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MADE FRESH: HOW TO START A PHOTO BOOTH BUSINESS
BY THE PHOTO BOOTH BUSINESS GURU

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO PART OF THIS BOOK MAY BE USED OR REPRODUCED IN
ANY MANNER WHATSOEVER WITHOUT THE EXPRESSED WRITTEN PERMISSION OF THE
AUTHOR. ADDRESS ALL INQUIRIES TO:
[email protected]

LIMIT

OF LIABILITY/DISCLAIMERS OF

WARRANTY: WHILE

THE PUBLISHER AND AU-

THOR HAVE USED THEIR BEST EFFORTS IN PREPARING THIS BOOK, THEY MAKE NO
REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES WITH RESPECT TO THE ACCURACY OR COMPLETENESS OF THE CONTENTS OF THIS BOOK AND SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIM ANY IMPLIED
WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

NO

WARRANTY MAY BE CREATED OR EXTENDED BY SALES REPRESENTATIVES OR WRITTEN
SALES MATERIALS.

THE

ADVICE AND STRATEGIES CONTAINED HEREIN MAY NOT BE

SUITABLE FOR YOUR SITUATION.

YOU

SHOULD CONSULT WITH A PROFESSIONAL

WHERE APPROPRIATE.

NEITHER THE PUBLISHER NOR AUTHOR SHALL BE LIABLE FOR ANY LOSS OF PROFIT OR
ANY OTHER COMMERCIAL DAMAGES, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, OR ANY OTHER DAMAGES.

COVER DESIGN & INTERIOR DESIGN: THEPHOTOBOOTHBUSINESS.GURU
THE WEBSITES REFERRED

TO IN THIS BOOK ARE NOT THE PROPERTY OF THE PHOTO

BOOTH BUSINESS GURU OR IQON IMAGERY AND THEY MAY CHANGE AT ANY TIME.

FIRST EDITION 2014
FOR ADDITIONAL COPIES VISIT:
THEPHOTOBOOTHBUSINESS.GURU

CONTENTS
Welcome ......................................................................... 7
Why start a Photo Booth company? ............................... 9
How do we get started? ............................................ 13
Planning your business ................................................. 15
Business Registration and Insurance ........................ 19
How to launch fast or cheap ......................................... 22
Buying a Franchise .................................................... 24
Buying into a licensing arrangement ........................ 28
Buying a Photo Booth Business................................. 29
Building the Photo Booth yourself ............................ 34
Buying a complete turn-key Photo Booth................. 36
Choosing a Supplier............................................... 51
Buying the equipment second hand ......................... 55
How to Build a Photo BoothError!

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Dslr or webcam? ...... Error! Bookmark not defined.
Portrait or landscape?Error!
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Printer models.......... Error! Bookmark not defined.
Touch screen or push buttonError! Bookmark not
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Lighting ..................... Error! Bookmark not defined.
Software ................... Error! Bookmark not defined.
Software features .... Error! Bookmark not defined.
Social media ................. Error! Bookmark not defined.
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Twitter ...................... Error! Bookmark not defined.
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Instagram ................. Error! Bookmark not defined.
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Extra Flair ..................... Error! Bookmark not defined.
Sourcing your Supplies . Error! Bookmark not defined.
Photo Strip Graphics .... Error! Bookmark not defined.
Working out what to charge – how to make profit Error!
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Why most small businesses failError! Bookmark not
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Covering both ends of the marketError!

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Offline Marketing ......... Error! Bookmark not defined.
Friends and AcquaintancesError! Bookmark not
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Charity Events and Free GigsError! Bookmark not
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Wedding Fairs and ExposError!
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Word of Mouth – Getting and keeping great
customers................. Error! Bookmark not defined.
Targeting Events and CustomersError!

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Print Advertising....... Error! Bookmark not defined.
Designing your ads ... Error! Bookmark not defined.
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Online Marketing ......... Error! Bookmark not defined.
Social Media ............. Error! Bookmark not defined.
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Twitter, Pinterest and othersError! Bookmark not
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Get a Website........... Error! Bookmark not defined.
Get a logo ................. Error! Bookmark not defined.
Learn to Blog ............ Error! Bookmark not defined.
Pay Per Click (PPC) ... Error! Bookmark not defined.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)Error! Bookmark
not defined.
Groupon Type Deals. Error! Bookmark not defined.
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Email Marketing ....... Error! Bookmark not defined.
How to Measure Marketing Success............... Error!
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How to sell the easy way . Error! Bookmark not defined.
Open............................. Error! Bookmark not defined.
Qualify .......................... Error! Bookmark not defined.
Trial Close ..................... Error! Bookmark not defined.
Objections/Road BlocksError! Bookmark not defined.
Trial Close Again ........... Error! Bookmark not defined.
Follow Up ..................... Error! Bookmark not defined.
Close ............................. Error! Bookmark not defined.
Discounts and Haggling Error! Bookmark not defined.
Great Customer Service SellsError!

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Scarcity Sells – Using the DeadlineError!

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Why Most Small Businesses Fail Part 2 – How to
Systemize your Workflow Error! Bookmark not defined.
Outsourcing.................. Error! Bookmark not defined.

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Accounting ................... Error! Bookmark not defined.
Rostering ...................... Error! Bookmark not defined.
Bookings and taking paymentsError! Bookmark not
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CRM (Customer Relationship Management) ...... Error!
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Email and Google Apps Error! Bookmark not defined.
How to run an event ........ Error! Bookmark not defined.
Reconnaissance ............ Error! Bookmark not defined.
Turn up Early ................ Error! Bookmark not defined.
Running the event ........ Error! Bookmark not defined.
Dealing with drunk peopleError!

