By @SimonCocking

We’ve interviewed quite a few photographers at this stage, and one camera shop’s name in Dublin kept coming up time and time again -> Conns Cameras. We then went in to buy a lens, and found them super helpful too. Since then we continued to hear more and more, and then figured it might be interesting to hear a little more about how they run their business and why they are held in such high regard by the Irish photographic community.

Firstly some background, Conns Cameras is a family-run business established by Phil Conn in 1968. Since their father set the business up then, Bob and Mike Conn have then together continued to run and grow the business. They also offer a back-up service on all items they sell, including the facility to provide loan equipment. You can hire, try-before-you-buy and trade-in services and have an on-site sensor cleaning service for both dry- and wet-dust removal. For those based outside of Dublin, they also offer a secure mail-order service over the phone too.

We met with Mike Conn to learn a little bit more about the business. He explained they have been in their current location since 2003. “At our peak, we had four branches, we started on Capel Street, with half a shop, and then grew, and then on Grafton St, which we kept till 2003. We were also in the Ilac,  Dawson Street, Hibernian Way among other places, but not all at the same time. Now we have one and we sell online too”. He also explained, half jokingly that he had no choice but to go into cameras “ I was born over a camera shop in London, dad started the business, and then came over from the UK, in 1968, with his Irish wife, and so began the Irish business. I personally did sports photography, and so that was my area of interest, and from that a wider interest in cameras grew. My daughter is even in IADT doing photography too! I went to college to study marketing and design, and I also worked in the shop since I was 12, so it was always likely I would go into it too.”

We asked him why they had created such good customer loyalty and support. Mike felt there were some initially simple factors “we’re not expensive, and good on price” but that this was only the starting point. Mike explained that he had worked in other sectors including pharmacy, so that he had a good grounding in business in general, before coming back, to the family business. “This gave me the insight to not just sit in the office upstairs all the time, but to get the vibe from the shop floor. You need to be in touch with your customer base, to get feel for what people want, and you can then give better service that way. This lead me to learn the value of positive interaction, firstly to make sure the customers are happy, and then the rest came. We introduced a customer care program in 2003. We tried to blend the best of English services with the value of a more Irish bespoke approach to deal, with flexiblity and a take-back policy too.”

 

Conns Cameras then used the returns for loans, demonstrations and to build up a hire fleet. “This was to cover people while they were out of warranty, we offer something that other people don’t offer, and then sell them on, for use in demos. People can rent things from us, we also offer try before you buy too, and then offer it against price too. We give lots of customer service, free if you buy and other added options.”

We asked him who his favourite photographers were, but perhaps tactfully he replied “the challenge is to find something different, something unusual, that excites me more than a particular photographer”. He did mention one camera in particular ” I like to use the Canon 5d mark 3, I will also be trying the 5d mk4, we don’t get many of those types of cameras returned”. We then asked him about the other end of the photography industry with the advent of the smart phones, and if they were a risk to the high end of the market. “Smart phones for industry have opened up photography to the world. It has created lots of photographers, with many more images created. We are in a golden age for photographers, €99 cameras will give good quality, which gets more people taking photographs. Printing images has opened up printing market. You can see it as a threat or opportunity, so it is best to see the positive in it, and if you can add to their experience, to take better pics, then the smartphone brings them into the shop. This brings them in, to talk to you, and trust you, people do business with people, with people they trust, and people they like. We are now on the 4th generation of some families who are using our cameras and products! For this reason bricks and mortar still offer value in having a shop.”

We asked him for one final parting comment “tips on how to take good photos is important, but customer service is even more so, we’re still people focussed. The net can’t offer this, so we still offer value, you are looking after people. In terms of hiring we’re still looking for good people first, the tech knowledge comes second, it is still important but it comes second to fact that you must be able to articulate and deal with people. It’s all about people, people, people!”

Conns Cameras can be contacted by phone, fax or email any time during normal opening hours, but please note certain departments are open for shortened hours.

54 Clarendon St, Dublin 2, D02 AK61, Ireland

Opening Hours

Monday 09:00 – 18:00
Tuesday 09:00 – 18:00
Wednesday 09:00 – 18:00
Thursday 09:00 – 20:00
Friday 09:00 – 18:00
Saturday 09:00 – 18:00
Sunday

 


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking