A good number of our owners read the handwriting on the wall in late 2008 and early 2009, and started making adjustments. They’ve faithfully attended our very in-depth focus group meetings, ignoring the inconvenience and the cost, because they want to succeed. We can work with people with that mindset. We can help them achieve that success.
Our Kwik Kopy Business Centers brand saw a steady increase in sales for 2011 by an average of 11 percent. The motivation is not just on increasing sales; increasing sales and sacrificing profitability creates a false sense of comfort that won’t last long, not for the franchisee or for the franchisor.
Online print ordering is a growing challenge. In recent years, 20 percent of print orders have migrated to the Web. Postcards, business cards, letterheads, brochures, and more can now be customized and ordered online. To capture that business, more of our center owners are using MyOrderDesk from PagePath and we have just updated our center websites, giving owners a fresh, new look with added features to help with that process.
This is a digital world, so having an online communications portal seems to be the very foundation for operating within that world. With that tool and dedicated online providers, our owners can be competitive without added overhead.
Online ordering and higher paper costs have cut deeply into profit margins, as have customer buying habits. As client companies streamline their operations, the message being pushed down the line is to cut costs, buy cheaper, place smaller orders, get bids on everything.
Thus it comes even more critical for our owners to embrace the marketing solutions provider role, not just for those clients that need the whole consultant package, but also for those customers that are more price-oriented, the commodity print market. Customers of all levels need a partner to help them keep a strong message in front of their clients.
We can make the transition to the MSP role: 1) by helping our owners identify new markets and opportunities; 2) with online training and education, and 3) by identifying and collaborating with vendors that can help with competitive product pricing and technology. We look for companies that are willing to explore new ideas and markets that help both of us, not just supply products. We are gratified to work with several such vendors; they provide content rather than just products, and they help our owners bring in more revenue.
Direct mail took on a bad connotation in recent years, with the assumption that digital communications would replace a piece of mail delivered by the post office. Not so! Direct mail has a definite place in a well-designed marketing campaign. That campaign may well include some digital communications and some print, but it will start with a face-to-face relationship between the marketing service provider and the client.
It has been our belief for 45 years that constant education is the route to success for our owners. That education comes in multiple venues and methods, and covers a myriad of subjects that a business owner needs to know, but it is essential to profitable growth. We constantly stress that to our center owners, and whether we are convening for our conference, holding regional workshops, producing or collaborating in webinars, posting podcasts and e-zines, or distributing our company magazine, education is the vehicle that will carry us through—and over—the economic hurdles that are certain to remain part of our immediate future.
Given the maturity of our franchise system, many of our centers might be considered “mature.” But our center owners, whether they’ve been in our system since 2009 or since 1977, also look to the future with hope, and look to us for guidance on that journey. We believe we are up to the task.