Media Conversion Company
The Memory Keeper
Utica, MI 48316
Because photographs, slides, movies, and videotapes (magnetic films) have a relatively short shelf life, transfer to DVD, which has unlimited shelf life, is the best technology to save the memories captured on those formats. Customers will be encouraged to transfer those images sooner rather than later with the help of The Memory Keeper.
The Memory Keeper began operations as a photography shop and studio. Customers would drop off film that would be processed on-site. They would often hang around the shop to chat while they looked at the latest in photographic equipment. As technology moved to the digital age, owner Todd Denton had a choice to make. He could close up shop and try to find work as a photographer, or he could move his shop and studio into digital technology. He chose the latter, and his shop evolved to help his faithful customers as well as new ones as they embraced the new technology together. Denton recognized that selling digital cameras and processing digital photographs was not going to pay the bills and began to research related photographic services. He quickly discovered that people were interested in preserving their traditional photographs and movies. Denton's plan is to expand his current business to help his customers and friends keep their memories alive in modern formats.
Because photographs, slides, movies, and videotapes (magnetic films) have a relatively short shelf life, transfer to DVD, which has unlimited shelf life, is the best technology to save the memories captured on those formats. Customers will be encouraged to transfer those images sooner rather than later. The Memory Keeper will work with the customer to create bookmarked chapters that will make DVDs easy to watch using an on-screen menu. The DVD format is relatively inexpensive, making it easy to share memories of weddings, parties, kids' sports, and vacations.
Todd Denton has 27 years of experience owning his own business and working with customers. He purchased his original photography shop and studio from his employer of eight years, who was retiring. Denton has made a practice of hiring co-op students from the local high school to work after school and on weekends. He has an office manager who has been with him for 10 years, handling inventory and the books. Either Denton or the office manager are on the premises, and more often than not, both Page 128 | Top of Article of them are there. During busy seasons Denton's wife, Trish, assists with the transfer process to keep orders filled in a timely fashion.
The owner's experience, coupled with the careful hiring of staff that will be carefully mentored to learn the business, will provide customers with assistance to choose the right end product for the job. Quality, attention to detail, reliability, and customer service will be of prime importance to all employees of The Memory Keeper.
Denton's long-time friend and attorney will continue to handle all legal matters, while the office manager will continue to work with the shop's accountant to handle all financial business, including taxes and insurance.
The Memory Keeper will enable customers to preserve family photographic and movie memories that are captured on old-fashioned film by transferring them to digital technology in a timely fashion. Customer service is the core of the family business dedicated to the preservation of memories on film.
The Memory Keeper will grow through offering quality products to customers and providing only the best in customer service.
Todd Denton is dedicated to provide his customers—who have become his friends—with quality service and quality products at reasonable prices.
Friendly service and customer satisfaction, together with a quality product, will bring customers back to The Memory Keeper time and time again for all their photographic and video needs.
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
Todd Denton has built a customer base that has grown over the years as he became friends with fellow photographers. He plans to expand the business to include amateur videographers who have captured family birthdays and holidays.
Denton plans a "Grand Re-opening" of his "new" shop during which he will advertise special offers for discounted and two-for-one services. A new graphic logo will be unveiled at an open house for current customers and their friends and family. That logo will be the focal point of new ads for local papers and Yellow Pages advertisements. He will also include it on ads in local free publications found in the lobbies of many establishments in Metro Detroit.
During slow months between peak holiday busy seasons, Denton will offer additional specials for his services on a rotating basis.
As the business grows, Denton plans to hire additional staff to take the burden off himself as he prepares to retire in about 10 years. He hopes to find an employee he can mentor, much like he was mentored, and who will eventually buy the business.
Because Denton is embracing technology for his reinvented business, he will launch a Web site that will allow him to provide his services for customers outside the Metro Detroit area. They will be able to send him their photos and movies that he will transfer to DVD format and return to the customers along with their original data formats.
The Memory Keeper will shift from a sole proprietorship to a partnership as Todd Denton brings his wife into the equation as a full partner. This will ease the transition later when the Dentons will sell the business. Particular attention will have to be paid to keeping the Dentons personal property and investments separated from the business, so additional legal fees will be incurred.
ADVERTISING AND PROMOTION
Invitations will be sent to current customers for the "Grand Re-opening," which will feature samples of the products that the new business will offer. The event will take place on a Sunday evening, with wine, soft drinks, and hearty hors d'oeuvres being served.
