It is essential that you get hands-on experience by working in a modeling agency before venturing into a similar business of your own.
With the increase in the demand for fresh faces in the entertainment and fashion industry, new avenues have opened up for models. Whether it is print ads, TV ads, or runway walks, models are required everywhere. However, due to this, model management agencies have consistently increased in number. It has become a booming and profitable industry provided you know how to venture into the business in the right way. Due to intense competition, you will have to undertake a number of steps to emerge as a front-runner. One of the ways to get started on the right note is to make a foolproof business plan that will act as a guide for you.
You will have to decide about the legal structure of your agency―whether you wish to have a sole proprietorship, partnership, or register it as an LLC. You will have to consult the local, state, and federal authorities to know about the licenses and permits that you will require to conduct business. Apart from that, you will have to get an EIN. As far as insurance is concerned, it is advisable that you get a liability insurance for any kind of accidents or injuries to others in your premises.
Find Your Niche
There are many specializations in the modeling industry. This may include male and female models between the age of 15 - 35, plus-size models, children, older models, pets, ethnic models, etc. Most agencies cater to models between the ages of 15 - 35 as there is a booming market for the relatively younger models. They may be further bifurcated as commercial or fashion models. Before you decide on the niche, you will have to research the local market and find out which category offers maximum scope. This will help you select your niche easily. One look at the competitors' websites and you will be easily able to find about the popular niches.
Hunt for a Location
Most high-end modeling agencies work out of LA, Dallas, and New York. All you will need to do is find a business location in a commercial area. Prefer to lease a storefront near fashion houses, malls, fashion designers, etc. You can solicit the help of a real estate agent in finding such commercially viable places. Ensure that you set up the office in a stylish way to attract the attention of high-end clientele.
You will have to take photos of models to make an in-house portfolio. For this, you will also need support staff who can help you with the photo shoot. This will include a professional photographer, a makeup artist, and a stylist. In the initial days of your business, you can hire their services on a work-to-work basis to save on cost. However, in the long run as the business picks up, it will be profitable to hire these professionals full-time for in-house requirement.
Scout for Talent
Suppose your niche model market is in the 15 - 19 age group. Think about the places where these teenagers mostly visit. It can be anything from malls, cafes, bowling alleys, etc. Try to arrange for an open call audition at these places. You will immediately find many interested pretty faces who would want to make it big in the modeling industry. Also, you may utilize advertisements in newspapers, teen magazines, online directories, etc., to get a pool of talent. You may post the requirement on the social media pages of your company as well as on general modeling-related local pages. This can help get a good deal of models.
You will require model portfolios to be sent over to casting agents and model coordinators. Many professional models already have their portfolio created; however, you may have to shoot specific photos if it is required by clients. Also, if you host a website with the portfolio pictures of these models, clients will be able to access them at a button's click. It will serve as an excellent marketing vehicle as well.
This is one business where having the right contacts and networking are extremely crucial. Try to get in touch with event managers, casting agents, advertisers, big companies, etc., to find jobs for your models. You can even meet up with mall directors who arrange fashion shows for showcasing their new collection. You may also have contacts with fashion houses who are always on the lookout for fresh faces. Apart from that, get in touch with the advertising department of newspapers and magazines to find opportunities for your models. Do not leave any stone unturned to market your models and gain business. You should also get paid subscription to casting websites to land opportunities for your models.
You must forge a legal contract with all the models of your agency. It will speak extensively about the terms of payment, percentage of fees, other expenses, etc. It will also bear some important clauses like maintenance of a certain weight, vital stats, appearance, etc. Some modeling agencies even have a marriage or pregnancy clause, where the model is not allowed to have either for the term of the contract. Apart from that, it also includes code of ethics, responsibilities, and behavior expected from both parties. It also dictates the usage of agency-related resources. Such contracts also include termination-related conditions and clauses. It is essential that you seek advice of your attorney before finalizing the contract.
Market Your Business
Modeling business is a very visual medium. Hence, you will have to invest in some expensive marketing initiatives to gain attention of the clients. Market your business through online directories, social media, networking, etc. Do not forget to use branded business cards and stationery items giving your agency's details. You can also print your contact details on the portfolios before sending it to the casting directors so that they can call you back. Having a smart brand identity will help create brand recall. Always, stress on the fact that you supply top-class models who are highly professional and know their job well.
Find out who the local casting agents or casting companies are, and get their contact information as well. You may also want to subscribe to casting websites for models to get information on upcoming auditions in your area.
As you will send models outside to work for clients, they will represent the reputation of your agency. For that, you will have to give them a strict grooming session for their walk, attitude, look, style, and behavior. You can enroll them in classes and claim the expenses after they start getting assignments. If you receive a positive or negative feedback from a client, do not forget to share it with them.
Remember that this is one industry that is often tarnished because of a few people indulging in 'unlawful' activities under the pretext of running model agencies. Hence, it is important that you always investigate your clients before sending models to their place. Also, if your presence is needed at a certain shoot, you must be present to make the model and client feel comfortable. Now that you know the requirements of this business, conduct it ethically.