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Pay it Forward


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This is what we do and we get so much repeat business and 'great gossip' from this very simple gesture.

When someone comes in with a broken 35mm pocket camera that is dead and the customer just can't upgrade to a digital - either too old or below the poverty line.

I have in place a "pay it forward" program.  

When people come in to the store to buy a digital camera or perhaps they have recently purchased one from elsewhere  I ask them if they would donate their old working '35mm camera to me for our 'pay it forward program' .  ( i haven't had one rejection)  I get their old working 35mm camera's and keep them for the customer that simply has no inclination for a digital camera whether it be they are just too old or simply can't afford the luxury.  

Usually a customer walks in to see if i can fix the camera - when i deem it unfixable i ask if they are interested in a digital camera.  I can tell by their manner and response if they are or not, so when they aren't interested in the slightest i get one of the donated 35mm camera's and i place a complimentary film in it - put in some batteries and give it to my customer with a card  that is glued to the back that says it is part of the 'pay it forward program and it should be returned when the customer has no further use for it.  ie they pass away or just simply is not being used.  The customers i have done this for have a new lease on life for taking photos and have become more regular and loyal customers.  Not just spending money on film and developing, but they come in for gifts and enlargements etc.  

The cost to me a roll of film - the benefit's of seeing their face light up with joy = priceless :)

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Teri, that's a very good idea, nd it also helps to keep up your film volume.  Keep it up !

We don't sell cameras, but ever since Polaroid stopped making film, we've now got a pretty good # of Polaroid cameras that people have "donated" to us.

I'm just waiting for the Impossible Project to release Polaroid compatible film...  ;)

R2K: I recently heard about "Lifetime value of a customer"  This fits right in with that.  It's not what you make off the customer Now, but what that customer is worth over a lifetime of business.

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here is an reference link:  http://www.zeromillion.com/marketing/determining-lifetimevalue.html

(I haven't read it entirely so can't vouch for this guy, it's just an example.)

If you treat a customer right, and they patronize your store and spend say $10 per visit, 12 times a year, for 10 years, that customer is worth $1200 to your business.  You might only see that one $10 sale, but over their lifetime, that's a pretty good customer.  Now if you could increase the amount of each sale by $2, that customer is now worth $1440.  

Small change ?  Not if you can do this with all or some of your customers.

Most of the on-line "lifetime value" references are related to Marketing.  Google "lifetime value of a customer"

Do the simple math above, and you can figure out that screwing your customer to make that quick $30 NOW will hurt you in the long term.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

R2K - i don't keep a strict tab on it all - i do it mainly to see the faces of the oldies that simply can't believe they are getting something that is worth something to them for free.  the customers i have given them to still come back for regular film processing - they may actually outlast the camera's.

Big Dave, it is just something a little different and i think good karma.

re the lifetime customer value -so very true

it's a proven fact that it costs more to get a new customer than it is to keep one.  so we put a lot of effort into our current customers, and try to get new customers by gorilla marketing.

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