(l to r) John Monteith, sales; Aaron Burckle, digital press operator; Larry Furlong, franchise owner; Matt Witkowski, lead bindery; and Scott Buhl, master pressman.
Franchise owner Larry Furlong of AlphaGraphics on Camelback near Phoenix, AZ, doesn’t leave it up to lady luck to drive sales. Instead, he’s willing to dress up like a casino dealer or impersonate Elvis to entice potential and long-standing clients to do business with him. He hosts these parties (aka networking events) about once a year as a way to show off his 10,000-square-foot operation—and boost sales.
“Our main goal with the themed open house nights is to show local businesses that we’re not your one-dimensional, mom-and-pop print shop—that we can essentially become your marketing partner by servicing all your marketing communications and printing needs,” Furlong says.
For a typical event, the staff at AlphaGraphics invites their top 100 best customers as well as 25-50 key prospects they’re working with to close deals. Even among clients with whom he has built great relationships, Furlong says its can be challenging to get customers in the door to see the breadth of the center’s services and capabilities, in part because the center relies on an outside sales force to procure and maintain clients.
In the past few years, the company has evolved its brand from a quick print company into a full-service marketing communications company with multi-channel digital products that increase ROI for clients on their marketing campaigns. Furlong sees the future of the printing industry as a marriage of digital and print. Inviting guests into his state-of-the-art facility is one way to share this vision with clients and make sure they are informed about all products and services offered.
The format of these open houses also lends itself well to demonstrations. For each open house, the center selects one or two new products or services and makes them an integral part of the night. Last year, the center added a 61-inch-wide outdoor vinyl banner printer, so it created 2x2-foot vinyl banners, personalized for each guest. This way, guests not only see the impressive printer, but also the final product.
“The guests take their goodies home, whether they are vinyl banners or t-shirts with their names on it, and they are left with a tangible item that reminds them of all our products and services,” Furlong said. “It sends the message to businesses in our community that AlphaGraphics can do it all.”
Coming up Aces
One cost-saving advantage of hosting a themed event is that AlphaGraphics can produce most of the materials in house. For example, Furlong often sends out a snail mail invitation and usually follows up with a matching email blast—all designed by his staff.
It’s important to point out that the ROI of these events is not merely a roll of the dice. Furlong says it can be difficult to track immediately, because guests sometimes become clients four to six months afterward. But in several cases, he has netted an ROI of 400 percent from an open house.
As for conceiving the idea, Furlong admits he borrowed the idea from a Phoenix-area branch of Printing Industries of America. Ten years ago, that group threw a Mexican-themed mariachi party. AlphaGraphics on Camelback’s first event? A fiesta featuring the same mariachi band that played at the trade association’s party. Since then, Furlong’s center has hosted casino, circus, even superhero nights as a way to meet and greet local decision makers.
“Hosting themed open house nights is a great way to boost employee morale and get to know businesses in the area,” Furlong says. “But at the end of the day, it’s really about showcasing what AlphaGraphics has to offer in a fun and different way.”
To learn more about AlphaGraphics on Camelback, visit www.MyPRINTResource.com/10771044. Contact owner Larry Furlong at 602-515-0265 or firstname.lastname@example.org.