CHAPTER 2-: This is the second chapter of “The Complete Guide to Starting a Photography Business.” – The photography business is one very interesting trade that needs all seriousness and attention. Which is why one of the right steps to take when you want to start a business as an entrepreneur is to spend time to research and study the industry. It might interest you to know that when researching; some of the things you should look out for are facts and figures as it relates to the industry.
Bottom-line is that the fact and figures you come across during your research will not only help you draft a good business plan, but it will go a long way to shape your business decisions. There are readily available facts and figures about the photography industry in your country and you can get them from the bureau of statistics or any other relevant agency in your country. Fact and figures are part of the tools that help in effecting planning and projections.
There are universally accepted facts and figures about the photography industry in the world, and that is what this article is all about. As a photographer; you must ensure that you get yourself familiar with the facts and figures of the photography industry before you launch your photography business and also while running your business. This is important because facts and figures have the tendency to change. As a result, here are 10 facts / figures about the photography industry;
10 Facts / Figures About the Photography Industry
a. There are More Amateur Photographers in The Industry than Professional Photographers-: If you take your time to critically examine the photography industry, you will realize that there are more amateur photographers than the core professional photographers in the industry. Loads of people venture into photography business simply because they feel they can take good pictures.
b. In France, Within the Last Ten Years 52 Percent of Photography Businesses have gone into Extinction-: Recent statistics released in France indicates that 52% of photography businesses have gone into extinction within the last 10 years. The reason for this may not be far fetched. It could be as a result of lack of business management skills, or the inability to cope with the change in technology.
c. The Photography Industry Is Predominantly Made UP Of Small Companies and Freelancers-: One thing is common with photography businesses in the whole world; the industry is predominately made up of small companies usually a sole enterprise or SMEs. The owner of the business is usually the person that does over 80% of the job.
d. Photography Business Employs a Good Number of People-: Global Statistics Shows That 93% of Photography Business Employs between 1 and 5 People, 5% of Photography Business hires between 6 and 10 people, 2% hires between 11 and 20 People and Only About 1% over 21 people per time.
e. In Most Parts of the World, Especially in Developing Countries Photographers Don’t Consider it Necessary to Register Their Photography Business-: If in doubt of this fact, when next you invite a photographer or visit a photography studio request to see their certificate of incorporation. You will be amazed to know that their business is not legally registered.
f. 3 out of 10 Photographers Has a Photography Contract Prepared by a Lawyer-: The average photographer does not consider it necessary to pay a lawyer to help them draft a contract for their business. This may be due to how casual they feel photography comes across.
g. 8 in Every 10 Photographers Don’t Have a Niche; They Practice General Photography-: A larger percentage of photographers out there, do not have a niche; they practice general photography. For example’ you will be amazed to know that there are no specialists in children photography in some countries or cities.
h. With the Growth and Innovations in the Technology Industry, People Can Readily Take Good Quality Pictures without the Services of a Professional Photographer-: Have you realized that most of the pictures you have on social media are taken by you with your smart phones or tablets? This goes to show that technology innovations is truly affecting the photography industry.
i. Photographers That Work with Event Managers Tend to Do Better Than Those Who Don’t-: If you intend to do pretty well as a photographer, then you should look towards partnering with event managers.
j. Only a Very Few of Those in The Photography Industry Own a Degree or Diploma in Photography-: Funny enough, most of the people who call themselves professional photographers have never attended any photography training, talk less of earning a degree or diploma in photography. Sounds funny but that is the reality.
Importance of Finding a Niche and How to Go About It
Learning about the various niches in the photography business does indeed make it much easier for you to make an informed decision about which niche would best suit the requirements of the business organization that you have conceptualized in your mind.
However, knowing about all the niches will only get you so far and is most likely to partially help you in making that ultimate decision. Any person who has had prior experience in the business world would know how monumental it is for an entrepreneur to select a business niche. Depending on the area of concentration and specialization that you select, your business will either be a hit with your targeted audience or it will flop like the hundreds and thousands of unprepared and misguided entrepreneurs who tried to tap into the market before you.
Failure and Mediocrity is Unacceptable
One of the biggest mistakes made by rookie entrepreneurs across all sectors of business is making the assumption that mediocrity and failure is acceptable and can be reversed later on and transformed into success and development. This idea may have been true a few years ago, or perhaps a couple of decades ago, when photography businesses were not known to mushroom in every neighbourhood of every large city, and when entrepreneurs were not jostling for a position in the top tier of the industry.
