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  • Business practices

    For those of us that do manage to find restoration work, how "business-y" are you? Do you have bookkeeping software, cut invoices, etc.? Do you have brochures, price lists, even...business cards?

    Do you promote? Advertise? Offer coupons or return client or referral incentives?

    What has been your single most effective method of promotion?

    Do you have a business lawyer? Do you have a registered name? Do you have release forms for your clients?

    I got a request to know if I was bonded. What the heck is this? Is anyone bonded here?
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  • #2
    Hi Doug,

    I'm not positive but I think bonded means the same thing as being insured. I guess a photo restorer might want to be insured in case something happened to a precious photo or maybe because of copyright issues. That's my guess.

    akj

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    • #3
      I never had a restoration business, nor will I. But many business practices apply equally well to all service related businesses.

      Okay, I gotta come clean. After suffering a stroke several years ago, I was pretty much unemployable, not because of my physical condition, but I lost the job I had, and age was a factor (I had a 100% recovery). One of my sons was thinking about starting a business doing roofing, siding, basically exterior home remodeling. We went together to do just that. I was only trying to make enough at that time to make ends meet. After five years, I retired, and he took over the business by himself. It was a good experience, and I wore many hats, including that of laborer.

      What worked for us was doing a job as though it was our own home. This brought satisfied customers, and word of mouth. It takes ten recommendations to make up for one bad-mouthing. The next best thing was the yellow pages in the phone book. This type of advertising is not cheap, but it brings in a lot of leads.

      Ed

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      • #4
        Doug, I advertise in the local paper (which is published only once a week due to lack of much happening around here) and display restore examples at various functions like holiday celebrations etc.. I am not bonded although in a more populated environment I would consider it as if something happened to an old photo while in your keeping a legal hassle could arise. I do use work orders and spend time with each customer telling them what to reasonably expect and answering all questions. Other than that I depend mostly on "word of mouth" advertising. Tom

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        • #5


          Well I happened into this purely by accident. As I've said I live in and near a small town and about a year ago a business started up that does strictly film developing. Well I was visiting with the owners one day and one thing led to another and now I do all their restoration, manipulation and colorization work. I basically make a small amount (which believe me is small..lol) and sell my services to them at what I call a wholesale price and they mark it up just very slightly. I don't see or deal with any customers....they handle all that. I go to their shop twice a week and drop off and pick up orders. I don't mind telling you in a small town where people are still enamored by the fax machine...this has really become quite a business. I keep all my own books and by dealing wholesale I don't have to mess with sales tax collecting and payment...that is nice! The owners of the shop are happy because it's an added value service for their customers that doesn't exist within a two hour drive from town.

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          • #6
            Wow, Chris, I'm jealous!
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            • #7


              Well don't be yet Doug...I may have bitten off more than I can chew on this stuff...I can't believe some of the work that's coming in....an elderly couple came in the other day and said they were bringing back a picture to be restored once they got it out of their FREEZER!!!... I couldn't resist so I had to ask what it was doing in the freezer. The answer was this.... the lady found it and it was covered with termites so she just stuck it in the freezer, termites and all.

              Needless to say I told the owner of the shop to be sure and remove any sign of bugs before she gave it to me...I draw the line on scanning bugs.

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              • #8
                Talk about a challenge...

                I just had someone email me two days ago about a photo that had stuck to the mounting glass. She said someone had told her if she put in the freezer (in a ziploc bag) it would detach easier.

                I'd never heard that one before.
                Learn by teaching
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                • #9
                  I used to do custom B&W printmaking for a local processing service. We also did copy work, and many times people would bring in photos that were stuck to the glass. The method we found most successful was to let it sit in a tray of very warm water for a while. Sometimes it was necessary to use hot water, and let it sit overnight. This usually made the emulsion soft and fragile, but with care, it would work out pretty well. If you do something like this, it would be good to have the customer sign a waiver releasing you of any liability, just in case.
                  Ed

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                  • #10
                    Hi Chris,

                    Oh that bug story is absolutly hillarious!!!! Good luck on that one. And lucky you to be able to do the work and leave the customers and money to someone else. I'd love that.

                    Ed,
                    When you say to soak it in a pan of warm water, you don't mean to actually submerge the photo do you? Or do you mean to put it in a pan that is floating in hot water so that the humidity reaches it? I have had a photo stuck to the glass before and I didn't have a clue as to how to seperate it. Luckily it wasn't a request from a client.

                    DJ

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                    • #11
                      I should have been more clear. The photo gets submerged. After removing the photo from the glass, it should be dipped in a product such as Kodak Photo-Flo, then hung to dry. This is a product that lessens the tension of the water on the print, and allows it to dry spot free. Just a quick dip is all it takes, then you could use a photo squeege (very carefully) on it to get most of the liquid off before drying. There are some photographic papers that will curl badly when drying. These need to be sandwiched in a drying pad, specific for the purpose. Any decent size camera store should have the items, or at least tell you where you can get them.

                      I also should have told you that when you try to peel the photo from the glass, do it *very* slowly. If it sticks too much, don't force it, and give it more time in the water. I have soaked photos for two or three days before being successful. Occasionally, there will be a print that will not release, but most of them will.

                      Ed

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                      • #12
                        I just realized what I said. If you use the drying mat, do not hang it. Let it sit flat on a table. It won't hurt the print if you leave it there for quite a while, but after a couple of hours it might be dry enough. You have to check.

                        Resin coated photo paper will dry quickly without using a mat, and it will not curl badly.

                        Ed

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                        • #13
                          Wow sounds more complicated then I think I would want to do on someone elses photo. Is there some place that I would take it if I got one like that?

                          DJ

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                          • #14
                            Hi DJ,

                            If I get those bugs you want me to send em' on to you...lol?

                            Just a thought on the pictures stuck to the glass, I've had a couple of those and just scanned them in as is glass and all...they turned out okay.

                            I just didn't want to be the person to do any kind of damage to a picture...let the owner do the damage and then come to me to fix it.

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                            • #15
                              It's really a pretty simple process, but if you are afraid to do it, you could always try to scan it as Chris suggested, or you might be able to copy it.

                              The drying mat and the wetting solution (Photo-Flo) are relatively inexpensive. One small bottle of the solution will probably last you a lifetime if that's all you use it for, and the mat will last too. You might pick it up when you are in the area, to try on your own photos that are not too valuable (just to ease your mind). If you give it a try, I think you'll discover it's really not that bad at all. You just need to be very careful with the emulsion sticking. If you can find a professional photo processing lab in your area, they *might* be willing to do it for you. You'd have to ask. Either way, you would probably do well to have the customer sign a waiver for possible damage.

                              Ed

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