Using the Query dialog to dig deep into your data

Reading Time: 5 minutes

This is the second instalment of a short series of articles that will be covering how to make the most out of the information that you’ve already entered into Light Blue. That data can tell you a lot about how your business is doing, and help you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

The great thing about using Light Blue is that all of the information that you need for this is in one place. In the first article, we talked about Quick Queries, which are saved searches of your current data. These queries are automatically updated and show all of the relevant records that match each saved search.

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Using the Query dialog to dig deep into your data

Compared to using Quick Queries, Light Blue’s Query dialog allows you to be much more specific about the information that you’re searching for, and construct your own queries. These queries can be as simple or detailed as you like, and all of our Quick Queries were built in the Query dialog and can be loaded into it.

For example, you may be interested in targeting some of your clients for a particular promotion. For example, all of your portrait clients who’ve spent more than £500. You can narrow down the selection of records that the Query dialog returns by adding extra criteria, as you can see in this screenshot.

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Using advanced mode for more detailed queries

 

In most cases, when you’re building a query and want to add extra criteria, you’re adding them to narrow down the selection of records that Light Blue will find for you. In our first example, we started off with all of our portrait shoots, and then narrowed that down by specifying that we were only interested in those portraits shoots that also spent more than £500.

This is an example of what’s know as an “and” search, where you’re looking for records that match all of your criteria. You also have the option of adding more advanced options to your queries, including “or” operators and grouping parts of your query together using brackets.

We’ll go into more detail on these advanced features in a future article, but for now here’s an example of how you could modify our example query to search for portrait shoots that spent more than £500 or wedding shoots that spent more than £1,000.

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Using an existing Quick Query as a starting point for your own custom queries

You may find that our existing Quick Queries are helpful, but that you’d like to refine the search a little more. With the Query dialog, you can load an existing Quick Query to use as a starting point, and then add more criteria to your search.

 

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The “Stale Enquiries” query is shows you all of the unconfirmed shoots that first got in touch more than a month ago, but don’t have any more outstanding tasks.

However, let’s say that you’re only interested in a specific type of shoot you could add that criteria to the query.

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Saving queries saves you time!

Everyone runs their photography business in their own particular way, and that means that the information that’s important to you is likely to be different to whatever’s important to the next photographer. Light Blue allows you to add your own queries to your list of Quick Queries, and therefore makes it easy to keep an eye on whatever’s important to you.

To do that, first build your query in the Query dialog. When you’re happy with it, click the “Save Query” button and give your query a name.

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More detailed analysis…

So far, we’ve talked about using Quick Queries and the Query dialog to find a selection of records. In the next article in the series, we’ll look at how you can use the List View & Custom Reports to analyse data in more detail.

Using the Quick Queries to find useful information in Light Blue
Using List View & Custom Reports to analyse data in more detail
Exporting Data from Light Blue for use with third-party tools

Using Quick Queries to find information in Light Blue

Reading Time: 4 minutes

One of the great advantages of using Light Blue is that all of the information that you need is in one place. That data can tell you a lot about how your business is doing, and help you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

That’s where Light Blue’s reporting features are invaluable, allowing you to use everything you’ve entered into it to give you an overview of how your business is performing and where you need to focus your efforts so that you can hit your goals.

You don’t need to spend ages collating the data, there’s no need to be copying and pasting things, formatting spreadsheets or setting up complicated pivot tables in Excel!

Reports & queries pull up your live data, so you’re always seeing the most up to date information. We’ve got a lot of useful reports already in Light Blue, and we’ve taken a quick look at those in this handy tutorial video:

Quickly finding useful information in Light Blue

This is the first in a short series of articles that will be covering how to make the most out of the information that you’ve already entered into Light Blue. We’ll be looking at how to create your own reports, with some specific useful examples, and also discussing when exporting information out of Light Blue may come in handy.

Before that, I’d like to tell you more about Quick Queries which are saved searches of your current data. The queries are automatically updated and show all of the relevant records that match each saved search. In each of the main sections in Light Blue, you’ll notice a column on the left hand side which displays a set of Quick Queries.

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You’ll see a different set of Quick Queries, depending on whether you’re looking at the Shoot screen, Contacts screen, Sales screen or Purchases screen, for example.

Keeping an eye on your outgoings is important for any business, and there’s a load of Quick Queries in the Purchases screen to help you. You can see all of the purchases that have been made within a variety of periods – all of last months purchases or all of the purchases you’ve made this financial year, for example.

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In the Sales screen, you can see a list of all of your invoices that have been sent to customers and should have been paid by now, but are currently marked as unpaid. This is really helpful for seeing all of your overdue invoices in one place and allows you to quickly chase them all up at once. You could send an email to all of those billing contacts, so you’re not spending ages sending them all messages.

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In the Contacts screen, there’s a few Quick Queries that help you to see when you’ve got upcoming birthdays within your customer base. That’s great for sending a simple “happy birthday” message, or planning ahead and suggesting that they book a portrait session.

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Giving you control…

One of the really great things about Light Blue is how flexible and customisable it is, and that’s what I’d like to focus on in this series. It’s possible to create and save your own Quick Queries, which we’ll be talking about in our next post.

Using the Query dialog to dig deep into your data
Using List View & Custom Reports to analyse data in more detail
Exporting Data from Light Blue for use with third-party tools 

Using price lists to save time in Light Blue

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Price lists are one of the many time-saving features built into Light Blue, allowing you to create a list of predefined products & services that can be used to quickly and accurately enter a quote or sale. They save lots of repetitive typing, or copying and pasting from old invoices.

You can find out how to set up a price lists in our video tutorials section.

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Templated, but flexible…

Light Blue is full of features that allow you to set up templates to save time, but those templates are always designed to give you the flexibility you need to treat your clients as individuals. Price lists are no different.

Sometimes, you may have a client who requests a small change to an existing product or service that you offer. Perhaps you’re a wedding photographer, and they’re not interested in the parent albums that are included in the package that they’ve chosen?

The simplest approach is for you to use your price list, but then adjust the description and value of a product once it’s been added to a quote or sale.

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Keeping an eye on profitability

Another handy feature of price lists is being able to include an estimated cost for each item. These costs are used when creating quotes, and allow you to keep a close eye on your estimated profit for the job when setting up a bespoke quote.

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Offering packages

Many photographers sell packages of products and services, and there are a variety of ways of structuring these in your quotes and sales in Light Blue. Again, price lists can help you to set up them up quickly and flexibly.

The simplest and most popular approach is to create a single item in your price list for the package, give it a sensible name, and list the contents of the package in the description field.

However, some photographers prefer to break the package down into separate items. One drawback of this more granular approach is that this could encourage your client to chop and change things a little more than you’d like, or invite them to scale down their package by more than you are comfortable.

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To avoid that, you could create a dedicated “Bespoke package” price list where the unit price of each item is £0, but you’ve still entered the unit costs as accurately as you can. Then, have another item just called “Bespoke Package”, to which you manually add whatever unit price you intend to charge. That way you’ve got a good idea of your material costs before you decide what you plan to charge for the package.

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