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Thread started 08 Jul 2011 (Friday) 23:35
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Taking over a failing co-op studio!

 
Inqe
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Jul 08, 2011 23:35 |  #1

:mrgreen:

So...just looking for some input and advice.

I just decided to take over management (and hopefully, eventually ownership) of a local co-op photography studio. It's established and has maintained itself for over 4 years. When I say "maintained", I mean that it virtually runs itself with no effort. BUT, that lack of effort and interest from the owner has caused it to begin to decline.

That's where I step in! I am going to overhaul as much as possible with little financial investment. It's a long story. But, I will be investing my time only. If I get it to profitable status, I will get to keep the profits. Just as a sidebar, we are in agreement in having contracts that protect both of our interests. It really is a "turn-key" opportunity for something that just needs some TLC and proper marketing.

So...what I would like to know is what would you want in a studio that you would be proud to bring your clients into??

Keep in mind, this is a co-op, but not the kind where it's just 4 photogs sharing studio. It's a HUGE studio with like 100 members that subscribe to various amounts of time based on their membership. But, we also rent to hourly people and commercial etc.etc. So, this is really a community studio accessible to everyone.

I know you can't make EVERYONE happy. But, the diversity of the studio and the size has been very appealing to many. but, it's in disrepair, and needs some updating and basically to be rebranded etc.

So, I'd just like to know what kinds of things you would look for or hope for in a place like this? I want to make as many people as happy as possible, but also reasonably. I already have boat-load of plans and ideas to implement. I'm just hoping for some outside perspective too. What would make you want to come to "Joe-Blow Studio" and shoot as a member or even just occasionally?

TIA!

Heather


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Skrim17
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Jul 08, 2011 23:38 |  #2

I don't know how you run booking, it would be nice to be able to do it all online so you just show up when it is your turn. I would be interested in sharing backgrounds as well as being able to bring my own, cleanliness is a must as well, especially if I will have models/clients changing in the bathrooms.


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Inqe
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Jul 08, 2011 23:46 |  #3

Skrim17 wrote in post #12728130 (external link)
I don't know how you run booking, it would be nice to be able to do it all online so you just show up when it is your turn. I would be interested in sharing backgrounds as well as being able to bring my own, cleanliness is a must as well, especially if I will have models/clients changing in the bathrooms.

Yep! Exactly! and this place already has two private dressing rooms and a ton of back drops...not to mention a Cyc wall, two interior studios...one is set up like a living room and one is like an adobe kind of thing. Sounds horrible in writing. But, cooler if you could see them. Anyway, I need to make changes to those sets too so that you could drop a backdrop down easy if you didn't want to use the rooms as they are.

oh and i forgot to mention...booking is already automated online. It's really pretty easy to book your time and then pay via paypal or send a check to the studio or just show up with cash or a credit card.


:eek: I can't believe after ALL these years, I finally have a 5D MKII!!! It's glorious! It's MY PRECIOUS!!:cool:
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golfecho
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Jul 09, 2011 06:07 as a reply to  @ Inqe's post |  #4

Is there any room behind the building? I'm thinking if there is, you could build some outdoor sets (like a barn scene with hay bales about, or a covered bridge scene). Think along the lines of a movie set, where from the camera it looks like a real scene, but there is no realness to it.

Just a thought . . .


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J ­ Michael
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Jul 09, 2011 08:31 |  #5

Ask the members. You need to survey both current and former members to determine what they like and don't like as well as what they think should be added or changed, as well as their level of comfort with increases in membership fees. Do you host events? A gallery show or similar event fosters feeling of community and can help drive membership interest in the public who attend.




  
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PhotosGuy
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Jul 09, 2011 09:02 |  #6

J Michael wrote in post #12729223 (external link)
Ask the members. You need to survey both current and former members to determine what they like and don't like as well as what they think should be added or changed, as well as their level of comfort with increases in membership fees. Do you host events? A gallery show or similar event fosters feeling of community and can help drive membership interest in the public who attend.

Good advice.

So...what I would like to know is what would you want in a studio that you would be proud to bring your clients into??

And it wouldn't hurt to do a walk around with your camera to show us what you're starting with?


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2DP
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Jul 09, 2011 09:06 as a reply to  @ J Michael's post |  #7

Maybe make the studio available to artists and sculptors, for gallery display nights/weekends, etc. Don't limit yourself to just photographer's and their clients. The more people you can flood through the door, the less your marketing costs will be. I think J Michael has the right idea. Survey the locals and find out what they need. You have a huge audience on here, poll a list of everything you think should be included in the studio and see how the results stack up.

Very few of us own or have access to your proposal, but most of us would have a pretty good idea of what we would like.

Best of luck.




  
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golfecho
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Jul 09, 2011 09:45 |  #8

J Michael wrote in post #12729223 (external link)
Ask the members. You need to survey both current and former members to determine what they like and don't like as well as what they think should be added or changed, as well as their level of comfort with increases in membership fees. Do you host events? A gallery show or similar event fosters feeling of community and can help drive membership interest in the public who attend.

Actually, some seeds of a great idea here . . . have a community open house or some other public event where many folks in the community have the opportunity to see your facility. An exibit by members with a wine and cheese tasting event is what came to mind. Bring in co-sponsors??