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Issues and equipment failuresError! Bookmark not
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Conclusion ........................ Error! Bookmark not defined.
Resources ......................... Error! Bookmark not defined.

6

“Often the difference between a successful person and
a failure is not one has better abilities or ideas, but the
courage that one has to bet on one's ideas, to take a
calculated risk - and to act”.
- André Malraux

WELCOME
Congratulations. Welcome to the Photo Booth industry.
Welcome to being your own boss, calling the shots and
blazing your own path. Well done for seeing an amazing opportunity, having an idea and having the conviction to follow it through.
But in the end ideas are just ideas. Ideas come and go
like the tides falling and receding on a beach. What
takes an average idea to being an amazing one is action
with a little bit of self-belief thrown in. You are now one
of the few people in this world who has taken the first
step to controlling your own future. Welcome to the

7

opportunity to make as much money as you like – no
ceilings.
What you have in your hands is a valuable collection of
secrets, tips and tricks that I have learned from years in
the industry starting and operating businesses. These
aren’t just my tips and tricks but some of the best advice from the top operators in the industry. My purpose
for writing this is to share the information and lessons I
have learned to give you a head start on your new business. I have written this book without any assumptions
about your business experience so anyone can benefit
from it regardless of skill. My hope is that you can bypass a majority of the mistakes that I and others have
made and jump straight onto the fast track to accelerate and grow your business and to place among the top
companies in the industry.
One of the best pieces of advice I can give you in business is to learn before you earn. Reading this book is a
great start as it is full of practical information. However,
the more you read the more your skills will improve, the
better the ideas you will have, the more your passion

8

for your business will grow and the stronger your business will become.

WHY START A PHOTO B OOTH COMPANY ?

You might have bought this book because you were
simply interested in the idea of a Photo Booth company.
You might have seen one at an event and thought “that
looks like a fun business to run”. Or maybe you have
been seriously looking at the idea for a while but are
not quite sure where to start. You might be in the process of starting a Photo Booth business or you might
have been running one for some time and would appreciate learning from someone else’s experience. Whatever your position might be you may or may not realise
the exciting possibilities that a Photo Booth business
represents.
The first and most obvious reason is to make money.
The Photo Booth industry is quite unique in that you
can work as much or as little as you like. You can take
bookings when it suits you. You can work on the week9

ends or in your spare time to make incredible amount
of extra cash while you still work a day job. You can also
push it and grow it as far as you like. You can completely replace your reliance on working for a wage and making someone else rich. You can take as many bookings
as you can, hire staff, expand to other states and operate multiple locations while earning as much money as
you like. With a good business model you can remove
yourself from the day to day operation entirely and enjoy cash coming in from an mostly automated operation. The Photo Booth business is an incredibly effective
way to just make some extra cash or to get out of the
rat race completely.
The Photo Booth business is so incredible because it is
so scalable. People love the concept of the Photo Booth.
It’s a classic example of an old concept made new. It’s
got that old world feel of the classic chemical Photo
Booths made famous in the 1930’s, mixed with new age
selfie and social media sharing. The meeting of old and
new in a social function is just so perfect and it makes
beautiful sense. People love nothing more than getting
in a Photo Booth, taking away a memento of the fun
and creating a memory for ever. Photo strips live on
10

fridges, in wallets and on pin boards at work. They live
online where they are seen by millions while the concept grows more and more popular each and every day.
The Photo Booth is fast becoming the norm for any social function such as weddings, parties, corporate functions and any type of gathering that involves people.
The demand for the Photo Booth is exploding so in general terms the more Photo Booths you have the more
demand you can satisfy and the more money you can
make.
Here is a graph of the search trend for the term “Photo
Booth Hire” over the last few years. As a rough indicator
the trend is solidly rising and just starting to rise sharply. This is an indication that demand is growing steadily
and possibly about to explode upwards.

11

FIGURE 1 SEARCH TRENDS FOR "PHOTO BOOTH HIRE"

Entry into the Photo Booth industry doesn’t require a
lot of knowledge, skill or investment. As an example if
you compare Photography as a business it requires a lot
of technical knowledge, skill and experience before you
can start to really make some decent income. With a
Photo Booth hire business you can get started in a very
short space of time or do it all yourself. Whether building a Photo Booth your-self or buying a fully built model
you can start making an income straight away. Many
new start-ups will pay off their initial investment
amount within the first few months of business.
Possibly the greatest reason to start a Photo Booth
business is that the industry is so young. Photo Booth
hire as a business has only really started making headway in the last few of years. The industry in most coun12

tries is incredibly vibrant and brimming with new ideas.
This means that there are a lot of people coming up
with their own solutions and offering a large range of
services. As an example you can choose to build your
own Photo Booth or buy a professionally manufactured
model and save time and money. In either case you can
go much further than just Photo Booths and offer video,
social media services, slow-motion videos, flip books
and the list goes on. As time passes there are Photo
Booth suppliers and software vendors offering new features, new concepts and new platforms. Photo Booths
are getting more flexible, more feature packed and
smaller and easier to manage. There is always room to
add-on other related services that your customers will
be interested in. It is completely true that where ever
you take your business is up to you – what matters is
building a successful and profitable platform around it
so you can sit back and enjoy the cash.

