Contemplating video duplication & transfer business

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    • #43244

      I was contemplating starting a video duplication & transfer business, I just wonder how difficult it will be to survive as it seems they are a dime a dozen, all over the internet. I already know that how I market will be the key to being able compete.

      Personally, I wouldn’t think of sending my old 8mm & super 8 out by mail. I’d only be comfortable dropping it off at the site where it will be handled. I see some are offering pick up & delivery for a rediculously low price IMOP. I see it as an added liability risk, not to mention special insurance and added vehicle expense as a result of having to hire someone to do the delivery & pick up.

      My way of thinking is that you really need to have a store front operation to make people feel comfortable & look professional. Then you have the expense of rent. Of course if you want to work from home, you’d probably have to do the pick up & drop off routine. I’m not a fan of that. I guess you could make arrangements with some stationary stores to allow you to use them as a drop off areas and perhaps pick up as well which would minimize all of the running around, but i’m not sold on that idea either.

      Just wondering if anyone has any suggestions on the best way to get a one person operation like this off the ground? Maybe from someone who is doing this?



    • #181245

      I know Costco and Walgreens offer this service so you’ll have some stiff competition – However, I believe they don’t do conversions on premises so you can market to that point. I just don’t know how much business you’ll drum up when you can buy a DVD/VCR combo that records VHS to DVD for less than $200 (I paid only $129 for mine) and that will eat into one of your segments.

    • #181246

      The link below is only one of many, MANY fairly sophisticated, professional and reasonably priced companies out there. Study this company’s formula and see if you can work from there using your “on premises” approach to some advantage.

      There are literally hundreds of operations such as and they’re holding their own against the drugstores and discount outlets, plus they provide MORE and BETTER quality services on average than the bulk, down-and-dirty service folks do.

      AND, a lot of folks are having no problem with mailing their projects. My company does a boatload of montage productions for individuals and clients across the country – mailing has not caused them, or me any grief in more than 18 years of offering such services.

    • #181247

      I’ll start off by saying that I am doing video work part time and I offer some of these services.

      The competition is stiff for this and as in every market everyone wants something for nothing. I offer the service as a convienence. If you want to make a living of just doing conversion work you need a lot of volume.

      I base my pricing on other local providers as well as checking the internet. For a strait up conversion I really don’t make any money. If they order additional copies you can start to make some money. You have to think about the numbers.

      I charge 12.50 to do a strait vhs to dvd copy. Includes 2 lines of text printed on the dvd in a paper sleave. I don’t deliver or pickup unless it is by convienence. When you think about itthe most you can do if you could operate 24 hours a day is 12 if they each had 2 hours on the tape conversion. Unless of course you have multiple pieces of equipment.

      I charge 10 for additional copies and that is where it starts to pay off.

      Anything special like combining 2 short tapes on one dvd adds $$’s Some people are more than willing to pay to get their memories moved to DVD.

      I am going to adjust my pricing this year so that the minimumwill be25 and will include a second copy.

      I am very small scale and mostly word of mouth. But I will say that some of these jobs that I made nothing on led to some others that were very profitable such as wanting editing or picing up other video work.

      I know a guy around here that was doing just conversion work full time and he just closed up shop.

      Good luck

    • #181248

      Been in the business you’re contemplating for 12 years. We work from our home, where we have two editing suites — VHS, SVHS, 8mm, Hi-8, digital8, PAL/NTSC converter, two non-linear editing systems and DVD burners, duplicatiors and printers. People drive their work to us; some things come and go by mail.

      We sub-contract film to digital tape transfer, then create DVDs from the tapes. The up-sell on this is very lucrative: we provide VHS work tapes with time code for folks who have no idea what’s on their old film. This allows them to go home, look at the material on their VCR and make an edit decision list, from which we prepare a rough cut. They come in and review the cut and often add voice over commentary. We also add music for them, then burn the DVDs. All of this is billed by the hour.

      We advertise in the Yellow Pages — a one column by three inch display — and have a very large presence on the WWW, a web site with lots of content. ( Individuals usually find us via Google; businesses more often find us through the Yellow Pages, then on-line and a phone call or email.

      As EarlC suggests, the key to (our) success is to provide more and better service than others. Nothing goes out of our shop that we’re not proud of, and we’re quick to turn down jobs that we don’t think we can do to our standards because of the budget or personalities involved.

