Before You Start a Photo Booth Business
The private events industry is rebounding and in the next few years there will be more people than ever looking for photo booth rental services.
But before you jump head first into this fun and rewarding industry, take a moment and consider the following points before you end up throwing money down the drain.
Taking the time to do a little bit of planning and preparation before you buy your first photo booth, will go a long way towards your success as a business owner.
There is a wide variety of photo booths available for sale, and choosing the right one for you will make all the difference when it comes time to actually running your business.
Just take a look at some of the Facebook groups for photo booth business owners and the kind of questions and “Help Me!” posts that are made by people who may not have been as prepared as they could have been.
Continue reading to discover the 5 things you should consider before you start your photo booth business.
Learn from others who have been there already.
Hello Fellow Boother!
My name is Aaron, and I joined the Booth Masters team in 2020.
While I may be relatively new to the photo booth industry, I’m not new to building a thriving business.
I own and operate a mobile DJ company in Duluth, MN, and in 2017 we added photo booth rentals to our services.
Within the first year of offering photo booths, we quickly grew from 1 booth, to 8!
I made several mistakes early on, that I don’t want you to repeat.
#1 - Do Not Be The Only Subject Matter Expert In Your Company
Whether you are starting your very first business, or adding a photo booth to your existing business, take this lesson to heart.
Running a photo booth can have a bit of a learning curve to get the hang of everything that goes into running an event:
- Designing the photo strip template
- Setting up the event on the photo booth
- Assembling the photo booth, with the printer, and getting everything running
- Adjusting the focus, exposure, and image quality of the camera
- Troubleshooting problems that arise and knowing how to fix them
Keep these things in mind as you pick out which photo booth you want to buy for your new business venture.
As you learn how to do all of the different things necessary to run a great event and have a happy client, consider having another person, preferably an employee, learn everything about your photo booth at the same time that you do.
By having another person become a subject matter expert (SME) on the photo booth at the same time that you are learning everything, you are building a backup of KNOWLEDGE.
You wouldn’t think of going to an event without backup equipment, well why would you run a business without having a backup source of knowledge?
Have someone in your company, other than yourself, who is able to setup, configure, and troubleshoot your photo booth.
Early on in my business, I was the only subject matter expert on our photo booths.
It fell on my shoulders to set up every event, get the designs done in Photoshop, and prepare the photo booths to go out on Saturday.
And when things went wrong, such as a paper jam in the printer, I was the person that my photo booth attendants were calling for help, even while I was preoccupied working my own event.
This lead to lower customer satisfaction early on because I was the bottleneck in my company.
Once I implemented a training program for my photo booth attendants, and had cross-trained my office staff to set up the events and handle the graphic design aspects, I was no longer feeling overwhelmed.
I was no longer the bottleneck limiting growth in my own company, and I could focus on sales and marketing and booking more photo booths.
So as you think about buying a photo booth to add to your current business, or if you’re just getting started as a brand new side-hustle…
Think about who you can bring onboard and learn everything that you learn, so that you don’t become the bottleneck in your photo booth adventure.
#2 - Sales Is The Life-Blood Of Your Photo Booth Business
While you may choose to get into the photo booth rental business because it’s fun and you enjoy the technology, you won’t be in business long, or have many opportunities to use your booth if you do not have sales.
Before you get started, I strongly recommend having a game plan for where and how you plan on booking the new photo booth you bought.
Who are you going to market your services to?
- Weddings – Brides & Groom’s planning their wedding who want to have a photo booth.
- Schools – Elementary, Middle Schools, High Schools, and Colleges all have events for students and alumni that are great events for photo booths.
- Company Parties & Holiday Parties – End of year celebrations and festive occasions want photo booths to capture the moment.
- Corporate Events – Large companies and brands are looking for photo booths to use in activations to promote their brand and expand social reach to their customers.
Each of these different market segments have their own wants, dreams, and reasons for having a photo booth at their event.
So as you start to create your sales and marketing material, rather than focusing on the KIND of photo booth you have, focus on WHO you are selling your photo booth services to.
If you choose to promote your services as a plain rental of a certain kind or style of photo booth, then there isn’t any way for you to differentiate yourself from the competition.
And that makes it difficult to get sales at the price you want and deserve.
However, if you choose to focus on WHO you are selling to, and HOW your company can make their event amazing just like they want it to be…
Then it becomes a much different conversation, focusing on the experience that you have and are able to create for their guests, that no one else can provide.
So think about why the different kinds of clients want to have your services, and how you can specifically address their unique wants and desires, rather than just focusing on the features and specifications of your equipment.
#3 - Plan For Your 3rd or 5th or 10th Photo Booth From The Beginning
One of the awesome things about providing photo booth rentals is that there is a relatively low barrier to entry in the industry.
Meaning… that the cost to buy a photo booth and the equipment necessary to run an event is relatively small when compared to other kinds of services.
This also means that if you find yourself turning away business on dates that you are already booked on… you can instead expand quickly and easily by buying another photo booth!
As you shop around for the perfect kiosk or station to use in your business, think about the future.
What kind of booth do you want to have for your 2nd or 3rd system?
Do you want to add more types, such as a mirror booth, or a roamer?
Or do you want to standardize on the most popular and most profitable style so that you can book similar events?
No matter what direction you choose to go, I strongly recommend standardizing a couple of key components across all of your photobooths.
