For those who have a studio...a few questions

Discussion in 'The Professional Gallery' started by Alison, Feb 13, 2006.

  1. Alison

    Alison Swiss Army Friend Supporting Member

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    We are toying with the idea of opening a studio location (currently we shoot on location only). We are going to write a proposal for the SBA to get some funding but I'm curious if you own your studio location or rent/lease? Also, how did you choose your location? We live in a fairly small town so while it would be convient to have the studio close to home it might make more financial sense to find a place in a larger town. Any advice you have to give would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. jimmyjim

    jimmyjim TPF Noob!

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    Me and my wife are curently opening a studio on our own property and are running into local ordinances stating
    we cannot because of local laws. So look into EVERYTHING before you open.
     
  3. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    That was my biggest mistake.... stayin' in a rental. Now, after 23 years of rent, the landlord has reaped the benifit of time. The way this came to be is the answer to your next question. I had been working in another studio when mime came onto the market. I was young and confident (cocky), and was cetain I could take an ailing business and make it work. Well, I managed to keep it going. My wife worked with me in the early years, but we found we couldn't take each other 24/7.

    If I could do it all over again, I might start out the same way, only with a goal to be in my own building in 5 years. I think the location is fine, but not the greatest. I'll make some snapshots for you later this week to show the location.

    I truely believe that, after you're established, people will come to you wherever you are. Remember... you're a professional selling a service, not merchandise. It's not a impulse buy. What location will do for you is visability. People will repeatedly see your signage. This has value. But there are other ways to get that. You can hang prints in a local restaraunt or mall, changing them often. I can explain this more, if you like.

    Let me give this some more thought, and I'll be back with some more ideas.

    Pete
     
  4. photogoddess

    photogoddess TPF Noob!

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    While I don't have my own studio, I do have another business (forklift repair) that after getting to a certain point growth wise that required having a physical location. We were home based for 3 years and then leased for 3 years. I feel that having that lease was a horrible mistake for us. In that 3 year period we made someone else's mortgage and tax payments and at the end, the landlord yanked the lease at the end instead of renewing leaving us effectively homeless. After spending nearly 2 years doing business out of an office trailer (our business is largely mobile) sitting in the middle of a fenced parking lot, we purchased a building in the center of our target market area. For us, being a small fish in a big pond, having street frontage was one of my main goals in building shopping. I really feel that having the added exposure of street frontage has been helpful in continuing with the growth of the business. For the first time in 9 years, we're getting a bit of "walk up traffic" and I like it. :mrgreen:

    The questions that you need to ask yourself are would the extra overhead of having an "actual" location improve the cash flow of your business not only enough to pay for itself but to also provide some growth for the business as a whole? Who is going to staff this studio and for what days/hours? One tangible benefit of having an actual shop is that you would now have a separate place for business than in your home making it easier to just leave stuff at the office and have a little personal time. How much time are you actually going to use this studio? Does that amount of time warrant the overhead? I agree with Pete in that visibility is the key if you do get a studio. In theory, a building or space with exposure in a larger town would be more expensive than a building or space in a smaller town. You will have to decide if the cost difference is worth it and if the exposure in the bigger town would generate enough business to justify itself.
     
  5. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Here are the snaps I promised.

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  6. Alison

    Alison Swiss Army Friend Supporting Member

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    Wow, that looks like a fantastic location, Pete!

    We did a lot of talking, and number crunching and as tempted as I am to go to the SBA to get a loan to start a true studio I just don't think we have the time to invest with three small children plus holding down other jobs. At this point we're going to close down the business and sell the assets to pay off the existing debt. Maybe someday we'll reopen when the kids are older and start with a studio (my dream would be to live in a place where I could have a studio attached to our home). Not an easy decision, and not what I wanted to have happen, but the best financial and more importantly, the best for our family.
     
  7. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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    The only thing I can add was gonna be about the kids! I ran a small business from a house for a couple of years and despite being relatively anonymous (not like Pete's shop - wow!!) it had low overheads and let us be close to work for the necessary 24/7 slog that is starting for yourself. It's all time with a new/small business.

    In the UK, shop prices make the US look free, so this may not be as relevant for you chaps over the pond. We don't have any space you see!

    Rob
     
  8. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Alison.... if you need some affirmation, take a look at my area yellow pages. Note the number of photographers that do not cite a street address.

    Now, most that do are the older, established photographers.

    Take a look at the one for "Bold Expressions." She's new. And, she's spending a BUNCH for that ad. I took a look at her site, and I like what she does. Maybe she'll scale back on the ad once she's a bit more settled. But more importantly (to addess your situation), she does't seem to have a separate studio.

    I hope this is helpful.

    Pete

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