2017 Enhancements – Other Goodies

Over the past few weeks I’ve been privileged to discuss our latest 2017 features, and today I get to share some “Other Goodies” in the latest release. These features may not warrant their own dedicated blog post, but are still just as exciting!

Here’s what we’ve added:

  • Auto remove Timeslots – A new Online Booking feature was added to auto remove timeslots in conflict with the timeslot just booked. For example, let’s say you have one 60-minute timeslot with two 30-minute timeslots side-by-side. If a Client books the 60-minute timeslot, the two 30-minute timeslots will be removed. If later the Session is cancelled, all three timeslots will be automatically added back to the calendar.
  • Coupon Number Validation – A new option is available to allow you to enter a list of valid Coupon Numbers for a Promotional Item. You can also add an expiration date to coupon numbers and import a list of coupon numbers as well.
  • Mobile app Settings - myStratus clients can use this setting to control the amount of data synced over to the mobile app. This option can also help speed up your mobile app sync times.
  • Place Holder Price List Items - This new option grants you the ability to add items to an invoice and change them out with a different item. These placeholder items work great with packages on which you want to be flexible on the components (but not too flexible!).
  • Credit Memos - Credit memos recently got a makeover. With the new enhancements, you can now add more information when creating a credit memo for either returned products or a customer service refund. You can even add a list of “credit reasons”.
  • Default Image Groups - This new ability allows you to set up default image groups, created automatically for new sessions.
  • Continue Image Numbering for Image Imports – This new option enhanced the image import tool. If you import multiple image sets into a session, you can continue the numbering from previous imports.
  • Print Invoice Level Discounts – A new ability shows Line Item Discounts on Invoice Printouts.
  • Updated Maintenance Forms – Maintenance forms were updated to be more user friendly. Some forms also received new functionality features.
  • Calendar User Preference - Users now have more preferences to define the appearance of their calendar. You can also restore the calendar to a default view when you start up the software.
  • Rescheduling a Session – Now when you reschedule a Confirmed Session, the “Confirmed” checkbox will be unchecked automatically.
  • Invoice and Session Descriptions – You have the ability to print the Invoice and Session Descriptions on the Invoice and Session Confirmations.
  • Social Media Fields – Instagram and Snapchat fields are now available in the Social Media section of client records.
  • (Enterprise Only) New Sharing and Duplicate Check Options - Enterprise clients can limit the locations from which a client can be shared and also the locations in which we search for duplicates. For example, a franchise may NOT want to pull Clients from other franchisees, but a corporate owned chain may allow it.
  • Calculating Overtime - Now automatically calculate staff overtime, along with the ability to include or exclude inactive users on the time sheet report.
  • Messages Hub Enhancement – A new Pending Button and Show Text Messages Button were added to the Messages hub. Use the Pending Button to show and hide all completed emails, and the Show Text Messages button will show and hide text messages from the Messages Hub.

We can’t create new updates like this without you–our amazing clients! Your efforts to provide exceptional service to your own clients is an inspiration to us at StudioPlus. And that’s why one of our four Core Values is Constant Innovation – “As a technology company, we recognize that greatness today will become obsolete tomorrow. In today’s changing world, continuous, creative, outside-of-the-box product development is key to ensuring our customers’ success.” Because of you, we’re constantly working to improve our products and services to help you expand your own business!

Many of the new features added in the 2017 Version came directly from our StudioPlus User Voice page. Please, continue to use this page to submit new features that you’d like to see added to an upcoming release, or simply add your vote to someone else’s suggestion. Help shape both StudioPlus Spectra and myStratus for years to come!!

Click here to visit the StudioPlus User Voice

Click here for the complete list of What’s New in 2017 Volume 1

Click here for the complete Release Notes for 2017 Volume 1

 

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2017 Enhancements – Perfectly Clear

One of my favorite add-ons that we offer is our integration with Athentech’s Perfectly Clear. I’m always eager to see what innovations Athentech creates in their Perfectly Clear software, which we are then able to share with you! For the 2017 release, together with Athentech, we enhanced some of the current tools in Perfectly Clear as well as added new ones.

