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What a Mess!


matt
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Takings are down (alot) what to do.....

Background: I'm responsable for a Minilab located in a pharmacy (not quite independant i know). We have an AGFA 300.D and FP210 + ebox (yes i know lol) . This time of year we maybe have 10-20 films a day, and  100-500 dig prints.

Its a sad afair, the pharmacy does not seem to want to invest in any new equipment, and based on the figures i dont blame them, Its not all bad, all our equipment is fully paid off, so apart from consumables and labour its all profit, but I want to increase sells...

So far: I've re-branded the minilab, as in new posters and flyers (i'll post some of these if anyone is interested), easier to understand price lists and we now do full training on using our kiosk and even how to take better photos. (mainly this is just adjusting the customers camera to take a better quality image - they all seem to have them on "small", and wonder why they are bad quality, but they can take alot more pictures lol!! and a bit about how to set up a photo, like dont get the heads of people at the top of the flame etc etc). I've also tried to push the gift market, and we rely on topfoto for this, as i've said in another thread the photobooks are going really well.

Our pricing has remained the same since i started which was about 15 months ago, for film its £4.99 or £5.99 for 24 or 36 exposure on a 24 hour service, and this increases by a pound for the 3 hour and again for 1 hour service. Digital is £1.50 + 10p 6x4/5.3x4, 39p for 5x7/5x6.6, 59p for 8x6 and 1.49 for 8x10. I think the guy who ran the lab before me was trying to buy dig business, but its hard to change it up as most of our customers are regular.

Incidentally, I've tried to educate our customers that most digitals cameras take the shorter aspec ratio, most are happy with this, and those who prefer 6x4 rather than 5.3x4 know that some cropping will occur and they take their pictures knowing this - how do you handle this?

I now also do some digital repair work and memory card recovery work, We get alot of work from prints to prints, and its a great opportunity to say to people when they collect that "we can get rid of that tear in the corner or pens marks on the face or water damage etc.

Print to print wise, i got a £60 order today for an 18ths birthday, blowing lots of prints up to a bigger size - A nice surprise through the door!!!!

My next move is to try and tackle this problem of home printers, we all know that it is cheaper and better quality to get prints from the lab, its all about getting this across to people without being nasty if you see what i mean. I'm thinking about organising a flyer drop through peoples doors - i would be doing the dropping myself, but if it gets results its worth it - so my question is, is anyone doing anything simular or has any ideas on what to say... I'm thinking about trying to show the difference in costs - get some certified figures (costs) from somewhere and list those compared to the ours. I was also thinking about displaying a print from a home printer and our lab and leaving them in the window for all to see what happens....

Any ideas?

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Good post Matt, we would love to see some of your Point of sale, and you can use the Pint Of sale section to show this. Since I pulled out of my photographic business, this section has been little used ;)

For a leaflet/poster campain... Why not use the the theme "Get A Life" With tag lines along the like of "So you have a life? How long are you spending doing you own printing sat at home?> How much is it costing you? and how long are you stuck on your computer?" "Get a life visit XXXXXXX we save you time, we save you money, and as for quality, well try us. We will put our money where our mouth is, and if you bring in a print that you have done at home, we will do the same print, free of charge, and you can see the difference" "Get a life, let us do you digital photo-printing"

Mnnn I do miss doing promotions  :o

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The main problem is that people don't need to print their photos to see them, they just pop the card in the computer or TV and watch them and never get round to having them printed.

We are trying to push the fact photography has never been so easy, to get really good looking large prints, canvas wraps, t-shirts, bags, cushions etc.  Easy to print from the kiosk, or burn a CD.  We sell inkjet paper and ink for home printing (the Fuji Premium £6.99 for 24 7x5, plus ink, plus home printer, plus time).

But we too are suffering from the loss of footfall, reducing the number of frames, albums etc.

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Great thread! I hope others give their viewpoint too!