In other words, mediocrity and failure could have been legitimately been a part of your plans back in the days when photography businesses were seen as a more of an institution of fine art rather than a money making and highly profitable business that has the potential to turn into a major corporation which can greatly influence the economy of a locality or even a country.
Nowadays, if you think that failure will not harm you and that you can bounce back from defeat over and over again, then you will be considered to be straight up delusional. Ask any veteran business person who you are in touch with, and they will gladly warn you about the dangers of succumbing to the intense competition in the business world.
Understanding the Effects of Competition
Competition is a funny thing in all honesty. It is the element which acts as the litmus test for entrepreneurs all across the world. You will never know how good you are unless you are pushed to your absolute limits by competition. Competition brings out the best in you. It puts you in a situation where you have your back against the wall and the only way for you to go is forward or upwards, whichever direction is needed to make sound progress in the industry. Competition separates the men from the boys and filters out the weaklings in the world of business who do not have the capacity to overcome the hardships of entrepreneurship.
Shying away from competition or running away from it will cause disasters to befall on your professional career. Once you make up your mind on establishing a photography business, there is no turning back for you. You must be prepared to face the challenge from your competitors and embrace the fierce competition that lies in wait. It’s a do or die situation. By now, you must be wondering what does the intensity of the competition in the world of business, or in the photography industry in particular, has to do with selecting a niche? Well the answer lies in experimentation and how wrong moves or decisions made in the name of experimentation can spell disaster for your business and your assets.
Little Room for Experimentation
When it comes to choosing a niche in photography, there really is not a lot of room for experimentation. Remember, experimenting with your options and learning about your options are two completely different things. Experimentation causes you to become wayward and lose sight of reality. Learning or researching about your options on the other hand enables you to broaden your horizon. You are encouraged to gather as much information about the various niches as you can in order to make informed decision about which niche would best fit your needs and would help you to pave a path to success in your career as an entrepreneur.
Experimentation on the other hand is nothing more than a waste of time and a recipe for chaos and catastrophe. When you experiment with a particular option or niche, you can never impose your will on the business wholeheartedly. Your approach will always be half-hearted, and entrepreneurs who do not give it their all are not meant to succeed in a photography niche.
For example, if you want to start out a business in the sector of wedding photography with the flimsy intention of simply learning more and exploring further in the field, then you are bound to not survive in the sector, let alone thrive. This is because you will be flanked with hundreds and perhaps thousands of other entrepreneurs who have conducted a thorough research on wedding photography and have made all the necessary preparations to succeed in this industry. You cannot possibly compete with these well coached photographers or entrepreneurs. Their skill, determination and passion will simply out-muscle and outfox you.
7 Questions That Will Help You Choose a Niche in the Photography Industry
1) Does the Niche Fit Your Style?
The niche that you select should be in concord with the style that you adhere as a professional photographer or as an entrepreneur. If you are the kind of photographer/entrepreneur who loves being on the move, then establishing a paparazzi agency may just be the best option for you to make money.
On the other hand, if you are the kind of photographer who aims to make new ground in the field of creativity, then wedding photography could be your ticket to success. It’s all about blending your style with the specific requirements of the niche that you are about to select. If the style you harbour matches with the characteristics of the niche you have selected, then you and your workers will be comfortable working in that sector. There will be far less mistakes, far less confusions and much more innovations.
2) Do You have the Right Equipment to Operate in the Niche?
This is one of those curveball questions that a lot of budding entrepreneurs in the field of photography business cannot answer straight away. The reason for that is because most beginner entrepreneurs lack in depth knowledge of the various uses of camera equipments and the effectiveness of their application in the different niches of photography.
For example, if you have no idea about what kind of camera equipment is required to set up a portraiture service or studio, then you should certainly refrain from launching a business in that particular sector. You cannot afford to conduct your business like a clueless and headless chicken. Shortlist only those niches that you have studied and the ones for which you have the right camera gear and equipments.
Do not throw punches in the dark and do not punch above your weight class. Stay within your limitations during the early stages. If you cannot afford to procure the camera equipments that are necessary to run a business in a particular field, then there is absolutely no need for you to apply for bank loans with which you can fund equipment purchase. Starting your business off with debts on your shoulders is hardly ever a bright idea.