HOW DO WE GET STARTED ?
This is a collection of the secrets, tips and tricks learned
from years in the industry. Having been involved in
more than 150 start-up businesses over the years I have
13

accumulated a wealth of knowledge, ideas, strategies
and tactics that work. These aren’t just my tips and
tricks but some of the best advice from the top operators in the industry. Reading this book is the best place
to start and the more you read and consume the healthier your business will be. We will continually be developing new content and articles over at thephotoboothbusiness.guru website to help you gain the edge and
accelerate your growth. Make sure you keep updated
and visit regularly. If there is anything you would like
more information or advice on send us an email at [email protected] and we may feature a
blog post about it.

14

“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they
don't

have

to

worry

about

answers.”

― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

PLANNING YOUR BUSINESS
Many of the books or information you read about starting a business will tell you to start by writing a business
plan. You can download a template online and your local government or business chambers may offer a version that you can use. By all means do this and then delete it! Honestly, if the template is more than three
pages long forget about it. Unfortunately many of the
business plan templates you come across will go into
way too much detail and most of the questions you
need to answer will require hours and hours of meticulous research. Business plans are what people focus on
when they are afraid of starting their business.
I am in no way saying that you should abandon all attempts to plan at all. Nor am I suggesting that you reck15

lessly jump head first into a business without a clear
direction. Yes you need a plan and yes you need to plan
properly. Unfortunately the traditional business plan
has become just that – traditional. There are so many
people out there stuck in the business plan phase,
spending far too many precious hours thinking, researching and agonising over the details and never actually starting their business.
Your essentials only, cut to the chase business plan
needs to answer these five questions:
Why?
The most important question – Why are you doing it?
Your business needs to have a point, a reason for being.
The answer to this question can only come from you.
The answer to this will affect all of the decisions you
make in your business and ultimately how successful
the business will become. Without this answer, you and
your business will be like a ship without a rudder, floating around and heading nowhere in particular.
Your “why” reasons don’t need to be complex or profound but they do need to be honest. It can be as simple as wanting to make some extra cash or wanting to
16

be insanely rich. It might be that you want to build a
legacy for your family or amass a huge business empire.
Whatever it is make sure you are being honest about it
and don’t feel ashamed of your answer. If your reason is
just to make insane amounts of money, unless you are
honest and admit it you will never consciously plan for it
and you have no hope of achieving it. It also doesn’t
have to be just one reason either.
What?
Once you know the “why” you can work out “what” you
need to do achieve these goals. If your reason for starting is to leave your job and work for yourself then what
you need to do to achieve that is easy to work out. If
you have bills to pay and a lifestyle to support a simple
goal would be to earn the same income or more from
your business as you do from your job. You know how
much you get paid and after you do your research (covered in the chapter “Working out what to charge – How
to make profit”) you will know how much profit you can
make per hire. Let’s say you make $800 per hire in profit after wages and taxes and other operating costs. If
your employment income is $80,000 per year then you

17

now know that you just need to clear 100 hires for the
year to make this income. This now becomes a metric
that tells you how the business is performing. Every hire
you get brings you one step closer to your goal.
How?
Now that you know what you need to achieve you will
need to come up with some ways to do it. Anyone can
set goals but the journey is all about how you get there.
This book is all about the how and providing you with
information and proven strategies to help.
When?
When is it going to happen? Set yourself a deadline and
stick to it. A plan without deadlines is a dead plan.
Once you have the answers to these questions write
them down. Don’t stress about being exact or covering
all possibilities. If you think your goals are too lofty or
not viable don’t worry about that either. The thing that
they don’t tell you about business plans is that they
need to be fluid. This is why filling in long and laboriously detailed business plans is a waste of time. Your plans
could change tomorrow and the last thing you need to
do is waste time re-writing your dusty old business plan.
18

You can write your plan on a single piece of paper and
use as many drawings, pictures and mind mapping diagrams as you want. Include pictures of the car you want
to own or the cruise holiday you want to go on. As your
business moves along and adapts the plan will change
and re-writing will be a quick and easy process. For example, imagine a new competitor moves in or you come
across an opportunity to enter a new market. Your
business plan cannot possibly predict the future so
there is no way that it can be rigid and high detail becomes a waste of time. Instead having a high level set of
goals will help you stay focussed on what you want to
achieve while the plan for how to get there changes.
Keep your “why” answers and your goals front of mind.
Print them large and stick them around your desk. Focus on these goals and make your business decisions
based on whether it will bring you closer or further
away from them.

BUSINESS REGISTRATION AND INSURANCE
Sorry to be a bore but you have to consider the local
laws and customs when starting your business. Because
this book is sold all over the world there is no set stand19

ard. The best piece of advice I can give you is that unless
you are confidant and experienced in this, save time
and get professional help straight away. A legal professional can help you get the right business registration in
order and make sure you comply with all the correct
laws. They can also write your terms and conditions so
that you are legally covered according to local laws.
Insurance is also a must. In some countries the consequences of not being covered can be very serious and
can not only destroy your business but impinge on your
personal possessions as well. Depending on your country you may need to consider insurance to cover yourself and your employees from work place accidents,
your equipment and public liability in case other people
are hurt. Alarmingly there are too many cowboys in this
industry operating without adequate insurance cover
for their staff or the public. Insurance for your equipment is a judgement call you will need to weigh up
against the cost and the replacement amount of your
gear if it gets damaged. A professional is my advice
again here. Get in touch with a local insurance broker to
get the right cover and advice for your area.

20

You might also consider some repair and replacement
clauses in your terms and conditions to help cover costs
in the event of damage. As part of your contract you
can specify that the organiser is responsible for damage
under law. This is something your legal consultant can
help with.

21

HOW TO LAUNCH FAST OR CHEAP
One of the greatest things about the Photo Booth industry is that it’s new, fresh and unregulated. This can
be a bad thing and a good thing. What it means is that
the barriers to entry are almost non-existent. Almost
anyone can pony up some cash to buy a Photo Booth
and start hiring it out. This can be a bad thing when
inexperienced or ignorant people jump into the industry
head first. They can be offering bad equipment, poor
service, very low prices or a combination of all of three.
Unfortunately these people tend to burn themselves
out very quickly. This is also very fortunate as it means
there is plenty of opportunity for a smart operator, with
a smart approach, to absolutely clean up.
When it comes to starting up there are a number of options. The trade-off happens between starting quickly
and starting cheaply. Generally the most expensive options will see you up and running in the shortest
amount of time. The cheaper options will cost you less
in initial investment but will cost you more in time and
effort. Depending on which option and supplier you
22

choose the initial higher cost only applies to your initial
investment. Typically the less expensive start-up options can easily end up costing you much more in the
long run as well.
So here are some of the most common options going
from the most expensive to least expensive:
1. Buying a franchise
2. Buying into a licensing arrangement
3. Buying a business that is already operating
4. Building the Photo Booth yourself
5. Buying a complete turnkey Photo Booth
6. Buying the equipment second hand
Some people would disagree with the order that these
are placed in. Everyone has a different opinion on the
various start-up methods but what is important is that
you understand all of the risks involved with each option. Depending on your area you can find franchises to
buy from around $30,000-70,000. You can get into licensing arrangements for less than that and buying a
business can range from $80,000 upwards. Surely building your own Photo Booth would cost less than buying a
turnkey model? Take care to note that these are your
23

purchase costs only. Over the life of your business some
of these approaches can end up costing more than you
think. Failing to understand the long term costs is a
common trap so here is a breakdown of each option.

BUYING A FRANCHISE
Probably the most well-known franchise in the world is
McDonalds. Franchising is the practice of using an already established brand, product and business model
and operating it within a zone. The laws that regulate
franchises are different in each country and each franchise also works in different ways. In essence they are a
great way to get up and running extremely quick with a
low amount of effort. You will often get equipment as
part of the deal, training in equipment operation and
the business operation, templates, marketing, websites
and business leads supplied to you by a head office or
head franchisor. It’s also a low effort way to operate as
the head office will often handle all marketing and
building the brand and in some cases also handle all of
the sales and administration. They will often just send
you job details and you just need to turn up and set the

24

Photo Booth up. It is in pure essence a completely operable business model in a box. Sounds easy right?
Sounds more like you just bought yourself a job!
This is the common down side to the franchise. The system is already established and you just pick it up and
run with it. But it also means that for every event you
will be handing over fees to the head office for the
rights to use the brand and business model, running the
admin, marketing, developing the brand, sourcing leads
etc. Compared to other options your profits and earning
potential are limited. In most cases your pricing will be
controlled and standardised so you don’t have control
over that. You often can’t cut costs, source different
suppliers or change the way you do things to make savings on time like you can with your own business. You
might also be locked into a specific local zone limiting
your ability to make money.
With a franchise you are also placing your trust in the
head franchisor to look after the brand and the marketing. If the head office is run inefficiently and the marketing and brand suffer, or were never that good to begin
with, this will adversely affect your business and your
25

investment. The reason McDonalds franchises are such
a good investment is that the brand is one of the best in
the world and the business model is second to none. It
has high efficiency and incredible processes that cover
training staff. As you will discover if the equipment used
by a franchise is hard to operate you can forget about
training staff without a lot of trouble and constant
headaches.
The model also makes it hard to expand later on unless
you want to buy more franchises in other zones. It’s like
having the freedom of owning your own business while
being restricted at every step. And this is why a lot of
people liken it to working for someone else. This is the
reason why the franchise option is right at the top of
the list as the most expensive way to start up. The initial
investment might be modest at $30-70k but your ability
to recoup that investment relies on a lot of other factors that are mostly beyond your control. Your long
term earnings will most likely be much lower as well.
Because the business model is so well controlled, it can
be hard or nearly impossible to respond quickly to market demand. For example if a new technology starts to

26

gain momentum, such as Instagram printing, adding this
offering to your services may not be possible. As it involves adding new technology and new suppliers the
decision will most likely lie with the head office. Franchises can get very attractive group discounts from vendors but adding more vendors will need to go through a
decision process and the franchising company will need
to work out how to add to their offering. The ability to
experiment with new technology may not be possible.
I’m sure there are many other advantages that I have
not mentioned and there are many who will disagree
vehemently with me. Don’t misunderstand that there
are many great franchises out there such as McDonalds.
For a franchise to be a good investment it would have
to offer a near perfect business model and an incredible
brand. Unless you can find a brand that stands head and
shoulders above the rest, in this industry the case for a
franchise seems very weak when compared with the
earning potential of some of the other options on the
table.