I can quite easily see why the pharmacy is reluctant to invest however they should look at this completely differently. Photo gets their customers into the store for longer - therefore sales of other high margin products go up too. Imagine a bank of kiosks - all full of customers, then waiting for their prints to come off the machine. Our frame, album and other retail sales have soared since we committed to lots of kiosks (with seats!) Done well photo will make them money and keep goodwill in your store. :)

The entry point to a fully fledged lab is even cheaper now with Doli (and other hydrid labs) on the market. Kiosks are cheap, plus you'll be able to offer so many new services you can't with the 300.D. Larger prints, films to CD, Templates, Passports straight from the lab - it will all be possible. Oh and don't forget a large format printer. Great for extra sales - plus the in-store merchandising for the pharmacy. You'll probably pick up all your neighbouring retailers business too!

Forget home printers. Your customers certainly will after their first ink refill. Too many of us are pre-occupied with this as serious competition. Our emphasis should be on prints that last a lifetime. Consumers know that the stuff from home can't touch real photos.

Take a trip 'round all your competition and take the best of their marketing ideas. Put it all together and you can't go wrong!

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Great replies, thanks guys.

One thing that worries me, is that our main competitors are 5 miles away, they have no kiosk, are are really expensive. Before I took the job, I did a little reseach and had some printing done, just 4 6x4 prints in gloss from my digi camera - I had to leave the card with the file names and come back in half an hour..... We should be getting alot more than we are.

AGFA were on the phone the other day offering us a re-conditioned D1 with a kiosk, they wanted about 30k. Its kinda a catch 22, I think we need investment to increase our profits/sales, but they want an improvment before they will invest in any new equipment.

Over the christmas period we lost our window at the front of the shop, and we had only 2 swinging signs out the front (1 is the old AGFA 60 mins photo, the other is a passport picture one). However, I stole the window back today, put up a new border and some new signs, put in some frames and some albums - Its all quite bright in red and white so hopefully people will notice us more! (that is until the pharmacy general manager notices it - although we've not seen her this year!)

Forgot to mention our passport business has been really steady for the last year - we do from 170 - 180 a month @ £4.99 each. We really sell it on Guarenteed pictures, if they are rejected, you know where we are, come back and we'll do you a free replacement. Thankfully, we've only had about 20 back in that time, most of which were due to not enough training or practice for our saturday staff.

I'll post some of the stuffers and signs im using soon, hopefully i can get some comment on them, how to improve etc and they may be usefull for others.

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You need to move on from Agfa and consider a machine with a much lower cost to run. Most of the lower cost machines use a different exposure system which doesn't have the redundancy that laser does. If ex. Agfa people are still out there hawking machines they should be just about giving them away as that's what they've done to the brand's worth.

Newer machines will produce acceptable passports. I know the 300.D does not because of it's honeycomb print appearance. Imagine the saving on all that dye sub you are buying now.

Another suggestion would be to get rid of the Agfa 60 minutes photo sign. Agfa means nothing and if it's digital people will expect it much sooner. The old service time advertising is definitely old hat.

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Another suggestion would be to get rid of the Agfa 60 minutes photo sign. Agfa means nothing and if it's digital people will expect it much sooner. The old service time advertising is definitely old hat.

Couldn't agree more.

We scrapped all mention of our old '20 minute' service months ago. We no longer do 'service times' as customers want everything straight away. So that's what we do, our pricing is based around our old 1 hour prices and that's it. If the customer wants it now or in 3 days they pay the same.

I know what you're going to ask- no, we haven't had any complaints and in fact the customers like it as it's so straightforward.

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Takings are down (alot) what to do.....

My next move is to try and tackle this problem of home printers, we all know that it is cheaper and better quality to get prints from the lab, its all about getting this across to people without being nasty if you see what i mean. I'm thinking about organising a flyer drop through peoples doors - i would be doing the dropping myself, but if it gets results its worth it - so my question is, is anyone doing anything simular or has any ideas on what to say... I'm thinking about trying to show the difference in costs - get some certified figures (costs) from somewhere and list those compared to the ours. I was also thinking about displaying a print from a home printer and our lab and leaving them in the window for all to see what happens....

Any ideas?

That's a good idea- keep us posted.

