A successful wedding photographer has to exceed the high expectations of couples, documenting every moment of their celebration in a way that perfectly captures what makes their love unique. George Street Photo & Video, widely regarded as one of the most renowned wedding photography providers in the nation, has grown quickly with their photojournalistic approach, which centers on capturing the authentic emotions of each moment as it unfolds. Combined with efficient delivery and affordable prices, George Street has won The Knot’s “Best of Weddings” and WeddingWire’s “Bride’s Choice” award four years in a row.
But they weren’t always best man in the business. George Street had humble beginnings in 2004: three friends right out of college, one basement on George Street in Chicago, and little clue on how to organize a business. In their early years, they did everything through Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, PDFs, and email. “It was a mess. We didn’t have a centralized location,” says Christopher Burnett, director of IT and post production. They found it difficult to keep track of each customer’s individual information and have a single source of truth.
As they grew from a startup with only a few markets to a national company reaching coast to coast — including a network of freelance photographers — they started looking into CRM solutions. They knew they needed a platform that would be future-proof and scalable. “We’re going to become the absolute best wedding photography company, and in order to do that we need the best tools possible. That’s why we chose Salesforce,” says Founder and CMO Dan Creviston.
George Street started by moving their sales operations, including all leads, into Salesforce. They soon added marketing, post-production, and talent acquisition, until there wasn’t a single department at George Street that wasn’t using Salesforce. Thanks to Salesforce, George Street can now handle five times more leads and five times more weddings compared to 2010. They’ve also reduced appointment prep time from nearly one hour to five minutes, and decreased the time from contact to contract from one week to 24 hours. “Salesforce was a huge key to our growth,” says Michelle Mantel. “The time and money we invested in fully automating as many processes as we could has paid off more than we could have ever hoped for.” With Sales Cloud, they now get immediate visibility into key sales metrics, such as average contract value, close time, pipeline forecasting, and more. Before Sales Cloud, it would take them weeks to summarize the previous month’s sales — now they can check the numbers anywhere, in real time. Sales Cloud also helps reduce appointment prep time by automating contract generation and allowing George Street to create a custom solution that matches the best photographer for each client, instead of sifting through the hundreds of portfolios available. Pardot lets George Street automate the customized emails they send to clients within each market. Emails now have a huge level of data transparency, which allows George Street to truly understand the ROI on their advertising spend.
Salesforce also equips George Street with tools that make them stand out from the competition by compiling personalized interactions with each customer, preserving the personal feel of a small shop even as they grow nationally. One customer, for example, was instantly recognized with details about her and her fiance as soon as she said her first name. This kind of customer-centric service is made easy with Salesforce. It helps George Street keep records of customers to not only be friendly, but also to better take care of their needs in planning a perfect wedding. “Our goal has always been to match the client with the perfect photographer and videographer, Salesforce not only makes that easy, they make it possible,” says Mantel.