When we first started our business we decided that we were going to provide our clients and their guests a high-end experience at the most affordable price we could. Those that know us, know that if we could provide our service for free, we would, and have. We knew that this was a very unrealistic thing to-do if we wanted to make this a successful business.
Our pricing did start out to be the lowest in Manitoba and as we added more options to our package, we did raise our prices slightly but remained the lowest price Mirror Booth in Manitoba. Covid hit and we felt bad for all the couples, and clients that had to cancel and postpone over and over during this time. Even thought the price of everything went up considerably, and we had to raise our prices once more, we decided to honour our contract and not raise the prices for these clients. In 2022 we honoured 20 contacts at 2019 (and in one case 2018) pricing. In one instant we made nothing on the booking and actually lost money, but that did not effect the service we provided.
At the time I am writing this blog our prices have not raise since June 2022. We charge $200.00 an hour for the first 3 hours, $750.00 for 4 our rental and $875.00. The only other charge is mileage, $35.00 for Winnipeg events and for outside of Winnipeg for the most part it starts off at $125.00 and goes up the further the distance. Oh and because we are a legitimate business we do have to charge taxes.
From our research we have found that we are still the lowest Mirror Photo Booth in Manitoba, for what we include. You may find cheaper booths, but they definitely do not offer what we offer. They may not be interactive like our booths, they may be iPad booths and not the quality of a DSLR booth, or they may have a base price that is cheaper but everything is an add on. (props extra, backdrop extra, digital or prints extra, photo album with all pictures extra…..)
I understand that most people, Including me before I started in the business, only think that the $200.00 an hour is for the time we are running the booth. Less than half that is covering the cost of the running the booth for that hour.
At the end of this blog, I will also provide a list of everything that we include in your rental. They are the items you see the day of your event and most likely are the only thing you care about when renting a phot booth, lol. Skip to the end if you are bored.
Behind The Booth
We have had two people recently state something along the lines of “What do you do during that hour to justify charging $200 an hour?” So I thought it would be great to direct the to this page should they really want to know.
Our billing time starts the minute you request a quote. We take the time to send you the quote, answer all your questions and if we are blessed enough that you decide to book with us we start to prepare for youe amazing event.
1.) If you decide to book with us, I then have to create a contract and invoice for you, enter your information into our data base, and add the event to our book – this usually takes about 15-20 minutes and there is the added cost of the accounting system we use, the cost of running our web page and any advertising we have done.
2.) Once we receive the signed contract and the $100.00 non-refundable deposit/retainer I spend time going through the contract to note any information. We also set-up a file in our computer system. If you have sent the customization items (picture, invitation, logo, colours etc.) I save them all to the appropriate file. If you have not sent this information, I send follow-up emails closer to the date.
3.) Closer to the date I fill out an order form for the customized pieces. I work with an amazing Graphic Designer who I pay to create something special for our clients. We create a customized overlay and animation to match your event. This is where the deposit comes in – we use this to pay our designer. We go back and forth with the client and designer until the perfect overlay and animation is created.
4.) For many events we are given a theme, or colour. Like a 1920’s theme. I am always sourcing out props that will match the event, I create signs, order in/create props that for the theme or colour, often spending over my budget but justifying this by reminding myself they will be used at future events. Have you ever bought a hat or costume form Party Stuff or online? They are not cheap.
We also decided from the beginning, after watching how much fun guests had picking props, that we would provide as many props as we can to our clients. We offer the most props in Manitoba for a photo booth, but that does mean we have to pay to replace broken / stolen props and continue to find new ones. Also finding display ideas to help keep our props organized.
5.) Once the overlay and animation are approved, we then have to load them to our Mirrors. This can take a bit of time depending on the event. I like to create the whole workflow basically from scratch. Yes, it would be easier to use the same workflow and most likely people would not notice but I would. I made a promise that each event will be different, even down to the workflow. I chose various animations that would with your them and create this workflow. I have to set everything up to test and make sure the printer works and the colours all print right. I test all the lights, the camera and clean everything. I test to make sure that the text goes through, and the timing is right. This can take a few hours depending on if there are any issues.
6.) As well I work with the client to match the backdrop with the overlay and décor. We are constantly adding to out backdrop collection and for specific themes, we will often purchase a backdrop that we can use again. We recently upgraded one frame to a higher quality frame that we can use high end backdrops on. These backdrops even come with gloves as they are an amazing quality. We still use our previous backdrops as they were of high quality as well, which gives our clients a great selection to choose from. Once backdrop costs close to $500.00 with exchange, duty, and taxes, but is so worth it!!