3) Do You Have Specialized Skills that You Can Develop?
It’s one thing to select a niche that suits your style of doing business or producing works of photography, but it is another story to find a niche for which you have the right set of skills. For example, if you are a professional photographer who has worked under other veteran photographers in the field of pet photography, then you should by all means pursue a business in the pet photography sector.
The idea is quite simple. You know all the requirements to succeed in the sector. You are well aware of the kind of equipments that are needed, the kind of techniques that are to be employed and the kind of approach that will get the work done easily. Why else would you go for a different niche if you already have attained tons of prior experience in one niche in your career as a professional photographer?
4) Do You Have a Target Audience in Mind?
You cannot start planning about forming a business without having a target audience in your mind. The target audience is the category of consumers that you believe you can best appeal and cater to. If you have what it takes to attract fashion houses and satisfy the owners of these multi-million dollar companies, then you should by all means identify the fashion industry as the niche for your photography business. Having a target audience in your head makes things so much easier when you are struggling to decide upon a niche that will favour you the most. If you think that you can inspire consumer confidence within a certain target audience, then merge your business with the photography niche which piques the interest of the target audience.
5) What Type of Photography is Most Profitable?
This particular question begs you to reflect upon the idea discussed before that revolves around the concept of making “earnings” your first priority as the entrepreneur. You can have all the respect and the dignity in the world, but your business will fail to progress if it does not secure a constant flow of income. The more your business earns, the bigger it will get and the greater financial and political influence it will have on the industry and the economy as a whole.
Therefore, when selecting your niche, conduct a thorough research on which particular photography niche is creating the biggest waves in the industry. In simpler words, find out which brand of photography will earn you the most money in the shortest amount of time. It is worth noting that you should not be tempted into plunging into a niche which is having a purple patch due to a temporary economic change. Do not obscure your long term vision in lieu of short term gains. Sustaining the growth of a business is all about working in a niche that will keep your financial boat afloat for the longest period of time. In other words, select a niche where the demand is ever lasting.
6) What is the Level of Competition?
You should now be familiar with how competition can mould a business. In the simplest of words, it can either break or make your business. Therefore, when it comes to assessing the competition in a particular niche, you may or may not be right in selecting a niche that has an intense level of competition. Where there is abundant competition in a niche, it is a clear sign that the niche is thriving and has immense demand. That is the reason why so many entrepreneurs are flocking into this niche with the aspirations of making big bucks. If you have the confidence to outdo your competitors by providing a unique photography service, then you are more than welcome to step into this battleground of competition.
However, if you think that your business is studded with too many inadequacies, then the safer option is to go for a niche where the level of competition is lower and where you can become a torchbearer far quicker with much less effort. At the end of the day, you need to ask yourself the question, “Do you want to be the small fish in the big pond or the big fish in the small pond?”
7) Does Your Location Support Your Niche Selection?
The location is another big factor that you have to weigh in when selecting your niche. If your business is going to operate from a particular location then you will face certain limitations with your niche options. For example, if the business is stationed in an urban setting, then it will be very difficult for you to run a photography service that caters to wildlife magazines.
If there aren’t any forests or jungles nearby, how on earth are you going to capture Mother Nature and its beasts? This is how the location can restrict your freedom to choose. Select only those niches in photography which will not force you to move out of your location and which will be conducive for operations from where you are based.
By answering these 7 questions, you can have a much clearer idea about the particular niche(s) that will take your business to the pinnacle of the photography industry. Each question should be answered with proper assessment and logical reasoning. Do not let your own personal liking and disliking obscure your vision and come in the way of making an appropriate niche selection.
Diversity of Assignment Photography
Whereas stock photography is all about creating a collection of photographs that you can later on sell on an online platform, assignment photography has more to do with producing photographs that are catered to meet the exact specifications placed by the client. Stock photography and assignment photography are the two distinct forms of photography in the world today. While stock photography is mainly confined to the world of online stock photography platforms, assignment photography on the other hand is of a much more diverse nature.