Make sure that you standardize on the same make & model of printer, style of shell, and choice of software across all of your photo booths.
Photo Booth Printers
Printers can be one of the biggest headaches for a photo booth operator, as there are regular issues with drivers due to Windows Updates.
By using the same make and model of printer in all of your booths, you can reduce unexpected problems and can deal with and prepare for updates easily.
An added benefit of using the same kind of photo printer is that you only have one kind of media to buy (the paper & ink ribbons that your printer uses).
Also, by using only one model printer, you can interchange them between your booths without much worry, and your photo booth attendants will be familiar with them.
Photo Booth Shells
When owning multiple photo booths of the same style (open air, enclosed, mirror, etc), it is important to standardize on a single style of shell.
This means you only have 1 kind of photo booth to train your attendants on, and it is easier for you to support them while they are at events, because they should all be configured the same.
Early on in my photo booth rental business, I had a couple different kinds of photo booth shells, and it made it more difficult for me to schedule attendants to run events, because they may not have been trained on or familiar with the different style of photo booth.
I quickly standardized on the photo booth that my attendants loved and preferred to use at events: the Pic Station Mini.
Photo Booth Software
The software that you choose to use to run your photo booths will turn out to be one of the single most important decisions that you make.
You want it to be feature rich enough to provide the best solutions for your clients, while being easy enough for your attendants to set up and run without issues.
Also remember that you want the software to be easy to configure for events, and have a system for managing the designs and overlays for your clients.
If you have multiple events happening on the same day, or you have attendants working an event on Friday, and another event on Saturday…
You should make sure that your attendants can make sure to have the photobooth configured for the correct event on the correct date.
The different software companies all do pretty much the same thing in terms of features… but they all do things slightly differently.
So if your photo booths are running different brands of software, you will now need to make sure your attendants are cross-trained on the differences, and be prepared to troubleshoot more issues.
#4 - Have A Documented System for Hiring And Training Attendants
As you start booking your photo booth out to clients for events, you will quickly realize the benefit of having and hiring attendants to help you.
Whether it is just someone to assist you at the event while you work it as the lead…
Or you need to hire someone to work a 2nd or 3rd event going on at the same time as your own event.
One of my biggest frustrations as I grew my business, was feeling like I was reinventing the wheel every time I interviewed, hired, and trained my attendants and assistants.
I would put an ad on Indeed.com or the Facebook job marketplace, and I would have many people apply.
Then they would come to the interview, and I struggled to find the right questions to ask to make sure the person was qualified for the job.
I tended to like everyone I interviewed and ended up hiring people I probably shouldn’t have.
When it came time to train them, I would walk them through the setup and how to run an event, but I would occasionally forget or miss certain things.
This meant that all of my attendants did not get the same quality of training, and it meant having more problems and tech support calls during events.
Now, I have a targeted list of questions and a script that I use in my interviews.
So when someone comes in, I can quickly sit down, and go through my checklist of questions without feeling overwhelmed.
I also made sure to have some “red flag” questions, which, if answered incorrectly, meant that the person was not a good candidate for hiring.
Photo Booth Training
Now, when someone is hired by my company to work as a photo booth attendant, I have a firm and documented training program that ensures that everything is covered, and everyone gets the same high-quality training.
If any common issues come up, I look at how I can add that scenario to my training program so that it doesn’t come up anymore.
All in all, the quality of people that I hire has increased, while my tech support calls and headaches have decreased.
#5 - Never Stop Learning
I wouldn’t be where I am today with my business if I didn’t continue to learn and push myself to grow as a person and as a business owner.
Running your own company, especially a small business in the service and events industry, is very rewarding, but does require you to wear many different hats.
There are always new technologies, and ways of doing things that are coming out, and it is important to be aware so you can capitalize on them.
So keep an open mind, and always be on the lookout for opportunities to learn new things that will help your business.
Whether that is taking a personal development course to help with your leadership abilities, because you are the leader of your own team.
Or taking an online course to teach you a new sales or marketing skill such as managing your social media marketing.
There are many opportunities to meet like-minded individuals within the photo booth industry throughout the year in the form of conferences and expos.
I strongly recommend you make time to attend at least one, if not all on a regular basis:
- Photo Booth Expo – Las Vegas
- Marquee DJ & Photo Booth Conference – Chicago
- Wedding MBA – Las Vegas
- PBNY – New York
- Booth Camp – Minneapolis
Every time I attended an industry conference, I take away useful ideas from the seminars and presenters, and I learn a TON more from the other people just like me who are attending as well.
When like-minded people come together in an industry, and we share the knowledge of what works, what doesn’t work, and how we got to be where we are currently… we lift each other up.
So as you grow your business, look to those who are where you want to be, and learn the tried and true methods that helped them get there.
Success is never guaranteed, but precedence proves that it is possible.
If you want to learn more about what you can do to make sure that your new photo booth business is a success, then join me inside the Photo Booth Vault.
The Photo Booth Vault is a training program and community that I have developed to give you the tools and resources you need to build a thriving business.
Follow along with my checklists and step by step action plans for every part of the process.
Go to work on the areas that you need help with the most:
- Marketing your photo booth company
- Building a repeatable and reliable sales process to generate bookings
- Finding, hiring, and training people that don’t suck
- Building systems, both automated and through employees, that allow you to grow and scale your business