Here’s a quick summary of the new tools added to the Perfectly Clear Image Adjustment tool:

  • Auto Exposure – grants you even more amazing results in your auto exposure adjustments.
  • A new Skin Smoothing Type – Now choose just the right amount of skin smoothing by selecting “Subtle”, “Normal”, or “Super Smooth”.
  • Skin Tone re-labeled as Infrared Removal – Automatically detect and remove the infrared from flesh tones while maintaining the proper reds in the other portions of the photo.
  • A new Skin Tone Feature – Alter the skin tones with single click, such as adding a tan or stronger foundation.
  • A new Blush Feature – With a single click, add ‘Blush’ makeup to your subjects.
  • A new Catchlight Type – Now you can choose the type of sparkle that is added to every eye.

Retouching every image can be a tedious and time-consuming process, but with the power of Perfectly Clear, it’s another excellent feature that can save both you and your employees tons of time!

Check out some of these awesome before and after images!

Keep your eye out for a sale featuring Perfectly Clear coming soon!

Click here to visit Athentech.com and see their software in action

Click here to watch a video on our Perfectly Clear Plug-In

Click here to learn more about our Perfectly Clear Plug-In

Click here for pricing and to sign up to use our Perfectly Clear Plug-In

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2017 Enhancements – Holidays and Special Events

We love hearing from you, and many of you definitely made your voice heard on our new User Voice page over this past year! So as the top requested feature from the User Voice Forum, I’m very happy to announce that we’ve included a new feature for adding holidays to your calendar in the 2017 release!

Some of you may not know this, but we have clients all over the world in various countries! Because of this, we can’t just flip a switch to add all US holidays to your calendars, but what we did was provide you with a great method for importing a list of your customized holidays for your country!

To do this, we’ve re-done our special calendar events maintenance and renamed it Special Calendar Events and Holidays. To access this maintenance list, click Maintenance > General > Special Calendar Events and Holidays. From here, you can manually add in any holiday or special event that affects your studio or you can import a customized Excel Spreadsheet of your events.

We also wanted to help make the import process as smooth as possible, so we already created some spreadsheets with a list of some major holidays. You can find them here. After downloading the list, you can edit it however you want and add in any holidays you celebrate that may not have been included in the spreadsheet!

Finally, with each holiday or special event, we’ve given you the ability to enter whether this event should affect your open or closed hours. For example, you can say that you are closed on this day, or that you have standard business hours on this day, or maybe you have special hours on this day (e.g. you’re only open for half a day.)

Also, keep your suggestions coming! I truly wish we could implement each one we’ve received! There’s no better way to get feedback for what features to include than coming directly from our clients who are out on the frontlines. Make sure to visit our User Voice page regularly to not only submit your own suggestion, but also to vote for other suggestions! The more votes we receive on a suggestion, the more likely we’ll implement it!

Click here to watch a video on using Holidays

Click here to learn more on using Holidays

Click here to download Holidays for your country

 

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2017 Enhancements – Online Booking for Schools and Organizations

Another feature I’m excited to share with all of you is the new Online Booking process for Organizations/Schools! This feature, which is only available in the Professional version of myStratus desktop, allows you to send a special link to each client from within an organization or school. The link will automatically log them into their online booking portal. This now lets you customize each schools’ online booking process!

So, let’s say you’re photographing multiple schools that each have specific requirements for their student sessions. For example, maybe one school has an in-school portrait session and requires all students to book by the end of August, but then another school offers students the option of an in-school or in-studio session that must be booked by the end of July. With the new Online Booking for Organizations tool, you can set up both of those organizations with the requirements from each school.

To go with this new feature, there are some new additions to the Online Booking set up process:

  1. Organization Maintenance – Within the organization maintenance, there’s a new tab for online booking to set the specifications for that organization’s booking process.
  2. Time Slots – When you create your Time Slots, you can now assign them to a specific organization/school. So, when a client from that organization logs into online booking, they’ll only be able to book from those time slots.
  3. Form Letters/HTML Emails – We’ve added new merge fields for Online Booking into their own Online Booking pop-up menu. This way, the link you send to each client will automatically be customized so they can log into the organization they are associated with.

I’m thrilled to be able to introduce this feature as we continue to expand on our Online Booking process. We know how vital Online Booking is to so many of our studios, and it’s even more vital when you consider how many of you focus mainly on booking organizations/schools! With such a large quantity of clients to track, it really makes a difference to be able to streamline the booking process as much as possible.

If you’re currently a Spectra User and you perform many school sessions, please contact one of our product specialists for a free demo on how you can upgrade to myStratus and start utilizing these great new features in your business.

Click here to watch a video on the Online Booking for Organizations

Click here to learn more about Online Booking for Organization

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2017 Enhancements – Inventory

As a requested feature for many years, I am thrilled to say that in our 2017 release we’ve introduced Inventory tracking! This feature will allow you to track any stock items that you sell including pre-made frames, albums, keychains, or any other merchandise.

