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Thread: Starting a - Digital Photo Express Shop

  1. #21

    Default Re: Starting a - Digital Photo Express Shop

    Hi FOlks,

    JUst got a recent quote on the Frontier 330, US22k plus S$1.5k to ship over to Singapore. This is a suitable machine, as the terminal and printer are all in a box of 1.2m square foot print. Therefore, i can make do with half a shoplot. however, am still open for ppl to share this printer to fully utilize it anyway (This would be like the HN concept) except that all the photos developed are being done by ppl with passion for this industry

    Thanks to a few cs'er who have supported my idea by offering me to develop their photos for their events, this has given me some encouragement to carry on.

    Gotta meet the fuji rep today.

    Njoy ur weekend folks.

  2. #22

    Default Re: Starting a - Digital Photo Express Shop

    Quote Originally Posted by snowspeeder View Post
    Are those instant DIY print machines? If so, these machines can be purchased new between 5 - 8K these days. Some shops are charging 40 to 50 cents and pple still pay. Then again, these machines are ink-jet based. Quality is quite different from the lab printers.
    i am also considering the DIY printing kiosk. but the operating cost is about 22cents on the paper and ink alone. this is becos they use thermal imaging print with ribbon and paper in 1 roll. But i observed that, its more cost effective to just have the diy kiosk but without the printer, customer can choose their pics, and we print them out using the pro printer.

    have figured that, the only way to survive is to provide excellent quality print. thats the only way out. same thing, the chicken rice theory.

  3. #23

    Default Re: Starting a - Digital Photo Express Shop

    Quote Originally Posted by sherman1979 View Post

    Suprisingly there are lots and lots of refurbished printers that can be found abundantly on the web. My studies on various forums seem to point that the color reproduction on the FUji Frontier printers are excellent. There are a few being quoted to me like the Frontier 350 going for US30K and the newer Frontier 330 going for US35K. These machines are approx 5 yrs old, and haf printer count of maybe 0.8m to 1m.

    Cheers!
    Have you ever ask yourself why there are many refurbished printers on the web, and why people are selling them?

    hmm.. and if the machine are 5 yrs old.. printer count only 0.8m to 1m.. how many prints they perform each day and how much can they earn from each print.. profitable?

    Space Rental are high these days and its killing alot of business. Factor in the rental, utility, machine cost, loan interest, material cost, staff salary, you need a significant income to at least breakeven

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Starting a - Digital Photo Express Shop

    I'm a CPA and I've seen over the years, many businesses that start and fold. I've seen many people with grand ideas turned into bankrupts because their ideas did not make commercial sense. I've also seen many experienced businessmen fail when they get into businesses they did not know about.

    Now I see whatever ideas you have. Please don't be offended when I say your ideas so far, as presented by you in this forum, really suck. You don't seem to have any idea of doing business and that's why you ask whether this machine, or that one, is any good. You are asking this question to people who, (no offence meant to anyone here) do not seem to know this business of photo printing at all. What sort of meaningiful advice can they give to you? They are not on this business so how would they know? And you seek advice on such a fundemental aspect of your business? You either need the Good Lord's help or a massive dose of good luck in order to survive.

    Enough about generalities. Down to some very basic technicalities.

    1) have you prepared a budget?

    2) Cash flow statement? To determine the amount of capital you're going to need.

    3) Operating costs for each kind of machine

    4) Chemicals that are going to be needed and how often you need to change these chemicals - daily, twice weekly, weekly, monthly?

    5) Colour balancing for each print you produce, if you want repeat business

    6) The various kinds of paper you need to keep in stock

    7) Staff - recruitment and training of staff

    8) Your commitment to work 12 - 14 hours a day, 7 days a week for the next ...years

    9) Planned maintenance of machine - availability of spare parts if you use old machines.

    If you think I'm trying to discourage you, you are 100% correct! Just check what the other savvy CSers have been trying to tell you in this thread and you can see they are all saying the same things.

    BTW have you talked with other photo printers about the state of their business? Get first hand info from the people in the game.

    That's all for now. If you want more info, just PM me.

  5. #25
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    Default Re: Starting a - Digital Photo Express Shop

    ohh..

    dun forget the laser projection head cost 20+k to change..

    a 5yr old frontier might need a change anytime.

  6. #26

    Default Re: Starting a - Digital Photo Express Shop

    Quote Originally Posted by syl View Post
    I'm a CPA and I've seen over the years, many businesses that start and fold. I've seen many people with grand ideas turned into bankrupts because their ideas did not make commercial sense. I've also seen many experienced businessmen fail when they get into businesses they did not know about.

