Name Game No Longer Applies to Small Shops —Michelson
But, again, like their larger counterparts, smaller printers are struggling to differentiate themselves in the marketplace and to make clients and prospects more aware of their growing list of services. While FedEx Kinko’s (also profiled in this issue)—with a whopping $2 billion in sales and 1,600 stores—and large franchisors may have the financial resources and business acumen to market their brands on regional and national levels, independent quick and small commercial printing operations often rely on word-of-mouth as their only form of advertising. Likewise, franchises and independents now compete with a growing list of online printers, like VistaPrint among others, that specifically cater to the print needs of small businesses and similar end users. These Web-based purveyors offer very low prices and fast deliveries, largely through automated ordering efficiencies and gang run production practices.
Interestingly, a growing wave of Canadian trade shops are finding success serving print brokers and brick-and-mortar printers based in America. As noted in our “Going North of the Border” feature on page 38, these companies are aided by lower labor rates and favorable currency exchange rates. They also benefit from the comfort factor among many U.S. brokers and printers who believe these foreign establishments won’t turn around and cherry-pick their customers away from them.
Just as there is a growing opportunity for smaller printers to maximize their revenues by offloading specialized print production to trade shops, there’s profit potential in serving as promotional products resellers. This combination of producing in-house what they can do best, as well as expanding offerings by farming other work out and selling promotional items, will help keep small print shops—however you want to classify or name them—viable marketing and communications services providers for many years to come.
Mark T. Michelson