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Using connected tools from Square, business owner Dominick Lewis grew Photodom from an online store into a full-service analog camera shop and studio based in Brooklyn, New York.
“My role at Photodom is a little bit of everything,” Lewis said. “I’m either working in the lab, or sometimes in the store, sometimes repairing cameras, working with the marketing team to do emails and stuff like that, or handling customer service. So, it’s a little bit of everything. My official role in the company though, is student. I didn’t give myself CEO titles. I’m going to be the student, because I’m always learning.”
Lewis says he’s attracted to photography because it combines math, science, technology, and creativity all in one project: “I feel like photography is really cool because it’s similar to how I am. I have so many skills and things, I don’t like to just focus on one thing.”
That also applies to how Lewis runs Photodom: teaching himself new tools to help the business grow and innovate. Here are some of those tools that help power Photodom’s success, in Lewis’ own words.
This is the newest POS that we have in our store now. It’s really cool because it allows people to check out seamlessly on the actual device versus being a separate module, so our customers really like it because it’s not as confusing. I’ve had a lot of people with the older one try to tap it on the screen, but not realizing that there’s no payment thing on there. So, the new Square stand is really cool because everything’s integrated into one system, so it’s fewer cords and it’s a lot more seamless.
Square Point of Sale
We use Square Inventory a lot with our POS because we have an online store and a physical store. And sometimes you can get kind of confused when you have one product because we sell vintage cameras. So what’s really cool, because the products are synced — when something sells in the store, it pulls out inventory online. And if something sells online, it pulls out inventory in the store. So that way we don’t make a mistake selling products twice. It also lets me know when something is low in stock or out of stock. So, that way I know what to order next time.
I also really like the favorites feature that’s on the POS because we can go ahead and put in our most popular products. You don’t have to look them up every single time because some of these names are pretty long. We can add a list of all of our most popular products on our POS and we can just select them based on that.
This is a really cool product that I was introduced to before I even opened the store, honestly. I remember clicking on the link and it saying that I wasn’t eligible for loans at this time and to check back when I had more sales. And I was like, “OK, I guess when I make some sales, I’m able to do this and I’ll look back at it.” And it’s really interesting because [after being open for a bit], it actually popped up and said, “You have a loan offer available.” I was just blown away, like, I can actually use this thing and purchase new products. And at that time I wasn’t eligible for any other bank loans. So Square Loans was a huge way for us to be able to afford new equipment and new things that we needed for the store.
The first time I did it, I used it to afford a film processor. We purchased a film scanner since, and we’ve also purchased another film processor and upgraded our inventory. It allows us to streamline and grow our business vertically with using capital that’s provided through Square, not our own hands-on money. It’s also really good because it allows you to dictate how much money you want to pay back at a time. Instead of traditionally with a lot of loan services where you’re just pretty much charging your card a certain amount of money, Square Capital is cool because it takes out a certain percentage of your sales per day.
Before we had this film processor, we were only able to process maybe 20, 30 rolls a day because we were processing it all by hand. But with the help of Square, I was able to purchase this film processor that can do 30 rolls an hour. So I don’t ever have to worry about not being able to process film because this machine will do everything for me. The film scanner also is a really expensive piece of equipment, but it’s the same scanner that every lab that’s professional in the city is using. Getting those pieces of equipment really made us a legitimate business and really allowed us to have the same quality as everyone else, if not better.
I don’t have to worry about ever sending an invoice or not being paid on time. With the invoicing feature through the Square scheduling software, I was able to turn on no-show protection and even getting my payment up front. So that way, if a customer does cancel, we can get that deposit and keep it.
And there’s also a calendar integration. So that way I can integrate it directly into our calendar for the store. And I can know exactly when people are booking. It’s just all kind of integrated there already. I don’t have to worry about taking payments or talking to customers, they can just do it all on the website.
Integrations and Plug-ins
We use a couple different third-party integrations that work perfectly with Square, one of the main ones being WooCommerce. Because I built the website through WordPress, the WooCommerce integration with Square is really simple because everything is just a plug-in that you download. DoorDash is another big one that we use for sending out orders quickly. If someone wants to get a battery or film immediately for a set, they can do that through DoorDash through our Square integration. For my financing I use Square with QuickBooks, which is a good way for me to export my sales directly into my accounting so I can keep up to date with my books and everything like that.
It helps a lot, honestly, because everything is synced. I can just have everything under one roof without having to pay for multiple services from different platforms. As a small business owner, you don’t want to spend a lot of money on all these platforms when you have one that works.
Afterpay is a really cool feature because integrated into our system, people are able to purchase items. And with that they can walk home that same day with a camera. And honestly, our generation is so obsessed with Afterpay and these new things that allow you to pay back things over time.
We’ve had so many sales — especially over holiday time — where people use Afterpay specifically because they want to be able to pay off a camera over time versus spending all their money up front. People can just tap their phone with the Afterpay app and make an Afterpay purchase in-store, all that integrates so well.
The Square Loyalty program is a really helpful way for customers to be loyal and come back to the store. With our loyalty program, customers earn one point for every $10 they spend, which is really easy with film because it’s really expensive. We have things on there like a free key chain, discounts on film processing, and the highest award being a free gold necklace. I’ve noticed just from our average sales, we have a pretty high loyalty. We have 40% of customers who come back quite often.
Square Payroll and Team Management
I started using Square Payroll because it was the easiest way to get my employees’ hours into a check because I was already using Team Management for scheduling. It’s also really good because it offers people to use Cash App, which I didn’t know until my employees told me, and with Cash App they can get their money quickly. As soon as I hit send, they get the money in their account. They don’t have to wait until the next day for the direct deposit. It also helps me keep track of how much I’m spending for payroll and even gives me a percentage of how much of my sales are used for payroll versus other things, which is pretty cool because now I’m able to balance my schedule and do that around how much money we’re making per week or per month.
Plus, I can manage my team schedule and the payroll at the same time. Say, for example, someone didn’t clock in on time and they want to update that. They can go in themselves and say, “Hey, I meant to clock in at this time.” I have so many other things to think about that my team can go in and update their own schedules and I just approve it. It definitely helps streamline that entire process.
The Value of Connected Tools
Square tools really free me up to spend more time growing my business. I’m able to do things like create new products or talk to customers or be able to go to different events and meet people because I’m not spending so much time on worrying about making schedules, doing payroll, or updating with inventory.
I didn’t open a business to just manage it. I want to be a part of all the fun while it’s happening. So it’s really helpful because I don’t have to do all the day-to-day stuff as much. Everything is integrated very well. I can open one app and have everything in the same place versus remembering passwords for multiple different accounts or paying multiple different things. So it allows me to create more time to be myself.