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Things are bad whos to blame?


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Greetings from the Colonies

I just wonder how many of you that are seeing the huge drop in D&P have replaced your 2000 d&p business through print@kiosk? Despite the big box guys doing a 15c/6p promo here in Oz, we are still growing our 4x6 volume while keeping the larger print sizes at 20% of total output. We only promote enlargements never 4x6, interesting that the sale of frames is also up. We never did cheap d&p so why should we do cheap digital? Who said that price comes in at number 3 or 4 in surveys?

No matter how big or small you are you need 4-6 kiosks at least to say you are serious I bet not too many of you complaining about how bad things are have 4-6 kiosks. We paid $14,000 for our first of kiosks dropping to  $1000 for the last 6 (ex Agfa)! You can get Xkiosk http://xkiosk.net/ for free using a cheap computer with a touch screen you put together yourself. A lot of smaller retailers in the US have done this well.

Those complaing guys on the high street how does your lab look? Much the same as it did 5-10 years ago perhaps ? Still have that lab smell? What does your front window display look like , faded boxes, faded advt materials probably not even relevant, last changed how long ago? What promo signage do you have up? Is it professional looking, done on a wide format printer? Do you have a new promo each month? How does your staff look, uniforms, name badges, smiles? Does your retail stock look tired too, is it the right stock for 2006? When was the last time you went to a PMA or trade seminar? What network of photo retailers do you mix with, apart from this fine forum?

Lastly, would you shop in your store? Be Honest!

I was lucky enough to spend Christmas/New Year in the UK so my questions come from observations that I made while looking at photo stores.

Make yourself a destination who cares how quiet the high street is, as long as you are not. Stop whinging, put your blinkers on, bite the bullet and invest time, energy and yes some money and get our trade back to where it should be, and if you can, have some fun doing it!!

regards Phil

PS and stop blaming Kodak/Agfa/Konica (all paper suppliers to us in the past)

should I delete this or send it......

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Good on you Phil. It's not all gloom and doom - even if it feels that way some days!

For those of you that don't know Phil he runs probably one of the Worlds best labs in Brisbane CBD. It is bright, busy and a real ambassador for our industry. Everything you've ever thought about doing with your store, every good idea you've read - it's probably been done here!

It's great to have operators like this who are not afraid to share ideas - and enthusiasm. That's what we need more of. Finding the things each other are successful with and putting them into practice. We can never say the market's failing us unless we've tried different ideas in our own stores.

Like Phil I get to the UK every few years and would love to have the population you guys have to work with. Over here on the other side of the world we've still got the highest percent of labs / people - and still have the likes of agressive wholesale and mass merchants to deal with. Things are tough but we're learning from each other and being successful.

I've been in the industry over 20 years and I've never seen everyone so close. It's great to talk with guys we used to consider as competitors. Now we're all in it together and the real competitors are no longer in our industry. They are other retailers, etailers and service providers chasing that discretionary dollar.

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Photoplus is right - Phil does have one of the best independent stores in Oz and he is prepared to share ideas and offer suggestions for others to help them. At last count I think he has 21 kiosks with plans for more!

As he said, we also have 15 cent promos here with Harvey Norman and all they end up doing is telling more people about getting digital photos printed, and then stuffing up their labs and DPC's due to excessive workload. They are not going to go away, so we have to live with them and adapt accordingly.

We need to get the focus off 4x6 prints and do more. Do other services, move to 5x7 prints, and overall add value to what we do.

Service does not exist in their stores.

I heard a rumor yesterday that K Mart may be looking at dropping film processing in all their labs. As far as I'm concerned, that would be a GREAT move - more for us!

We are curently doing a couple of "retro" promos to promore APS processing, and also prints from slides. And they are both working. Our film rollage is currently up 8%!!!!

