How to start a Photo Booth Hire Business. Part 1
So now you're really starting to get serious about this great new revelation you've had to start your own Photo Booth Hire / Photo Booth Rental business. Here are the first steps and considerations before you fully commit yourself to any aspect of your potential business.
This blog has been recently updated to include the most up to date information and links to help you get started in the Photo Booth Industry. The linked resources are geared towards Australian readers however the information is relevant to anyone in USA, Canada, New Zealand or England.
1. Market Research
It is imperative you spend the time researching all local photo booth hire competitors so you have a clear picture of what is already on offer in your local market.
Set up a spreadsheet in advance. As you find and contact existing photo booth operators you can extract the important pieces of information that will allow you to form an overview of your local photo booth rental market. I would suggest as a minimum you find out the following:
- Name of Operator
- Year started
- Types of Photo Booths
- How many Photo Booths
- Attendant Required
Most of this information you will be able to glean from each photo booth rental operators website. To find out the year they started visit the ABN Lookup site: abr.business.gov.au This will also show you if your competitor has other businesses they run which can be interesting to know especially if they own more than one photo booth business. I would also suggest you send them an enquiry to see how professional they are and to also get a proper quote to see how readily they discount their pricing to get business.
Once completed, analysing your competitor analysis is really important and as such you should spend a lot of time assessing the results and drawing conclusions. You should be able to see any potential niches whereby you might be able to exploit. For instance if none of your competitors are offering a certain type or style of photo booth e.g. "Slow Motion Video Booths" then this is potentially a niche to focus on in your photo booth business. Conversely if the majority are offering "Closed Traditional Photo Booths" then the last thing you want to do is offer them too as you will all be fighting for the same business and this always drives prices and therefore profits down. You need a valuable "Point of Difference" (POD) as this adds value to your product/service and allows you to charge a higher price. This does not necessarily have to be about the booths features it could simply be the size of the booth (and therefore how many people fit in it) or the look of the booth (eg some brides like a glamorous white wedding booth).
You should also do some general photo booth research as to what else it out there in the photo booth industry which you can't see in your local area. The Photobooth Finder website offers some great resources in our photo booth guide click here for more info
If you can source it, it's also very helpful to know how many events are being held on average each year in your local area and work backwards from there as to what sort of market share you potentially could expect. Not everyone getting married or holding an event will hire a photo booth but my experience is that approximately 1 in 5 will.
Only by doing lots of research both in your local market and also generally will you arm yourself with enough information to set up your photo booth hire / photo booth rental business for success.
2. Speak to an Accountant
Before committing any further be sure to arrange an appointment with a reputable accountant to give you advice on how to set up your new business entity. There are a few business entity types to consider and before you get too involved with other aspects of the business you should have a clearer idea of whether you're going to set up as a Sole Trader, Company, Trust or Partnership. They will also be able to tell you about the costs involved so you will be able to budget for them. Most accountants will be able to actually set your business entity up or advise you how to do it yourself correctly.
You should also talk to them about whether or not you need to register for GST. (local tax collection and reporting)
3. Find a Photo Booth
There are a number of photo booth manufacturers in Australia and overseas offering various types of machines to choose from. Having done your extensive market research already you will have a fair idea of what style or type of photo booth(s) you're looking for.
Like with the market research phase you should set up a spreadsheet for comparison. When researching the machines themselves you should be considering the following:
- Cost of the Photo Booth
- Running costs
- Ease of use / Features
- How to Transport
- Technical Help
- Extra items / Tools required
Cost of the Photo Booth
The cost of the photo booth at first might seem like the most important factor when you compare manufacturers of the type of photo booth you have decided to go with but it's not. If you set up your business for success you will make back the cost of the machine(s) quite quickly but if you choose wrongly the cost will be much higher in the long run. For a quality new photo booth you can expect to pay between $7000 - $12,000 each depending on features and quality.
There are always a few second hand photo booths for sale online. However be mindful that unless you're buying from the manufacturer or a distributor you're unlikely to get a warranty or any technical support with it. You don't have any experience with photo booths so if you buy from other sources you are going to be blindly trusting that the seller is telling you the truth about the condition the booth is in and or any existing or potential problems. Unlike buying a car and getting a pre purchase inspection or having lots of readily available mechanics to help you this is not the case with photo booths.
