Arek Rainczuk of www.fivecastles.com.au is originally from Poland and is now based in Melbourne Australia. He photographs portraits and runs “high end” studio – Five Castles Portraits where a large number of his leads and clients come via third party marketing.
I'd ben told I need to get Arek onto the podcast for some time but it was his post inside the Third Party Marketing Course group that had me reaching out to set up today's interview.
I've been doing 3rd party mail outs – where my boutique partners are sending me the details of their most deserving clients on a monthly basis – and the recipients get a gift certificate valued $650 ($200 session fee and $450 print credit).
The client needs to pay $50 holding deposit upon booking and I never had an issue with it.
The $450 print credit is enough to get a 10×15 canvas (and get the $50 deposit refunded) or get two 8x12s ($250 each) using the deposit. But the vast majority uses the (now) $500 print credit as a discount to their massive order.
His business tagline is: “Melbourne's Most Meaningful Photography”
He photographs families, couples, pets and business portraits.
He shoots indoors and outdoors but weekends are reserved for outdoor sessions only.
This interview and Arek's approach to Third Party Marketing will leave you jumping to get something similar set up for your photography business!
Here’s some more of what we cover in the interview:
- How a scientist like Arek shifted careers to become a photographer
- How long was the transition to becoming a full-time portrait photographer
- What Arek did to build his photography business with fantastic clients
- How much income Arek needed to become a full-time photographer
- Arek's annual revenue
- The need for continued photography and business education
- What's holding Arek back from growing a larger business
- The importance of outsourcing
- Utilising Upwork to find the best applicants to outsource work to
- Networking as a gateway to third marketing promotions
- Getting clients through Business Networking International (BNI)
- How to pitch to networks and sell your business effectively
- Sending handwritten cards to entice future clients
- The importance of adding expiry dates to your gift cards
- Sending a high-end booklet as third party promotional material
- What value should you place on your gift certificate booklets
- Personalising cover letters – is it worth the effort and time
- The need to prepare contracts for business partnerships
- Which are the best businesses to partner with for photography promotions
- Client inquiry sessions and calls
- How to handle push back from clients
- Why Arek prefers meeting the children he'll be photographing during pre-shoot consultations
- The magic behind pre-shoot consultation sessions and why they're so effective for sales
- The best time do discuss wall art pricing with clients
- Attracting clients in the cold, wet months of winter
- Where Arek sees his business in five years
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Joining a Mastermind Group (encouraged by Andrew) has been incredibly valuable and fun, I look forward to connecting with my group members every week. Jina Zheng, Premium Member and Melbourne Children photographer.
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What is your big takeaway?
Following this interview, I’d love to know if you're taking anything away from what Arek shared. Is there something you heard that excited or motivated you to the point where you thought, yeah, I'm going to do that! If so, let me know by leaving your thoughts in the comments below, let me know what your takeaways were, what you plan to implement in your business as a result of what you heard in today's episode.
If you have any questions that I missed, a specific question you’d like to ask Arek or if you just want to say thanks for coming on the show, feel free to add them in the comments area below.
iTunes Reviews and Shout-outs
Each week I check for any new iTunes reviews and it's always a buzz to receive these… for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, it's confirmation that I'm on the right track with the interviews and that they really are helping you improve your photography business. That's awesome!
Secondly, iTunes is the biggest search engine when it comes to podcasts and it's your reviews and ratings that help other photographers find PhotoBizX. More listeners mean more interviews and ultimately a better show.
If you have left a review in the past, thank you! If you haven't and you'd like to, head to https://photobizx.com/itunes and you can leave some honest feedback and a rating which will help both me and the show and I'll be sure to thank you on the show and add a link to your website or blog if you let me know the URL of your website and your name.
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Links to people, places and things mentioned in this episode:
Thanks again for listening and thanks to Arek for coming on and sharing his thoughts and ideas on building a high end, super-profitable family portrait photography business by utilising Third Party Marketing and partnering with the most suitable businesses.
If we all keep our standards high and the prices consistent, we would not be going to be competing with the weekend warriors. – Arek Rainczuk
If you have any suggestions, comments or questions about this episode, please be sure to leave them below in the comment section of this post, and if you liked the episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post!
That’s it for me this week, hope everything is going well for you in life and business!
Thanks and speak soon
345: Arek Rainczuk – High end portrait photography via third party marketing
Andrew Hellmich: Today's guest is originally from Poland and he's now based in Melbourne, Australia. He photographs portraits and runs a high end studio by the name of Five Castles Portraits. I've been told I need to get this photographer onto the podcast for some time, but it was his post inside the Third Party Marketing Course group that had me reaching out to set up today's interview and in that thread he wrote, I've been doing third party mail outs where my boutique partners are sending me the details of their most deserving clients on a monthly basis and the recipients get a gift certificate valued at $650 - $200 for the session fee, $450 print credit. The client needs to pay a $50 holding deposit in addition to hold their booking. I've never had an issue with it. He then goes on to say the $450 print credit is enough to get a 10x15 canvas and get their $50 deposit refunded or get two 8x12s, which are valued at $250 eight using their deposit. But the vast majority of clients use the $500 credit as a discount to their massive order. His business tagline is Melbourne's most meaningful photography. He photographs families, couples, pets and business portraits. He shoots indoors and outdoors, but the weekends are reserved for outdoor sessions only. I'm talking about Arek Rainczuk and I'm rapt to have having with us now to learn more about him and his business. Arek, welcome!
Arek Rainczuk: Thank you, Andrew. It's lovely being here.
Andrew Hellmich: Mate, it's great to have you on and I know we've talked about doing this for so long. Maybe you can start by letting me and the listener know how you ended up in Melbourne and shooting photography when I believe you came here as a scientist.
Arek Rainczuk: Yeah, that's right, Andrew. Actually, as you mentioned, I'm from Poland. I did my master's degree there in genetics and I was good enough to be offered a full scholarship almost anywhere in the world. And I chose Melbourne because there was the farthest away I could get from Europe and still find a good university that does the research I was interested in. And I started my PhD in 2006 in Melbourne and over the years and as I became disillusioned in the career in science and my passion was dying and at the same time I was picking up photography as a hobby, just doing landscapes and some animals and then friends started asking me to photograph their kids. Then I did it kind of for free and they wanted to give me a tip and so on. And then my wife noticed how passionate I was about photography and from my first day she basically paid for my AIPP membership and that was two thousand probably eight or nine and that was the beginning of the end.