27

BUYING INTO A LICENSING ARRANGEMENT
I have also listed licensing arrangements as the second
most expensive for much the same reasons. The more
business you do the more you give away. Again this involves a company licensing their business model and/or
brand or some type of proprietary equipment that they
have developed. The draw card here is that they have
come up with business processes, specific technology or
an amazing brand that is completely unique and no-one
else in the market has been able to compare. This is
much like the franchise system except that there are no
services being offered, meaning, you are working on the
marketing and admin services to keep the business running.
The reason it is expensive is much the same – you’re
handing over a portion of your profits in licensing fees
to use the system and/or brand. All licensing arrangements are different but quite often you are paying
these fees on top of your costs. The theory with licensing is that you can charge much higher because you are
offering a unique service or experience. The reality is
that due to the fast pace of innovation in the industry

28

everyone else will soon be offering it too. Because the
Photo Booth industry is not amazingly high tech, the
likelihood that a company can come up with something
worth paying the licensing fee for is very low.

BUYING A PHOTO BOOTH BUSINESS
Third on the list is the option of buying an already existing Photo Booth business as a going concern. Typically
what you are buying here is an already proven and operating business complete with equipment, marketing,
branding, website, repeat customers, future bookings
and perhaps even staff. Essentially someone else has
built the business and proven that it works and you can
now pick up from where they have left off. Understandably the cost for this type of purchase is higher than the
rest but in terms of income the rewards are much higher. However, there are a few things to watch out for.
Obviously the situation above is ideal and the price of
the business will reflect that. Imagine that you come
across a business that is proven, has been operating for
a number of years successfully, has a lot of profit on the
books and a great reputation in the market place. All of
those elements will come into play in the purchase price
29

of the business and it will be high as a result. Quite often not all of these elements are up to scratch and you
have to be careful here. There are copious amounts of
information and books written on how to value a business properly. So if you are interested in this avenue I
would suggest some extra research to help you be confident in your decision making. Here are a few things to
look out for:
Length of operation
-

How long have they been in business?

-

Has it been long enough for them to prove
their business model works?

-

They could be only showing you the last 6
months numbers from this seasons heavy
business periods. This possibly means that
for the next 3-6 months business may be
very slow.

Market place establishment
-

If they have been in business for more than
a year or two how is their market reputation?

30

-

Do they have a long list of happy customers
or many angry ones?

-

A quick search online with the business
name and words like “review” or negative
words like “scam” might bring some skeletons out of the closet.

-

How many bookings do they get per
month?

-

How many future bookings do they have
secured?

-

How does their website compare to others
in the area?

-

How big is their market – do they just do
weddings or do they have regular corporate
customers?

Business Systems
-

What is the standard booking process?

-

How easy are their business systems to operate? Look at areas you can tighten up
such as double entry, and complicated operations or unnecessary processes.

Equipment
31

-

What type of equipment is included and
what condition is it in?

-

Are they home-made Photo Booths or professional quality?

-

Are they easy to operate and train staff or
do

they

require

a

lot

of

technical

knowledge?
-

Are any trucks or transport equipment included and what condition are they in?

-

Are any repairs needed and what is the likely cost?

Staff
-

How many staff are on board and how well
trained are they?

-

How are they paid? Per event or hourly
wage?

The financials
-

You may have to sign a Non-Disclosure
Agreement before you have a look at their
financials but this is a very important step.

-

If you need help understanding all the
numbers it is definitely worth the fee in32

volved to get your accountant to look it
over. It could save you from buying an absolute lemon!
-

You want to make absolutely sure that they
actually have a profit and they have not
bought all of their bookings with cheap
prices.

-

Try to get an accurate picture of the business costs so you can perform a break even
analysis (covered in the chapter on “Working out What to charge – How to Make Profit”). See if there are any areas you can cut
to improve profitability.

As you can image this last part is the one of the most
important steps to evaluating a business to purchase. If
a business doesn’t actually make a profit then what is
the point? When you read a business listing online and
the opportunity looks absolutely amazing just remember one thing – they are trying to sell you their business
and they will tell you what they think you want to hear.
This isn’t to say that everyone selling a business is trying
to take you for a ride but they will only highlight the
best parts about the business to make it sound desira33

ble. As an example they might highlight some amazing
income revenue but hide that fact that their costs are
almost as high as their income meaning profits are incredibly low or non-existent. This also says nothing
about how efficiently the business is operating.
It’s also important to ask why they want to sell the
business. This will give you some great insight to what is
actually going on. It may be the case that they have
other businesses or projects that they want to focus on,
they might be starting a family and their time is about
to be restricted, they are moving interstate or perhaps
they have priced themselves into a corner and finally
realised that their business is not profitable.
Be curious and ask as many questions as you can. Look
for inconsistencies. Most honest people will be forthcoming about the reasons. However, some will deliberately try to mislead you so be careful and please get
professional advice if you are unsure.

BUILDING THE PHOTO BOOTH YOURSELF
This is likely to be the most popular part of this book.
Because it is such a big topic I have dedicated an entire

34

chapter to it. If you have skipped straight to this section
I implore you to read this chapter in full. You need to
consider all of the information before deciding that this
option will suit your business best as it can impact your
profitability in a big way.
Building your own Photo Booth can be the cheapest
option but the most costly in terms of time and effort
and ongoing maintenance. There is an abundance of
information available online with entire forums dedicated to the topic. I can highly recommend you join
www.photoboothowners.com for some of the best discussion and information. You can take advantage of the
lessons learned by others and ask questions about areas
you are unsure of. Whatever you do, make sure you
head into this with a definite plan. The biggest danger
here is that you could end up with a project lasting
months without ever launching your business. While
others are making money you are cutting and drilling
and remounting your way to a black hole. Make sure
that you value your time properly. Building your own
booth will delay your income. And please don’t take any
bookings until you definitely know when your booth will
be ready. It’s tempting to jump ahead but if you have
35

unforseen issues you may end up with a deadline that
you just can’t meet. Not to mention the unhappy customers that you let down.