Running costs mainly refers to the cost of the printer paper and ink (usually sold together). Many manufacturers have proprietary paper which basically means you have to buy the paper directly from them or their distributors. Printer paper sourced elsewhere won't work with their software even if it is made for the same printer so be sure to ask about this and work our a cost per print so you can easily compare.
Not all printers and printer paper are made equal so it's also a good idea to get a test sample so you can compare quality. After all, the prints themselves are going to be how many people judge your product so be sure to choose wisely.
If the manufacturer is overseas this is going to impact costs depending on what the Australian dollar is doing so factor that in too. There are a number of foreign photo booth manufacturers that have set up distributors here in Australia which may soften any changes in the exchange rate but eventually they will pass these onto you too good or bad. If you choose an Australian Photo Booth manufacturer you can likely avoid this altogether.
Ease of use / Features
Picking a photo booth that has easy to use software and great features for both your clients and for you is important. For every set up depending on what services you offer you're going to be using it a lot to upload logos, welcome screens and set other parameters. It's also something you will play around a lot with when resolving technical issues so it should be user friendly.
Even if you don't plan on offering or promoting all the features that your photo booths software offers it's still a good idea to have access to them. Many clients will ask you about certain features they have seen in a competitor like video messaging or customised welcome screens and your ability to be flexible with features may just help you close the sale.
How to Transport
Another major consideration when choosing a photo booth is how you're going to transport it. Many photo booths require a specially fitted out enclosed trailer to transport and this can add significantly to your set up cost. It may also mean needing the right car to tow as not all cars are capable of towing week in and week out. Towing places a lot of strain on the average car and not all can take it. Your car manual should be able to tell you what your car can handle. It's also a good idea to speak with your mechanic or the car manufacturer as you may need electric brakes and other measurements like engine cooling devices and suspension to tow safely. If you're planning on buying or growing your business into having more photo booths then it will be far more cost effective to buy a bigger trailer now than later so take this into consideration.
Alternatively many manufacturers offer highly portable photo booths which whilst requiring more assembly (and disassembly) may fit into a van or large car boot.
Stairs can pose a major issue depending on the type of photo booth you choose. Photo booths generally weigh between 100 – 200kg and not all can be disassembled so you may not be able to safely access venues with large flights of stairs or no wheel chair access.
If you're planning on offering more than one style of photo booth or plan to do so in the future try and choose a manufacturer that has a solution for all your needs. This will mean you can deal with the one manufacturer and consolidate your costs as well as only need to stock one type of print paper and/or spare parts. Many manufacturers will offer better deals when you buy more than one booth or place large orders for printing paper at the one time.
Extra items / tools required
If you're going to offer photo albums, photo frames, magnet frames etc then you can already start to get pricing on these and source suppliers so you can add them into your set up budget.
No matter what type of booth you have you're going to need a tool bag with lots of tools and other items required for set up (e.g. Allen keys, misc. tools, extension leads, surge protectors, tape) and resolving technical issues. You may even require a special trolley to transport the booth from your vehicle/trailer into the venues.
The nature of the beast is that you aren't always going to know every little item you're going to need before you start a business but a lot of it you can work out by asking questions and thinking things through.
Technical issues albeit mostly minor are fairly common place with most photo booths as at the core of them is a computer. Computers really don't like to be transported in cars and trailers over bumpy roads which is unavoidable if you offer a photo booth hire service. So it's very important you know what sort of support you will have access to when you need help. If you decide to deal with an overseas manufacturer you may encounter issues with accessing technical help when you actually need it. This can also occur even within Australia depending on time zones so ask the question and be informed.
Whoever you decide to go with as always you will just have to weigh up the pros and cons and make the most considered choice you can but do so with the ongoing success of your business in mind.
Here is a small list of Australian and International manufacturers to get you started in your search:
Part 2 of this blog series continues here
(Photo Booth Blogger: Justin Jowett)
- Welcome to Photobooth Finder!
- Press Release: Photobooth Finder
- Latest Photo Booth Trends 2015
- How to start a Photo Booth Hire Business Pt. 2
- Top 5 Celebrity Photo Booth Moments