Andrew Hellmich: Why did you say you were trying to get as far away as possible from Europe?
Arek Rainczuk: Cause I've been there already. I always wanted to get out. So science and studying was a way to do it. I'm not really patriotic. And you know, you're born in a country where were you born in. And I rather choose a country I want to live in and contribute to and I chose Australia and I have no regrets whatsoever.
Andrew Hellmich: Fantastic. Fantastic. What's your wife's name?
Arek Rainczuk: Kate.
Andrew Hellmich: Kate. And is Kate Polish as well or did you meet her?
Arek Rainczuk: Yes, yes, yes. Now you have to import wives to Australia as well. They don't make them as good here. I'm sorry, i'm sorry. I'm joking. It's a running joke in my family how everyone imported their wives as we'd say, so.
Andrew Hellmich: Well that's interesting you say that because I have a Scottish wife, Linda, and all three of my brothers are married to, well one has a British wife from the UK, one from Italy, and another one from Japan.
Arek Rainczuk: There you go. There you go. So you know what I'm talking about.
Andrew Hellmich: Exactly. Exactly.
Arek Rainczuk: Nah, I love Australian. Boys and girls as well. So that's why I'm here. So please don't, no one gets offended.
Andrew Hellmich: No, it's all good. It's all good. So with the photography, how far into your photography career did you get along before you said, okay, I'm leaving science behind, because I imagine that was a huge decision after all the years you put into getting your masters.
Arek Rainczuk: Oh yeah, masters and then seven years working in the PhD. It was a slow considerate process. I was basically keeping one foot in science doing a little bit of teaching on the side and part time doing tutorials and so on. As I was setting up business with the other hand, and I remember after joining AIPP and I went to the cutline, I think it was one of the first day cartons down in Melbourne. The Catalan is a a small event organized by the APB where you have 10 speakers, everyone's got 10 slides and 10 minutes each and there's 10 different topics. And that was my first event ever and I sat down and mind you of my biggest sale to that point was I think $300 and I was so wrapped because my cost of was was one 50 and I said I made 100% profits.
Speaker 3: So I stopped down there
Arek Rainczuk: and one of the first speakers was asked their question how I do charge for eight by 10 and when he paid $250 and I knew it cost about $4 per print, I literally fell off the chair. I had to scramble back on it and I think that was their wake up moment. So that's why I appreciate when you ask all those details about the numbers in our businesses because the reality is if someone's new to the industry, they wouldn't know how to price it properly. And as I remember it was mentioned in the FTP as well. A raising tide lifts all boats. So if we all keep our standards high and the price is consistent, we were not going to be competing with, with the weekend warriors or people who have a camera and think they can charge $50 for a CD.
Andrew Hellmich: Yeah, I totally agree with that. How long did it take for you to replace the income you were making as a scientist with your photography income?
Arek Rainczuk: Yeah. Income as a scientist is not as big as you guys think. Eh, when you're studying it's even smaller than that and it is, I would say less predictable. So in science it is more of a pedal funding. So every two or three years you have to beg for money. If you get them, there's only 10% chance you will get the funding you eat and when you do get it, you basically work just so you can make, again, in three years time, if you don't get it, you're out. So it's not as rosy as people may think. It took me probably two or three years as I was slowly building up. I was mostly at that stage we were renting in a normal suburban house. With not really a space to see client. And so my mode back then was when I was basically inviting myself over to my client's homes before the meeting.
Arek Rainczuk: I would bring some samples, like a portfolio and I'll sit down with them, discuss that session at their place. And we would have a session a few weeks later on, usually on the weekend. And I would then come back to their home with my laptop cables, samples. I hit samples to, my biggest one was 20 by 60 inch. Sample was three works spots to the car to set it up in their home phone presentation on their screen on the D. and I was doing that for a few years and actually, uh, learned a lot about how to choose the right prints for the right wall, which falls out the good ones. And I would then come and deliver it cause I couldn't have them come and pick it up. I would come and deliver and hang them on the walls for them. So I was full, full on service and yeah, I learned a lot back then. But when we finally bought a house, we were looking for something where it's also for business and we were so lucky we found that place in their best suburb in Melbourne. In Belgrave, we've got the best driveway in Belgrave with space for fuel cars and and houses, two story. And the ground floor is all for business. So get to that stage. It was probably, you know, five or six years and we'd been here since 2015
Andrew Hellmich: right. So how long were you doing science and photography before you said, okay, that was about two or three years I think. Okay. So pretty quick. Really. And Kate was working full time as well or still is?
Arek Rainczuk: Yes. Yeah, she was very patient, supportive. But the patients and support is in providing short when she's working five days a week and then commuting and everything. And I'm at home kind of playing on the computer and and disappearing in the weekends on the weekends to should, Oh yeah. We tried to make her old argument better now. So now that had parents coming here, I'm more on the home. I'm trying to outsource as much as they, so for me it's not about building a monster so I don't want to build a business that it's too much to handle and too much to sacrifice. I want something more of a lifestyle or I can balance my family life and work and still get all the enjoyment from it and however the challenge is to keep it nice and they will in longterm running. So I don't overbook myself. I kind of book ahead and yeah, that's some challenges with that itself but we can talk about it when we get there.
Andrew Hellmich: Sure. It's interesting to hear you say that Eric, because I looked at your website and I can see I have the option to book or schedule a meeting with your shoot with you and I can book Monday to Sunday. There's seven days of the week available for me to book a shoot. Not really. So before you can book a shoot
Arek Rainczuk: book and meeting with me and those, I only do it during the weekdays and most of them are doing working hours. However, couple of days a week, I do have afternoon appointments and these book out very quickly because you had the people who had to pick up the kids from school or wait for the husband to come back from work or, or have some other activities during the day when they're not fully flexible. And I do make a point of meeting everyone before the session so they have to bring their kids and the dog and the husband has to be there as well. So that's during my week. They, so all my point, just my clients in my gallery, I'm doing the weekdays, Sunday and Saturday only work early in the morning and late in the evening so that, that depends on the sunset and sunrise times. So that changes throughout the year. But that's when I do the other portrait sessions because I want to get you're the best, you know, the golden hours, you know, or that you don't end up the day.
