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Hi to all you mini-lab shopkeepers professionals and the like! I have been reading with great gusto this forum for well over a year now and I thought it was about time that I made a small contribution.

What I would like to say is as you are all aware we are in the midst of great changes that are taking place now.I have been in photography for nearly 11 years and this last 6 months I have witnessed more change than we have seen in the previous 6 years! Being a sceptic I have no doubt that later rather than sooner our tills will be ringing once again.Unfortunately some of us are not going to survive.Neil has constantly been telling us not to go the way of the multiples on pricing and I agree with his philosophy entirely.what we are immediately faced with is a massive swing away from our traditional D&P as we know it. Digital is here to stay for the forseable future wether we like it or not.However I still feel that we are not getting the message over to our customers that we print "real pictures". I have tried all types of advertising and the message is still not getting through properly.There seems to be a definate resistance and reluctance by the customer to bring in their media cards for printing etc.

In our local PC World (which is 1 mile from the shop), I noticed today that they had about 50 printers which were selling for less than

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Yup the single use digital camera has been around for a couple of years, though, in my humble opinion, it is a novelty thing to do, and will have a short life.

The mass selling of printers, well, if you are in the lets say 18-40 age group, and, for one you do not have a digital camera, and second you do not have a state of the art printer to go with it.. well you are classed as being "not with it"  

As these reach saturation point, which they will, the next must have gizmo will be out, and that age group will reach out and touch it.

Steve, you have made a great post here... and it makes me think about the bread maker I got 2 years back... if I did not have one, I was left out, so off making bread I went... Mnnn, where is it now?? at the back of the cuboard... same as my cappuccino maker, ???? and the the breval toaster, that we "had to have" and if we did not have them, our lives would not be fulfilled ;)

Food for thought???

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Good first post and welcome!

D&P is Dead, Long Live ... what? That's what you should all be asking yourselves. Photo processing is dead as an industry because there simply is no more photo-processing required. Wake up people! To stay in business, you will have to create a new demand.

The demand for simple prints is fading. It won't completely go away, their will always be some demand, but that will increasingly be for the 10p or LESS price point. You can always pitch yourselves in the niche market and charge a little more for speed and perceived quality, but that is the new and EXPECTED public reality people. Why? Because you can do so much more on-line with digital and there is simply no NEED for prints anymore. Check out flikr.com if you don't believe me!  This is the real future of photography and it does NOT need prints!

Your market is no longer the happy snapper but the image conscious snapper. You cannot base your business plan on the previous certainty that people HAD to bring their films into your shop. That time is gone. People can print the few they want at home - and they will - because it is a whole lot easier than the bread maker, coffee maker etc. Sorry. They will only come to you if you are quicker, more convenient and cheaper than doing it at home. Or use the Internet.

One thing they can't get at home is the quality for large or exhibition prints from the many more masterpieces they will be taking simply because they are taking MUCH more pictures! Interesting that Noritsu have already started diversifying into other areas away from mini-labs ...

Junk your own mini-lab and its frankly out-dated image. Its capital return/profit ratio is very dodgy now. Instead enter large format printing. Creative printing. Enter framing. Enter gift Ideas. Enter your own studio. Enter portfolio printing. Enter -  the digital EXPERT - and much bigger profit margins.

(Erm, that should be YOU, by the way ... the digital expert. Ask yourself, are you?)

Long Live the Art & Craft Image Shop!

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Tony I am happy to say we are hearing the same things here. There's no denying that we all have to adapt our businesses to the massive impact digi has had on this industry. But that the nature of any business you have to be constantly looking forward not back. As for photo processing dissapearing completely I don't see that. Home printing has far to much going against it for it to be more than a fad with the majority of the market. The techies granted will invest the time and money into sustaining the practice of printing themselves. But they do not make up the mass market. Neil makes a valid comparison. From what we are seeing this year to date I agree with Tony as the New labour boys once sang "Things Can Only get Better"

Then again look what happened there :-/ ;D ;D

Good post by the way Steve, Now I know who you are ;)

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  • 9 months later...

We get a lot of digital customers who use our digital kiosk, some of them are older customers that were given a digital camera but can barely use it and need help making prints. We also get younger customers that have digital but since they dont make prints very often, it wouldnt be cost effective for them to buy an expensive photo printer. A lot of them, young and old come because they expect to talk to or get help with someone of more technical expertise then themselves, even if they are fairly skilled, so I think to an extent, that sort of reputation and professionalism is important to keeping customers around. Plus, we still get a lot of film, admittedly mostly from 40 and up customers; but a lot of young kids would rather just grab a cheap disposable camera and take pics of friends, nothing real important, and have it developed then to worry about megapixels, optical and digital zoom, editing, selection and printing. Remember, for every selective customer wanting to select and crop specific pictures; theres a customer that would spend an hour trying to figure out whether they want a specific picture and would rather not have a choice.

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Hi all!

I thought I'd share a service that's really worked well for us -DVD transfers!