Overview 

Now you might wonder, is there any automation in this new tracking method? The automation starts as soon as you enable inventory tracking on an item with a single click!

Once tracking is enabled, then any time that item is sold on an invoice, it will be removed from your total quantity-on-hand for this item. Subsequently, if an item is returned on a credit memo, the item will also be added back into your quantity-on-hand.

We’ve also added an Inventory Adjustment Form which allows you to do two things. First, use this form to receive stock items into inventory, which will increase the quantity-on-hand level for these items. Second, use this form to make any necessary adjustments if your quantity-on-hand is out of balance (i.e. if an item is lost or stolen).

Finally, we’ve added the Inventory Quantity On-Hand report to help you keep track of your inventory items by reporting what your quantity levels are at any point in time, and even export this data to Excel!

Set up and Usage

To enable inventory tracking for a specific item, simply open the price list item and check the box to Track Inventory for this Item. 

By checking this, a new tab will be added to the form for Inventory History. This tab will allow you to view all the in-flows and out-flows of this specific item. You can even double-click on a line to view its corresponding record.

Also, when enabling inventory tracking, a new button appears on the ribbon to perform an inventory adjustment. Use this form to set the initial quantity-on-hand for this item. Think of this as the starting point or your beginning balance.

This Inventory Adjustment form is powerful, so allow me to dive in a little deeper on what it can do. First, there are two ways to access this form. One way is by selecting it from the ribbon of a Price List item that is enabled for inventory tracking (as shown above), and the other way is by going to Maintenance > Price List > Inventory Adjustments. Both ways lead to the same form, it’s just two different ways to get to it.

There are multiple options that you have from within the adjustment form. The first is if you just want to use the form for basic entry of your adjustments, you can enter each item that you are adjusting as well as provide additional information pertaining to the items. The screenshot below shows one method of using the form to record a shipment of stock items that just came in. You can label the Order number from the company that shipped it as well as the vendor it came from. You can even enter in a memo for any additional information for the form. Another way that we can use this form is to record a basic adjustment to the inventory if we find that the inventory counts, or quantity-on-hand, is wrong (e.g. if an item had been damaged, etc. )

After saving this form, it will appear on the Inventory History tab of each item it lists. From that tab, you can double click the line if you want to view the form again.

This Inventory Adjustment form is powerful, so allow me to dive in a little deeper on what it can do.

Another option included on the Inventory Adjustment Form is the ability to import a spreadsheet of adjustments. By clicking Import Inventory Adjustments in the ribbon, it will give detailed instructions for how to format your spreadsheet. There are two options available for importing inventory counts. The first option is if you are just importing adjustments to the on-hand quantity that’s already in Spectra/myStratus. The second option is for if you will be importing a new total quantity-on-hand for each item. This will have Spectra/myStratus automatically adjust each of the price list items to match what is on the spreadsheet. I highly recommend using this option to set up your on-hand quantities when you first set up inventory as it will save you a ton of time!

Reporting 

And what’s a new method of tracking without a new report? So, we’ve also added the Inventory Quantity On-Hand report to help you keep track of your inventory items! This report does exactly as the name implies, as it will show you a complete list of your current stock of items. We’ve even taken this report one step further so that when it’s printed out, there’s an extra column for Physical Count. Use this extra column as a worksheet to help you perform physical counts of your actual stock levels. If you find a discrepancy, then use the new Inventory adjustment form to make an adjustment in the software so the software reflects the “actual physical count” of this item.

Don’t forget about the Export to Excel button on this report form. Creating an Excel worksheet is always a very useful feature.

Summary 

Many clients have asked to have this feature over the years and we’re proud to have it released with 2017! This is just another fantastic way that Spectra and myStratus can help you manage and track what happens within your studio! If you have suggestions on how to improve this new feature, please post those suggestions on our StudioPlus User Voice here. We’d love your feedback!

Click here to watch a video on Inventory

Click here to learn more about Inventory

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2017 Enhancements – Trigger Maintenance

Triggers have always been one of our most popular and powerful features, which is why I’m particularly excited to introduce this latest enhancement! With the 2017 release, we’ve given our Trigger Maintenance a complete makeover! In the past, the trigger set up was spread throughout the software, depending on what kind of trigger you wanted to create. And, there was no effective way to see a complete overview of all the triggers that had been setup.

