“We Have the Tools, We Have the Talent…”

Winston Zeddmore, Ghostbusters

So… How can we help you? Let us show you our wide range of services. Enter, the Rack Cards..

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But first, the back story that explains why diversity of services is so important to us and for you:

All our business life, well-meaning people who know very little about our market or capabilities have said, “what you really need to do is…” and advised us to specialize, usually in the one particular thing they wanted. Being a local “mom and pop shop” based in Northeast Florida, the challenge with specialization in photo processing is that there isn’t a large enough or dense enough population base to support a single-dimension shop. If we were national in scope, maybe. Specialty labs have to make huge annual investments in equipment and software, and they also pump loads of money into maintaining a sales force.

Years ago, Saundra and I realized that bigger is not necessarily better. For one thing, a variety of services allows for one revenue-producing department to bolster the others when its “season” is “off.” Besides, we discovered that our joy comes from the creative side of the business, and that our personalities are best suited for working with a small group of very talented artisans, who have become our extended family after decades of working together.

When I worked for Allied Printing in the 1980s, it was one of the largest print shops in Jacksonville. I started as an estimator and eventually moved into sales. Back then – and even more so today – the main competition between print shops was to see who could low-ball the big color printing jobs. But Allied’s owner didn’t want to play that game. Instead, Allied was a true one-stop shop with the most up-to-date typesetting equipment available, presses for all occasions and a bindery that was only rivaled by the trade shops. When I was in sales, I could go into almost any customer’s office confident that we could satisfy the most diverse printing needs.

When we opened FotoTechnika full-time in 1987, we adopted the do-everything philosophy I learned at Allied. We offered film processing, small color and black and white prints produced on small minilabs, custom color and black and white enlargements from negatives, Cibachrome prints from slides and transparencies, matting and framing, copy work, slide duping, and even limited graphic art services (typesetting and layout and design). Back in those days, we catered mainly to professional photographers who were commercial, advertising and architectural shooters.

For years, FotoTechnika’s Five Points location presented no real problem for the pros. Sure, several wanted us on the Southside where their studios were located, but our quality and service made it worth trekking across the river. After 2000, however, digital photography started making real inroads into the analog processes, especially film processing and custom printing. Before long, the pros were shooting more and more digitally. To expand our market, we started offering fine art reproduction, but that wasn’t quite enough. We needed to take on more consumer business. We constantly looked for ideas to overcome the lack of visibility and the inconvenience of our location, so in 2005 Saundra, Brian, and I sat down with friends from a local advertising and design firm. One really good suggestion that never quite got off the ground was to create rack cards to explain each of our services.

At the time, the only way we could produce rack cards ourselves was photographically on our minilab. Back then our copier couldn’t handle card stock or digital files, but it was important to us to have the rack cards be actual samples of work we could produce in house. Until recently, the idea had long vanished from my consciousness until I came upon notes from that 2005 meeting buried in a file cabinet I was cleaning out for our big move across the river. With our digital press, printing rack cards is no problem at all. Let me tell you, I did some serious V8 head-slapping that day for not remembering the rack card idea a lot sooner. This really is a project whose time has come.

Take a look at the following cards, and you will discover everything you ever wanted (or maybe didn’t want) to know about FotoTechnika. This particular post will be “Rack Card Central” for the foreseeable future. We will add more cards to this post as we create them, so refer back frequently. Eventually, most of them will be on our website in PDF form. And look forward to future posts that explain particular services from the cards in detail and how those services will help you preserve your photographic memories.

John (with serious editing by Sarah and Saundra)

01 Visit List Rack cards02 About Us Rack Card03 Ask Us Rack Card04 Film Sign Up Rack Cards05 Online & Photo Gifts Cards06 Small AgX Photos Rack Card07 Large Inkjet Photos Rack Card08 Fuji Pearl Photos Rack Card09 Locket Memorial Rack Cards10 Print Rest Rack Card11 Historic Prints Rack Card12 Canvas Prints Rack Card13 Photo Giclee Rack Card14 Fine Art Giclee Rack Card15 Film Scan Rack Card16 Print Scans Rack Card17 Art Scans Rack Card18 Large Quantity Scans Rack Card19 Think Inside the Box Rack Card20 Creative & Writing Rack Cards21 Comp Card Rack Card22 Flat & Folded Cards Rack Card23 Custom Graphic Printing Rack Card24 Menu & Rack Rack Cards25 Poster Rack Card26 Display Media Rack Card27 Video Transfer Rack Card

P.S. Please contact us if you would like a printed version of one (or more) of our rack cards. We would be glad to supply you with cards appropriate to your business that you can share with your customers. And for goodness’ sake, if you would like to start your own line of rack cards, please contact us – we’ve gotten pretty experienced at making them.

