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Alternatives To Minilab Setup


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Hi All,

Ill start with a brief intro on who we are and what we have at present.

I took over a traditional newsagents in Sept 2009 which was also had an on site minilab offering

35mm film, APS film and digital work, we currently do a 1hr & 24hr service and can print from 6 x 4

to 10 x 8

The current equipment is :

PhotoMe KIS DKS1510 with flatbed scanner and single paper cassette


PhotoMe Estation which prints to the DKS from all digital media & bluetooth this also has a

Mitsubishi CP9550DW Photo Printer & scanner in the terminal.

We have had a lot of problems with the DKS since taking over including an LCD failure in the first week, at the minute we are down with a pressure switch failure on the DEV pump with no fix

available until the new year when we can order parts.

At present the whole setup is not covered by any maintenance/repair contract as we wanted to see what level of turnover & profit the setup generated before tying ourselves into a 12 month contract.

The setup was all installed in 2005.

From historical records we can see that the setup has generated a turnover of between £600 &

£1000 per month (we are located in a very seasonal area that is very popular in the summer)

With all the problems we have had with the DKS i have been thinking whether we have the best

setup for the level of work we do.

The majority of turnover comes from 35mm & digital work at either 6x4 or 7x5 size with the

remainder coming from enlargements etc.

I must also add that we are the only processing facility in the town and the next nearest are 20mins drive away but this is not the core activity of our business and is more of an add on service that

filled a market niche in the area.

I have posted here today to seek your expert advice on whether you think i have the right kit and if not what you would suggest as an alternative.

I have considered ditching the DKS and running with the AKS 32FP and the Mitsubishi Dye Sub

printer but need to know what software & hardware i could use to scan the 35mm work and then

send to the above printer.

The lab in the town 20mins to the North has offered to carry out our work on a commission basis so i thought we could use them for any enlargements etc as currently we only offer these on a 24hr

service anyway ?

The other option i have considered is starting the maintenance contract on the machines and

offering commission work to neighbouring towns who have no facility at present and really pushing our service ?

Your opinions / thoughts / criticism would be mostly appreciated !

Thanks and sorry for the long post !


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At your current turnover you would be better off getting out.

Are YOU of a technical nature? Your existing setup, even with a contract requires some experteese...

Maybe an instant kiosk, and sending extra work to your neighbour is a good idea.

To run a good minilab nowadays you have to be serious, or not bother.

Minilab profit is from selling extras, not bog standard prints. You don't mention any extras, canvas's, t shirts etc, if you don't do those, why bother selling marginal photo prints?

Happy new year.


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Based on a 30 day month ,you are doing £20-£33 a day,

Keeping the FP wouldnt generate a profit,the volume of film is now really just SUC,the chemistry would go stale due to the low volumes.

Get rid of the lot and use the floorspace for something more profitable.

The commision only ,send away option is the way forward for you,

If you really must have processing in store,go for an instant print kiosk for digital only.


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Guys thanks for your comments,

What or where would i be best going to sell the current setup and realistically what is it worth?

I know the previous owner paid a lot of money for the system but understand they have no real

secondhand value nowadays ?

Is there not a simple way of processing 35mm film that can be used with a dye sub printer as per the OP ?


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As a completely off the wall thought ,how about this option.

As Phil says you need to be serious about running a lab,its not something you can do whilst running your other business.

All the kit is in place and presumably stands you at nil cost,

so why not put an advert out in the local area offering a franchise for some one to run the  lab on a self employed basis.

Dont charge any ingoing and the lab is theres to use whilst the franchise  is in place

They take out a service contract,buy all the stock needed for the lab and run the lab.

There are a lot of people out there looking to set up a business,this could suit an early      retirer,some one with a redundancy payoff ,or a photo student looking to set up a  first      business.

At the moment the lab uses your time and ties up your cash in stock,proberbly for             very  little,if any profit.

Lets say you charge £100 a week for the fully fitted lab,and £20 a week for electric etc,

Thats £6000 a year clear profit for you.


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Seems a good idea in principle something i will give some thought too.

You are correct the lab came included as part of the sale when we bought the business so costs us nothing,

the previous owner was trying to tell us he had paid somewhere near £90k for the setup so we told him to take it away and make a reduction on his asking price !

It seems a shame to just discontinue the service as it is the only lab in the area but as Phil says it is

not our core business activity, it is an add on.


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You are in a position many of us have been in as we have rationalised our businesses over the past few years.

It sounds like you have a good grasp of the trends in this market and the machinery so my ideas are a little different than the others.

You won't get anything for the equipment - and it sounds like you have invested in some recent fixes, so keeping it may not be a bad idea. Depending on the surrounding population you could achieve good year-round business by tapping into business to business work, adding photo gifts and possibly doing tourist photography. Another thing you could do would be to sell these products online which would widen the catchment.

We made some big changes to our range and promotions last year which has helped transform our shop. With your fresh outlook I think there is lots of potential so don't throw anything out just yet.

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Kev, why don't you post some pictures of the shop and the members here could help with suggestions on what you could do to appeal to customers more.

You won't be able to count on film for too much longer but should be able to get plenty of print, enlargement, CD and DVD business. Depending on the kiosk have you tried offering 'value added' stuff like collages, books etc?

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