Today, AlphaGraphics is in an excellent position to grow organically as well as through welcoming qualified independents into our family and "tucking in" independents seeking to retire, into our own business centers. Our brand is strong and our people are talented and capable of achieving tremendous results for both themselves and their customers. Our strategy is right—a strategy that focuses on finding new and effective ways for our customers to reach their customers. When we promote optimism for the future in a way that is relevant to our customers and we work with them to create and implement marketing programs that bring results, we inspire their hope and confidence.
Sam Veda said, "The mettle of a man is tested in adversities and he who remains firm in his belief comes out shining." Don't allow the constant media negativity to become part of your own language and eventually a self-fulfilling prophecy. I challenge everyone in our industry to be a crusader for the solution and not a messenger for the problem.
Allegra Network, Carl Gerhardt, President & CEO
It's interesting to think just one year ago in the Franchise Review we discussed whether or not we were experiencing a recession, when today it is clear that the recession began long ago and continues to accelerate. Although 2008 historically brought about much change that created serious challenges, a paradigm shift occurred allowing business owners of financially well managed operations and industry innovators to rise to the top. Of course, how the industry will weather the storm, is a topic for industry pundits and leaders alike. At Allegra, we are focusing on three key strategies to ensure our future:
1. First, we serve as a consolidator in a consolidating industry. We have added nearly 40 new centers to our system through our Allegra MatchMaker program, whereby we match independent printers looking to sell with buyers and convert the center to Allegra Print & Imaging. In addition, our franchise members have acquired more than 200 independent printers through our Acquisition Program. Some of our centers merge/consolidate with others to get critical mass to be competitive. Although this consolidation has reduced our number of locations, stronger centers result. We have also completed four corporate acquisitions, Signs Now, Insty-Prints, a number Quik Print and Instant Copy centers from XYAN, and Zippy Print. These acquisitions have allowed us to continue to expand our network without opening start-ups.
2. Second, we are helping our franchise members diversify into exciting growth segments in the "new age of graphic arts." We have worked hard to provide our franchise members with the tools to focus on digital, direct mail, wide-format, marketing services, and cross media. Our locations that have adopted this strategy and are pursuing Marketing Central certification are experiencing their best years ever.
3. Third, we are continuing to invest in training and technology to assure our franchise members provide value to their market niche. We are fortunate to be privately owned, which allows us to continue to invest, despite a difficult market. Our franchise members appreciate the critical support and tools we provide, as 90% renew their contracts when their initial terms expire. As franchise members continue to build strong customer relationships with small to medium size businesses, big box stores and online suppliers are left to focus on commodity output in a price driven market.
In short, our view is that the future is brighter now than it was when I opened a location in Colorado Springs 23 years ago—it's just different. In today's climate, those who focus on sound financial management principles and compete in the growth segments of our industry beyond printing will succeed. We believe that with these building blocks in place, the rest will take care of itself.
CPrint International, Tom Crouser, President
CPrint International finished our fourth year as the franchise exclusively serving printers that are already in business, and quite a year this has been. With all the economic turmoil, we are pleased to have assisted a number of our franchisees to sell their business as well as others to make progress in their personal goals. Nonetheless, the market has been difficult for all.
Very early in the year, as a response to the changing landscape, CPrint embarked on our Essentials model that places consultants in a coaching role with smaller businesses and forgoes the requirement that all affiliates be assigned to boards. That and a strict review of board expenses allowed us to achieve as much as a 30% cost reduction for some companies, without forgoing the essential strength of the network.
The heart of our program remains real business assistance—where a trained business advisor comes into your shop to work with you on your budget, your issues, your workers, and your action plan within your market. This remains our core mission. As such, you will find CPrint business advisors located throughout the country, allowing them to reach you more easily.