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Buying Group


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I have only been registered with "Minilab Help" for over a month, but in that time I have had chance to read and occasionlly add to the forums. There seems to be alot of doom and gloom out there, and rightly so-falling profit margins, big industry names going to the wall, and the continued craze of the multiples looking for ever increasing market share by slashing prices to almost break even point!

So what can we do?

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This has been tried a few times that I know, off, but has never really worked out. The idea and concept of the idea is great, but doing it is another story.

minilabhelp.com now has close to 400 registered users, some are companies, other non UK, but I would say that we have at least 150 UK independents registered here. Just the members here could be a starting point for such a project, but getting commitment, is another story.

Great post and idea thepic, and a good one for discussion.

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Commitment is always an issue; but if all the griping about falling profit etc is true, then what have owners got to lose.

All important is infastructure; I already have in place a dedicated accounts/admin office, cuurently utilised by our pharmacies.

Believe me, I am committed to getting something like this off the ground.

Please forward your constructive comments.

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The problem with independents is they are truly independent thinkers ;D I was the worst of the bunch. I started my company "Keaton Kolor" in 1969 and have ignored a lot of good advise about joining one of the buying groups.

It finally became apparant to me that all of the big stores were going to run us out of business if drastic action were not taken so I started slashing expenses. The more I cut the harder it became to find something else to cut. Finally I reached the point where joining a buying group was about the only thing left that might help.

I swallowed my independent pride and joined IPI. After becoming a member and studying the deals  closely we discovered it wasn't going to cost us anything to belong and we were going to enjoy a modest savings. A few months later it was time to pay our insurance. I had tried for years to get a better deal without success. I did search a search on IPI forum for insurance and two weeks later I had a much better insurance program for a lot less money.

When I went to the first IPI meeting in San Diego I had my biggest surprise. Sitting at a table with 6 to 8 people like the ones on this forum is the ultimate experience. Monitoring and being active on forums is very rewarding. Sitting at the same table is 100 time better. I couldn't believe how much I learned in a week.

Ok, for all of you guys that are only interested in the bottom line. I have saved enough to pay the fees to join and to pay my fees for the next five years. We have only been members for 7 months.

IPI is now an international organization and I would like to invite everyone of you to join.

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  • 3 months later...
  • 3 weeks later...

I am all in favour of anything that helps us indi's stay in business. Is a buying group the answer ? could a simple alternative be for minilabhelp to negotiate a small additional discount with 1 of the wholesalers ? Sure this could be difficult, but in the UK there are maybe 3 key suppliers to minilabs, with perhaps a third of us sourcing from each. If 1 of these national suppliers had the vision to offer minilabhelp members special terms for whatever ? Yup - I know that margins are supposedly very keen at present, but if kodak can afford to give price cuts at times like these, maybe things are not as tough as we are led to believe.

Only a thought !


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Having been in the retail industry for a fair amount of my working life , and only very recently joined you guys in the photofinishing market, I am amazed at how much of a closed shop this is.

    This is not an insult to members of this forum, whom have been quite open and honest with me, but rather an observation on the attitude of the wholesalers whom serve the industry. In any other retail trade wholesalers are falling over each other to get your business. We have been chasing one wholesaler for nearly three months now, our business credentials are impeccable, the nearest rival lab is over 15 miles away (apart from Tesco), so there is no conflict. I can see that for 'us' the trade is changing , and some are finding times difficult, which should make wholesalers glad that someone new is foolish enough to join the fray, and wellcome them with open arms.

   The attitude mystifies me. Either they are trading or they are not.

We at present use Fuji (crystal archive) paper and chemistry , personaly I find the colour a little saturated, but the customers seem to like it. I would be quite happy to follow the lead of more experianced lab owners in a buying syndicate, feeling secure in the knowledge that they would not only be motivated by the bottom line, but that the continued satisfaction of their customers (in quality) would be equally important.

   Independance is of great importance to us, variety being the spice of life, surely to maintain that independance, we can join together ?

Count me in , Neil.

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