Andrew Hellmich: Okay, got it, got it. Okay. I just had a look now again, so I can see that there's Saturdays and Sundays are mainly blacked out for those appointments. They would be. Okay. Got it. Just on the topic of income and making that change over, did you get to a point or what was the point when you realize, okay, I can quit science, I can be a photographer.
Arek Rainczuk: I don't remember the exact point, but I remember I couldn't do it both ways much longer. There's a completely different mindset when you're running your own business and when you have other commitments. It's a big distraction and a big, um, takes a lot of mind space. I decided to wrap up [inaudible] and this way I could focus on photography and I'm not too much for, I'll give you, you run in a business counts. That's a, if it's 5% of what we do, isn't it? Some running the business. Once I had my weekdays free does, where I had a chance to go out more to do all my networking. I did a lot of networking to start with. Now, you know, to meet as many people as I could during the day and I couldn't do it while being work while being busy in their lab.
Andrew Hellmich: Got it. So did you have a figure, did you and Kate sit down, you know, over dinner and say, okay Eric, you need to be bringing in $50,000 for you to quit science. Yeah.
Arek Rainczuk: So I basically are a Mister, I have to match whatever the kid was doing at that time.
Andrew Hellmich: And then more right before you could quit. Quit. Yes, that's right. What was the number you had to get to? Oh, I had to bring in 5,000 a month. Okay. Profit. Yeah, our profit, not turnover, but profit. I mean, that's what it has to end up on the account. Wow. Okay. So you really had to be doing a hundred $120,000 turnover before you quit science?
Arek Rainczuk: Kind of. Yeah. You could say that. Yeah. But the thing is there's a little buffer. So I keep all them money on the business account and then I kind of feed it out to the private one just so there's the consistency and predictability. So all the dips and troughs and peaks in the business are, you know, buffered in the business account. But that's kind of the age. So when I know I can do that. That's good.
Andrew Hellmich: Fantastic. And what about today? Eric, can you give us a bit of a snapshot? Like what's your turnover today?
Arek Rainczuk: So turn up turnover photo last financial year was just over one 80 K or is um, just over 50 sessions and depending how you, cause I do a lot of different types of portraits and they all have different overages, but when I calculate it, it's about two and a half or $3,000. So average and I only should maybe two or three times a week.
Andrew Hellmich: Wow. You have a great business and a good lifestyle by the sound of it. I try not to guess.
Arek Rainczuk: I avoid building a monster, but I've been working with few business coaches in that industry I started with or Lord and Lee and drop, you recall legals from instinctive desires. I don't think they're doing that anymore. I had a lot of training with Steve submariner that you've had on your show and currently I'm working with micros, ETO that you also had a new show and it's, you know, because it's your time. There's a lot of learnings. I learned from as many people as they can and then tried to kind of forge it into something of my own.
Andrew Hellmich: Fantastic man. I love your mindset and this is something I don't hear from photographers very often. He sound like you could build a bigger business if you wanted to, but you're holding yourself back. What's holding you back? Why don't you grow larger than you are
Arek Rainczuk: now? What? Yeah, so that was until recently. That was my mindset. But my goal for next year, so next year, this time I want to have doubled my business by then so I don't have the capacity, but they just need to take over more. I know they can do more and I find myself kind of wasting how much time and procrastinating and not doing bad or doing something later and I realized it's not fair for Kate. I want to, if I can, while I have the capacity and the health and everything, I want to make sure we can enjoy a better lifestyle and take less pressure, take more of her off her shoulders, if that makes sense. Absolutely. So I'm in process of, of working through everything and realizing where I can do better. So in your vision for next year, do you see yourself bringing on more help, more outsourcing, more photographers, someone to do editing?
Arek Rainczuk: How do you see that growth happening? Yeah, I just brought someone to do the editing and offshore retoucher. I'm just trading how to work up to my standards. It's so hard, man. I rather do it myself, but then it takes time. My Steinman, it's the balancing and the sacrifice, but she don't affordable side on my end, it's sending her a lot of things. Obviously I'm sort of bookkeeping. I think the biggest outsourcing that I would next would be doing is probably social media and some forms of marketing. I'm better in real world marketing and actual meeting people, approaching businesses and developing partnerships with them. I social media and my own life skills. While they're there, the skills are there, but the results are not coming through. So I think that'll be my next thing. And my aim is still short. Four portraits a week. Last one, business portrait or personal branding shoot that week.
Arek Rainczuk: If I get to that stage and have it be [inaudible] for the next two or three months consistently, that's my goal. So that's where I have written down, I should say a week booked out for three weeks ahead with a minimum standards doing a half or every spent two and a half average or three and a half, two and a half every, that's my minimum. Every is I want to get [inaudible] I want to keep. Yes. Got it. As I'm expanding, so I don't want to get more work about getting less leadless smaller average cause that's what tends to happen if you get too many clients, they, the client experience falls and they expect people's averages tend to come down. Yes. Yeah. Got it. Okay. I want to talk about your client experience, but I want to go in some kind of an order so we can follow along with you and what you do.
Arek Rainczuk: But just before we touch on that, you mentioned your offshore outsourcing person. How did you find them and where are they based? I used a website called Upwork and I posted an ad for a reduction for a portrait photographer, asked for only way 24 hours to get all the people raise their hands and then I sent them a link to a small folder was two files. One was a studio portrait for finery dashing and one was one of my average family portraits and I exploded it from ProSelect and with all the notes that I normally would do in process like during ordering appointment as in shakes, mom's hair and remove distractions and remove the light standards, something like this just so I can see if they can open the file and read it and follow the instructions and I made some few outer ones for crop to this and just to make sure people that they read all and follow all the instructions and then I gave them a deadline, put it 24 hours.
Arek Rainczuk: I think out of 11 I got 10 people send back the files for me to review and I just quote it anonymously, just looked at the file if I liked it on scale of one to 10 and then I contacted the tool, main ones for their pricing and to do any follow up or fixing up and I chose to get all that is so reasonably priced. She's based out of San Petersburg but yeah, she's lovely. She's with computers with communication faster and around and she charges per hour, not per image. So that was for me it's this way because somebody just needed more work, some less. I do all the pre edit in Lightroom, so I do whatever I can in there. So she just needs to do some skin work and remove bits and pieces here and there and make sure it looks nice. Do you communicate with her via zoom or Skype?
