Talking Shop: Dennis Finnigan of Fraser Valley Photo
How long have you been in business? We are starting our 11th year.
How did you get started in this business? We were looking for opportunities and after much research and due diligence, decided a photo lab was needed in the Fraser Valley.
Business Mission Statement: Currently we are trying to provide the best possible service and products at a reasonable price. Helping our customers adapt to the changes in technology
Success in the Mission. I believe we are (successful).
Challenges to the mission: Changes in technology and getting customers to use our services instead of going to Denver or using “Snap Fish” or some other online service instead of our “Life Pic” online service.
If you were to ask me how has our business changed? The answer is simple: Digital. We use to develop and print hundreds of rolls of film. That was the only way to see your pictures. Now with the iPhone technology (or phones in general), there is no need to print your pictures, just let them accumulate on your phone. I have seen as many as 5,000 pictures stored on a phone. I have also seen thousands of pictures lost because people are too busy to store them in a safe place — not your PC necessarily, but a DVD or CD. Its not always easy to do at home, but we gladly provide help and service to make it happen. Technology has forced us to accept and use what the phones have become, and its not easy.
How do you cope with Grand County’s seasonal surges? Our products and services are primarily based on our local customers. Our “surges” are the Christmas Holidays and vacation pictures. We would like to see more “surges” in Grand County.
What do you think is the biggest business barrier in Grand County? The economy here has not recovered to the degree that it has in other parts of Colorado. For example: We use to be in the bed and breakfast business. Our B&B association was big. At one time we probably had 20 members. I think there are only a few B&Bs left. I don’t think people are coming here to stay. We see a lot of “day-trippers” from Denver. Watching the Denver news traffic and weather, it’s usually I70 corridor and Summit County jibber jabber. Its almost like they (news broadcasters) have never heard of Highway 40, Berthoud Pass, Winter Park ski area or the wonderful Fraser Valley.
What do you think is your biggest business barrier on a state and/or national level? The current economy.
What can government here do to help? Everyone needs to pull together to recognize this as a beautiful place to recreate and the towns should work together to promote the Valley as one entity.
How does your business give back to the community? By volunteering and supporting fundraisers, by donating images to auctions and giving discounts to charitable organizations and special needs such as bereavement pictures.
Give examples of how you are environmentally responsible. All waste products are refined on site and disposed of in environmentally safe containers following strict policies and procedures. (The main bi-product from our chemistry is pure silver — not much but real silver)
How do you support other local businesses? We always try to shop locally whenever possible.
How do you feel about direct competition? We really don’t have any competition in the county. Like so many businesses here there is room for only one. Our competition is the internet. The challenge is to getting customers to use our online services instead of national online services and not going over the hill.
How do you market yourself? Word-of-mouth is our best form of advertising, by providing the best customer service as well as a quality product
What is the main thing you have learned in your years in business? Always respect our customers and provide quality service. Be there, take customers seriously, listen and get the job done.
Where do you go for help when you need it? Industry sources and the Internet.
Who is your biggest business influence/mentor? My great wife Fran.
What do you think is the most significant economic driver in Grand County? Tourism, local residents trying to live in Grand County and second homeowners.
If you could go back in time and start up your business venture all over again, what would you do differently? Be more sensitive to changing technology.
What is the best compliment you received from a customer? “Thank you,” “I love it,” “I can’t believe you could do that.”
What do you consider to be your biggest mistake in business? Being too close to daily operations and losing sight of changing trends in the business. Not getting out of the office and telling our story. And, thinking that making a living is more important than skiing.
What organizations is (are) most useful to business owners? Professional organizations relating to your specific business and other businesses that complement ours.
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When the Braidwood Condominiums in Winter Park were built in the 1980s, the building lacked hallways wide enough for wheelchairs, walls between units were slim and the fire suppression system couldn’t compare to modern requirements.