The VisualWOW Podcast

Albums to Outsourcing with Mark Zucker

Episode Summary

Zookbinders Founder and CEO Mark Zucker discusses the modern day photographer and the writing he saw on the walls nearly 13 years ago. Hear how what he saw is changing and saving photography studio all over the country.

Episode Notes

In 1995 Mark Zucker (Not Mark Zuckerberg 😊) launched which became the leading high-end wedding album manufacturer in the US.  During the “peak” just before digital technology disrupted the photography industry, Zookbinders had 100+ employees and operated in a state-of-the-art production facility in Chicago.

After 13 years of strong growth, sales flattened in 2008.    This was the result of:

Influx of “Shoot & Burn” photographers that were mostly part-time and didn’t offer albums.

  1. Online Photo Retailers like Shutterfly offering “Photo Books” for under $20, thus devaluing the professional album
  2. The Financial Crisis

2009 brought decreased industry demand for albums and declining prices, while the cost of doing business kept increasing 2-4% annually.   Their solution: Outsourcing office labor to the Philippines.   Zookbinders had just introduced a Wedding Album Design Service and hired 5 Graphic Designers which cost 42K “all-in”.   Mark’s CEO, Cherry Orlina was born and raised in the Philippines and suggested to hire a new team of Graphic Designers in the Philippines for 18K “all-in”, saving the company 120K annually.

From 2011 – 2016, Zookbinders moved IT, Accounting, Marketing & Customer Service functions overseas, further reducing cost and remaining viable in an industry where 1-2 competitors closed each year.

By 2017, Zookbinders had a head count of 20+ in the Philippines prompting Mark and Cherry to start their own outsourcing company:   The company supports many Professional Photography companies (with full time Photo and Video Editors), and many other businesses that need to reduce cost to stay viable. 

For wedding vendors have who have severely impacted by Covid, it’s critical to plan now to reduce “fixed” expenses (i.e. back-office labor) as we prepare for resurgence in 2021.  Companies need to operate leaner and more profitably to rebuild cash reserves and outsourcing is a proven model.   The most common positions outsourced are:

Accounting (Bookkeeping, Payroll, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable)

Mark:  “some people think of Outsourcing as ‘taking American jobs’.    We look at it differently.  By reducing some jobs (and a lot of cost), offshoring can help companies stay viable, thus ensuring jobs for all other employees”

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