Arek Rainczuk: No. So our pork is a platform that does old for that, so I try to keep all the communication there. This way the Upwork itself comes in as a moderator as well. I mean, not in our conversation, but anything, any disputes are resolved through them. So they encourage everyone to stay on the platform. It's got it a text chat or audio options. But this way all the communication is log. And whenever she's working on my files, she has to turn on their website. There's software that comes from the website and it records the time she's spending on the project and takes random screenshots. So I can review if, say she spent two hours on my work and she's charged, you know, she charges like 15 bucks an hour or something. So let's say she's about to charge me 30 bucks. I can review what she's done in those and that's the screen shows I've heard in Photoshop doing this, my photos.
Arek Rainczuk: So it's good that I'm pay him to view Facebook or what you do and it's all through Upwork. I think they, they pull it from my pay pile, keep it in escrow and then pay out to if there's no issues. So it's good for her cause she's got security and so otherwise, so yeah, I found that working pretty well. Fantastic. Love it. Now you mentioned that networking and getting out in the community is a big part of what you do. Is that how you do these third party marketing promotions? Is that by getting out there? Yeah, so most of my clients would come from the third party and I learned that from Julian Walker, I think he is. Yes, I learned it from him and obviously I'd get it a little bit, but that was a game changer. That's when I learned how to kind of run this type of promotion.
Arek Rainczuk: But I found out, first of all, AIP is a national organization but helps gives you the license to all these people is invaluable. But I'm not, the one that I spent six years in was BNI. You probably spoke about the United with people. Yes. It's a business network international. It's got chapters all over the world and they allow on the one representatives per industry to join a group that meets quite regularly. So it's a big time commitment because apart from weekly meetings, we organize a lot of one to ones and so on where you get to know the businesses better. And I visited all the other chapters in the area and I've identified the businesses that I want to work with. So people who have, who are more boutique, so and service based. So people who do know their clients very well by name and they know they have kids and so on.
Arek Rainczuk: So I had a whole list of criteria that I was judging the businesses for and I would approach them. So being like gives you the easy way of approaching them and slowly developed a relationship with them. And then I had a whole process of getting them on the board too, for the third party. And yeah, goes from there. So what's in it for them? So what's your pitch to this are, Oh, that's the easy bit, but you say it's the easy, this is the part that so many photographers get hung up when they get scared.
Arek Rainczuk: You just ask them like, do you have great clients? And they go, Oh yeah, my plans are amazing. Okay, how do you reward them? What do you do for them that is out of ordinary and they go blank. Like I give him a discount or yeah, usually that's it, you know? Or they may be send them a postcard for Christmas. That's that kind of, they're the highest I've heard from them. Highest kind of customer sense, not reward appreciation so that they, how about, you know, I give you a way to reward your best clients and I make sure it's the best clients on Lee. So they only think about the top two, your clients and I say, I've got this partnership program going on and if you wanted to, and then I usually organize a meeting with that, but don't tell them more than that.
Arek Rainczuk: Kind of leave them hanging and brooding on how much they job the line on them along the way of the bowl with rewarding the best clients. And then the first meeting I usually invite them over to my gallery and whoever walks from my gallery first, they jar drops the first word I say as well. And kind of, that's what I pick it up from them. So then I showed them around to hang and say, when you say the gallery, this is in your home, this is the business premises downstairs? Yes. Yes. So that's the whole ground floor. We've got a large showroom. I would say that's where all my fancy furniture is. And I do have a separate room. That's what I call the gallery. Cause I've got basically small polishers along the wall. I'll tell a different story. Got a separate bathroom for the clients in my office.
Arek Rainczuk: My stories isn't a cure as well, but I usually take them forward, a shot of kind of the type of worker that I adore and then we sit down, I bring tea and I would explain the whole process for them. And basically I usually would say that what I can do for this, I usually have everything prepared. So beautiful proposal. I've got the back end proposal that explains everything in the form, a letter and their contract and what to do, how it works and also have a sample back. So I usually give them the sample back, which is what their clients would get class time or that I just give them a beautiful big C five and below that is very luxurious and touch and they can, because it's filled with everything in it and I hand address it and I draw this little dignity line in the corners and label it as elite stamped.
Arek Rainczuk: And uh, so I hand it to them and I say, how would you feel if you found that in your and in your mailbox? And they go, Oh yeah, it doesn't look like a build as it goes. It's not a long envelope. It doesn't have a window. It's not prepaid envelope. It says late, cause I literally lick now I use this stuff out. He said it's like a little stamp that I put on and it's honed undressed so it feels personal and it feels luxurious and big. So when they, they get up on a mailbox, they can feel, it's not easy. They have to open a defined, they can throw it away. And when they open it with me here, the business that I'm trying to seduce, the first thing that pulls out is their letter that is printed on their letterheads. I usually grab a logo from my, Google the business, grab the logo, put it in a corner of the vapor and print a letter from them to their clients as in eh, dear Andrew, thanks for being such an awesome customer to us.
Arek Rainczuk: We've loved having you here and we've got a special gift for you if you're wrong. And everything's been organized and the gift is, and it lists what it is and what to do next is very personal. Even though I proved them by, it doesn't just change the name and the letter had. So that's the letter that's kind of makes them, Oh okay. That's what you mean. And then they pull out from their envelope, everything else, which is a gorgeous little spiral bound booklet that I've had produced for me, which the first two pages that their gift certificate that that's printed with space for handwriting. So that's where I've earned feel each year. Set it again. So it's from the ladies and your favors, hairdressers tool, Joanne and John, uh, expiry and um, give the value is also handwritten and there's a space for a personal message.