BUYING A COMPLETE TURN-KEY PHOTO BOOTH
This is the essence of being an entrepreneur. Get your
own kit and start from the ground up. Design your own
brand, marketing, business systems and have an awesome time. There is no hiding the fact that this is personally my favourite way of doing things. The greatest
aspect of this option is that there is now an abundance
of professional Photo Booth manufacturers who can
supply a turn-key product ready for you to take out and
hire straight away. However, not all Photo Booth manufacturers are equal. There is a massive range in quality
out there so the model and supplier you choose can
greatly affect your profits. Here are some of the key
things to consider.
Portability
-

Does it take one person or many set up and
pack away? Here is where you can make a
big saving or incur a big cost. Sending more

36

than one person to each event will drive
your profits down. Choose a Booth design
that can be operated by a single person.
-

How long does it take to set up and pack
down? Again there is a time saving to be
had here. If it takes more than a half hour
to set up then that time is eating into your
profits.

-

Can one person easily move it from car to
venue and back? If there are twenty separate pieces to the booth and no easy way to
transport them all in one go, then you will
be paying more in time for people to walk
back and forth from your car into the venue. This will drain your profits at both set up
and pack down. And if the venue is on the
top floor of a building with a 10 minute
walk back to the car you’ll be paying for
that time too.

Transportability
-

Can you transport it in a hatchback or do
you need a truck to move it? Avoiding the

37

need for large trucks to transport the gear
also gets you ahead in keeping your costs
low. If you can use the car you already have
then that’s a significant saving in start-up
costs.
-

Does it weigh a tonne and require heavy
lifting gear to move it? Some of the fully
welded and wooden units can be extremely
heavy. Keeping the weight low means less
people are required to move it and therefore you don’t need to buy expensive hand
trucks or lifting gear.

-

Does it pack into a nice single unit or does it
disassemble into multiple separate pieces
that need to be transported in many trips to
the car? As mentioned earlier a time saving
can be had in a system that packs down into
a single unit. This means a single walk to
your transport at the start and end of the
events.

Materials

38

-

What is it made from? Wood, metal, plastic? There are a lot of materials and structure types on offer. Steel is great and hard
wearing but it is heavy. Aluminium is also
hard wearing and lower in weight. Wood is
very heavy and cheap but does take damage easily. It doesn’t travel well if you are
moving your booth frequently as you will
be. Wood also can swell when it gets wet
and under pressure screws can pull out between panels. When this happens you will
have no choice but to drill and re-screw or
replace.

-

How sturdy is the structure? Some of the
home made units make use of aluminium
tubing and plastic panels.

The problem

here is that the structure is usually not very
stable and the stress points are often held
together using plastic parts which break
easily. This is also a major safety concern as
people will be housed inside of the structure and there is significant chance of injury.
39

-

How hard wearing is the material? Will it
bend and stretch easily? Will it swell when
wet? Can it be repaired easily? Metal is
great, hard wearing and can be bent pack
into shape and repainted. Wood will quite
often involve replacing whole panels or sections when damaged. Any plastic parts will
damage very easily and can also be unsafe if
it is a structural element.

-

How flammable is it? This is another concern which has come to the fore quite recently. There have been stories floating
around about Photo Booths catching fire
where candles were involved as part of the
venue decoration. Whether it’s true or not
is beside the point – it is entirely possible
and could happen. Therefore you need to
take it into consideration. Metal again is
great as it requires extremely high heat to
be flammable. Wood is very flammable and
so is plastic. More importantly look for fire
resistant or retardant materials used in the
curtains on the booth. Many synthetic fab40

rics might be slow to catch fire but melt rather than burn. This can cause horrific injuries when it comes into contact with skin.
Natural fibres typically burn rather than
melt but can catch fire easily. There are a
lot of materials on offer so I won’t cover
them all here but please do some research
to make sure you understand the issues involved.
Manufacture process
-

Is it built in a proper factory or in someone’s
garage? This is one of the differences between professional manufacturers and
home builders and sellers. Some of the
products on offer are built in proper environments using industrial machinery and
tools. Others are built in someone’s yard in
their spare space and spare time. This is not
to say you won’t get a high quality product
or construction with the latter but it is
worth considering. Perhaps visiting the

41

manufacturer to make sure you are satisfied is advisable.
-

Is there a proper Quality Assurance process? This is a good sign of a high quality
production operation. If there is not a list of
items ticked off to ensure they have tested
everything up to a standard, then you can
be sure something will have been forgotten
or not completed.

Warranty
-

How long is the warranty? Find out if the
warranty covers all parts. 12 months is the
standard across the board for all equipment
– electrical or otherwise. There are some
unscrupulous persons out there who will incorporate refurbished equipment into their
products so it is worth checking on warranty terms for all parts.

-

Is the warranty back to base? Some manufacturers will ship spare parts and most
Photo Booths can be repaired and serviced
by you. If you can’t repair parts most manu-

42

facturers will repair under warranty but the
cost of getting your unit back to them is on
you. If they are close or have a local service
agent it’s not so bad. But if they are overseas you can expect to have no Photo Booth
for months at a time. Also keep in mind that
some manufacturers will use proprietary
parts meaning that spares cannot be
sourced locally and/or cannot be serviced
by you. Ask your manufacturer how easy it
is to replace parts.
-

Are all parts covered? Some Photo Booth
sellers will use refurbished equipment and
will only cover it for 3-6 months.