And we are averaging 200 prints from slides per week (at A$2.50 per print)

We push Royal paper as something the "cheapies " cant offer, and it is a tangible, feelable item that customers can feel and see straight away. We also promote metallic paper and X Pan processing. Our print volumes are up over 20%.

We only have 3 kiosks at present, but a 4th is due in a few days. Space will limit us from doing more.

We are re-shopfitting, with the assisitance of some Kodak plans and plan to remerchandise our store with a new focus on inkjet paper and inks.

time will tell how we will go, but the shop will look different, with new lines - its a start in telling our customers that we are changing with the times.

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I completely agree whilst times are certainly more challenging these days what with the rise of the big chains, namely tesco over here in the UK. As independents we do have a lot to offer that the big boys don't. I think it is very easy to lay blame elsewhere when things aren't going right for a business. However concentrating on the positive and moving with the times along with some bloody hard work certainly is much more productive. Great post Phil!!

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Yep. I agree. I no longer panic at the price conscious customer.  Our customers are paying 50C a print compared to a 19C deal down the road.  And they comre back.  Because, I go for service.  Talk to them about their cameras, eg. how to format not delete their cards.  I use my points of difference all the time.  Lab and archival quality prints vs thermal prints.  Time....their's,....bogged down on a home computer when they can still control their choice through a kiosk to the lab for minimal effort.  Our customrers have been conned through this home printing deal and I delicately tell them so.  No $100 printer is going to deliver good prints, even though it seemed like a good package deal at the time!!.  Notice how everyone with a problem with a digital camera bought elsewhere received it as a "present"?.  But that's cool.  I just go from there.  Teach them how to use it, teach and educate.   Be the expert.

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Couldn't agree more Liz!

I take the customers side , saying 'love the technology, shame they forget to tell us you not only need a cracking computer, but a realy expensive printer as well'

People are invariably surprised with the ease that our system can handle even the larger images, its just good PR  to show them around (not to much), and helps them to understand the technology a little better.

Does wonders for customer relations, they don't get service like that anywhere else.

Not even Tesco.

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One of the things we offer that works really well is one to one hour training courses on customers' own equipment - intro to your camera, how to upload images, basic editting, how to email, intermediate editting, intro to photoshop, all the way up to advanced photoshop.  Once you've written the course material, the only time needed is the training session itself. Very good for word of mouth referrals and setting us apart from the less than expert competition. Most customers come back again and again and take 2 or 3 courses as they progress. But clearly the trainer needs to be comfortable running the sessions, it doesn't suit everyone. In our company there's one person who has assumed this role and it's working very nicely. But you need to balance it with otherwork commitments. Group sessions on pre-bookable basis are very cost effective, and we're looking at holding these on regular basis.

Liz

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One thing we've been doing for many years now is to invite the local adult education students, studying photography, to hold one of their evening sessions in our lab. That way they get to print their own material, learn what it's like on our side of the counter etc etc.

We always end up with a handful of new customers- cheap PR.

Tony

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we also have been offering courses for 2 years now, the first 2 hour part is getting to know your camera and the best settings to use.

the second 2 hour course is for a more advanced in the use of the camera and also on how to improve their photos after the have taken it.

we do these at night run over two weeks, charge $45.00 for each 2 hour session and we fill up each time we run it.

also it gets them into the shop and we can show them what we can do for them and our range of experitise.

and we pick up new customers every time,they also get a CD that covers what they have been shown over the 2 hour session so they can refer back to it.  

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Same here. we run a 3 hour inro to digital camera course every 2nd saturday. 3 hours for A$95, and we are averaging 15 people per course which is just manageable to do it right.

I prefer a number of about 10.

also doing one on one at $95 for 2 hours and have had a surprisingly large number of these as well.

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Looks like a very good idea, almost $3000 a month with not a huge outlay, a few samples and a CD I suppose.

What do you base your course on.  What tasks, objectives are set for the course?

Anyone in the UK chargeing for this, what sort of price for a two hour intro, small groups etc?

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