Arek Rainczuk: So I usually require that every address that I get from the businesses has a personal message from them as in a congratulations on that, your party with you to be all your furniture's ruined or you know, something very personal so it doesn't seem like they write the same thing to everyone. And I find that more personally can get that bit the better the return. Do you complete that yourself in your handwriting yet, but you're using what they've told you? Yes. I mean I tried to use my wife's handwriting. My handwriting is more of a doctor sending writing so it's only legible Baiada doctors or nurses I guess. But my wife does it mostly. I do label their, it is a big process but we only do it once a month and takes most of the day to do it. The whole production line on a table. But it's well worth it cause I get about 25 to 30% return calls,
Andrew Hellmich: 25 to 30% so that's most of the times when I've done this kind of third party marketing. I'm lucky to get a 5% return, but mine is more just whack it out there because
Arek Rainczuk: that's what I've optimized it to. So if you choose the wrong business or that's first mistake, if you choose a chain of some sort, then that they don't have the connection to the clients that's suspicious to the client and they get a letter like this from that place. So unless it's a boutique place, they wouldn't would find that there's suspicious. If it's a normal postage paid, printed out automatically and I will print it envelope that looks like a bill that doesn't even get opened a lot of times. If it feels like a, you know, big, it feels dodgy. It is it, you know, people find it too nice to be true. But if they get something Henry, then they do have to open it. If it's nice and luxurious, serious kind of builds up on itself and it's like no. Could they got it from, they usually call them and saying thank you.
Arek Rainczuk: You know, because that's how appreciated they feel when they get it. So that's one of the tricks there and the expiry date as well. And now there's some controversy now in Australia with expired of the gift certificates or gift cards I think. But these are, I think that refers to the gift cards you would get for IQ as in you know, bullies not so much as a limited type promotion kind of gift that expires because if you don't pick it up gets expired. So I usually just ask them to evaluate and gift certificate. Good. But you didn't give me a call or visiting my website special landing page where they have to put their basic details. Even though I have the details already, I promised all their business that I'm sending them from that. I'm not using those details to contact their clients apart from that email and that mail out.
Andrew Hellmich: Right. So you're getting the details from the business but you're promising not to use it. So the client has to re enter their details and then they've, then they've given them to you. Right. I love that. Basically
Arek Rainczuk: I asked for a mobile phone because I would put old, their first name and their mobile and who was it from through the system and I'd send them a text reminder before it expires because usually people when they get it, they excited and they call him the first week or the way to the last day or two. So that text I added a couple of years ago and that kind of double did the open, the open routine.
Andrew Hellmich: Okay. Do you use a tech service or you just use your phone or [inaudible] global SMS, one of those, yes. Okay. Yep. I've used those as well. So bulk or global SMS. Yeah.
Arek Rainczuk: So because everyone uses different systems. Some people have a beautiful CRM, so we export nice files for me. Some people just copy paste from their notes or or booking diaries. So again, it's an old format. So just initially just print out that email page. And because I don't feel that they give certificates, I can do it just from my page. So no matter what format they send, as long as it's got the address I can address to and the names and the personal message, that's all. That's all I need. This is amazing. So what's happening is you have multiple businesses sending you details of their best clients every single month so that you can send their clients a beautiful reward, a portrait session from me. So yeah, usually they ask, I had one couple, literally a couple concerns of them saying, Oh can we get into your set?
Arek Rainczuk: It gets, we'll send them ourselves and tried other ones. It doesn't work. That will be the, I tell them I'm doing a favor. You just send me equal, you want to reward and I'll do it. You wouldn't go to Florida saying give me the flowers, I'll find them together and deliver them, you know? So this way they know that it's being done. And on the other hand I know is being done properly because I want to make sure that the expire date is correct or that I get all the details from my system as well cause I kind of track who called back so I know what my prior grade or callback raters. Yeah. So that's kind of how I set it up with them. So they feel like they, all they have to do is they would get a email from me, just a reminder, but about a week before the end of the month saying that, you know, next week remember to send me your best clients, don't send me the troublemakers and if I'm a Jewish number to do it.
Arek Rainczuk: And I usually share a success story saying that I recently photographed this person from a similar promotion, you know, until a little bit about that. So they have new information every month, but it's, so it's one email from me a month before and I don't have about a dozen of businesses that I work with. They get in time and on this fan fueled some businesses on one person that they send me details off. Some people have five. And so depending on the size of the business and their industry. So altogether when I send, you know, when I send about 50 I'm heavy. If I get to send out the 50 that takes a lot of time to produce by that. That's kind of my main marketing, so it doesn't take, I love it. I love it. Eric, you said there the,
Andrew Hellmich: you give this partner business that you're looking to seduce the envelope that open it up. There's a cover letter. Then there's the spiral bound booklet, which has the details about the shoot, that little message that the expiration date
Arek Rainczuk: and the rest of the book is basically my portfolio mixed with testimonials. So when you open the book, it's, I think it's got 30 pages, so it's 30 of my portraits on someone's wall. So not just a photo, it's a photo of her photo on the wall to show clients that I'm talking about. Artwork cannot be all files and it on the opposite space of it. There is a testimonial from that person. So they basically the book and they say they'd take the book to work and they show everyone. And, and it's a nice little lovely book, very personal. Because the first opera he was like, head's filled just for him.
Andrew Hellmich: Got it. So how much does eight package cost you to actually send out
Arek Rainczuk: $12 $2 for the postage. There's a buy the envelopes in bulk, but they're nice envelopes as well. And I think it was seven or hundred dollars per booklet. But again, depending on how many booklets I get printed at the same time. Sure. I think it's like 12 of those.
Andrew Hellmich: Okay. But this is a reasonable investment, but you have a great return. So the numbers all stack up.
Arek Rainczuk: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely.
Andrew Hellmich: And I don't know if I caught you right there. Did you say the size was C5 or did you mean [inaudible]?
Arek Rainczuk: No, no, the envelope is C5. So yeah, so I think it's something like five by seven or slightly [inaudible]. So it's not a small envelope, it's not those DLLs or, or big business wise like um,
Andrew Hellmich: it's like a like a greeting card sort of style.
Arek Rainczuk: Yeah, it's like basically a five. So because I use a four card thick stock paper to kind of keep it all. The thing is envelopes, so such a big envelope and a booklet in it. The first batch I sent when times came through we, and they usually have that envelope with them and then it looks old brand all about. So I basically now put them a four page, have a nice thick black cardboard and keep it all stiff. So it feels even built bulkier. This way, the envelope arrives in their mailbox, not damaged in the Congress and not wrinkles don't match. So basically, so the envelope would be a five cause a four in half fits in there.
