Interestingly enough, those centers that were consistently high performers continued to lead the pack in 2008. While their sales may have fallen slightly over the previous year, they were not nearly as significant as others that experienced a much higher percentage of decrease, some in the double-digit category.
The current economic climate brings even more uncertainty as to what lies ahead in 2009. The challenge will be to maintain the business you currently have and continue to market your products and services through a sustained sales effort.
To this end, we are working on a variety of programs in conjunction with our preferred vendors and others, aimed at providing the necessary tools to assist in this endeavor. Our partnership with InfoTrends and its E-Learning program is such an example. Other programs include our new online lead generation system, in concert with Leads Please, which makes available a comprehensive database that can be used in sales and marketing initiatives. We are also working with Mindfire, for improved variable data and PURL opportunities. Also, we have implemented online training through webinars, video clips, and podcasts via our company intranet.
Minuteman Press, Robert Titus, President
The last quarter of 2008 held pretty consistent to the previous quarter, and I believe 2009 will be a tough year in our industry; especially for the people who sit there and wait for everything to happen. I feel 2009 will be a competitive year and the people that are out there actively seeking new customers will not only survive, but even have a good shot at growing and expanding in this year.
Everyone needs to look at their costs and do what they can to cut those costs. Everyone must put a strong effort towards sales and marketing, and building a good relationship with their customers will be very important. I believe the quick printing segment of our industry will continue to grow in dollars and cents, primarily in the form of short-run digital color and high-speed black-and-white. The larger commercial printers will feel the crunch of this recession because companies throughout the world will look to conserve their funds. They will not order large quantities. They will order small quantities; just enough to get through the next month or two.
We have seen it happen before with recessions in the 80's. We built our company during recessionary times and will continue to do so with the current economy the way it is. Let's just hope the economy starts turning around soon!
AlphaGraphics, Kevin Cushing, CEO
It's often said by the best athletes that they relish the opportunity to play against the toughest competition; they want the ball when the game is on the line. It's because they have the skill, preparation, experience, and the CONFIDENCE to perform under the most trying of circumstances.
At AlphaGraphics we feel the same way. Our network is saying, "Give us the ball!"
AlphaGraphics has never been afraid of a challenge. For over 38 years we have provided quality products and services to our customers with great success, whether times were good or bad. We have adapted, we have grown, we have persevered, and together we have built an organization to be proud of. We're not going to let ourselves "participate" in the doldrums so many are consumed by. We will address reality for what it is and pursue growth with a disciplined and aggressive mindset.
I shudder to think about going it alone in today's business climate and am grateful to lead this network and to be a franchisee of two business centers in the Minneapolis market.
AlphaGraphics ended 2008 with industry-leading average center sales of $1,125,829 and system-wide sales of $289,841,000–basically matching our record year of 2007. We attribute our relatively strong performance to the fact that we have worked hard to establish a relationship with our customers—not just as their printer, but also as their marketing and communications partner. Our business centers are run by dedicated, hardworking individuals who embody a culture that gives our customers the confidence that we will do whatever it takes to get the job done. So even during tough times, when companies are cutting back on print, our customers keep coming to us to fulfill their communication needs.