Doyce Crandall, owner of Focused School Photography, and president of the SPOA executive board, brings a lifetime of sales and business experience to the business she founded five years ago. But it hasn’t been a linear path.
Crandall, originally from Amarillo, Texas, began her career as a part-time photographer for Lifetouch, which quickly grew into a role as a manager in the Texas panhandle region, then as a territory manager in Oklahoma. She held that position for 16 years, then spent another two years as Greater Denver territory manager.
In 2014, she left Lifetouch, expecting to return to the company at a later time, and returned to Oklahoma. She joined her husband’s business, a Sandler Training franchise, as a partner.
“He was having a lot of fun and a lot of success,” says Crandall. “So I helped him in the sales and training. I did a lot of the recruiting for some of our clients and helping them hire because that's what I was doing with Lifetouch. I enjoyed it and was pretty good at it.”
Chance encounters with former school photo clients, however, brought Crandall back to school photography. They expressed dissatisfaction with Lifetouch and suggested she return to the company.
“I thought, ‘If they're going to lose the business to other competitors, the competitor might as well be me,” she said. Soon after, she met with one of her former sales reps and launched the business 60 days later.
Focused School Photography focuses on pre-K through 12; subjects include fall and spring individuals, groups, sports, and seniors.
Five years later, Focused School Photography has grown to seven employees (plus seasonal staff), servicing Oklahoma City and surrounding areas. This fall, the company is opening a new office in Wichita Falls, Texas.
Relationships drive the business
Crandall says strong relationships are what drives the business and the staff.
“It's about the relationships from the schools we had when I was running this territory to the relationships I have with my employees that were there then and now are here now with me in this office,” she says. “This is still a service business. I believe if you take care of your customers and you do a good job, they're gonna stay with you. That's really what's happened.”
Despite the brief sabbatical from the school photography industry, Crandall says building the Focused School Photography business meant returning to basics. “This business is still all about relationships and that hasn't changed,” she says. “That's what made us successful 20 years ago and it is still the secret to success today to growing your school picture business.”
SPOA executive board
As if the busy CEO and mom of two children didn’t have enough to do, she stepped up to the plate when approached to serve as president of the SPOA executive board, a two-year term.
“Right after COVID hit, it just really hit home for me — as far as having a group of people that are working together for some common goals around school photography — that we have to keep the tradition of school pictures alive. How can we keep the legacy going?” she said. Crandall thinks there will be a generation of parents who didn’t have school portraits done of their children that will deeply regret it later.
“How do we tell that story so that resonate resonates with them now?” she said. While the cloud and digital technology are certainly mainstream, the printed photo is still important and needs to be part of the ongoing conversation.
“It’s a piece of the pie,” said Crandall. “Everybody has pictures on their phone and this isn't going to go away. But how do we make paper be part of that story?”
She adds a key element to boosting buy rates is to improve the quality of the portraits: “It has to be a good picture before mom's even going to buy, right? Get that picture right the first time.”
Crandall said upcoming SPOA initiatives will address these topics, making her hopeful for the future.