“There’s a better way…” Competitions (Dance & Cheer)

Grace Ann

For almost 13 years now I’ve been watching my little girl grow up as a dancer.  Literally, since she was 2 1/2 she’s been at Rhythm Dance Center in Marietta GA for hours a week and months a year.  At this point, like the parents of so many dancers or cheerleaders (or volleyball players or swimmers or gymnast etc…) I have no idea how many hours nor how much money has gone into her passion.

But that’s just the thing, it doesn’t matter, it’s her passion.  She loves it, she works hard at it, it touches her soul, it drives her, she’s made great life-long friends, has wonderful mentors & instructors, has seen this great land of ours, and has the discipline to make awesome grades while being a wonderful daughter, sister, and friend all at the same time.  Dance has been an amazing influence in her life.  It’s not just something she does, it’s who she is.  And I love that.

PictureU has been in the imaging business for a long time.  We’re good at what we do.  We work hard to keep our promises and we’re serious about being a great place to work.  We know our customers count on us when it matters the most to them.  Here’s the thing, after all these years of going to dance competitions I never paid much attention to the photos and videos, but that all changed a couple of months ago.  I went to a competition and had a pretty bad experience as a customer of the photo partner for the event.

“There’s a better way.”  That’s what I told my team when I went into the office that next week.  I had been so moved at watching my little girl perform that I had tears and chills.  I couldn’t wait to get outside the ballroom to view her pictures.  Like so many parents who have children in competitions, I knew I’d want to preserve that special moment forever.

Her pictures were awesome!  The lighting and framing just right and so many incredible moments were caught at just the perfect time.  The problem came with my experience to get the pictures, not the pictures themselves.  This industry is full of talented photographers who are as good at their craft as the performers are at theirs.  It’s then up to a company like ours to make sure the customer experience is held to a very high standard and the prices are fair and reasonable.

On that day as I eagerly approached a bank of 18 touchscreen computers I thought to myself “cool, this shouldn’t take but a moment”.  But here’s what happened instead.  The first touchscreen crashed within a few seconds of touching it.  I stepped to the one adjacent to it.  Same thing.  Crash.  The blue screen of death.  Only this time it occurred after I’d gone through the first few screens to find my daughters pictures.  I turned to the young ladies who were sitting behind a table nearby and was told to try another machine.  “This happens all the time”, one of them said, “especially on Sunday’s.”

On to the third touchscreen (now I know why the had so many in the first place) and I got through the process of finding and selecting my daughters pictures.  Again, I was thrilled with the photo quality.  The shots were beautiful. You can see for yourself.  The image above is one from that day.

After finalizing my selections, I turned to the seemingly disinterested young ladies working the print station who told me the printers were down.  “This happens a lot,” one of them said. “Okay, so when will I get my pictures?” I was told it would only take a couple of weeks. “Can I just get the digital image now?” I asked. “Sure, we can burn a CD for you and it’ll cost $ _____.”   A CD?  I don’t even have a CD player anymore.  I didn’t say that, but that’s what I was thinking. “How about an online store?” I suggested. “I can just go home and order some prints online.” “We don’t do that, sir. There is no online store,” she answered.

Four weeks later my prints arrived.  Four weeks!  If it wasn’t bad enough that I had spent 20-30 minutes just trying to place my order back when I was at the competition, it now took four weeks to get my pictures.   In the digital age dominated by smart mobile devices and social media, I knew there was a better way.  We believe our products (technologies) should be Appleish and our customer experiences Disneyesque.  Those are some pretty major expectations but that’s how we approach our business.

At PictureU we hold ourselves to a high standard before we’ll consider entering a new market.  We ask ourselves, “can we make a significant contribution to the market?” in other words, can we truly enhance the value proposition for the customers and our partners?  Can we leverage our experience, our technology, and our infrastructure to make a real difference?  And then we have to make sure our people have the will and the passion to see it through.

I’m thrilled to say that we do have the will and passion to make a significant contribution in the competition events market.  Over the next few months we’ll release the details of our solution but in the meantime we’re having a lot of great conversations with dance and cheer promoters throughout the USA.

Their customers, those kids and their families, are committed and have worked hard to get to their events.  It is our responsibility to honor them by showing up, taking awesome photos and capturing great video, and then giving them what they want at a reasonable price.  Our onsite team will be responsive and eager to help.  And, we’re going to help them share their experiences with their friends and family in a way that’s reflective of the world we live in today.

Yep, like I said, “there’s a better way…”.

Walt Geer / CEO


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