We have always offered film to VHS transfers, but about 4 years ago, that business had pretty well dried up. So, I decided to get into video to DVD transfers and it's been a lifesaver for our business.

Videotape has a life of about 15 years, so people need to save their memories on a longer lasting medium. This is where we come in.

Once we began offering DVD's a lot of people went back to their closets and dug out more 8mm & 16mm film, building that business back up too. Anyway this last Christmas we did more video work than ever, and so far (fingers crossed) it looks like it will keep growing.

The only dark cloud to all this has been that our regular processing business has fallen off so much, we've only partially replaced it with the video work. If I could find one more thing like DVD transfers, I might just make it!

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Great thread - lots of food for thought!

Perhaps it's because you guys are stuck in the depths of winter that optimism is not high at the moment. Here on the other side of the world we're enjoying fine, sunny days - and lots of prints. Lets hope I'm not eating my words in six months time!

Sure we have the same issues with cheap digital cameras and printers - in fact our market is used by many of the world manufacturers because it's small, changes fast and is a great indication of how other countries will receive their technology. We've seen our customers try home printing but it only takes a few ink refills to see that consigned to the cupboard. Acceptance and enthusiasm for store printing is definitely on the up.

We have the confidence because we - and our staff - know our prints will win hands down against any home (or competitors dye sub) printer. That confidence and the statement we've made with multiple kiosks brings us lots of business. Looking at todays print volume is testament to that.

True, we've got to add new products and large format is definitely a big earner. One thing many of us have ignored are the many services our existing gear can do like greeting cards, borders etc. How about unleahing the on-line print capability many of our kiosks have in-built. Surely now many of our backs are against the wall it's time we got these things working for us.

From my perspective the UK is heading in a very dangerous direction by encouraging special pricing for qunatities of 100 prints minimum. Remember how long it took to get our customers back with their 24 exp film? Now we're suggesting they wait till they have at least the print equivalent of 4 films! Jessops - shame on you. Offer packages in breaks  equal to what we used to get with films and lets try to achieve pricing levels to replace that lost D&P dollar. Luckliy our market has not tried this yet - but customers are very aware of the 'per print' value.

My suggestions;

1/ Don't do roll counts ever again. Focus on prints per day and sqm of paper.

2/ Don't forget films entirely. Sales are still OK so who's telling us it's dead - consumers or the manufacturers? Keep a representation and enthusiasm in the product otherwise your film customers will feel that and take their business elsewhere.

3/ Whatever it takes get as many kiosks as you can to make a statement. The more you have the more confidence your customers will have.

4/ Get your production costs to rock bottom. No one cares what paper or chem you use.

5/ Get some great POS material to rival the competitors. We're the specialists in this market - don't let others steal it away!

6/ Stay positive. Summer is on it's way for you - so get the groundwork done now and reap the rewards ahead.

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Oops, I didn't see the tutorial you had.

We do our transfers a little differently. When we first started, we did it like your outline. We then moved onto a DVD recorder with a built in hard drive, and found it to be a better way for us.

We first dub the tape (or tapes) onto the hard drive. Then, we clean up any little glitches or blank spots on the tape. Finally we dub the edited video to DVD.

Although this method doubles your machine time (2 hours to dub, 2 hours to burn), it also allows you to produce a much higher quality product and therefore charge a little more. Plus, unlike our competitors, we can easily combine multiple tapes onto one DVD. This factor alone encourages many of our customers to bring us all their tapes.

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Hi minilab forum,

I have been reading this post with interest. During the last few months I have been writing and creating photographic material for a new book on digital photography which is aimed at the amateur photographer.What strikes me most about digital photography is that when george Eastman said "you press the button and we do the rest" he summed up the demands of the general public.

How strange with technological 'progress' that you now press the camera button,preview the image ,download it to your computer,swap from raw to tif file,crop,adjust,colour correct save to disk or hard drive,buy an expensive photo printer, use up 4 or 6 ink cartridges,purchase gloss photo quality paper,press print button (put the kettle on) come back ( go off again) and then finally view your print! The process is losing you customers through technical confusion.

So perhaps you should check out your local market , is it really dominated by people with vast amounts of time on their hands, an interest purely in techy novelties and a need to do things themselves. I think not, photography should be fun ( a concentration on the taking side of the process)...you can help customers by showing that you can easily take on the 'effort' of providing professional finished prints (in particular posters and enlargements) and with the emphasis on making your way seem easy for them to obtain prints.As a priority simplify the hoops that have to jumped through to qualify for certain print rates.

I have seen far too many kitchen notice boards with shots printed on a scrap of a4 paper, faded, with banding, no highlight details,odd colours and the people responsible saying " it's a good shot,,,I really must get a better print somehow". The problem is that for what ever reason they don't connect 'digital cameras' with a high street printer and feel compelled to spend money on a dedicated printer instead.

You'll be pleased to know my conclusion for the book was that home printing should primarily be a proofing tool and to promote high street minilab printing, internet printing and kiosks as the way to a happier ,cheaper and more stress free life!

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