Wedding photographer streamlines contract process

Adobe EchoSign helped George Street Photo turn contract management into a digital workflow, cutting six days out of the time needed to collect client signatures.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

At George Street Photo & Video, a 30-person wedding photography business in the Chicago area, collecting signatures for job contracts used to take at least a week -- with paper documents showing up via fax, email, regular mail or courier service. There was plenty of paper-chasing going on.

By moving to an electronic contract-creation process using Adobe EchoSign, the small business was able to compress that process into as little as one day, said Michelle Mantel, president of George Street Photo.

"We don't have to chase things down like we used to," Mantel said. "We have been able to go paperless and it has definitely been a huge time savings."

The process of going digital began in 2009, when George Street Photo adopted Adobe EchoSign for managing its contracts with the photographers handling specific events, Mantel said. The small business spent time upfront ensuring that the terms of the contracts would still be legally valid even if the signatures were electronically. Then it spent several weeks converting its contract templates and documents, tagging them so that they could be used with the electronic signature software. (You can sign documents using a Web browser from a number of different computing platforms, including an iPhone.)

Approximately 75 percent of the company's photographers embraced the system immediately; after two or three months, using the electronic process became a requirement for George Street Photo's freelancers, Mantel said.

After working out the kinks with its photographers, George Street Photo moved to an electronic process for its clients, as well. That's important because the contracts require the signature of both the bride and groom, both upfront and when there are changes to the terms. Now, as soon as one person in the signature chain signs a contract, it automatically moves onto the next person. When everything is signed, the document can be filed accordingly.

Another bonus of the Adobe EchoSign technology is that George Street Photo is able to associate the contracts with the salesperson who arranged the project or event; it is automatically attached to that person's account in Salesforce.com, Mantel said.

The Adobe EchoSign carries a monthly subscription fee, but Mantel said that investment has paid off in the time saved by her company's receptionist. Since that person doesn't have to spend as much time chasing contracts, she can now focus on other marketing and outreach activities, she said.

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