The diversity in assignment photography stems from the uniqueness of the clients that you will be dealing with. Each client has his or her own requirements and needs. Your photography therefore has to be compliant with the requirements of the client and thus you will achieve a massive degree of variety with your work of photography. For example, if you are contractually obligated to serve clients A and B with your work of photography, then you can hardly expect the two to have the same demands.
Client A may ask you to take photographs of a fruits on a table while client B may ask you to capture photos of flying pigeons near a temple. As you can quite clearly see, the tasks appointed by client A and client B are worlds apart and each requires a different set of skills with which you can excel in the job. In other words, the tasks assigned by the clients that you will be dealing with in assignment photography will each belong to a particular niche of photography.
Categorizing A Photography Business On the Basis of Its Niche
Previously, you had learned about the types of photography businesses. In that piece of information, the photography businesses were categorized on the criteria of size and the method of investment and income generation. The categorization in that case was far more technical and was from the perspective of an entrepreneur. When you are dividing or classifying photography businesses into groups on the basis of the photography niche or the photography concentration that they are attached to, you are required to make the distinction from the perspective of an artist.
For example, how can you differentiate between a photography business that caters to soon to be wed couples and one that caters to corporate officials? The difference between the two lies in the product that they are sending out through their photographers. For the case of the couples, the photography business is producing wedding photography. In other words, the photographers that they employ in their business are specialized to excel in wedding photography and know everything that there is to in this field. These photographers cannot be expected to put in an extraordinary performance when dealing with other niches of photography such as wildlife photography.
In a similar way, the photography business that caters solely to corporate people employs photographers who have a commendable degree of expertise in the field of product photography perhaps. Corporate officials need photographers to picture new lines of products that are about to be launched in the market. Before the products are released, pictures of the commodities are taken by expert professional photographers who are trained to be outstanding in this particular niche.
Why Businesses Focus On Niches
Why do you think business focus on a particular niche instead of spreading their hands all over the market? The reason for that is the complicated nature of the photography market. In all honesty, there may not be a thing called a photography market because each photography niche has its own market.
The market for wedding photography is entirely different from the market in product photography. The ups and the downs, the success and the failures, the miracles and the disasters of the individual markets are exclusive to the market itself and are triggered by external factors of their own. You could even be in a situation where one single drastic change made in the society can have contrasting effects on two different niche photography markets.
For example, if the government of a country decides to lower the taxation rate specifically for female entrepreneurs, then there will be a massive chunk of the female population that will forego the idea of marrying early to establish their own business. As a result of that, the demand for wedding photography will decrease while the demand for product photography will increase.
In this case, not only is there an absence of a positive relation between the two niches, there is actually a negative relation brewing up between the two. Therefore, it is quite impossible to establish a meaningful connection between all the niches of photography simply because they function according to their own set of rules and remain mostly unaffected by the changes made in one niche.
Covering All Forms of Photography is Not Practical
Considering all of this and more, it is a much safer bet for a business to focus on a particular niche instead of trying to master all forms of photography. You also need to bear in mind the fact that trying to cover all forms of photography will require a business to hire photographers who can do it all.
Even if you have a staggering amount of funding and a state of the art recruitment program, it will be quite impossible for you to acquire the services of photographers from all the various photography niches that are prevalent in your country or your locality. You may stumble upon a lot of so called versatile photographers who claim to have the ability to produce photographers pertaining to all the different niches of photography, but it would be quite foolish for you to put your trust in these “all-rounders”.
Even if they are capable of taking all kinds of photographs, their work will never be as impressive and polished as that of a professional photographer who has attained specialization in a particular niche. Therefore, instead of trying to create new avenues of income generation for your photography business by catering to an uncountable variety of clients, the best option for you would be to broaden your current pathway of revenue by hiring specialized photographers and giving them a platform to add to their expertise through the work experience in your company.
In addition to that, you must remember that the basic goal of any business is to tap into a specific market in the industry and then slowly grow outwards with the increase in revenue and profit. There is no harm in owning a major corporation that specializes in more than one niche once your business acquires praiseworthy success in the industry. However, when you are starting out your business, it is highly recommended that you focus your attention, money and resources on a single niche that will prove to be most profitable for your company.
10 Highly Profitable Photography Business Ideas
The following are a list of all the different types of niche photography businesses that you can start and invest in. You are advised to understand the inner dynamic of each and every single one of the niches mentioned below and then try to figure out whether these niches can fetch you the gold medals in the photography industry.
