The staff at Color Inc. knows nearly all of their clients personally, where they’re located, what type of work they do, and what they need help with. “We have the ability to communicate on the level of the client,” he continues. “The lab is staffed by professional photographers and skilled technicians, so there’s no question we can’t give a ‘Hey, I’ve been there before’ answer to.”
Quality control is key at Color Inc.—the lab is an X-Rite-certified pro lab that guarantees color consistency and attention to detail with every order. “If we see something that’s unusual or out of the norm, we’ll call the client,” says Kasberger. The lab also offers classes and seminars taught by professionals in the industry.
This expertise allows pro photographers to rely on Color Inc. to know what to do with their images. “We’re the professional printers; the photographers are the ones in the field,” says Kasberger. “The better the prints, the better the photographer’s reputation; the better the reputation, the more business the photographer can do; and the more business a photographer can do, the more prints he or she makes. It’s revolving, and it starts with the relationship between the photographer and the lab. The smarter everyone in the relationship is, the more efficient the workflow goes, and that leads into quicker business growth for the client.”
Color Inc. has full disaster insurance, which covers its equipment and buildings. It also has a backup location that’s fully operable and ready for production in case a disaster strikes.
“As for our clients, in early 2006 we are releasing a new service called Color Inc. Archiving (CIA),” says Kasberger. “It’s a system that will allow our customers to archive their FTP orders once they’ve been submitted onto a RAIDed hard drive at our location. It will be a free service to all our customers. How’s that for cheap insurance?”
CPQ Professional Imaging, Cleveland, TN, has boosted its service lineup with some new additions. “We’ve added an internal line that’s basically just a prints-only service. Customers use the software client that we provide,” says Paul Kimball, chief operating officer. “It’s a streamlined process for orders that don’t get anything other than spray. Rather than be mixed up in the monster workflow on a day-to-day basis, we segregated those out. These prints always go out in one day. Often they even ship the same day we get them.”
Since purchasing a frame company in 2005, CPQ is now doing a lot of frame bundling with print orders. And the company’s ProPicsExpress.com website, whose goal is to provide professional-quality prints anywhere in the U.S., has really taken off in the past couple of months, according to Kimball.
“Clients download a software Java applet from the website, and it has its own automated workflow,” he says. “There’s one person in charge of checking the order and making sure it’s packaged for shipping. It’s credit-card only, so nothing ties back to the accounting system. We’ve actually gone a little more mainstream with it. We’re competing with Ofoto, Shutterfly, and Snapfish now.”
Besides business interruption insurance, CPQ protects its assets by running off a midrange AS/400 system. “We’re probably one of only a few labs that do that,” says Kimball. “We have an agreement with IBM to give us an immediate setup that mirrors our exact setup. If our building burned down, or if the 400 blew up, we could re-create everything, even to an off-site location. We don’t have 100 percent redundancy by any stretch, but our server drives are always mirrored.”
Data asset management (DAM) is at the top of the list for Digitalab Solutions, New York, NY, with Sparrow Imaging System, the company’s exclusive and proprietary Web-based data asset management system.
“While increasing the popularity of our services, Sparrow also helps Digitalab Solutions continue its profitability,” says president Jim Ingram. “Sparrow revolutionizes the way digital images and assets are handled. Using the system’s technology, photographers and the creative industry have the ease and flexibility to digitally manage their assets from anywhere a connection to the Internet exists. Creative professionals are able to edit, order high-res images, and share images with other clients—all online. Sparrow Imaging System meets and exceeds the mobile, technical, and artistic demands of an entire client base.”
Digitalab Solutions provides complete infrastructure and architecture that protects all of the digital assets that are currently managed for its clientele, according to Ingram.
“Not only does Digitalab Solutions provide backup asset management servers in its main NYC location, it also does so in a tier-1 Internet data center located off-site,” he says. “This infrastructure architecture was designed to provide the redundancy and stability our clients need, as well as offer protection against power outages, service interruptions, and other natural or man-made catastrophes. The replication of the image and asset data to a completely off-site location gives Digitalab Solutions the ability to provide its clients with the reassurance that their valuable digital assets will always be available to them.”
Photographers who want to “stay ahead of the game” are part of the reason that ExpressDigital, Denver, CO, has seen increased sales in the past year, according to Becky Orser, marketing manager. “The reason photographers choose ExpressDigital products over our competitors’ products is that with ExpressDigital, you only need one piece of software to manage your entire digital workflow,” she explains.