    Now I see whatever ideas you have. Please don't be offended when I say your ideas so far, as presented by you in this forum, really suck. You don't seem to have any idea of doing business and that's why you ask whether this machine, or that one, is any good. You are asking this question to people who, (no offence meant to anyone here) do not seem to know this business of photo printing at all. What sort of meaningiful advice can they give to you? They are not on this business so how would they know? And you seek advice on such a fundemental aspect of your business? You either need the Good Lord's help or a massive dose of good luck in order to survive.

    Enough about generalities. Down to some very basic technicalities.

    1) have you prepared a budget?

    2) Cash flow statement? To determine the amount of capital you're going to need.

    3) Operating costs for each kind of machine

    4) Chemicals that are going to be needed and how often you need to change these chemicals - daily, twice weekly, weekly, monthly?

    5) Colour balancing for each print you produce, if you want repeat business

    6) The various kinds of paper you need to keep in stock

    7) Staff - recruitment and training of staff

    8) Your commitment to work 12 - 14 hours a day, 7 days a week for the next ...years

    9) Planned maintenance of machine - availability of spare parts if you use old machines.

    If you think I'm trying to discourage you, you are 100% correct! Just check what the other savvy CSers have been trying to tell you in this thread and you can see they are all saying the same things.

    BTW have you talked with other photo printers about the state of their business? Get first hand info from the people in the game.

    That's all for now. If you want more info, just PM me.
    Thanks syl. your remarks really knocked some sense right through and brought me firmly to ground. This is the 2nd discouragement i receive today, the other being my targeted location was taken by some1 else.

    Well i was hoping this is the right forum to get some fundamental advise on the technicalities involve in photograhic printing, where else can you find thousands of photogs in one community. was just hoping one of em would kindly share tricks of the trade with me or some1 who shares the same ambition.

    thanks for spending time to draft the 9 q's above. It will no doubt be part of my checklist. hehe, i really cant afford the service of a cpa at the moment, really appreciate your advise.

  7. #27

    Default Re: Starting a - Digital Photo Express Shop

    Quote Originally Posted by sherman1979 View Post
    Thanks syl. your remarks really knocked some sense right through and brought me firmly to ground. This is the 2nd discouragement i receive today, the other being my targeted location was taken by some1 else.

    Well i was hoping this is the right forum to get some fundamental advise on the technicalities involve in photograhic printing, where else can you find thousands of photogs in one community. was just hoping one of em would kindly share tricks of the trade with me or some1 who shares the same ambition.

    thanks for spending time to draft the 9 q's above. It will no doubt be part of my checklist. hehe, i really cant afford the service of a cpa at the moment, really appreciate your advise.
    Wow, seem like you are ready to go for it.....Good try. BTW, dun buy the printer from overseas. If your printer is down, you will have problem to get it service here. If you have already talk to Fuji rep, I sure that they will advise you accordingly.

  8. #28
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    Default Re: Starting a - Digital Photo Express Shop

    Quote Originally Posted by sherman1979 View Post
    Thanks syl. your remarks really knocked some sense right through and brought me firmly to ground. This is the 2nd discouragement i receive today, the other being my targeted location was taken by some1 else.

    Well i was hoping this is the right forum to get some fundamental advise on the technicalities involve in photograhic printing, where else can you find thousands of photogs in one community. was just hoping one of em would kindly share tricks of the trade with me or some1 who shares the same ambition.

    thanks for spending time to draft the 9 q's above. It will no doubt be part of my checklist. hehe, i really cant afford the service of a cpa at the moment, really appreciate your advise.
    I've been working closely with several labs over the last 5 years now. Have seen labs come and go. Prices for prints are being forced down. So many are barely able to survive, much less prosper. People are printing at home, rather than bringing to the labs. Think about it.

    Syl's points form the typical checklist of atypical businesses, at least for the larger ones. A cheap Frontier machine will easily set up back by $150K. Get your figures in order. Know which are the sources you can get your consumables from, they aren't cheap! You'd probably have to work solo and darn hard for the first 2-3 years just to pay off the machine. By then, you'd have to change the machine.

    Location-wise, look at the neighbourhood labs, many of them are barely paying off their overheads and scrapping a tiny return. Rentals are going up, everyone will be pressing your prices down. Do you have a ready pool of professionals to keep your machine humming? Do you have a site that has regular flow of good clients? Do you have the ability to sustain a bleed for 6-12 months should things not work so well? Think carefully, work out your figures.

    To add to that : professional volume is from photogs who generate equivalent of 300-2000 8Rs a month, and who can stomach paying you $2 (or more!) per 8R. There aren't that many of those around.
    Last edited by Azure; 10th November 2007 at 07:13 AM.

  9. #29

    Default Re: Starting a - Digital Photo Express Shop

    Every Business have success and failure examples. Some have higher failure tha the others. Anyway, I believe the way business is run with the right capital calculations you can still make from printing labs.

    Think about the number of casual snappers from China and other countries. If you can serve them the market is hugh.

