All systems except Minuteman reported decreases in overall system-wide sales. Even with a 2.5% loss, Franchise Services led in sales with $562,124,500. Minuteman's sales were up 1.1% to $465 million. ICED's 8.8% drop left them with sales of $301,729,632. AlphaGraphics cleared $289,841,000 despite a 2.8% dip. A 3.9% loss resulted in $274,104,000 for Allegra. CPrint had sales of $101,464,294 after falling off by 6.6%. And based on the loss of a single location, we estimate LAZERQUICK's sales to be down 4.2% to $17,250,000.
This year, we also asked the systems to break out their North American sales, and the total in that category was $1,636,128,913. Since they are only located in North America, CPrint's and LAZERQUICK's system-wide totals are also their North American totals. Here are the North American sales for the systems that maintain a presence overseas: Franchise Services, $475,930,900; Minuteman, $400 million; Allegra, $274,104,000; AlphaGraphics, $243,444,000; and ICED, $126,910,719.
Of course, the real strength of any franchise resides in the healthy sales of its members. It is encouraging to report that even in challenging times, the average sales per shop (SPS) for companies more than one year old was up 2.9% to $685,279. Every system except Franchise Services and LAZERQUICK, which was estimated, reported an increase in sales per shop.
Two systems reported average SPS in excess of $1 million. AlphaGraphics is still tops with SPS up 0.01% to $1,125,829. CPrint reported a 5.99% increase for an average SPS of $1,004,597. Franchise Services saw SPS slip by 4.43% to $845,000. Allegra's SPS rose by 0.78% to $771,000. ICED reported SPS of $603,158; a 3.08% increase, which is the second best improvement in the group. And Minuteman's SPS was up by 0.91% to $550,000.
Sowing the Seeds
Naturally, it costs a bit more to get into a franchise these days if you are building a business from the ground up. On the other hand, if an established independent printer is investigating conversion programs, that's a rose of a different color. We have not gathered data on the costs conversion entails, but plan to do so in the future.
There are two factors to consider when weighing the cost of entry to a franchise system. The first is the initial cash investment and the second is the total cost. The average start up cost is $60,188; up 3.2% over last year. Of course, potential franchisees would also investigate royalties and compare equipment packages, among other factors. But the start up cost and total investment figures are a good place to begin.
Only two systems changed the amount of their initial start up costs. AlphaGraphics raised it by $10,000 to $85,000; an 11.76% increase. Minuteman posted a $5,000 increase (9.09%) to $55,000. The other systems maintained their up front commitment at last year's level. If you'd like to join one of the Franchise Services brands, plan to have $150,000 on hand. Allegra's initial ante is $90,000 and ICED's is $72,500. If you are an independent who would like to investigate the alternative business model offered by CPrint, you'll need to pony up $4,000. We can't say for certain whether LAZERQUICK is still actively offering franchises, but last year they listed their start up cost as $25,000, and we have no data to contradict that.
Total investment required ranges widely from $12,579 to $425,991—the average is $228,834; up 5.1% over last year. Those figures cover a vast array of differences. CPrint is at the low end, reporting a total investment ranging between $4,000 and $12,574. The program is only available to existing printing businesses that meet the system requirements. Since all franchise members are already in business, there is no need to factor in the cost of equipment, premises, or other start up expenses. Potential franchisees can expect a total investment of $180,000 to join Minuteman. The investment to become part of the Allegra Network ranges between $159,055 and $425,991. Buying into one of the ICED brands (Kwik Kopy, Kwik Kopy Business Centers, Ink Well, Franklin's) will ultimately cost $209,468. Sign on with one of the Franchise Services stable (Sir Speedy, PIP, Signal Graphics, Copies Now) and you'll invest $288,000. AlphaGraphics requires a total investment of between $280,130 and $414,630. If LAZERQUICK is still open to new franchisees, the total investment quoted last year was $300,000.
Turning the Soil