I've taken the plunge and booked 12 months advertising with our local radio station (cheaper than I thought) and as well as a catchy jingle it revolves around Neil's old slogan:-

faster, cheaper, better than printing at home.

cheers Neil  ;)

If anyone is interested I've got the advert on a disc in cda format, I could copy it and send it to you, or perhaps Neil can upload it to the site, I may even be able to send it as an e-mail attachment, does anyone know if that would work ?

Tony

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Great Thread Matt!

About 18 months ago I was in a similar situation as you (except I have a high street shop) I was an Agfa shop

with the full branding etc.

As Tony said Agfa is not a player anymore. Have you thought about a new brand with support for your lab? I ended up changing to Fotostop Group for our shop.

As I've said in a previous thread we bought another digital lab, Instant print Kiosk, Wide format printer all from them in one go. Also through Fotostop we get online gifts, photo resoration, promo flyers, poster, signs, window graphics, internet option, local rep etc. But you also get loads of advice about the current market as they have hundreds of sites to draw from.

You really need a few kiosks with digital and the service time is 'Instant' onwards.

The wide format printer is a good idea too for posters and canvas prints. (Fotostop do these online for you if not)

My advice would be add kiosks and re-brand and keep promoting even when you've had enough of it! ha ha

Re inkjet people already know its low quality and expensive they just need to find you.

You seem to have some good ideas Matt so keep on and I'm sure you'll win in the end.

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Good Idea Tony

We did local radio advertising a few years back I think its a good media to use. Gives a good image. We also ran competitions through the radio gave away processing, portraits, cameras, etc. Really good promotional tool. I was sorting out a new advert for the local paper today. My local paper owns the radio station too...... now you got me thinking about the radio again !!!

All the best with that Tony

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Are we all working late tonight then?

OK, another idea- I'm sitting here in front of the pc, awaiting the local adult education group to arrive. They are doing gcse's or something in photography. Once a year their tutor brings them here for an evening, to let them use the machines and see what it's like our side of the counter. The evenings are great fun and I pick up new customers.

Must go- they're arriving  ;D

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More great post here, and so good to read.

Tony well done for stepping out into some thing new. If you mail me the audio file, I will be able to put it on-line for you. And nice to see a old strap line being used :)

Also, refreshing to see the good old service times going, a "When do you want it" approach has to be the way forward.. Of course still keeping your price at a perminum...

Well done everyone....

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I agree with the previous posts - kick Agfa to the kerb and find a new supply partner. Their equipment is worth nothing. Get a new, cheaper machine or look at a second hand Fuji which has excellent reliability.

1 hour is dead and I can't believe there are people still promoting it (Jessops - what are you thinking??) Think of the phrases "fast", "now"and ïnstant because thats what the punters expect.

The Pharmacy will either need to move before summer on new gear or forget it as the market is moving so fast now. Go back to the owners with a business plan. I'm sure many of the members can help with numbers etc.

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I agree with the previous posts - kick Agfa to the kerb and find a new supply partner. Their equipment is worth nothing. Get a new, cheaper machine or look at a second hand Fuji which has excellent reliability.

1 hour is dead and I can't believe there are people still promoting it (Jessops - what are you thinking??) Think of the phrases "fast", "now"and ïnstant because thats what the punters expect.

The Pharmacy will either need to move before summer on new gear or forget it as the market is moving so fast now. Go back to the owners with a business plan. I'm sure many of the members can help with numbers etc.

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Hi Matt,

A couple of points on your mail, firstly you say that your takings are down, what are you comparing that to?Is your turnover down or your profit down? It may be that it is just the time of year or some other outside force,I know of stores that use a diary system and even log the weather, news events, all sorts each day. Secondly I would look to doing something with your kiosk, as Photosave pointed out "Our frame, album and other retail sales have soared since we committed to lots of kiosks" I think that most "Digi" consumers look for kiosks, no kiosk - no digital printing! So make a big thing of it, make sure it is easily seen from outside the store, and make some space around it. If you are not happy with the interface on the Agfa, then perhaps consider buying different software for it.

If you need any more POS material we have some available to download from our website which may be of use, please help yourself http://www.siimagingsolutions.co.uk/pos.htm

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