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Franchise Printers -- Some Franchise Players

September 2004 By Erik Cagle
Senior Editor
Whither lies the future of the franchise printer? Well, while most observers agree that the bountiful years of the 1980s will likely never return, there is ample opportunity to enjoy growth for those who buy into a particular franchisor's mantra.

Sure, there's been a lot of fireworks on the quick printer side in the past year. The FedEx acquisition of retail giant Kinko's turned some heads and the Allegra Network introduced a new president. But, for the most part, it's been status quo; modest growth enjoyed by franchisors whose network of centers have branched out into ancillary services, as well as tucking in independent printers on the M&A landscape. It sounds a little like your typical general commercial printer.

Defining the franchise printer is a little tough. Most people associate franchise printers as those who pay a fee to the parent company to become branded and enjoy all the perks of advertising and scale, which is largely true. But Kinko's, for example, owns all its "franchises" while providing competition in many common markets with franchise printers.

Also, most people see franchises as quick printers with retail outlets. In many cases, that is true. But some printers strongly resemble general commercial printers, with sheetfed and even web presses (as in the case of Minuteman Press).

Definitions aside, one thing is certain: everyone is watching the bottom line and the strategies to enhance it.

The next few years will be a critical time for the Sir Speedy franchise, based in Mission Viejo, CA. The organization has roughly 1,000 centers globally, including its PIP Printing and Multi-Copy brands. On the Sir Speedy end, at least 100 centers will be up for renewal over the next few years, bringing into spotlight the company's value proposition, according to Ron Zayas, vice president of marketing for Sir Speedy.

"In general, franchisors are struggling as this is about the time, the next five years, where there are a lot of franchises up for renewal," he says. "Franchisors are struggling with bringing value to their franchisees, to be able to say, 'What can a franchisor do for you that you can't do on your own?' "

Three Steps Taken

It wasn't enough for Sir Speedy to underscore its advertising initiatives, according to Zayas, so about five years ago the company took a three-pronged, technology driven approach to its value proposition. Those areas are:
 

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