Andrew Hellmich: Yes. So what about the listener that's thinking, okay, I live, you know, let's say in a small town in the UK for example, maybe in the United States and they want to try this, but they don't have this booklet yet with all the photos of their artwork hanging in clients' homes yet, can you go without that or what would you suggest?
Arek Rainczuk: Oh yeah, yeah, that gift certificate itself, we can make it whatever you wish. It can be a, it can be anything as long as you make it nice and those look sugars, right? So it has to be printed and nice paper. I recommend hand filling it. Don golf, [inaudible] pneumatic, you know, type fonts that look like a handwriting and you had to handwrite it and make a mistake and across something. I'll use a I so it looks real, otherwise people will be better suspicious. And so I think they key components would be hand addressing the envelope and though it's a hassle but it makes people more likely to open the letter. Their cover letter should be on the businesses you send in the name of letterhead and when they open it they know exactly, Oh that's I did. You know I know that business and stuff out of the blue I always have to be personalized so I use the right name everywhere.
Arek Rainczuk: And the gift certificate has door, soul call to actions. So exactly you what you want them to do. Either call you or visit a website about a website, not just your home page. You want them to some my goes straight into the landing page where they have to, the only thing they can do is basically watch a video about the experience and fill out the details and obviously one of them is when is the best time to call you cause I want to get in touch with them all the after they've done it. They also have option to find it time for the meeting by online tool, but it's only maybe 10% of my clients use that.
Speaker 3: Okay. You normally book them in when you're on the phone with them on their phone call on the phone because they always use, they usually have a question. That's all right. I want to come back to your client meetings, but you mentioned a contract earlier with this partner business that you're seducing. Do they have to sign a contract to do this?
Arek Rainczuk: Oh yes, yes, yes. Because it is kind of exclusive. I don't offer $650 to everyone who asks for it and I'm offering them that on a monthly basis to database clients. We had one or fewer. So I'm giving them, you know, sometimes thousands of dollars over the year in the form of, of my gift certificates to reward our best clients. And I'm telling them that this is a win win situation. So they have a very easy way to reward our best clients in a way that the clients will keep thinking of them. They will call them up. And I usually say, you know, if you don't, can I think of anyone that month, you know, think about who left you review on your website for spend them all as whole recommended, you know, who brought a referral or a sister or in a hole. So usually they don't have a reason to get is I'm saying don't send it to just out of the blue. So they do need to have, their clients would have had to earn it in some way, one way or the other. So that's kind of makes it easier for them to imagine. And so the contract basically says that day and I go into partnership in which they provide me details off and we feel like how many they can commit all on a monthly basis and I commit to sending them this and this and, and there's a separate privacy agreement that I'm not going to be hustling their clients. Right.
Speaker 3: Okay. Is there something that you drew up yourself or did you have a solicitor do this? No, I drove myself.
Arek Rainczuk: I think we'll have like a proper contract but it's solely legalese. It's people hate it. You know I got ended.
Andrew Hellmich: The partner businesses are they usually happy to sign this on the spot once they see your work? Yeah, I imagine they would be.
Arek Rainczuk: That's why I meet them in my cause. Having a space also increases the trust factor. You have that prestige. But I started those things before I had it so you don't really, really need it. But as long as you can appear professional and mass obviously how you present yourself, how you present your work, everything kind of builds up to it. Cause you have to be convinced that their business that you are not going to make them look bad. So that's their biggest concern. So you're making them look good as one thing, but you not making them look bad is more important.
Andrew Hellmich: Yes, totally. I would feel the same way if I was going to partner with another business. I'd be so concerned that my clients get the right message. Correct. Yeah. Right. Do you recommend a style of business? Does a client have to be spending, you know, over a thousand dollars a month or $1,000 at a time? Does it matter the kind of business that you partner with and now
Arek Rainczuk: no. I mean obviously the more or less spent then you can kind of, they can imagine why they would is you don't want to give them $650 for buying a lollipop once in a while for 20 cents you want them to have spent with the business more than that, but it doesn't have to be in one goal. So I had big successful their local boutique hair salon. Obviously people don't spend six 50 a day or at once, but they only want their best clients who have been there with them for a long time and they would have spent that along the way.
Andrew Hellmich: Yes. Love it. Okay. I know with Linda, my wife, like she goes to see a local hairstylist and she actually booked for the whole year at the beginning of the year. So she knows every month which day she's going. Yeah. She would be the ideal person to receive a gift certificate like this.
Arek Rainczuk: That's correct. Yes, yes. And that a business has done. I was up at a gym that is, it's not the ideal one because people go there for different reasons, but not talking about a gym that is a novel. The gym that I wouldn't go to. I'm talking about more of a community gym that is focusing on ladies. No mirrors group classes. So group personal training. That's kind of gym cause that's where a lot of moms go when they want to. Yeah. Keep fit. Holiday kits. I'm not talking about the GM for meat has some and they've said a gym and I know what you mean as branding, not the chain ones. Something a little bit more personalized, but the owners around it, they know the ladies will go do it pretty well.
Andrew Hellmich: Love it. I love it. So, okay, so let's say I receive one of your vouchers from my, cause I go to a boutique gym, I'm not one of the meatheads and I've got a family. So what happens, I call you to clarify this as a real thing and then you're going to try and get me or you want me to come in for a face to face consultation. So yes, when they go cold, the only thing I do is
Arek Rainczuk: tell them thank you for calling. Now the first
Speaker 3: couple of points of contact is about the out of business. It's not about me. So I'm saying, Oh you got it from, from a gym. How are some of his dads or who do you work out with? Oh Joanne, isn't she a great personal trainer? You know she's, you know, she must've done wonders where you are like you must love her cause you know you keep going there, you must have done something amazing because you've got a gift certificate. Can you speak of how you could have earned it and they go ah yeah I did remain neighbor and she's going to the gym as well. I said, there you go. You know, because I want them to feel like they've earned the gift certificate so it's not out of the blue and I want to make sure that business was sanded it. Then they, it if they get is the star at that stage because I want that appreciation marketing.