      You can certainly make a go of it. You have to be imaginative in the services you provide, remember that every phone call you receive is a potential sale, no matter how much of a PITA the person seems, and always be willing to go the extra mile for a client. That’s how you get repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals.

    • #181249

      Thank you Earl for clarification on mail being a non-issue, that’s a relief and an asset to starting up from home. I agree – you have to be offering something better & different to compete. Serviceis vital to success. My own experience as a self employed contractor has taught me a lot in 28 years and that experience I am *hoping* will allow me to get off to a running start with something different. I’m alot like Mike Holmes from Holmes on Homes in my own business and often hear my customers make that comparison. Only have had 1 unsatsified customer in 28 years – and they were one of those type that nobody could please.

      I think doing monatages is a great way to interact with people and use your creative talents. I’m appalled that people would actually use drug stores or discount outlets for this kind of specialty work – but what do I know? I certainly wouldn’t. You don’t get the same personal experience that you get fromhiring a private individual. It gets lost in the corporate world. Cheap is cheap, quality & talent comes with a value. I’ve dealt with that mentality, sometimes you need to educate people to sell ’em & I’m perfectly fine with doing so. Some you can’t get through to, I leave ’em with a handshake & on good terms cause you know it’s a 50% or better chance they will find out the hard way and then they’ll call you (humbled)for help, been there. A satisfied customer is a company investment in quality advertising and there is no better work than by referral because it’s a 99% chance of getting another opportunity to create another satisfied customer. I find it incredibly rewarding when my talent is appreciated by a consumer and i get a referral. You have to take pride in what you do. I understand dedication & commitment, too. People want to know you really do care and it’s not just about reaching into their pocket.

      Thank you Jack for such positive information. Wow, you’ve got quite an investment in equipment, as I know is necessary to offer these kinds of services. You’ve revived myhope in operating from home or atleast starting out that way. It helps keep start up costs WAY down and affordable. I too, had thought of using the time code for people to select what they wanted to copy over, so I get the feeling I’m on the right page with this stuff.

      Personal service is what makes the difference as well as doing what you say you will do, something my grandfather always said -the best way to measure a person’s character is how well they keep their word. I’ve always made that my mission in my contracting business & over delivery is pretty much standard for me, so I understand that concept as well. 99% of my work has always come by referral. I’m in a business that has amongst the highest attrition rate in the country, 75% failure rate within 10 years according to D & B. I’m still here after 28 years, but looking to shift into another line of work, the body is getting tired after 35 years of physical labor on a daily basis. I always been a one man army, maybe that’s why.

      I stopped using yellow pages for my contracting business years ago, response didn’t justify the expense. Maybe for this type of work, it works better?? I’m still doing the research. I’m sure location has an effect as well.

      Well it’s always good to hear from someone who’s making it work that’s it can be done. Thanks again Jack for the inspiration.


    • #181250

      Like dirtylenz, I, too, was leary of sending 40+ year old 8mm video and some 50+ year old audio tapes out by mail, but ultimately did.I couldn’t find anyone locally who could do a competent job. (Some had been done yearsearlier,but the quality was poor.)

      I sent them to CVS Professionals in Akron, OH. They sent me packing instructions so I knew how best to send them. They emailed me to let me know they arrived. They kept me posted on the progress, and sent them back to me in perfect shape. But the best part is the quality of the digital files I got in return–10 times better than the previous attempt with the video, and the audio was top notch (given what they had to work with).

      As you can guess, I heartily recommend them. (I have no connection to them, just this one recent experience that meant a lot to me.)

      Their web site it

      I found them on ebay, believe it or not.

      Just my two cents.

    • #181251

      Thanks for the info about the competition. Good idea about keeping the customer updated – I like that. I do know that the equipment used is critical to the end result and of course knowing how to use it. The stuff ain’t cheap but it’s the differance between what you spoke about vs. getting a poorly done job.

      The equipment available along with the right software can do amazing things with the old stuff, infact i’ve seen old 8mm coverted to HD that was better than the original footage, now that is amazing!

    • #213119

      can’t link to CVS professionals….. Are they out of business perhaps. Any other good quality recommendations for film transfer. Thank you. Collybay

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