Support
-

Do they offer after hours support? As most
of your events will be on the weekends and
after hours you need support in case something goes drastically wrong.

-

Do they offer business support? This can be
form templates, videos, training guides,
graphics templates etc. These kinds of

43

things will help you get set up quickly and
also help when training staff.
-

Are there any costs or fees involved? Make
sure these fees are reasonable and won’t
add too much to your costs if you need to
use them.

-

Do they offer spares? You also need to accept that there will be issues. Equipment
breaks and fails and it’s just the way it is.
With this in mind there are some things that
manufacturers will not be able to fix on site
but there is quite often a work around
available. It’s how you deal with the situation that can often make or break your
business reputation. Carrying spares of all
critical components will cost more but could
save you from major headaches in the
event of failures.

Media cost
-

How much is it per print? This is usually for
a pair of 2x6” strips as most printers can only print a pair per vend. Some manufactur-

44

ers will advertise a cost per strip that makes
it seem cheap. What you need to determine
is the “cost per vend” which is the cost each
time someone uses the booth. Be very wary
of this cost as although it seems quite small,
a difference of 20c per print can add up to
$2880 per year in extra cost if you are doing
just a couple of events per week. As a rough
rule of thumb you can expect to go through
150-200 prints per event. From this you can
work out what your costs will likely be.
-

Is there a lock in contract? Some manufacturers operate on a code based system that
locks you into using their media only. This
can be extremely restrictive to your business as the media cost in these cases is often very high. You won’t have the option of
switching to a lower cost media or printer in
the future. If the manufacturer goes out of
business then you will have a very expensive paper weight on your hands.

-

Do they require a contract? Some will also
try to put you on a contract for media to try
45

and guarantee a certain amount of media
sales per year. These manufacturers might
claim that they are selling you the Photo
Booth at a very low margin to make profit
on the media. The downside here is that the
contract often serves them more than it
does you. Read the fine print. It may restrict
the amount you can buy per year or you
may end up spending more than you have
to with excess media stock.
-

Is the media easily sourced? There are differences in printer manufacturers as well.
Each one will have distributors and resellers in your area or country and some
may not. Make sure you can get easy access to replacement media and that it
comes in a timely manner.

Maintenance
-

How much maintenance is required? Some
Photo Booths will have a lot of clip together
parts that may need to be replaced very often. Apart from cleaning the booth and wip-

46

ing print heads there shouldn’t be too much
else to do.
Software functions and internal equipment will also require some attention for you to make sure you are getting the best product for your business. When it comes
to software there are a range of manufacturers that will
supply their own proprietary software and some that
will use third party software. When it comes to reliability as long as they are maintained they are pretty well
equal. If it is maintained it means that there are regular
updates coming out with bug fixes and new features. If
the software is updated once every couple of months
that’s fine but be wary of ones that have not been updated for a year or longer. Make sure you ask this question.
Software features are covered in more depth in the following chapter on “How to build a Photo Booth”. The
software features are important to ensure that you will
have all the options you want to offer to your customers. Social media is an important one both now and in
the future. Whether the manufacturer uses off the shelf
(third party) software or supplies their own, make sure

47

there are no restrictions in changing the software at a
later date. If the supplied software does not offer a new
feature that many of your customers are asking for then
it makes sense to switch. Be careful as some Photo
Booths are locked down to manufacturer software.
For equipment there are a range of cameras, printers,
lighting and PCs on offer. Some of the cheaper Photo
Booths will offer a simple webcam while the more expensive models will offer a higher quality Digital SLR
(DSLR) camera. The choice here is up to you and what
sort of benefits you want to offer your customer. The
webcam is cheap and simple but the downside is that it
is low resolution. It does an adequate job with lighting
and colour but the images don’t look the best. You may
hear the argument that since the images are printed so
small (3-4 images on a small 2x6” strip) you won’t notice the difference or it doesn’t justify the extra cost of a
DSLR camera. However, if you compare strips side by
side from a webcam and a DSLR you might notice the
difference. On the other hand a majority of your customers won’t be making this comparison and may not
care about it. One of the advantages of the DLSR is that
you can also take the full res images and offer large size
48

prints as an add-on service. DSLR has also become the
standard in the industry regardless of whether customers notice the difference or not.
For printers Dye-Sublimation is the industry standard.
They produce a high quality print and can hold large
amounts of print media and operate for hours at a time.
In some models you can go for four or six events without changing media. The print media is also incredibly
cheap and easy to source. Some manufacturers are still
offering other types such as ink jet printers. The paper is
readily available for these printers and so is the ink. Unfortunately printer ink is one of the most expensive substances on the earth. The detail and quality in these
prints are great but so is the cost. Not to mention they
take much longer to print. The colour also tends to fade
very quickly when exposed to sunlight whereas DyeSublimation prints are often archival quality.
For the most part modern Photo Booths have been built
around studio flashes to give that portrait quality look
to the images. Some use it to a better result than others. Have a look at some sample images and make sure
the lighting is even across faces, there are no shadows