Never step foot into the photography industry without first learning about all the different kinds of photography that you can build a business upon. Keeping your knowledge confined within one or two niches that you are comfortable with will be a poor decision that will most likely cost you financially in the long run. It is worth noting that all of these business ideas mentioned below are for ideal for entrepreneurs who do not have a massive start-up fund and can afford to raise no more than a partnership or a Limited Liability Company business at the onset.
1) Real Estate Photography
The real estate industry is not just a pool of money for realtors, it presents plenty of opportunities for photography businesses as well. In the real estate business, the real estate agents or the realtors need professional photographers to take glorious pictures of the real estate that they will be advertising to the clients. This is sort of similar to inbound marketing, since visual content is being provided to the prospects with the aim of hooking in their attention and grabbing their interest.
Needless to say, the visual content has to be state of the art and cannot be conjured up by amateur photographers. This is the reason why realtors make calls to photography businesses so that they can strike a long term deal for taking high quality pictures of real estate. You can start a business that aligns itself with various real estate agencies or realtors and thus have a steady stream of work and a continual source of revenue.
2) Wedding Photography Business
This is perhaps the most recognizable form of photography business in the world, since weddings and works of stunning photography have become synonymous with one another. As the saying goes, you can take the wedding out of the photography but you cannot take the photography out of the wedding. Photographers are on the top of the shopping list for any couple that are about to arrange their wedding ceremony. It has become the most essential requirement for such events. No one wants to have the most special day in their lives go unrecorded and undocumented.
- Choosing the Best Pricing for Wedding Photography Service
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- 10 Legal Clause to Add in a Wedding Photography Contract
- What is the Best Camera and Lenses for Wedding Photography?
In other words, the wedding photography market is huge and the scope for finding clients is even bigger. As an entrepreneur, this is the most convenient form of business that you can engage in since it is low risk and high demand. With that being said, a certain degree of creativity and innovation skills are required to appeal to the target audience in this market. After all, brides are very selective about every element of their wedding, including the photographers.
3) Photography Training School
Not all photography businesses have to be dependent on picky clients that are looking for world class photographers. With a team of decent, industrious and knowledgeable photographers, you can establish a photography training school. Just because you are opening a school, there is no reason for you to think that this institution will function any differently from a generic photography business. Your revenue will be derived from the students who enrol into the school to learn the art of photography. In other words, you are substituting clients with students who will be paying you to run the school. Rest assured, you will earn a sweet profit if you can create a steady flow of new students.
4) Fashion Photography Business
If you have your boots laced up to take on the challenge of the fashion industry and the world of glamour and glitz, then a fashion photography business can swell up your fortune. Like most fashion photography businesses, you will be required to strike up a deal with well reputed fashion houses that are in need of a constant supply of high quality works of photography. Your photographers will be asked to take pictures of fashion models, clothing, and accessories as well as attend red carpet events. The competition in this field is quite stiff and very unforgiving. If you want to survive in the fashion industry, you have to be nearly flawless and bring your A game every single time you click that shutter. That being said, the reward is as hefty as the burden of the competition you have to bear.
5) Studio Photography Business
A studio photography business is quite different from other enterprise in the photography industry in the sense that instead of paying photographers, you will get paid by them. A lot of photographers do not have their own studios in which to conduct photo shoots. Therefore, they seek studios that can be rented for a temporary period of time during which they get their work done for their clients. You can be the owner of a photography studio and then rent it out on a daily basis to photographers who are willing to pay a good price for an hour or two inside that precious space of yours. The higher the quality of the environment, equipments and accessories in your studio, the more lucrative your deals will be with the photographers.
6) Pet Photography Business
Before you engorge your head with the details of pet photography, there is one thing that you need to be absolutely clear about. Pet photography is not the same as wildlife photography. Unlike wild animals, pets are considered to be a member of the family in most western societies. Similar to how they would take pictures of their children, owners of pets hire photographers to immortalize their endeared pets in photos. The interesting thing about pet photography is that although it may not sound too profitable, there are countless pet owners who are willing to pay insanely large sums of money to have their beloved pets photographed. Since there is a lot of money involved, why not cater your photography services for them and do some good business?
