i just adjust the contrast / levels to match the print ..
when it is large ( usually 300dpi ) then "save for web"
( i use cs2 ) after i resize it at 72 ( they are usually saved
at less than 100 kb ) ... probably others have other tricks
i don't sharpen or unshapen or do any dance moves, its like a straight print ...
it sounds like your lab is good, but they are lite on the scans.
you might consider getting a used or refurbished skanner
and the free version of PS .. it might take a little getting used to
but in the end you will realize it is a piece of cake