During the week following the invitation-only party, customers will be offered complimentary coffee and cookies as they work with Denton to choose the services best suited to their photos and/or videos as well as to the intended use of the new DVD being created by The Memory Keeper staff.
Flyers will be distributed to homes in the immediate neighborhood (within a 5 mile radius of the shop). They will also be included in the local weekly newspaper.
Ads will be placed announcing the Grand Re-opening, and press releases announcing the re-opening will be sent to the local in an effort to have articles written for free advertising. The ads will include a coupon for 10 percent off a customer's initial purchase over $50. Personal phone calls and e-mail follow-up will be made to build a relationship with area media in an effort to garner free promotions and marketing.
The primary customer base for The Memory Keeper will be a demographic of those over the age of 30 who have a substantial collection of family photographs and movies/videos in traditional formats of 35mm photographs, 8mm, 16mm, VHS, or even Betamax. Family memories of bridal and baby showers, weddings and rehearsal dinners, bachelor and bachelorette parties, graduations from elementary, middle, and high school or college, and children's sports and birthday parties can be transferred to DBD format to be shared and passed on to future generations.
Sports teams and athletic departments will be able to take advantage of The Memory Keeper's services to create montages of team highlights for playback at awards banquets and for use as a video yearbook.
Denton plans to expand his customer base by word of mouth referrals as well as from one-on-one meetings with event planners, athletic directors, and the like. He will also take advantage of free and paid publicity in the form of ads and press releases.
The customer base will extend to the Internet with the launch of The Memory Keeper's Web site, which will allow Denton to move beyond the Metro Detroit area for his customer base.
PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
Hours for The Memory Keeper's brick-and-mortar shop will be set to accommodate the customers. The shop will be open from 11 AM to 8 PM Monday through Thursday and from 10 AM to 5 PM Friday and Saturday. Sunday hours might be added in the future, as business demands and additional staff is hired.
The web site will be checked daily and updated as necessary to reflect specials, sales, etc. The e-mail and orders generated by web site traffic will be checked at least once every morning and every afternoon to ensure prompt attention to Internet customers orders and inquiries.
Customers who continue to use traditional 35mm cameras and film will still be able to have their cameras serviced and film developed at The Memory Keeper. Enlargements and specialty items made from favorite photographs and slides will also be offered as in the past.
Photo restoration will also continue to be available. Digital technology will enable The Memory Keeper to "repair" cracks and tears as well as remove stains and eliminate faded images.
In addition to traditional film and camera service, The Memory Keeper will offer film transfer for 8mm, Super 8, and 16 mm movies, as well as video tape transfers, including VHS, Betamax, Digital 8, and others.
All transfers will be made carefully and fully, frame by frame in the case of 8mm, Super 8, and 16mm, onto DVDs that can be played on a standard home DVD player. Because of the age of those images, The Memory Keeper will examine the film, and make necessary repairs to the film and to the sprockets on the reels prior to transferring the images to a DVD. In addition, slides, negatives, and old photos can be transferred by The Memory Keeper.
Originals will be returned with the new DVD(s). Customers will not see color, light, or speed being compromised in the transferred images.
Optional enhancement and blow-up services will also be available at prices competitive with FedEx/ Kinkos, Staples, etc.
Photo montages for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, funerals, and wakes will be another option for customers who want to preserve memories. Montages will include titles and can include music of the customer's choice. Photos will be cropped electronically to highlight the picture's subject, and borders will be available at an added charge.
DVDs will all come with visual bookmarks and menus to enable customers to go directly to the image(s) they want to view. Each bookmark will be identified with a title decided by the customer for easier searching and identification of memorable events.
DVDs will be professionally labeled, not just a name scribbled on the DVD with a Sharpie.
The Memory Keeper will remain in its current location in Utica, Michigan, although it will expand to incorporate the neighboring storefront when it becomes available. That lease will be available in approximately 9 months, which gives Denton about three months to prepare the space and update according to his needs in order to announce the expansion at the one-year anniversary of The Memory Keeper. Customers are familiar with the location and it is on a main road in a popular strip mall that also features a Kroger store, a Walgreens, a Dollar Store, and a dry cleaner in an upper middle class suburb.
