On-site digitization and storage or personal and business photos, documents, and more…
What iPreserve does is take your personal memories such as pictures, video, slides, or documents and converts, organizes and preserves them into a digital format. iPreserve provides a local or even onsite transfer, digitization or scan of information from any media.
In an exclusive interview with TopNewFranchises.com, iPreserve Founder & VP of Franchise Support Matt Bills explains both the iPreserve service and the iPreserve franchise opportunity.
Top New Franchises: How do you describe the iPreserve franchise concept?
Matt: iPreserve is a franchise that focuses on saving memories and simplifying life. iPreserve franchisees provide on-site conversion of physical media–photos, documents, videos, slides, film, etc. to a digital file. iPreserve caters to both residential and business customers. Once we have digitized the media, we can assist in recommending tools for organizing, sharing, and enjoying those memories.
Top New Franchises: Do franchisees work from home or do they operate a retail storefront?
Matt: Franchisees have the option to do either, and we help them decide based on what’s best for their local market and their personal preference. We encourage franchise owners to keep their overhead as low as possible, so many choose to operate from home offices or other inexpensive space. Others have locations where the marketing benefits and visibility of a storefront more than offset the costs of having a retail space. iPreserve concept is both flexible and scalable, allowing the franchisee to choose.
Top New Franchises: When did you launch the your franchise program? How many franchises are up and running? Is the chain growing?
Matt: Yes, growing quickly. We just recently launched the franchise program and the response has been great. We have franchise locations in Princeton, New Jersey, Twin Falls, Pocatello, and Boise, Idaho and Salt Lake City, Utah. We’re developing company-owned locations in Salt Lake City, Provo and Southern, Utah and Arizona.
Top New Franchises: Where are you looking to expand? What types of markets and demographics work best?
Matt: We’re looking to expand in places that contain a strong suburban population. Our largest market is residential, with businesses a close second. Demographically, suburban households are the greatest market opportunity since they are constantly creating media and making memories, with continuously shrinking time to digitize and/or manage it all. The nice part about iPreserve is that franchisees have the flexibility to market to both consumers as well as businesses. With businesses, they will be doing mostly document scanning, and with consumers, they will be digitizing almost every type of media, from video to slides, negatives, photos, and film.
Top New Franchises: What is the need in the marketplace that iPreserve franchise owners will meet? How does iPreserve’s solutions differ from competing programs?
Matt: iPreserve franchise owners meet the need of saving not only the client’s memories, but also saving them time and money. Our lives are getting busier and more complicated. This is a growing trend, with no signs of stopping. None of us have the time to figure out how to digitize or manage all of our memories.
Most of us have a scanner, but we all have a schedule. Hands down, our schedule will win over the scanner. This has created a growing market where each of us have a large amount of media, a strong desire to preserve it, and a decreasing amount of time or resources to accomplish that goal.
iPreserve was created to serve this need. It saves us time by utilizing high-end equipment to digitize all of our media quickly instead of one-at-a-time like most consumer’s equipment. iPreserve saves the client money because the comparative cost to purchase the digitizing equipment, software, as well as time spent learning everything would easily take ten times the amount of money than simply using the service. It would be like purchasing an entire mountain to go skiing, instead of just buying a lift ticket.
Top New Franchises: How does iPreserve differ from competing digitization services?
Matt: iPreserve is different (and better) than competing programs for many reasons, but there are four main reasons that will not only differentiate you from competitors but also help you grow your profitability: First, we digitize everything. Most competitors will only do one or two media types. We have done everything from 16th century Danish land records, to photos from two years ago as well as every other type of media and condition. This also means that you can approach both businesses as well as consumers. You can easily go from an appointment to digitize documents for a law firm to an appointment to digitize photos for a household client.
Second, we “meet the client where the client wants to be met”, which is, we provide the service on a local basis, instead of having a single, central location–which forces clients to send their priceless memories through the mail. Our main competitors forward their client’s items to India. The next one sends their client’s items to Costa Rica. No one wants to risk the loss or damage of their irreplaceable items.
We also offer the option to go to the home of clients and digitize their photos and documents right in the privacy and convenience of their own home or office. We can scan 1500 photos or documents per hour at the client’s location. This is an unheard-of and fantastic option for many clients, and it is a great time to have them refer neighbors and friends. We have found the local service, as well as the option to go to the client to be a real game-changer in the market. It really places the iPreserve franchisee above the rest.
Third, we offer membership plans. No one else out there offers plans that make the service approachable or affordable. This allows you to expand your market to clients that want to do the service but are hesitant about price. This means continued cash flow and a wider market.
Fourth, we keep a copy of everything we do for clients. Instead of just providing the service and moving on to a new client, you can continue to profit from each client because you have kept a copy of everything. This provides both peace of mind to them that there is a remote backup, but also a way to continually upsell each client whenever new media formats emerge.
Top New Franchises: Tell us a little bit about the kind of person who would make a good iPreserve franchise owner? What are the backgrounds of some of your franchise owners?
Matt: The people best suited to own an iPreserve office are people that simply like helping other people. They don’t have to possess the ambition of Donald Trump or the technical capability of Bill Gates. It doesn’t hurt, but people that are the best match are the ones that look around them and see possibilities, they enjoy helping others and finding a solution. If you like memories and are a people-person, you can own an iPreserve location.
Top New Franchises: What qualities are important to you in selecting new franchisees for your system? What makes a good franchisee?
Matt: A good franchisee is one that is willing to constantly communicate with their clients, understand the nuances of their local market, and communicate often and objectively with the corporate office. We want to hear from the franchisees, and we want to hear success stories as well as ways we can improve the service offering. We want to know what works and what doesn’t work. We want to understand how we can help them. You asked us what makes a good franchisee, but we also feel strongly about what makes a good franchise system. With iPreserve, we have built a franchise system with the idea that “…the franchisees don’t exist to serve the franchise. The franchise exists to serve the franchisee…”
Top New Franchises: How do iPreserve franchise owners attract new customers? How do they create repeat business?
