In one of the forums I participate in regularly, a poster asked for our collective thoughts on TapSnap™ which is a kind of touch screen photo-booth alternative.
Immediately I went over to the TapSnap™ website. You would think it is TapSnap (.com) but it isn’t. It is TapSnap.net. I am not quite sure why they don’t have the .com version, but at the time of this writing, it comes up as a GoDaddy landing page.
As you know, this site is about many things that can help photographers be successful in their businesses. So, I write about saving money, good business practices and how to get better deals on equipment. I also write about stuff that is photography related that interests me.
So, as a disclosure, I have not spoken or communicated with TapSnap™ but merely wanted to write about how I go about evaluating nearly every business expense that I might come across. This is in NO WAY a negative review on TapSnap™ but rather, a cost comparison. I encourage anyone who is considering the TapSnap™ franchise to communicate with them directly and see if their business model is right for you.
TapSnap™ – What it is and how much it costs
I have spent a decent amount of time on the TapSnap™ website looking at it’s functions, how it works and thinking about what it would do for a wedding or event. Since I have captured over 400 weddings, I think in wedding terms quite often. Nearly everything about weddings runs through my “would this make me money” filter that naturally occurs in my brain. I can’t help it. I have been doing this for over 10 years and every cost gets evaluated so that I know how to accurately charge my clients so that I cover costs and still make a decent living.
TapSnap™ is a photo-booth alternative where guests are able to walk up and touch a screen to take their photo, add interesting digital effects or backgrounds, and instantly share their photos on social networks or via email (assuming internet access is available)
It is an easy-to-set-up system that takes about 15 minutes to get up and running. The system is sold to franchisees at a cost of about $40,000 which breaks down (roughly) as follows:
- $17,500 – Franchise Fee
- $19,995 – Cost Per Unit
- ??? Extras
If you get two units, there is a special price from what I have read on the all-knowing Internet.
There are also ongoing costs of $25 per month and a 14% revenue fee which can be broken down further on this website. Thus, if you have four events where you charge $1,300 per event, then that month, you would owe TapSnap™ about $728 in fees.
Your revenues minus franchise fees for the month would be $5,200 – $728-$25 = $4,447
Nearly $4,500 is not bad for something is truly a part-time endeavor.
ROI – Return on TapSnap™ investment
Let’s keep our $1,300 figure in mind and assume a few other things:
- You are personally running the booth and not hiring someone to do it
- You are printing at the events incurring a print cost of about $100 per event for paper and ink
Thus, for each event, you have costs of $282. This gives you a return of $1,018 per event.
At that rate, it would take you approximately 40 events to cover the initial investment you made into the system and the franchise fee. Still, that is not too shabby because your costs are covered in what would probably take about one years worth of events. Going forward, you could probably make $40k+ annually by doing 40 events representing a VERY GOOD part-time income.
Are there alternatives to TapSnap™ that are cheaper?
True to PhotoAspects form, we have to investigate the other alternatives. How could we set up a similar system saving ourselves the franchise fee and initial cost of the TapSnap™ equipment? We know it is gonna cost something, but can we get to a place where we get a faster ROI and make more money?
I think we could build our own photo-booth alternative for about $7,000 and here’s how!
What do you need?
- Touch Screen Monitor
- Monitor Stand
- Camera Mount
Touch Screen Monitor – You can get a touch screen monitor for less than $2500. Here are a few that I have found:
- Dell P2214H Black 21.5" 8ms(GTG) IPS Widescreen LED Backlight LCD Monitor, 250 c - $171.99 -
- DELL 19" P1913 WIDESCREEN DISPLAY LCD LED VGA DVI DISPLAYPORT DESKTOP PC MONITOR - $74.95 -
- NEC DISPLAY SOLUTIONS V423 Interactive Display,42",LED,38-5/16" W G5894911 - $1,064.59 -
- NEW 17" POS LCD Touch monitor Dual Hinge ED170 Screen 5 Wire DVI/VGA Kiosk - $297.85 -
- Express/ NEW 17" POS LCD Touch monitor ED170 VGA DVI 5 Wire screen Kiosk - $229.99 -
Monitor Stand – You can find monitor stands nearly anywhere. Here is one that is portable and costs $335. You can find more on eBay.
Printer – You will need a Dye Sub Printer. They run about $1,000 or less. The one that TapSnap™ uses is a HiTi P510S. Here are a few dye sub printers available for less on eBay.
- Canon SELPHY CP1300 Wi-Fi Wireless Compact Photo Printer w/NB-CP2LH Battery Pack - $229.98 -
- Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4720 All-in-One Inkjet Printer, 4800x1200 #C11CF74201 - $119.99 -
- Mitsubishi CP3020DA Printer 3020 Digital Color Printer Dye Sub.Transfer TESTED! - $365.40 -
- Canon PIXMA TS6020 Wireless All-in-One Printer, Print, Copy, Scan - Gray - $49.99 -
- Sony UP-DR200 Digital Photo Thermal Printer A+ Working Cond. w Extra paper/Ink - $300.00 -
Camera – You can use a web cam or a DSLR for the software (below). TapSnap™ uses a Canon T3i. Here are some on eBay.
- Canon EOS Rebel T3i / EOS 600D 18.0MP Digital SLR Camera - Black (Kit w/ EF-S IS - $300.00 -
- Canon 5D Mark III Digital SLR Camera Bonus Lens Kit + Digital Mate Flash 780 - $3,599.95 -
- Canon DS126311 EOS Rebel T3I 18mp Digital Camera Set - $349.00 -
Camera Mount – I think a clamp-type camera mount would work great for this. Just check the weight the mount can hold against the weight of the camera.
PC – The PC doesn’t have to be top of the line, but it’s not a good idea to be a cheapie either. I usually suggest a pretty decent machine like an i3 or i5 processor with 4GB RAM. Probably be about $500-$1,000
Software – I recommend looking into the Sketch Booth Software. It runs about $2,000.
ROI on our DIY Version
Let’s take a look now at our prices. If you add up all of our costs above, you get to just under $7,000. Maybe less if you can locate some deals on eBay. Let’s take the above assumptions again and assume a $1,300 revenue per event with a $100 cost for ink and paper. Since we don’t have to pay a franchise fee, we are left with $1,200 per event compared to $1,018 per event.
Our costs are $7,000 divide by $1,200 and we come up with just under six events!!! Instead of waiting 40 events to get your money back, you’ve made it back in six meaning you’re profiting sooner.
With the same assumption of 40 events per year, you’re making $48k annually for your part-time gig. That is a full $8,000 MORE than you’d make by buying and running a franchise each and every year!