The Lowdown – July 2017

Ubookr news march 2017
The Lowdown is our monthly update that highlights recent improvements we’ve made to the platform, so you can easily stay informed on what’s new in Ubookr. Here’s what we launched in March.
The Lowdown is our monthly update that highlights recent improvements we’ve made to the platform, so you can easily stay informed on what’s new in Ubookr. Here’s what we launched in July.

HUGE Notification Improvements

We’ve been knee deep in tricky code and are really excited to unveil our new Notification system.

In the past, every-time you made or altered a job booking a new notification would be generated and instantly sent to everybody involved. With this new release you now have ultimate control over who gets a notification and when they get it.

You now have these options:

Always ask – you’re asked whether to send the notification or not
Immediate – make a change or new booking and everybody knows immediately
Delayed – send notifications after an amount of time has passed
Time of day – set what time of day all your notifications get sent out
On demand – use the notification management to send notifications as required

To choose your setting go to Setup > Company and click on the Notifications tab.

 

notifications

 


 Calendar Speed Improvements

We’re continually adding features to the calendar and that can eventually slow things down as the calendar gets more and more features. This month our resident calendar guru, Joseph, has released a major speed upgrade to the calendar.

Those of you with loads of bookings or staff will see dramatically faster loading times.

 


Set your invoicing date

You can now set the date that appears on the invoices you generate in Ubookr and send to Xero.

This means you can now do your invoicing after the end of the month but still set the date to the last day of the previous period. The benefit of this is that some customers pay their invoices a certain number of days after end of month and now you can ensure your invoices are included in the current payment cycle.

 

invoice-date

 


 USA beta launched

July also marked a milestone for Ubookr with our first users in the USA.

At the moment we are in beta mode and working with our volunteer testers across the USA to ensure there are no unforeseen bugs.

Welcome aboard and thanks for helping us out.

 


Minor bug fixes & upgrades

  • Notes and attachments to bookings are now displayed in the details pane
  • Email templates have a brand new improved layout and look
  • Google account sharing (contact us for more info)
  • A message appears when you have unconfirmed bookings that need attention
  • Unconfirmed bookings now appear at the top of your booking list
  • Including the word “invoice” anywhere in a bookings private notes will make an exclamation point pulse next to the booking when creating invoices.

 


What’s next?

In the coming days and weeks we’ll be releasing Busy Times for the calendar and the much anticipated Sub-contractor feature as well as lots of minor improvements and features.

Thanks for all your great feedback and happy booking!

:)  The Ubookr team

The Lowdown – APRIL 2017

Ubookr news march 2017

The Lowdown is our monthly update that highlights recent new features and improvements we’ve made to the platform, so you can easily stay informed on what’s new in Ubookr.

Here’s what we launched in April.


Calendar Improvements

As mentioned last month we have continued to add features and improvements to the already great Ubookr calendar. As the heart of our system we are continually looking for ways to make using the calendar an awesome experience.

  • Keyboard shortcuts: holding shift and clicking an event will reschedule it, holding alt and clicking an event will duplicate it, double clicking will edit it.

  • Filters: if you have a lot of staff then we now group by service type so you can look at all your photographers at once, or all your floor planners, etc.

  • Push updates: If you’re in your calendar and someone else (another staff member, a customer, etc) adds, deletes or changes a booking, you’ll get notified immediately and it will appear in your calendar straight away.


Invoicing Improvements

A big thanks to the team at Incredible Images in NZ for making some great suggestions on how to improve your invoicing experience.

The improvements implemented in April are:

  • Visual improvement to make invoicing easier (alternating background colours on invoice rows)

  • Typeahead’s in the drop-down fields – now you can start typing a customers name and they will appear so you don’t need to scroll down to find them.

  • The ability to group bookings for invoicing by contact person in a customers office.

  • Edit booking costs while invoicing without leaving the invoicing screen.

  • We’ve added a date range selector so you can determine which period you’d like to invoice.


Improvements to Create Booking

As a supplier you can override the default settings: if a staff member doesn’t usually do a particular service or in a certain work area, you can still select them to do the service if you need to.

This is great for flexibility but if you have a lot of staff it makes it hard to know who is actually designated to do the job in the given work area.

We now make that clear in the supplier staff dropdown.


WHAT’S NEXT?

Next month we’ll be releasing two big new features for the calendar, Busy Times and Delayed Notifications as well as several other handy features and improvements.

We’re also really excited to announce development has begun on the all new Ubookr mobile app. The new app is going to be a huge advancement on the current app and will allow agents and suppliers to manage bookings in a whole new way. We can’t wait to show you!

Thanks for all your great feedback and happy booking!

– The Ubookr team

Work hours are changing as the ‘golden hour’ gets later

With the arrival of Spring and longer daylight hours, now is a good time to check your scheduling rules and work hours.

If you’re a photographer or videographer you’ll be very aware that sunset is moving a little bit later each day. And with many of your customers wanting to book shoots during the magic ‘golden hour’ twilight period it’s important to adjust your work hours in Ubookr to allow your customers to make bookings at the correct time.