Matt: iPreserve franchise owners attract new customers using mostly active sales campaigns. This means that franchisees aren’t simply throwing their name onto a billboard or the phonebook–but they are actively pursuing new clients through multiple sales campaigns–whether those are partnerships with complimentary services, or even running a door-to-door sales program. We have found that active sales are the way to unlock this industry.
There is a huge market for these services, but the inexperienced person will assume that clients will just magically appear. They won’t. The small group of competitors that we have spend large amounts of money to advertise their services with only a modest return. With active sales, it is a more difficult approach, but it can deliver phenomenal results.
This product offering is considered highly-desired, yet not actively sought-after. Everyone wants to save their memories. They have thought about it, but they never get around to actually accomplishing this. This is considered the ‘someday project’. ‘Someday, I’ll scan all of my pictures…’ we tell ourselves. But as we get more busy, that ‘someday’ is pushed further away. iPreserve’s support and training shows you how to engage these clients, act as a catalyst, and unlock the market in your area.
Repeat business comes in three different forms; first, is through our membership plans, since our clients are typically purchasing membership plans instead of just making a transaction, they are generating a constant cash flow on a monthly basis for two to three years.
Second, is the referral and affiliate plans with others. Clients can have free services done when they refer someone else. Affiliate plans with other local complimentary businesses, such as wedding videographers, accountants, insurance agents, law firms, funeral homes, and others, creates a new channel of clients for you.
Third, is through archiving. We keep a copy of everything we convert for our clients. That means that you can charge a monthly or annual fee for keeping an off-site backup of their most priceless possessions. Most competitors simply convert the media and give it back. If that client were to have a disaster, they lose both the original and the digitized copy. With iPreserve, you can charge a nominal fee for archiving digital copies for these clients. Not only that, you can continue to migrate these digital copies to new media types, such as Blu-Ray discs for continued revenue from each client.
Top New Franchises: Of the training and support services you provide franchisees, which do you think are most valuable to their long-term success?
Matt: I think the largest part of the training is based on how to actively sell and market to clients, as well as how to operate efficiently and profitably. On the technical training side, we will not just show you how to convert media, but more importantly, how to process media with the least effort and greatest quality, as well as the operational side of the business, such as, how to pay your staff and keep track of orders.
Top New Franchises: What role does technology play in your organization?
Matt: Technology does play a strong role in the development of the services, but I would say the largest factor for success is improvement, ingenuity and innovation. Any company can be technologically savvy but still not understand their clients. I have seen many technologically adept companies that are completely oblivious of the potential or problems around them. The way we leverage technology is by staying on top of the latest developments, and then seeing if there are implications or potential improvements for our clients. This helps our clients since they do not feel forced to stay abreast of every new technology. Instead of each client trying to individually learn and figure out the most cutting edge technology, there is now a company with national strength and a local presence to do that for them. This improves the product offering of each franchisee and keeps each client closely tied to iPreserve.
Top New Franchises: What makes iPreserve different from other franchise opportunities? How is it a unique opportunity?
Matt: iPreserve stands alone in terms of scalability, flexibility, and opportunity for the franchisee. We have worked hard to craft a great offering for potential franchisees. This is the right type of franchise model, at the right time.
Regarding timing, it couldn’t be more right. We are living in a time that straddles the physical and digital age. We have a growing number of baby-boomers that need this service. We have an aging population that is computer-averse. Right now, everyone is able to enjoy the digital age, yet still have physical media, but still not have the time or know-how to convert everything. We live in a time where those that are technologically-capable have no time to do this for themselves, and those that do have the time, are typically not technologically-capable.
The franchisees have the ability to start small, with virtually no fixed costs and grow to the level that matches their ambition. Most franchise systems force their franchisees to purchase expensive and bulky equipment, hire personnel on an hourly basis, regardless of productivity or profitability, as well as immediately bind them into a lease for a building or commercial space. iPreserve can be started out of your garage or spare room. As you grow and find that you need to service new or different media types, you can decide whether to expand by purchasing the equipment or have the corporate office handle particular media types which makes it extremely scalable. If you choose to have a particular focus in terms of media type, you can simply purchase more pieces of equipment to handle higher volume, which makes the franchise extremely modular. You can ramp up productivity and profitability simply by adding individual pieces of equipment to your franchise.
iPreserve is also extremely agile. You can move between the consumer and household market for digitizing videos, or go into the commercial and B2B markets and start to provide services to businesses, municipalities, and other organizations. Since all of these digitizing services are provided on a local basis, there is a huge opportunity for franchisees. Just like local photocopy franchises were popular in the 1980’s, local scanning and digitizing franchises will be popular now and in the future.
Top New Franchises: What do you see as being the greatest non-financial rewards of being part of the iPreserve franchise family?
Matt: I have seen alot of cool services offered by companies. I rarely see a service that where clients actually cry with happiness when they see the results. I have seen that many times with iPreserve. iPreserve’s services go beyond the typical services, and get right to helping the critical–people’s lives. We’ve found that people’s jobs are to make memories, and our job is to save them.
Top New Franchises: Anything else you’d like to share?
Matt: I like the way we have structured the company to empower the franchisee. They have the ability to move as fast as they want, be as ambitious as they want, serve the market they want, as well as have a seasonal or home-based business if they want. It definitely has legs. The difference has come from our partnership with the Franchise Foundry, a company that provides a strategic growth partnership and knows the ins and outs of franchising.
Top New Franchises: Thanks for sharing with us, Matt.
Matt: Thanks for the opportunity.