on parents is key for all to know and understand.

David Crandall,

Executive Director, SPOA

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