The work of a photo journalist is to collaborate with a journalist in creating photographs or images that supplement the news piece that is being published by the journalist. It is quite evident that if you launch a photo-journalism company, you will be required to work with news agencies and other organizations involved in the print media. The pay may not be incredibly high in this sector, but you will most certainly gain plenty of recognition for your work. Besides, aligning with any form of media guarantees your photography business maximum exposure.
8) Celebrity Photography Agency
Celebrity photography is in certain ways similar to fashion photography and photo journalism, but it is certainly not of a similar stature. To begin with, the respect that you will earn in the field of photo journalism can never be achieved through celebrity photography or hiring photographers who work as the paparazzi. The paparazzi are the most annoying and unwelcome photographers in the world, and although you will be constantly at war with the elusive celebrities that you will be chasing around, capturing any behind the scene or rare photographs of celebrities away from their limelight will fetch you handsome rewards. In return for the hundreds and thousands of dollars that your photographers will be making you, you have to train them to take a punch or two from the celebrity security bodyguards and the security. Needless to say, you will be working with very fine lines in this field.
9) Product Photography
If you want to initiate a photography business that makes you feel “corporate”, then perhaps product photography is the right niche for you. You will mostly working with online stores if you decide to start a business in this field. You will be helping online stores to improve their stales by luring in customers with your fine works of product photography. As the name suggests, your work will be to take tempting photographs of commodities and products sold by online stores or other retailers. The pictures will be subject to assessment and scrutiny from the clients, so have to ensure that you have the best photographers in your team.
10) Portrait Photography
This is the most simple photography business that you can conceptualize since it deals with a very elementary form of photography, which is the portraiture. All you have to do is have your own studio and hire a bunch of photographers who can take spectacular and flawless photographs of people that can be later turned into beautiful portraits. Since portraits are usually more expensive than regular pictures, this work will reap generous rewards for your business.
The Horse Riding Analogy
Thus it is imperative that you pick one particular niche and stick to it with all your heart. With that being said, it is worth noting that regardless of how much you do your homework on a particular niche, you can never truly predict the level of success that you are going to attain in the niche without first spending a few years in the sector.
However, as long as you are willing to stay committed to maintaining the industry standards and striving for continual development of your business, you are more than likely to succeed in the sector eventually. Just because you start out badly and have a few rough months does not necessarily mean that you have selected the wrong niche. Hardly anyone in the business gets off to a perfect start in any niche. Besides, it’s not really about the start, it’s about the journey.
As long as you are on course for making big money in the business, you should by all means adhere to the niche with all your heart. It’s almost like riding a new horse for the first time. The first few minutes in the ride will be as bumpy as anything you have ever ridden before, but once you become comfortable with the horse and acquire a degree of control over its movements, the ride will become smoother and you will reach your destination much faster. It’s all about holding on to the niche, just like an expert equestrian would hold on to the leash of the horse.
A Systematic Approach to Niche Photography
It is one thing to learn about the various niches and understanding the importance of selecting a niche, and it’s something entirely different to come up with a systematic approach through which you can determine which niche would be the best fit for your business. The entire decision making process has to be therefore broken down into several steps. By completing each of these individual segments, you can take one step closer towards making a decision that you will never regret in the future while trying to make a name for yourself in the photography business.
You may think that going through all of this trouble is not worth it, and it may be preferable to simply sell your business to your clients as a versatile photography institution that can do it all. But you need to realize that the serious customers who are willing to pay a good price for photographs will not be looking for a business that can take all kinds of photographs. Instead, they will be looking for specialists who can provide them the best photography experience that they could probably ask for.
Why Making Money Is Most Important in the Photography Industry
In the following paragraph, you will find a checklist of sorts that outlines all the steps that you need to follow or rather all the questions that you need to answer in order to get to a position from where you can clearly see which niche will make you the most money. Seeing the word money may put you off, because all entrepreneurs are not driven to the lands of success out of their dire necessity for money.
Although money is not the main motivation behind an entrepreneur’s rise to the top and although you may have more interest in earning the respect of the industry rather than being the money, you need to remember that selecting a niche is all about securing your financial well being in the long run. As harsh as it may sound, money precedes recognition and celeb. If you can find a broad channel of drawing in money, then people will automatically learn to respect your business and take your craft more seriously. In the world of business, the amount of income you generate is not only an indicator of materialistic affluence but it as a symbol of your level of excellence and your commitment to quality.