Now, the entire trigger set up can be found in one, easy-to-follow form! All your triggers can now be found at Maintenance > General > Triggers. Use this new form to not only create and change your triggers, but use this form to visualize a complete overview of how your triggers are going to work together throughout the entire operations of your company. Even export this list to Excel and have fun setting up the total trigger workflow that you want to establish for your company!

Since all your triggers are in one place, setting them up and maintaining them is now much easier. The core of the trigger set up process remains the same, but now it’s just given in a more user-friendly format. From within the trigger maintenance form, there are two main tabs. The General tab is where you will set up the information on how the trigger should run. We’ve given this form a more “natural language” format to make it easier to understand exactly what the trigger is going to do.

Once you select the type of trigger that you want to create, extra tab(s) will become visible to give you a place to enter the details for each triggered event that you want to occur, like creating a call, sending a text, creating a task, etc. We also snuck in another cool feature for sending SMS Texts. You can now enter in special custom mobile numbers that you want the text to be sent to.

Summary

Triggers are truly an incredible feature and they can do so much for your studio by helping you communicate more efficiently with both your clients and staff members. So even though this is a feature that’s been available for many years, we’re still continuously trying to find ways to make it even better than before!

If you are NOT using triggers in your business, give one of our product specialists a call, and let us help you get started.

Click here to watch a video on the new Triggers

Click here to learn more about Triggers

 

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2017 Enhancements – StudioPlus Finale

Every year here at StudioPlus, we try to roll out two major updates as well as a few smaller updates along the way. We recently released our 2017 version and it was a big one! Because it was such a large update, I’d like to take some time to break down a few of the new features that were introduced. Over the next few days, I’ll be discussing the major features and how they affect your system.

By now, all myStratus users and most of our Spectra Users should be upgraded to the 2017 version, so you should already have access to these new features. If you’re a current Spectra client who has NOT upgraded yet, you can find the download here.

Previously only available to Enterprise clients, I’m excited to introduce our StudioPlus Finale (pronounced fi-na-lee) app to all clients on the Professional version of both Spectra and myStratus Desktop in our 2017 release! We know how busy your studios can be, which is why I am thrilled to introduce another excellent feature to automate even more of your digital workflow!

So, what’s StudioPlus Finale and how does it work? Finale is a Render & Printer Server that you can set up on one workstation at your studio to automate any rendering jobs or print jobs. After you finish the initial set-up, Finale runs automatically based on specific statuses that you select.

In the past, after you had all your render profiles and printers set up, you’d have to manually render each individual batch of images. With StudioPlus Finale, that entire process is now automated! After the initial set up, all you must do is set your Session, Invoice, or Production order to a status you specify and off Finale goes with rendering and/or printing of your images. (Note: You don’t have to use Finale as a Print Server. If you don’t print images in-house, then simply use Finale as a Render Server, which will still save you countless hours of labor!)

To utilize StudioPlus Finale, there are a few new areas to be aware of:

Render Profiles 

The process of setting up your render profiles has not changed. However, if you want Finale to print any images, there’s a new setting found on the Output Options tab of your render profiles to Let StudioPlus Finale print these images. By checking this option, it lets Finale know that this profile needs to be rendered and printed.

Render Jobs 

Render Jobs are brand new in 2017 and operate as the “link” between Spectra/myStratus and StudioPlus Finale. You can set them up within the software at Maintenance > Digital > Render Jobs. These jobs have a very simple set up process and are designed to tell Finale exactly what render profile should run and when that profile needs to run.

StudioPlus Finale 

Finale operates as a separate application from Spectra/myStratus Desktop. You can find it by going to your Start Menu > StudioPlus Spectra or myStratus 2017 folder > StudioPlus Finale. You’ll be asked to log in just as normal.

Once logged in, check out the Settings button on the Ribbon to set Finale to auto log in and auto process jobs upon startup. Make sure you click the Start Processing button on the Ribbon to tell Finale you’re ready to go. You should always see a green bar across the bottom of your screen indicating that Finale is running and ready to process jobs.

Summary 

Overall, StudioPlus Finale is a very powerful tool designed to save countless work hours for your production staff. With Finale, you can automatically:
  • Create a low-res version of each session image to be sent to your ecommerce site.
  • Create a low-res version, with a watermark, of the client’s favorite image for social media.
  • Create a high-res version of the images the client has ordered the rights to for either USB/CD delivery or electronic delivery.
  • Create a high-res version of a spectacular image you’ve received a model release for.
  • Create and print proof images of all the images within a session.
  • Create and print hi-res versions of all the images the client has ordered, and send the images to separate printers based on size.
  • And much more!