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Redoubling Our Efforts

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I started our blog to communicate our business thoughts, creativity, crazy ideas, humor and even share some of our challenges. Right now our biggest challenge is to figure out what kind of marketing is the most effective for us. Sometimes it seems we meet ourselves coming and going trying to think of new ways to reach people. Recently we have doubled and even tripled our efforts, but even that’s not enough. At best marketing is a percentages game — if you present your message to a sufficiently large pool of people, and if your product is worthy, eventually you should find success. We know a lot of people, but not nearly as many as the collective YOU who read my blog and Facebook posts.

Our move to our new location in St. Nicholas in part was to make use of a more retail-friendly location. Although we have never turned down consumer business, the old house on Lomax Street was zoned for professional services, such as those for commercial shooters who primarily used slide and transparency film for publications. Not only have markets, demographics and buying patterns changed over the years, but technology has changed too, and there’s no going back to the kind of business we were before the 2008 recession. We needed to reinvent ourselves, taking the best of the old FotoTechnika while adding fresh, new services that are attractive to everyday people. We wanted a location that was more accessible, had good visibility with plenty of windows for signage, ample parking and a floor arrangement that is flexible and convenient for both customers and employees — all on one floor, with no stairs. We lucked into our location in the Mudville Grille plaza, which has the potential to be an ideal long-term home. We have a wonderful landlord and great neighbors, but we are about to enter the summer doldrums and we just can’t afford to wait for the holiday season to fill the coffers.

With the proliferation of social media and smart phones, folks aren’t using our signature service – photo printing – nearly as much as they once did. So we’ve broadened our services in order to be relevent to more people. We expect that you, your friends, colleagues, or your own business can use one or more of our services. Just take a look at the list; maybe there’s something you didn’t realize we do:

List of Services Rack Card

The counter card above is one of the many individualized cards we have created (and an example of our in-house graphic design), targeting specific products we can provide.

There are still so many who have never heard of us who could use our services, and we need to know where to find them. Here’s where you come in: we need your help with good ol’ word-of-mouth advertising. There aren’t many things that can bring a smile to our faces quicker than a customer bringing in a friend for introductions, but we also need business contacts. Saundra and I will be glad to present ourselves and our services to various groups and organizations, either at their location or ours. But the two of us are still very much involved in day-today production, so we need to make every visit count — specific contacts are what we need. So please continue to talk us up to your friends, but also think of contacts with businesses and organizations whom we can help with their more commercial needs. See our list of potential customer types – perhaps you can think of others.

• small businesses and retailers
• manufacturers
• hospitals and clinics
• banks and lending institutions
• galleries
• retirement communities and assisted living facilities
• interior designers
• schools and colleges (especially art and photo departments)
• churches
• non-profit organizations (especially music and art)
• restaurants
• attorney’s, accountant’s and doctor’s offices
• architects
• funeral directors (especially for memorial portraits for display)
• genealogists
• historians and historical societies
• entertainment venues and attractions
• big box and chain stores (especially those that are eliminating photo services)
• dealerships of all sorts
• realtors and developers
• sports organizations
• corporate offices and regional headquarters

The rack cards that explain all of our services aren’t the only thing we are creating; we are installing window signage as quickly as we can come up with clever ideas. The internet is great as long as someone knows our name or does a Google search, but in some ways it hampers us because, no matter how hard we’ve tried, the old location info is still “out there.” In addition to finding new customers, we need to get the word out to customers who only use us occasionally that the empty house on Lomax Street does not mean we’ve gone out of business.

As the last independent lab in our area, we are unique. We have some great ideas for expanding our services, but we need to increase our volume substantially before we can purchase more equipment or inventory. Please continue to support us with your patronage, and help us expand our customer base. As you chat us up, don’t forget some of our new signature specials:

Think Inside the Box Rack Card

(Click here to read our Think Inside the Box blog)

Photo Gifts Rack Card

(Click here to read our Introducing… FotoTechnika’s Photo Factory blog)

We want to be slammed all summer. If that happens, we have a couple wonderfully talented folks who would love to become the next generation of our production team, and we would be thrilled to hire them. In order to do that, we must have enough business to support them. So start sharing the word that FotoTechnika is alive and ready for new creative projects and please share your contacts with us so we can reach out to them this summer.

We look forward to seeing or hearing from you soon.

John