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Fernando
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Jul 09, 2011 10:39 |  #9

Inqe wrote in post #12728118 (external link)
:mrgreen:

So...just looking for some input and advice.

I just decided to take over management (and hopefully, eventually ownership) of a local co-op photography studio. It's established and has maintained itself for over 4 years. When I say "maintained", I mean that it virtually runs itself with no effort. BUT, that lack of effort and interest from the owner has caused it to begin to decline.

On another note, make sure you have your CPA or Attorney look over the current structure of this co-op. While some laws vary from state to state you want to make sure you're not getting into any IRS issues. You mention "the owner" and that you might be taking over "ownership". Generally the whole point of a co-op is that it's owned by it's members as a non-profit co-operative. Otherwise it's just a company (llc, llp, s-corp, etc.)


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ssim
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Jul 09, 2011 11:46 as a reply to  @ Fernando's post |  #10

In a previous city that I lived in and worked in another industry I belonged to a camera club. Someone started one of these studio rental places and let the camera club hold their meetings there one night a month with the odd extra night every now and then. It was always done so as to not impede on their business but it certainly provided alot of interest in their facility and generated even more word of mouth marketing.


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Inqe
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Jul 09, 2011 12:09 |  #11

golfecho wrote in post #12728995 (external link)
Is there any room behind the building? I'm thinking if there is, you could build some outdoor sets (like a barn scene with hay bales about, or a covered bridge scene). Think along the lines of a movie set, where from the camera it looks like a real scene, but there is no realness to it.

Just a thought . . .

Unfortunately, there isn't much of any outside space to use. BUT, we do actually have two studio sets inside. They're just a bit "dated" and those who have shot there are bored with them.

So, I hope to alter the sets or make them more easily able to be changed.


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WayneCornish
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Jul 09, 2011 12:10 as a reply to  @ Fernando's post |  #12

Firstly I like your enthusiasm and good luck but I had the same query as Fernando,

Is it:
a) A true co-operative where any profits after overheads and administrative expenses are returned to the members?
or
b) A commercial organisation where members can simply use the facilities at no extra charge outside of thier subscription?

Obviously if A. is the answer you need to be very careful, and you could take a salary but you can't take all the profits (basically seek legal/accountancy advice).

If B. is the answer you should be aware that you will probably never make enough money out of the business to buy it. As an example lets say a business has $100,000 of assets and is currently breaking even. If you turn a profit of $25,000 at the end of year 1 and then turn a profit of $50,000 at the end of year 2 and then want to buy the business you have basically taken $75,000 from the business. However the business is likely to be valued at 3x-5x the annual profit (which is likely to include what you have taken) plus its assets. Therefore the business is now worth between $250,000 - $350,000 so the you have increased the value of the business by $150,000 - $250,000 while you have taken $75,000.

The longer the business grows the more unlikely you are to be able to buy it. Obviously if the profit levelled out at $50,000 per annum you would be looking at 5-6 years if you didn't spend any of it and had another income.

The owner (if he is the owner) is frankly on a winner as he is basically getting free labour to increase the value of his business. If you are looking to own the business in the future I would try to agree a price and timescale in advance or look at some kind of staged equity release at a fixed price over an agreed timescale.

I own several businesses and have mentored startup businesses so thought I would try and give some constructive advice on the financial front.

If it were me and it was a commercial business I could turn into profit I would buy it today when it is cheap.


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J ­ Michael
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Jul 09, 2011 13:59 |  #13

Leave the legal and tax stuff to the attorney and CPA. It's assumed you have those. Take your final plan to them and see what needs to be done to implement.

Re the ideas about environmental portrait sets, considering the location I would guess there are plenty of ranches in the area and one or more might be conducive to some type of financial arrangement with the club/co-op that permits location shooting. Same for other venues. That's the type of thing I would include in a survey, desirability of such an arrangement and dollar value. Could be you might have varying membership levels that provide different features.




  
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Jul 09, 2011 14:14 |  #14

If there's really a lot of space, be sure the video production community knows about you as well. Having enough room to work with say, cars is something many production companies would kill for!


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Inqe
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Jul 09, 2011 17:29 |  #15

Wow! I can't thank you guys enough for all this awesome advice! Some of the suggestions I have considered...but, I wondered if anyone would actually find it useful, like opening the space to have gallery showings and such and more commercial interests! Like there is DEFINITELY space for cars n'such. that's one of the selling points already. It's good to know that I'm on the right path!

Just as an FYI because it was asked for, I'm gonna attach the link to the website. Any CC is MORE than welcome! But, please note that much of what is on the site is no longer accurate...one of the tasks I am working to rectify.

So, here goes: http://www.northdenver​photographers.com (external link)


:eek: I can't believe after ALL these years, I finally have a 5D MKII!!! It's glorious! It's MY PRECIOUS!!:cool:
40D-Gripped, Canon 50 1.4, 85 1.8, Canon 100mm 2.8 Macro, Sigma 10-20 3.5-5.6, Canon 70-200 2.8L IS, Sigma 24-70 2.8, Lensbaby 2.0, 580EX, 550EX, PW's.
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