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Carl Gerhardt

Business Sense & Sensibility

By Carl Gerhardt

About Carl

Carl Gerhardt is the chairman of Alliance Franchise Brands LLC, the parent company of Allegra Network LLC and Sign & Graphics Operations LCC, and a world leader in marketing, visual and graphics communications, linking more than 600 locations in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. The company’s Marketing & Print Division, headquartered in Plymouth, MI, is comprised of Allegra, American Speedy Printing, Insty-Prints, Speedy Printing and Zippy Print brands of marketing, printing, mailing and Web services providers. Its Sign & Graphics Division, headquartered in Columbia, MD, is comprised of Image360, Signs By Tomorrow and Signs Now brands of sign and graphics communications providers.

Carl and his wife, Judy, owned and operated their own successful Allegra franchise for nearly 20 years before selling the $2.3 million operation in 2003. He is a PrintImage International/NAQP Honorary Lifetime Member and was inducted into NAPL’s prestigious Soderstrom Society in 2010 in recognition of his contribution to the industry.

 

Find Success by Falling in Love Again

 
Last fall, I made a presentation at a conference and one of my slides was titled, “Getting Ready for the Post-Recession Industry.” It included a list of things to do. I had borrowed the list from Andy Paparozzi, chief economist at the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL). [Thanks, Andy.]

Last week, I was talking to a friend who owns one of our most successful franchises. Let’s call him Peter. Peter was one of the attendees at that conference. He mentioned that one of the items on that to-do list really hit home with him. So much so, that he suggested we repeat it...and often. Here it is:
 
What will make you fall in love with your business again? (Or, the “grass is greener” syndrome.)
 
We posed this question to conference attendees: “Have you fallen out of love with your business?”

Now, several months later, we’ve all been through the two hardest years in the history of the industry. Also, many of us have been running our businesses for a long time. It’s not at all unusual to see owners lose some of the passion they once had for their businesses, even to the point of wanting out. I have observed this many times during the past 25 years working with numerous owners.
 
Peter admitted that it had happened to him at one point. Then, he began to realize how wonderful his business had been to him and his family over the years. And, he stopped and asked himself, If I wasn't doing this, what would I be doing? With a bit of soul searching, the question led him to fall in love with the business all over again.
 
Those may not be his exact words, but I think they capture the spirit of our conversation. Thanks for the reminder, Peter. And, hopefully, these thoughts may inspire some soul searching for those who are not as in love as they once were.
 
Now, let’s go sell something to somebody!
 

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