49

under eyes and noses and people have a nice clear
catch light in the eyes. Some will use a pair of strobe
lights on either side of the camera while some will use a
single light. There are also some designs making use of
ring lights around the lens which give a great portrait
result. The main concern with studio lighting is that replacement lights don’t end up costing too much. Studio
lights also have the high possibility of misfiring. This
means that the odd image will come out black. This is
not a case of getting higher quality strobes but more
about the equipment used to trigger them. For this reason LED lights are also becoming more popular as they
can now output enough light at the right colour temperature to light images properly. They are also cheap
and reliable and don’t generate much heat.
Photo Booths come with either built-in computers or
removable laptops. For most of the professionally manufactured models a built-in PC can be a full touch screen
and PC in one or a tower PC and remote touch screen.
What’s most important is that it is a commercial model.
This means that the PC has been designed to operate
for long hours, has toughened glass and its warranty will
cover it for commercial use. Domestic type PCs, touch
50

screens and the all in one units are unfortunately not
designed for use over long hours or with the public (and
drunk people) in mind. They quite often don’t last the
distance and unfortunately if your PC has an issue at an
event it is one of the only things that cannot be worked
around (unless you have a spare). If you do have a domestic model that fails you might also find that the warranty does not cover it for commercial use. However,
the Photo Booth models offering removable laptops are
quite handy. Replacing the laptop can be quick and easy
and you can also remove it after the event so you can
unload images and load new graphics on without unpacking your Photo Booth. On the downside this is another piece that has to be installed and removed during
setup and pack down.
See the resources section at the end of the book for
some recommendations.
CHOOSING A SUPPLIER
It’s also pertinent to note here that the supplier you
choose is more than just your supplier for your business. How you treat your suppliers can have a big effect
on your business. A highly experienced supplier can be a

51

powerful business partner providing you with favours
and advice when you need it. When you are up against
a wall and need a favour a good supplier will help you
out in the interests of keeping and building a good relationship. This relationship is reciprocal and benefits
both you and your supplier. Abuse this relationship and
you may end up losing that support. If you are rude and
demand favours then they will have no reason not to
leave you in the lurch at the worst possible time.
It’s important to know what is a favour and what is really an obligation on your suppliers part. They are obligated by their warranty terms as much as you are so make
sure you understand them. For example if a part of your
Photo Booth has an issue they are most likely only obligated to a return to base warranty repair. That means if
they are sending you spare parts it is a favour. They are
going beyond the standard terms of the warranty to do
this for you. If you think this is bad service think again. If
you drop your Phone, or even if it just stops working
one day, the manufacturer won’t send you a new one
without getting the broken one back – and usually this
takes a long time.

52

It’s not hard to keep a supplier relationship healthy. It
doesn’t mean you have no option but to agree with
everything they say and do. It can be as simple as saying
thanks when they help you out. It’s a simple thing but
you would be surprised by how many people will take
and take without so much as a thank you. What a good
relationship means is that when you are short on printing media before a big event you are much more likely
to get it in record time. When you have issues on a
weekend you are more likely to get a good work around
than a simple “sorry it’s broken – send it back”. You are
more likely to get business leads and free advice when
you ask and preferential treatment when new services
and products come out. When a big group job opportunity comes along you will be first call on the list.
It also pays to ask your potential suppliers as many
questions as you can about how they work, pass on
leads and how they value relationships. Quite often you
will come across suppliers who have started their own
rental business and ended up building their Photo
Booth solution for others to buy. As they are running
their own rental company this presents a bit of a conflict of interest. They aren’t too likely to want to sell
53

new Photo Booths to people who will then become
competitors to their rental business. Sometimes they
will try to make you sign anti-competition clauses or try
to restrict you in some other way. This may not mean a
great deal to your business in start-up phase but if you
intend to expand to other states this could be severely
limiting. It pays to ask as many questions about how the
supplier will support or restrict your business.
The main takeaway point here is that your Photo Booth
supplier is one of the most important relationships in
your business. It goes both ways; you need to look after
it and so do they.

54

BUYING THE EQUIPMENT SECOND HAND
For one reason or another there are times when people
will be selling their Photo Booths second hand. They
might be liquidating the business because it has not
worked for them, they have to move interstate or they
just have no time. If you can find such a seller it might
be a good opportunity to snap up the equipment cheap.
Particularly if they have a deadline and you can offer a
lower price.
You still have to be weary though. All of the same considerations about buying a new Photo Booth apply. Especially consider these if the Photo Booth was built by
the seller. All of the problems they encountered in their
design are problems you will be inheriting. Make sure
you get full training as part of the deal. Also keep in
mind that there will likely be no warranty either. If they
are selling spares with the Photo Booth then definitely
snap those up too.
Regardless of whether the booth is home-made or a
professional model, Photo Booth equipment in the
rental game tends to have a limited life span and this is
what will end up costing you most. Photo Booths will
55

degrade and get damaged during transport, during set
up and during use. If the Photo Booth and equipment
was transported in a trailer or truck there will always be
scrapes and scuffs during loading and unloading. Over
time the vibration from transport can work loose screws
and bolts and cable connections. Staff will quite often
be rough with equipment and heavy gear is also more
likely to get damaged in handling. People using the
booth will be the most damaging as they are quite often
intoxicated and have a general lack of care. Older
equipment will also present more problems as time
goes on as parts fail towards the end of their natural
life.
As a result it is important to have a thorough look at any
second hand gear to try and work out exactly how much
will have to be replaced and what it might cost.

56

To read the rest of the book including:
-

How to build a Photo Booth

-

How to make profit

-

How to get customers (proven marketing
strategies)

-

How to systemize your business

-

How to run an event

As a reward for downloading and reading here is a coupon code to get you 30% off the purchase of the complete book.
Coupon code: downloader01244
Get the full book now at thephotoboothbusiness.guru

57

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