Michael Rauen & Jason Jackson, Franchisee Rock Stars, TSS Photography

What advice do you have for someone considering investing in a franchise?

Do your homework! Know your market, know your finances, and know yourself! You have to be willing to invest–not just money or time–but yourself into the business!

What are you most proud of when it comes to your career in franchising?

We started this while serving on active duty in the Navy and were able to transition into this business somewhat seamlessly. Our military training has been invaluable to us having a “can do'” attitude. That got us noticed by our peers and franchise leadership very quickly!

What was your career path before you entered franchising?

Jason was an active duty (now retired) Navy Chief Petty Officer. He was a career recruiter, who taught his junior sailors sales techniques, and how to talk to with businesses and applicants.He also did quite a bit of sports photography on his own, and then later for a TSS Photography franchise in Florida. Michael works as a network engineer in his civilian career and as a Navy Reserve Supply Corps Lieutenant Commander. He dabbled in photography during his military service in foreign countries. Jason was looking for a career after the Navy, and Michael was looking to re-enter the civilian workforce after a four-year return to active duty (where he ran two recruiting divisions with Jason). Their combined talents made owning a photography franchise a great fit!

As a business owner, what has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

The biggest challenge to overcome isn’t rejection. Rejection is easy – you know where you stand and can move forward. The biggest challenge is trying to land a client who won’t respond.The second has been the challenge of keeping a new business going during a business lockdown. Creativity and patience have been key to staying positive and finding work!

What do you like most about your franchise organization?

Working with Candid Color Systems, TSS Photography Franchising, and Glamour Shots Licensing has been amazing! The owners are genuinely concerned about every franchise owner! The corporate business employees treat the franchise owners as friends and not as separate businesses. And, working with the other franchise owners is definitely like working with great friends and family, rather than strangers or competitors!

TSS Photography is the nation’s leading photography franchise, specializing in sports, school and event photography services. Learn more about them here. 

What is one of the biggest mistakes you made when you were first starting your business? What was your biggest takeaway from it?

Buying equipment too soon. We’d see a deal on equipment and buy it, thinking we would use it–and then end up going in a different direction. It taught us to slow down and really think about what we were buying, what its benefit was, what was its return on investment, and how did it fit with where the industry is going and where we want to go.

Is there a book or podcast you’ve read/listened to that has helped you in starting or building your business?

Both of us have different experiences and ideas that we’ve picked up from books, articles, and from our local Small Business Development Center at our local community college (Thanks to Del Mar College and Jamey Jones, our advisor). It’s hard to pin down one source – but the SBDC has definitely been invaluable!

How do you think your military experience has helped you as a business owner?

We were both enlisted in the Navy and learned to follow orders, delegate, and to get the job done. We eventually rose through the ranks into leadership positions. Jason achieved the rank of Chief Petty Officer and Michael became a commissioned officer with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. We worked together managing eight Navy recruiting offices throughout South Texas and mentored about 30 recruiters and 250 recruits monthly. We learned to trust one another’s judgment and to build cohesive teams–since each office had different personalities, communities, goals, and customers. The sales aspect to recruiting–along with having a shared market (high schools and their contacts)–made for a smooth transition to operating our franchise!

What leadership qualities are most important to you and your team?

Hands down, it’s trustworthiness. Your team has to trust that you mean what you say and that you’re looking out for them. As leaders, we need to be able to trust that our team is going to perform and uphold the values we present to our customers.

What are the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? What have you done to address them?

Retaining staff, finding new customers, and retaining existing customers have been our biggest challenges. We hired one person just as this pandemic hit. We made the decision to lower our salaries to ensure that the person could continue working. Our other employees are contractors, so we made sure to keep in contact with them and keep them updated. Finding new customers was a matter of finding new ways to freshen our social media content every day, sometimes 2 to 4 times a day. This meant sometimes photographing our own family members! We created new flyers and emails and did targeted mailings, too.  We did the same thing to market to our existing customers. We kept in touch with them and reassured them that we would be able to transition to new rules and standards quickly and efficiently–bringing our forward technology advantage that TSS Franchisees get with Candid Color Systems!

More About TSS Photography

TSS Photography is the nation’s leading photography franchise, specializing in sports, school and event photography services. TSS Photography franchise owners enjoy the flexibility of the home-based system, as well as the low overhead costs and the comprehensive training, support and technology the corporate office provides.

Learn More About TSS Photography here. 

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