 “As a myStratus Enterprise client, we’ve been using StudioPlus Finale for several years. It has literally saved us hundreds of hours in labor expense and has helped us tremendously to process our orders in a fraction of the time that it would if we manually processed these orders. We use Finale to render out all our CD’s, to render out and upload all our images for electronic delivery, to render our images for specialty orders, and finally to render our out images for in-house printing. It’s been a powerful addition to our production department! We couldn’t live without it!” -Wayne Strobel, Life 365 Portraits 

We’re so excited to have this feature available to all Professional clients. I believe it will be a game-changer for many studios!

Click here to watch a training video on Finale

Click here to learn more about Finale

Click here to learn more about Render Jobs

Click here to learn more about Render Profiles

Click here to learn more about Printer Pools

Click here to learn more about Printers

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Spectra 2017 and myStratus 2017 General Availability

Today I’m thrilled to announce that both Spectra 2017 and myStratus 2017 are available for general release!

All Spectra users with a current maintenance plan can upgrade today. All myStratus subscribers will automatically be upgraded during the next two weeks. If you are a myStratus subscriber, we’ll send you an email with the date of your automatic upgrade. You can let us know if the date doesn’t work for you and we’ll change it.

Over the next week, we’ll be publishing several blog entries to highlight what’s new with the software. To get a jump start, click here to read the full What’s New in 2017 Volume 1 page.

Get started by reading the Release Notes to learn about all the great new features as well as some important items that have changed in the software.  Remember, if you have a suggestion for a new feature please visit our User Voice page here, where you can vote up on other peoples suggestions or add your own!

Spectra users…Click here to start your Spectra 2017 download!

myStratus subscribers…Keep an eye on your email for the date of your upgrade!

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Preview Release of Spectra and myStratus 2017!

Today is an exciting day for us as we officially kick off the “Preview Release” of Spectra and myStratus 2017! Today’s release includes many highly-requested features, including:

  • StudioPlus Finale, a new render and print server product designed to greatly automate your digital workflow!
  • New Perfectly Clear enhancements, including Skin Smoothing enhancements, a new Skin Tone option, a new Blush feature, and new Catchlight options!
  • Great new Online Booking features designed especially for our School photographers!
  • The ability to automatically remove conflicting time slots if a session/appointment is booked online.
  • A brand-new Trigger Maintenance Form to greatly simplify the ability to set up and maintain your automated triggers in a single place!
  • The ability to import Holiday lists to your calendar, the most-requested feature from the StudioPlus User Voice.
  • Tracking Inventory for stock merchandise, like frames, a highly-requested feature for many years.
  • Plus much, much more! Read the full list of new features here on the What’s New in 2017 page!

All development and testing is complete with this “Preview Release,” meaning the new version is ready to use. However, we’ll be using the upcoming weeks to finish up documentation and training videos before announcing the official “General Release.”

Spectra Users

Spectra 2017 Preview is available to all Spectra customers with a current maintenance plan. Click here to read the full release notes. Click here to download.

myStratus Users

myStratus 2017 Preview is available to all myStratus subscribers on a per request basis. To upgrade, please click here to send a request to our support team. We will follow up with you to schedule a time to upgrade your account. Click here to read the full release notes.

As always, if you have any problems, please contact our support team. We’re here to help. Enjoy the new upgrade!

 

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Announcing User Voice – A New Way to Make Suggestions!

Here at StudioPlus, we’ve always placed a high priority on the suggestions we receive from our clients, clients just like you. You’re on the frontline and our products are your products. Those suggestions are terrific ideas, and we wish we could implement every one. Unfortunately, we have limited resources and can’t possibly put into operation every suggestion received.

The StudioPlus User Voice is your opportunity to make your own suggestion, and to also review the suggestions made by others. Best of all, you get to vote on the suggestions you think are most important to be added to the StudioPlus Products!

To view the StudioPlus User Voice, simply click here. Starting in Volume 2 Service Release 2, you can also click Help>Make a Suggestion and you’ll be taken directly to the User Voice Page.

We’ve already populated the User Voice with many of the recent suggestions that we’ve received. If you’re buzzing with an idea on how to improve our products, AND if you don’t see it already on the list, then now is the perfect time to add your input!

Also, make sure you VOTE on the suggestions you wish the most to see added!

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