What is the ‘Golden Hour’?

In photography, the golden hour (sometimes known as magic hour, especially in cinematography) is a period shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is warmer and softer than when the sun is higher in the sky. Shooting in this time gives images a comforting warmth and properties with the right lighting and can look amazing.

If you’re unsure of exactly when ‘Golden Hour’ is we’ve found this nifty website that lets you click on a map to find out when it is in your location. Another rule of thumb that works in all locations is 1/2 an hour before and 1/2 an hour after sunset.

twilight,dusk,book photography,work hours
There’s something about the light at dusk that can transform a real estate photo

Update your work hours settings

Ubookr gives you accurate control over your calendar with a number of scheduling rules and day by day working hours management. To manage these settings, simply go to your staff page on the dashboard and scroll down until you see your Work Hours settings. Then just adjust your finish time so your clients can fit in a twilight shoot at the end of the day. You can see the staff page here.

work-hoursOnce your settings are updated, customers will be able to book right up to your knockoff time, but no later. Every couple of weeks it’s a good idea to come back and tweak this setting as the days get longer going into Summer.

Phone-tag and other olympic events

I’m a photographer. I work with my hands. Lining up the perfect shot can be a painstaking process, and there’s nothing more frustrating than having the phone ring as you’re about to press the shutter. Don’t get me wrong, if the phone stops ringing my kids stop eating – that annoying vibration is the lifeblood of my small business. Or was, anyway.

 

Getting the perfect shot can be tough
Having your phone ring when you’re trying to line up that shot can be maddening

Even worse than the constant interruption is the wonderful game of phone-tag. You know the one: I don’t answer your call in time (despite ruining my shot) so you leave a message. I ring you back twenty minutes later when I’m done with my shoot. By that stage you’re teeing up on the second hole, so I’m leaving you a message telling you I got your call. And so on. And on. And on.

The light at the end of the phone-tag tunnel

You’re ringing me up to give me a job. I’m ringing you back to try to coordinate when and where, and a bunch of other details. Given the other jobs I have on, I need to figure out how long it will take me to get from here to there (so to speak). I have to find out whether you want me or my offsider to do the shoot, and if the vendor will be home or I need to go via your office to get the keys.

Enter Ubookr. Rather than leave each other half a dozen messages, you call up my Ubookr page on your web browser (or mobile app), and in less than a minute your job is booked and confirmed. I have all the details I need, it’s scheduled into my diary in a slot that the system knows allows me enough travel time to get between jobs. I get my shot and you get a birdie.

 

Real estate photography – what rules?

I’ve been shooting real estate photography for a long time now. Going on 12 years, and over that time I’ve shot hundreds (actually probably thousands) of homes. I thought I’d probably seen and photographed everything, so the rest of my career was going to be a sausage factory. Turn up, assess what kind of property it is and which formula works best, shoot, drive to the next place. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Standardised Real Estate Photography? I was wrong

Six weeks ago I turned up to a job, the agent hadn’t given me much info about what to expect just the usual “it’s a nice one so we have to get some great shots” kind of thing. So I pull up, grab my kit and walk into the house. WTF! This place was amazing! It had amazing textures like concrete, copper, stone and glass. It had breathtaking views straight onto the bay – I mean literally step off the back lawn and you get wet. The design and layout was inspired. They had imported mature trees from around the country to make what can only be described as an oasis garden. I mean this place totally rocked.

tropical oasis
No this is not a stock photo, and its not tahiti.

So here I am walking around deciding what my shots and angle are going to be and BOOM! It hits me. Shooting my ‘standard’ method of shooting real estate photography isn’t going to be good enough. Forget the speedlights, forget the HDR, forget relying on my poor, ever suffering retoucher to make it look consistent with every other bloody house photograph on the planet. I’m going to get back in touch with my inner ‘creative photographer’, go back to my roots, use natural light, and become a wanton hipster freelancer again.

That was it. My lightbulb moment. I took off my shoes, put away my super wide angle lens, then “forgot” attach my speedlight and left my battered old tripod at the front door.

Two and half hours later I had an amazing collection of hand-held photos where I felt and worked with the natural light. I felt re-energised, I felt like a photographer again.

Weeks later the house has received an amazing amount of coverage in the papers and online, the shots the agent placed on Instagram have thousands of likes and the house sold for a gobsmacking price and I’m getting loads of shoots as a result.

You can see some more of the shots here.

This experience taught me some important lessons about real estate photography

  1. Shoot what looks best and not just follow the ‘formula’
  2. Others will see the craft in your photos and embrace the break from convention.
  3. Nothing beats natural light. Full stop. Nothing.
  4. Stop, think, breath and shoot like a pro.
  5. Remember why you became a professional photographer.

Remember why you became a professional photographer

I know not every or even many properties allow you to have this freedom but when those gems do show up on your radar make sure you identify them and give them the attention they deserve, your business and soul will be the better for it.