Denton currently pays $1,024 a month for his leased retail space. He is working with his landlord to work out an arrangement that will double his square footage without doubling his lease payment. Currently his lease includes taxes, utilities, trash removal, and snow removal. Denton would be interested in purchasing the properties, and his attorney is in discussion with the landlord.
STORE DESIGN AND EQUIPMENT
Denton plans minor renovations to the current photography shop and studio. A large flat screen plasma TV will be mounted on the wall behind the main service counter. Two desks with two chairs for customer seating opposite the tech representative will be on either side of the room for consultation purposes.
A computer at the main service counter will serve to track sales, monitor inventory, and track purchasing trends. That computer will be connected with a computer in the office that will track payroll, employee benefits, taxes, and standard operating expenses, including utilities, rent, insurance, and all banking transactions.
The majority of the studio will be for the actual work being done. A computer will be at each work station. The dedicated lab will house scanners and 3CCD cameras for transfer (with three chips to capture colors rather than just one chip in the 1CCD cameras).
Film processing equipment will remain in house for work on traditional cameras and photo processing for long-time customers who have not yet embraced the latest in digital photography. Equipment in the lab will be serviced routinely for the best possible transfer of the customers' images.
Denton will continue to work with his current financial manager, who has been with him for the last 15 years. They have established an excellent working relationship, and when the manager is away, his partner handles Denton's business and personal finances.
Other start up costs will include any fees for registration of the name and the business with all government authorities. In addition, the owners will have typical overhead costs of rent/mortgage payments, taxes, payroll, payroll taxes, key man insurance, property insurance, liability insurance, inventory, telephone and utilities, an alarm system, and advertising.
PROFESSIONAL AND ADVISORY SUPPORT
As with managing the financial aspect of The Memory Keeper, Denton will continue to work with the attorney he has retained for 10 years. He is well versed in small business law in Michigan.
Denton will also continue to work with the insurance agency he has worked with for 20 years to provide life, health, and dental insurance, as well as property-casualty coverage for the store, its inventory, technology, and customer's photos.
Denton will work with TCF Bank to finance the purchase of equipment needed to open The Memory Keeper and for renovations when he acquires the lease on the neighboring store. Denton will be able to access his line of credit to help him finance the initial days of his reinvented shop and services.
BUSINESS AND GROWTH STRATEGY
Staying on the cutting edge of technology will be of prime importance to continue providing a quality product. Only professional equipment will be used, unlike some competitors, who use amateur equipment that can be purchased from the local appliance and computer store. The Memory Keeper will maintain a dedicated lab environment for all transfer work. Images from slides, negatives, and photos will be scanned and converted to JPEG files that will then be saved in DVD format that can be used on either a computer or DVD player. The images can be sent electronically via e-mail to friends and family, or used to create an electronic scrapbook. All scanning will be done on-site, giving customers peace of mind that original photo memories are not in danger of being lost in transit. Nothing will be outsourced. Costs will remain competitive, and turnaround for completion of a job will be within a week's time or less. Customer service will be primary importance, so one-on-one consulting will enable each customer to ask questions before an order is placed, while an order is being completed, and after the job is finished.
Options that will be available will be adding music to a video montage, conversion of old home movies for a family movie DVD, picture transition timed to music, depending on customer feedback and inquiries.
Staying in tune with technology and evolving to meet the needs of today's customer while saving yesterday's memories will allow The Memory Keeper to continue to serve a growing customer base.
While several shops offer to transfer images to DVD technology, The Memory Keeper will set itself apart with quality - in equipment, customer service, product, and reliability. Denton's business will cater to a changing world, blending the best of traditional photography and movies with the latest in technology.
Prices will remain competitive. Specials will be offered, including volume discounts.
Denton plans an online presence with a store web site that will provide the usual contact information, hours, and a map to the store location. The web site will also provide an interactive chat room for customers to consult over the Internet with on-site staff. Customers from outside Metro Detroit will be able to access price lists, online specials, and an annotated list of transfer services offered by The Memory Keeper. Denton will have the web site built by professionals in keeping with the professional image he plans to present and maintain for a growing customer base.
The reinvention of Todd Denton's photography shop as The Memory Keeper will bridge his current customer base of traditional photographers with new technology to save precious images and memories on traditional film on DVDs. Within a year, the size of the shop will double, with three quarters of the expanded square footage being devoted to dedicated equipment and technology to continue to build the profitable business.