    That is an encouaragement for you Sherman.
    Last edited by trucatus; 10th November 2007 at 08:14 AM.

  10. #30

    Default Re: Starting a - Digital Photo Express Shop

    My advice is to take a step back, have a holistic outlook on the advice here, and consider them from a global perspective. Businesses are no longer just about having a good product to sell and having a good location to sell it. Wherever there's money to be made, you can be sure that competition is stiff. A shrewd understanding of finance and planning is a necessity. A bold risk-taking mind which is perceptive and innovative will turn opportunities into possibilities. Have lots of one trait but not the other trait is hazardous. Plus there are tons of other traits that makes or breaks a business. It's great to be able to learn from advice. Because most businessmen have to learn from experience. And experience can often be hard and costly.

  11. #31

    Default Re: Starting a - Digital Photo Express Shop

    Dun start at all, now really its earning in cts only........u dun see dollars.

    Me, see alot of labs, and most labs i can tell u, suffer alot.....high machine to pay off, rental, chemical, staffs, electricity, rental etc.....not to forget, once u sign a contract with fuji if u sign, u need to meet some targets every mth, depends on contracts status.....

    my friend signed one, and cos cannot meet target, he dun get any paper at all....u noe???
    Eat breath LIVERPOOL!!!

  12. #32

    Default Re: Starting a - Digital Photo Express Shop

    If u have tons of $$$ to burn, dun do also.......spend it or invest it some other areas......

    lab, forget it.
    Eat breath LIVERPOOL!!!

  13. #33
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    Default Re: Starting a - Digital Photo Express Shop

    Quote Originally Posted by sherman1979 View Post
    thanks for spending time to draft the 9 q's above. It will no doubt be part of my checklist. hehe, i really cant afford the service of a cpa at the moment, really appreciate your advise.
    Yikes, I would try and find money for the CPA first before finding money for the machines. The benefits of getting a CPA as well as they may be able to help compute some good numbers to lease rather than purchase the machines outright. Then see if you can negotiate with Fuji not only good lease option but good terms and conditions too. In the long run, we can be talking about savings far in excess of the cost of the CPA.

    Personally, I think the photographic printing industry is not in a decline. Rather it is in a stage of change. The old business models are no longer profitable but the industry has yet to find a profitable new model. If you can find the right business model, you can make it big. If i could find a good model i would get in too, but i keep looking at various angles and can't seem to find a good angle or be able to see where the industry is headed so i am not going in yet.

  14. #34
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    Default Re: Starting a - Digital Photo Express Shop

    Quote Originally Posted by ckuang View Post
    Yikes, I would try and find money for the CPA first before finding money for the machines. The benefits of getting a CPA as well as they may be able to help compute some good numbers to lease rather than purchase the machines outright. Then see if you can negotiate with Fuji not only good lease option but good terms and conditions too. In the long run, we can be talking about savings far in excess of the cost of the CPA.

    Personally, I think the photographic printing industry is not in a decline. Rather it is in a stage of change. The old business models are no longer profitable but the industry has yet to find a profitable new model. If you can find the right business model, you can make it big. If i could find a good model i would get in too, but i keep looking at various angles and can't seem to find a good angle or be able to see where the industry is headed so i am not going in yet.
    1) CPAs are not interested in small retail/service biz.
    2) Finance Company avoid labs and copy-shops like a plague
    3) He’s planning and budgeting a traditional lab, equipment and idea are not geared for new biz trend and taste.

    When 8 out of 10 are doing well and driving nice cars, the 2 unwell may have know-how, management, cashflow issues. It’s a market or a sector you can jump in, you only need a belly of fire to do so. Know-how and equipment can be learnt along the way. Even “trial and error” can be profitable. You are in demand.

    When 8 out of 10 are struggling and closing down, it’s not something you even want to consider. Never mind how creative you are or how deep your pockets. Not too long ago, there are 5,000 labs in Tokyo. It’s down to about 500, the casualties are been replace by vending machines. Ever wondered why it's cheaper online?
    just1book, no kidding!

  15. #35

    Default Re: Starting a - Digital Photo Express Shop

    sherman, I admired your courage. Do what you think gives you fulfillment. If some shops offer cheapo prices, the tendency the pics matches the price. So don't worry if you can produce great prints.
    Good luck to you in your venture. Let me know of your shop name.

  16. #36

    Default Re: Starting a - Digital Photo Express Shop

    Quote Originally Posted by wan View Post
    sherman, I admired your courage. Do what you think gives you fulfillment. If some shops offer cheapo prices, the tendency the pics matches the price. So don't worry if you can produce great prints.
    Good luck to you in your venture. Let me know of your shop name.
    Courage alone will not gives u $$$.
    Eat breath LIVERPOOL!!!

