On the other hand, ICED and Minuteman both lowered their start-up minimums. Minuteman lowered the amount 10% from $55,000 to $50,000. ICED dropped the amount from $74,000 to $65,000; a 13.85% decrease.
Delve a little deeper and we find the average total investment to join a franchise jumped by 2.7% to $377,994. Most franchises indicate that the total investment can vary, depending on the options the individual franchisee chooses. There are basic must-haves and there are limits.
Allegra’s total investment can range from $166,117 to $524,552. At the top of the range, that is a 7.48% increase over the previous year. Those looking to get into the AlphaGraphics system can expect to invest between $242,000 and $412,000, excluding real estate costs. That’s down by 2.91% from 2009. ICED expects franchisees to invest between $219,578 and $248,626—1.63% less than the previous year.
Franchise Services and Minuteman both cite fixed amounts for the total investment required. Franchise Services froze the amount at $288,000. Minuteman increased its cost by 13.79% to $145,000.
Every year when I break down the sales figures to see where the money comes from, it becomes apparent that even in a down economy, there is still a lot of money being made. Based on total sales of $1,639,412,515, here are the breakouts for the percent of sales by job type.
Category Percent of Sales Dollar Value
Prepress 7.1% $116,717,182
Single-Color Offset 3.8% $62,300,830
Multi-Color Offset 12.8% $209,855,426
Four-Color Offset 6% $98,369,731
B/W Digital 13.6% $222,971,390
Color Digital 23.3% $382,002,455
Wide-Format 5.1% $83,614,271
Finishing 10.4% $170,507,534
Mailing Services 5.2% $85,253,767
Brokered/Other 12.7% $208,215,930
While there were no dramatic variations in the breakout of percentages, it is interesting to note that this is the first time wide-format printing has made up more than 5% of sales. At 5.1% of sales, it was up 1.2% from last year. It may also be worth noting that brokered services were up almost 3% to comprise 12.7% of sales. It is possible that this could be a symptom of the recessionary economy.
The balance between offset and digital printing is trending ever more in favor of digital. This year, offset made up 22.6% of sales, down 7.5% from last year. Digital printing rose slightly by 0.4% to account for 36.9% of sales.
Breaking them out into their individual components, single color offset work only made up 3.8% of sales, a dip of 0.2% from last year. Multi-color offset printing fell off sharply (5%) to bring in 12.8% of sales in 2010. Four-color process work also decreased. It was down by 2.3% to account for 6% of total sales.
Digital printing breaks out with 13.6% of sales coming from monochrome digital output, up 1% on the year. Color digital printing, at 23.3% of sales, is the largest single category of work. Still, even color digital work saw a slight decrease of 0.6% on the year.
In the back of the shop, both postpress and mailing services saw increases. Traditional postpress work such as binding and finishing rose by 2.1% to ring up 10.4% of sales. Mailing services saw a slim 0.2% increase, but still brought in 5.2% of sales for the year.
Brighter Days Ahead
Already in 2011, there are signs that the recovery is getting stronger. I hear anecdotal evidence of improvement in conversations with printers from around the country. The observations and prognostications offered by the franchise leaders are considerably rosier than they were last year, although they are still guardedly optimistic, as most of us are.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the economists talk about stopping the bleeding. That always reminds me of an observation I heard attributed to an ER doctor. He said, “The bleeding always stops—one way or another.” At least, in this case, it appears that the patient was treated in time and recovery is expected.
The path to our industry’s future will require printers to embrace the changes taking place. Marks on paper are not going away, but new services that help customers grow and thrive in an increasingly electronic world must be part of the mix. Franchisees are fortunate to have organizations that can help them analyze and act upon the needs of their markets.