Speaker 3: So I want them to appreciate the auto business, not me yet. And then I tell them in short what I do, I try to make them the portrait sessions the most meaningful as they can and does requires us to meet before the session. So I would love to invite you and your family or whoever else you want to include in the session to. My gallery held brave and then at the end I tried to basically build them straight in. Okay. So do you get any pushback at this stage? Do people say, look my husband's too busy. My wife works long hours. Yup. Yeah. I mean occasionally I do. I say I'm Tuesdays and Thursdays. I do have to run appointments so we can meet you at five 15 or seven 15 in the evening and the first appointments they will take an hour. We'll have a lovely tea because I bet you want to get to know me, see what's in store for you and then you cannot, well it'd be photographing and we'd have to discuss a lot of things.
Speaker 3: How to prepare, where are we going to do, where we gonna go, what are we going to photograph, what's so special about your family? And I can often make it okay cause it's like if we can discuss that with a farm because I want your husband or your partner to be present and involved in it as well cause we don't want to leave them out and they kind of understand it most of the time. I usually make sure I book with them on the phone. If they say, Oh I have to ask my husband and say, yeah, but let's guest get and pencil in a time and I'll send you the details. When your husband comes home, you can tell him that we're meeting like that day if he has issues with that or cannot make it, you call me and we'll reschedule. So I have something in their calendar, kind of come at them committed.
Speaker 3: I don't let them kind of go and talk to their husband and call me back again. I like that. Yeah, we know. No, that's an easier way to wiggle out the husband. You know, it's not as excited about it and as them and they usually are not. The thing is they always make fun of it. I usually say that the wives have to drive their husbands to that appointment with me, you know, by their ears. But then after meeting me the husbands are more excited about the upcoming session than their words. That's nice. Okay. I am because now it's usually the guys are not into photos cause they have a different preconception about what's going to be, if they think about, studio's going to be cheesy, awkward Posey and domestic to make fun of them later. But when they meet me, I tell them, well we're not going to do it in this study.
Speaker 3: We're going go to, you know, their property or a cold place that they would like to be photographed. And we had good way the evening and I use my studio license, I'm going to look like the national life photographers that their wives follow on Facebook. Um, you know what I mean? Yeah. Yeah. So they kind of relax and I say, you know, it's going to be much posing. You can, you know where did and that then yeah, we'll take it from there. But because they have been involved and made to be involved in it. And I asked you make sure I include them in their conversations and as well as the kids and I take some notes. Um, we have tea and I show them around so they can see that it's not what they thought it would be. So they usually are quite excited about it.
Speaker 3: So the kids can come to this consultation too. They have to come to the consultation if you want to meet them. They want, Oh yeah. Cause as the thing is if you meet them ahead of time, it's easier to connect with them during the session itself. So they're limitless. Awkward. And I know who I'm photographing because I observed them. I've got my set up in a way that when I'm seeing my throne actually throne parents are sitting on the nice sofa and I've gotten a little kid's Connor kind of position in the way that the parents could look over them. But also I observed them and the parents are usually excited when they described. Okay. So Johnny, Oh look having dependent he is and he shows his styles with his sister and that was things I take note of because these are the things that I want to make sure I followed it up in some way.
Speaker 3: Who is their personalities and I tried to pick the differences between them as their parents are aspect kids between the chatter to describe each other so they know why I say it's meaningful because it's just, I'm not photographing what they look like, but more of the personalities and the relationships in the family. I love that. Okay. Two things. Are you actually writing notes? Taking notes and did you say throne? You're sitting on a throne? I, yes, I have a customer from, cause it's five castles portraits. So my place looks like a castle. When you walk in you've got a big black stone wall. Like I'm, I've got a piano, I've got a fireplace and antique furniture and they're custom made from, I love it, I love it. And my clients sign a contract with a coil. You know when you're in a castle they do beautiful coil with the proper ink and everything.
Speaker 3: So that's a, that's a matter of, and they drink tea from little cups, you know, and BOC, it's like a, you know Madkatz tea party. That's so good. Is that you sitting there Eric with a notepad and pen and taking notes about the kids and the family. The interaction though? No, no. So when we talk, we talk, we talk and I connect with them. I focus on them and the kids. But when we were kind of discussed the session details, so cause I know when to do with where to do it, what time? All of their basic staff. That's when I asked him to pull out a contract for my drover. And so I filling out the details on the topic and I've got a section where I have them write the things we talked about. So you know the journey isn't
Arek Rainczuk: dependent on, I ask them to write some things about Johnny and Georgette or whoever the kids are and make sure the dog is included. And the parents, I asked, you know, what do you like about your husband or, or you know, and they usually go, well the answer by the your wife. And he goes, she's patient. And I go, okay. So I went to, I usually it's quite fun and I use those notes later on and they go get a copy of that contract because it has all the details there and when they're handwriting and I just photocopy it and I had a print that they study also. Now I'm starting adopting TAVI but I'll still be doing that by handwriting and then I'll have to type it all in cause I still want that element of that personal connection. And when do you take them?
Arek Rainczuk: The $50 booking fee, that refundable booking fee. So as we go through the contract, so I, Bob mentioned it ahead of time and as we got through the contract and the first session is their contact details. Second section is the session email. So they were to include, so we booked there such in itself, we booked their design consultation at the same time. We book that time for them to come back with other kids to view the photographs, insurance. And there is a, you know, my normal session feed that there's an option to put, not applicable. So they see that I'd normally charge $200 but they go, Oh we don't have store. And then there's, they get certificates from, so they have to put the name of the business. They got it from the four 50 that is included as a print credit from it. And there is a little inflammation that, but it gives it a Vegas $50 holding deposit is required to keep their dates and it's forfeited if they don't show up or something.
Arek Rainczuk: Or usually, yeah, never had to do it right. And yeah, they understand the Aleve, the person cash or I've got to [inaudible] just stop and go. And I find that this is, this is just so I reserve their spot because most of my clients I would shoot on a weekend around sunset or sunrise and suddenly on a few of those in their week. So it's not like if they go on come late or something else, we can kind of reschedule. I want them to come back to that. Yes. Can I totally get that and I love that that's introduced then. That's beautiful. Just tapping go. When do they see your prices? When do they first get a glimpse of how much they might actually spend with you? Yeah, so when they come in and we kind of walk around the gallery, if they have any questions about the prices, I can just tell a straight away.
