Ed and Tanya Colee, partners in a Boutte, LA print shop, recently took a step that many small business owners are reluctant to take in a down economy. The Colees, owners of J&K Office Supply and Printing, made an investment in technology and training to expand their service offerings.
Looking to counter smaller job runs and new competitive threats, the Colees turned to Pitney Bowes and learned how to drive growth through a combination of improved customer service, expanded direct mail offerings, and Pitney Bowes postal education.
“I’ve owned this business for seven years, and I’ve discovered if you don’t look at additional avenues to bring sales in, such as when we shifted from offset to digital, you won’t be competitive,” explains Ed Colee. “We used to job out direct mail to other mail houses, and now we’re bringing it in-house by bringing in Pitney Bowes.”
He continues: “I did my research and saw how involved Pitney Bowes is in the direct mail market. Their willingness to offer hands-on training, guidance, and education made them an easy choice.”
J&K Printing purchased a package from Pitney Bowes that included everything necessary to offer direct mail services: a Connect+ 2000 Color Printer, a DI600 FastPac Inserting System, a DA95 envelope printer, SmartMailer 7 with VeriMove software, and the SendSuite shipping solution.
The training aspect was a key purchase factor for the printers. “I attended the training with my wife who runs the business with me, and it was worth it just for the postal guidelines,” he continues. “Now, we are familiar with regulations regarding weight, size, minimums, and maximums that we weren’t aware of before.
“We used to outsource jobs to other companies,” Colee recalls. “Now that we understand the regulations, we can save the customer money—and make more money by showing them optimal postage and printing solutions. Even though we’ve just started, we’ve already done two or three jobs big enough to get the bulk rate discount by utilizing the software, equipment, and training Pitney Bowes provided.”
By offering these value-added services, Colee has not only staved off his competition but expects to see a complete return on his investment within 18 months. “The direct mail should drive a 5% to 6% increase in revenues very quickly,” he says. “And after that, we’re projecting similar increases until we level off at about a 25% increase.”
The bump in revenues has already begun, and Colee sees more coming. “As of right now, we’ve been promoting it to our top clients. We’ve already gotten a response back from one customer saying they’d like to do two direct mail campaigns in the next month, and we had never done a direct mail job with them previously.
“One of the local chemical plants became a customer once we let them know we were doing direct mail in house. Likewise, a cable company that we’ve done little newspaper inserts for before is now offering us the opportunity to bid on some direct mail work for them. We’re on track to get 40% of their business for the next few months. So, we can beat our expectations if we can lock in those types of customers.”
Many printers face similar circumstances as the Colees. With print volumes declining and downstream partners such as mail houses now expanding into print services, business owners need to add new capabilities and services in order to grow. Mail services not only provide new revenue opportunities, but also help build loyalty among current customers and can safeguard against them switching to a more all-in-one provider.
Printers looking to explore such avenues will find that Pitney Bowes can help with insight, technologies and value-added assistance.
The Colees, for example, continue to be fully supported by Pitney Bowes with unexpected savings in time and money. “Just by buying toner supplies, drums, and fuses through Pitney Bowes, and using their shipping system for my Fed Ex and UPS, I’m able to save 41% on my cost of goods.
“That was part of the package. I’m not obligated to buy from Pitney Bowes, but the price and turnaround time on supplies are just better.”
Overall, Ed Colee is optimistic about the future. “We’re getting into political season. We had done a lot of political work before, mainly push cards and signs, so we went to those people and told them we could now offer them direct mail at better rates than before.
“We’ve gotten very good responses from the select few that we’ve contacted so far, so I think we’ll do very well with that over the next few months.”
For information, visit the Pitney Bowes (Booth 2010) during GRAPH EXPO 2011.