  17. #37
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    Default Re: Starting a - Digital Photo Express Shop

    Quote Originally Posted by sherman1979 View Post
    hi cflee, i think its a franchise. But they do provide sponsorship up to a certain extent, like decorations, reno and stuffs like dat.
    In theory it's not a franchise as they do not really [provide you with all that you require to operate the business. It's more of a sponsorship or co-marketing. They sell u their services/products such as machines, papers and ink etc, in return you display their logo, banners and run their promotions, selling their films etc.

  18. #38
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    Default Re: Starting a - Digital Photo Express Shop

    Excellent post by syl.. i'm also a CPA and added some of my comments

    Quote Originally Posted by syl View Post
    I'm a CPA and I.... You either need the Good Lord's help or a massive dose of good luck in order to survive.

    Enough about generalities. Down to some very basic technicalities.

    1) have you prepared a budget?
    It's a must. You need to have detailed revenue and cost forecasts. Also helpful if you do a 3 scenario forecast, Best case, Worst case and Expected. If even at Worst case, u can still be profitable, or breakeven, then go ahead!

    1 key issue is you gotta be honest abt it. No pt lying abt how much you can earn etc cos end of the day, you will suffer.

    2) Cash flow statement? To determine the amount of capital you're going to need.
    Absolute must. Besides capital, it will also indicate how much cash you will have/need per mth basis. For photolab, you shd have +ve cashflow as most if not all customers are cash paying. More of an issue if you have big customers on credit terms.

    3) Operating costs for each kind of machine
    Impt for initial set up. Cost of operations varies and this is something that u gotta take the words of the reps from FUJI and KODAK with a pinch of salt. You prob need to probe them hard to see what hidden costs is not being reveal.

    4) Chemicals that are going to be needed and how often you need to change these chemicals - daily, twice weekly, weekly, monthly?
    I know many labs make or break with this... Less chemical = more profitable. However, it may deteroriate business as print quality falls... balancing act.

    5) Colour balancing for each print you produce, if you want repeat business
    Same as chemicals

    6) The various kinds of paper you need to keep in stock
    Not an issue imo, cos it's prob depends on your choice of machine. However, you may want to have some premium grade papers for some "special" customers such as those freelancers and professionals. Can charge a slight premium- product differentiation.

    7) Staff - recruitment and training of staff
    Impt - Service quality is one thing i find very impt for labs. Take Konota, if Mr Quek is not doing the printing, alot of regulars will not print from there, cos the difference is quality is visible, experience and courtesy plays a big part.

    8) Your commitment to work 12 - 14 hours a day, 7 days a week for the next ...years
    Depends. For me, if i open a lab, i managed it but it does not mean i have to "work" there. I do admit that close attention is likely needed for such business.
    9) Planned maintenance of machine - availability of spare parts if you use old machines.
    Given you kinda choose those more conventional and readily available models, parts should not be a problem. Warranty may be a problem as probably there's none. Servicing by local agent may also be a problem if u import the machine.

  19. #39

    Default Re: Starting a - Digital Photo Express Shop

    Not only doing prints,
    selling other services eg. the usual ones. passport foto, photocopying, photographic equipments etc etc.
    Other photographer/ videographer could drop in their services & sherman can be the middleman.
    If available space, a small studio for personal use or rent/ hr basis
    Im sure there are heaps of other things to put in, coz printing on its own won't work.
    I believe Sherman has work that out.

  20. #40
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    Default Re: Starting a - Digital Photo Express Shop

    Quote Originally Posted by sherman1979 View Post
    Thanks syl. your remarks really knocked some sense right through and brought me firmly to ground. This is the 2nd discouragement i receive today, the other being my targeted location was taken by some1 else.

    Well i was hoping this is the right forum to get some fundamental advise on the technicalities involve in photograhic printing, where else can you find thousands of photogs in one community. was just hoping one of em would kindly share tricks of the trade with me or some1 who shares the same ambition.

    thanks for spending time to draft the 9 q's above. It will no doubt be part of my checklist. hehe, i really cant afford the service of a cpa at the moment, really appreciate your advise.
    Actually, you can afford a CPA. local CPA charges very cheap for some of their services but thats something else. Just ask any of your friends who is CPA to look through your numbers and they can pick out the missing pieces or mistakes easily. If you dont have any, just pm me, i'll be glad to help.

    I think syl, myself and many Csers do wish you be successful. Heck, better still if you be hugely successful and gives us 50% on prints!

    However, my advice is Plan to Succeed with backup if you fail. Think of the worst case scenario and make it 10-20% worse. e.g. rental double (well, just happened isnt it?), raw materials doubled (also will happen since most of these chemicals derived from OIL if i'm not wrong). then think of the best case and expected scenario and make it 10% worse off.

    In this case, you will be prepared for the worse and anything better turns out, it will be pleasant surprise instead of a nasty one! :P

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