Less than a year after laying out an ambitious plan to evolve the AlphaGraphics brand into a full-service multi-channel marketing provider, the company is showing healthy signs of growth – to the tune of a nine percent sales increase for franchise owners of the nearly 300-location national business.
The uptick is measured for the first six months of this year, compared to the same time period in 2011. Additionally, the trailing 12-month revenue increased more than six and a half percent compared to the same 12-month period in 2010-2011. Equally impressive, 32 centers saw year-over-year sales increases of more than 23 percent, with six centers reporting more than 50 percent growth and two centers topping the charts with more than 100 percent growth. Franchisees credit their success to the introduction of new revenue streams and the shift from focusing solely on printing to providing more well-rounded communications solutions.
"The new AlphaGraphics is at the forefront of marketing communications," said Steve Adams who owns three centers in Tempe, Phoenix and Mesa, Ariz. "We've landed large accounts -- and have significantly grown our centers -- because we've integrated highly targeted services, such as variable data printing."
In February 2012, AlphaGraphics unveiled a new identity, bringing the entire system into the fresh world of multi-channel marketing, increasing capabilities to include web/e-commerce support, SMS/Text, mobile and email marketing, website design, branding, and more. At the same time, the company mapped out strategic initiatives that would allow franchisees to increase their profits from traditional printing services. The idea was spurred at the beginning of the recession, when company executives noticed revenues begin to stagnate for the first time in the company's 40-year history.
"We thought to ourselves, 'How do we make a change before it's too late, or before we're forced to become something we're not?'" said AlphaGraphics President Art Coley. "The adaptation of the brand began with one thing -- our franchise owners. We started having meaningful conversations with them about their capabilities and desires and we were able to focus our intentions on the right path."
The AlphaGraphics system has helped franchisees communicate the benefits of new digital products to their clients through ongoing training. AlphaGraphics of Idaho Falls owner Lynn Nelson, who converted his independently owned print shop to join AlphaGraphics, said the support of the franchise network has allowed his center to "grow faster than we ever could have on our own."
Rob Halverson, owner of AlphaGraphics of Chicago North, said the robust marketing services equip his sales team to operate as extensions of clients' marketing departments. "Right now, we can provide everything from e-commerce solutions to mobile marketing, and we're excited about the future as the AlphaGraphics brand continues to evolve its marketing expertise," said Halverson.
In January 2012, AlphaGraphics was purchased by an affiliate of Blackstreet Capital Partners II, a private equity fund based in Maryland. Since the acquisition, AlphaGraphics has recommitted itself to increasing sales and profitability at the center level, as well as further developing its franchise development efforts.