7.) For weddings, birthdays etc we provide a customized photo album. We could easily go out an purchase a cheap phot album but spending this extra time is so worth it! After purchasing the custom cut wood, card stock, double sided tape and rings I then start the custom pieces. I usually take the custom overlay that was approved and spend time on Photo Shop creating a cover for the photo album to match. Sometimes I will become a bit more creative and turn the photo that we received into a pencil drawing. I then take these to my CNC machine and engrave the cover and the back of the album. Sanding and staining are the next step. Clear coating is the final process. I then holepunch the card stock and put together the photo album (this can take between 2 and 6 hours, depending on the detail etc) As well I make sure we have the USB ready to go.
8.) The week before the event I start off by emailing the client/ and venue if needed. I work out set-up time/location and all the logistics, so we are prepared.
If we have worked with the venuebefore it can be as simple as a quick email reminding them about what our set-up needs are.
If it’s a new venue, there may be a few emails going back and forth to clarify.
9.) Time to fill out our in-house packing form, making sure to include the backdrop style, any additional props we need to include. I then go through each prop and inspect and clean them. Packing everything up in the totes. Making sure to pack all the cords, backdrop stand, backdrop, printer, printer paper, extra cords, key board, flash, props (hand held, signs, glasses and boas/hanging props), extra paper and ink, extra cords just in case, the mirror, remotes, stands, table, tape, USB, Photo Album, sign, table cloths, cleaning stuff and so much more.
10.) We often need to have staff lined up to work. Aside from the time it takes to pay them, and d all the paper work when we hire them. We pay them for training, their uniform, and often if out of Winnipeg we pay their gas. Since Covid we have had to spend time interviewing and hiring people. We have found some amazing staff but right now we are not able to offer them regular hours so we often loose the really good staff. I also have to make sure that I pay my WCB yearly to cover my staff while they are working. We also pay insurance to cover any damage, etc. for the booths. We have increased our insurance to allow us to be able to work at all the city owned community centers and supply them a yearly update to verify that we are still qualified.
- As a side note I should add that many of the “cheaper” and some of the higher priced booths do not have the coverage we have. It does add to the operating costs, but we believe that everything should be done honestly, above board and our staff and clients mean so much to us that we want them to be covered.
11.) This now brings us to the day of the event. WE normally perfer to set-up earlier in the day if that works for the venue and/or client. This way we are set-up and not interrupting anyone during the event. We arrive early, and bring everything in. After about an hour and a half we cover everything and leave. We return home or go to the next set-up. WE drive from Sanford Manitoba and return home after set-up.
12.) A half hour (sometimes earlier) before we are to start we (or staff) will return in uniform to do final set-up and a run through, so we are ready to go at the start time that was requested.
13.) We run the booth and for the most part only take a washroom break making sure that there is always atleast one person working. We work right up until the end time.
No, That Is Not The End Of Where The Rental Fee Goes
14.) At the end of the evening, we pack up. We create the photo album, download all the pictures to the USB and prepare for the leaving. The packing up normally takes between a half hour to an hour. If we had staff working at the event, we return and assist the staff at packing up. (Atleast 4 times we have driven to or from your venue and possibly the staff has 2 times as well- the mileage you paid was used when we set-up)
Nope Still Not Finished
15.) For the most part we unload the trailer with all the equipment when we arrive home. The next day I go through all the props, sanitize everything, and put them away for the next event. I clean the backdrop, mirror and any other items that need cleaning. I also make notes if they are repeat clients. I check my ink and paper stock and place any orders I need to. The availability and cost of ink and paper has changed since before Covid. I can spend hours trying to find ink and paper, often paying more as there is only one place in Canada that has supplies and they are often out lately. When they do not have any I have to buy from the US, which means exchange and duties.
A bit of fun during Covid- we created a video for a birthday celebration
16.) If the Wi-Fi did not work or there was no Wi-Fi at the event. I set the mirror up again and turn the program on. I then send all the pictures that were to be texted to the guests.
17.) Sometime either before, during or after the event, and sometimes all three, I will post pictures and videos on social media to advertise and to thank the client for having us out.
I hope this explains why we charge what we do. I am sure you came here thinking you were going to see a list of what we include the day of in your booth rental. I won’t disappoint you:
We including some incredible addons FREE of charge:
* 2 professional, fun attendants
* Superior fun props
* A USB with all event pictures
* Email and Text sharing
* Customized animated start screen
* Customized photo layout
* A photo album/ guest book with all pictures
* a backdrop (various colours or themes)or open air
* a print for each person in the picture
* Various animated compliments throughout the workflow
* Guests can add signature, emojis, drawings and virtual props
* Can add tic-tax-toe game, connect 4, pong or a customized slot machine to the workflow for your guests to play between taking photos
* Preview of photos/ retake option
* Depending on availability your choice between the Mirror Me with frame and LED lighting or the newest mirror, the Mirror X.
We truly hope that this expalins why we charge what we do....Now that I broke it down, I am thinking we are may have to raise our prices lol.... Actually we will be raising the prices in the next few months as we have been getting bookings in 2024 and we need to think ahead.
Thank you for your support and taking the time to read this, It helps us build our small business!!