Arek Rainczuk: But before we pull out a contract, because during the first conversation I usually go through the whole experience. So would you say this is there, the mission conservation, that's where we get to know each other and discuss everything else and told them about the session. But then I tell them about coming before the design consultation and I showed them the projector on the ceiling and that the screen will come down and we'll sit here and we'll do it here one on one and just to give them an idea the prices are, and I just kind of find a different things
Speaker 3: on the wall and shot them the rage. So, and I usually thought of them on the competitive one. So I'm like, I've got a future and got kind of a, that's four, four and a half thousand dollars and I go down from there. So the first imprint, the first idea they have, the prices is the highest price for like a one product. This way everything else is cheaper from there on. They usually job that they wouldn't get the big one, but doesn't mean that they wouldn't get a few smaller ones for over four and a half. Yes, I love it. I love it. Just like a good way. And in a good restaurant or in their car dealership, they don't show you from a base model app. They show it from the top model down. Yes. That's so true. So true. And I mean all of a sudden you get over that sticker shock and everything else more affordable once you come down.
Speaker 3: Yeah. So all the cars you would see new brand new, they would have their leather and our this and Sandra Wilson and special metallic paint and all the big rooms and then you get shocked and they go okay but you don't need those big Rams, you don't need this. And they come down to you know, half price or the same car but without all the bells and whistles. Yes. All right. I've got two more things I want to ask you about. The first one is you keep talking about these, you know, the best hour of light during the day and you say morning, afternoons in summertime. What are you shooting at 5:00 AM or 6:00 AM in the morning. Yeah, in summer. Yeah. I actually had a fun situation a couple of years ago. I was in December time, so the longest days. And so if they have all gets above three or four that's fine cause they would last all their Sansert unless we go into the mountains where we can hide in the Valley and avoid all that altogether.
Speaker 3: But most of the time they want a chance for a sound. So last time I was shot, we discuss whether it's going to be the morning or the evening. I usually go for a unit, the mornings that kind afford people with younger toddlers that wake up by that time anyway. And this way we can do them while they're still happy and active. But if we were to do it at sunrise, there would be tired and too late for them. It's common in winter, it's different because their sunset is delivered earlier. Now. I had the fun situation in the femoral few years ago and I arrived and the sporting context where we had this big sky for sunrise and I was there before the sun Rose. I was there quite early and kind of followed me into the car park and I was allowed to set up and the car, his lights came on and was the police with the siren that went to silent justice as the, all the lights, they came to me and were trying to figure out what I was doing there, you know, so you know, pulled back on the morning in the this, you know, this start, I was like, maybe you're with someone or you're up to no good.
Speaker 3: And I, I, I'm a photographer, I'm gonna [inaudible] him when he met her, I'm setting up, I tried to have the equipment and we check it out and they go, so tell they ass, there's this family coming here at like five 30 they're getting ready. Wow. So yeah, but look guys, those, you know, they do appreciate it cause otherwise it would have to be in a studio and they don't want studio for a reason or a little bit later when we compromise on their light. And if it's a sunny day like it was that day, then fighting with the sun is not a fun thing. Sure. Well that brings me to my last sort of topical question I wanted to ask you. You're shooting in Melbourne and for anyone that doesn't know, Melbourne has pretty rubbish will Heather, what are you doing in winter time? Let's say it's raining and you have a portrait scheduled.
Speaker 3: Are you rescheduling a lot? Are you bringing him into the studio? What do you do? I am risk casually alarmed. I usually leave it to my discretion and if it's enough to really shoot, I usually call them during the midday. So while there's still have a chance to change their plans, but close and that's what these sessions, I can see how the rains are coming because I use a, the absolute, their maps and the cloud and the rainfall radar rather and everything this way cannot predict. I can predict the weather. The rain is coming or it's just finishing and they was gloomy, but it's going to be better. I don't need found some heavy overcast, but if they're young kids and we're going to be sitting on the grass, we don't want wet grass either. So depending on the type of clients it's paid to have short periods difference.
Speaker 3: That's like actually brings us to the a mustard time. But families, I don't like shooting them in the studio so we usually reschedule and I usually get on the phone with them when we find it time to reschedule. So my contract that says that I have the decision power when it comes to the rescheduling due to the weather, inclement weather, but obviously the kid got sick, old and winter, you know, it's more likely than they just called me up as soon as they know. Right. And then I have a afternoon with my wife. Nice. Yeah. I never mind really when someone rescheduled. I enjoy that time because there's nothing else in the diary. It's some free time. It's lovely. Right? You have been amazing. It's been so good to talk to you. I'm so glad we actually found time to do this. Finally, after talking about it for so long, where is the best place for the listener to get a better idea about you, your work and what you do?
Speaker 3: That'll be all by website on five castles.com that are you Ivy castles? Yeah, that's kind of the hub for everything. I'm always working on it, so it's always something new there. Yeah. I'm not sure where you're gonna release it, but it's going to be probably different than today. Oh really? Okay. Fantastic. Well, I'll add links to obviously to your website and I know you have some other websites. You have a new or a different website, B, a branding where your business portraits and also your Instagram and Facebook. I'll have links to all those in the show notes. Just to finish off, Eric, where do you see the business in five years time? In five years? Bam. I would still see it here, but let's say I would be way, way busier and I would probably be bringing someone on to help me trust. They should have all the photographers out there probably can, uh, think of the same.
Speaker 3: They'd be able to relate for sure. Yeah. Yeah. You have to relate to it cause every kind is so precious. It's one to drop the ball. It has to be. You are. So I would rather do all my client conduct personally. Solid meetings are crucial. Shooting itself is about personality, not the skill and the sales session as well. It's about personality and the skill. Yeah, so it's a combination of everything would be very hard to find someone to replace that bit, but I think everything behind the scenes could be automated or or outsourced. Right. Do you see Kate ever working in the business?
Speaker 3: I mean we were talking about it, but she's not that interested in it. She has some strengths. I love that. Are you listening? Yeah, so I'm the background stuff, but not really client facing or or shooting or anything like that. Right. Okay. Cool. Eric. Again, man, it's been a real pleasure. I'm looking forward to hearing the listeners response to what you had to share today. I know you're going to be flooded with questions inside the member's Facebook group. Just again, a massive thanks from me to you for coming on and sharing what you have. My pleasure. Thank you.