Taking over an existing store
“Buying an existing store has definite benefits. You have built-in loyal clients, and you have a team that knows the business. When we took over the business, we retained all the staff, which helped a lot. Even though my husband and I were new to the franchise, our staff knew how things worked and helped us get up and running.
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“Still, taking over an existing store can be daunting. Even though you’re completely new to the business, everything is ticking over as usual, and this can feel overwhelming. You feel as if you’ve been thrown into the deep end. But, if you can figure things out, you can see a relatively quick return on investment, since you already have a solid client base.”
The need for business knowledge
You don’t need printing experience to open up a business such as this, but I do think you need a bit of business experience. If you’ve owned your own business before, the transition will be much simpler. There is a lot of admin to deal with. We typically handle 50 to 80 quotes a day, so there is a lot to keep track of.
“Thankfully, Minuteman uses fantastic software to manage workflow, which makes the day-to-day running much easier, but it still helps to be comfortable with business management.”
Learning about printing
“My husband and I had both owned other businesses and retail stores when we took over the Minuteman Press, but printing was new to us. Luckily, we had staff who were knowledgeable and an incredibly helpful franchisor. The training we received was excellent. We even travelled to New York (during the middle of a very harsh winter!) for training, and the people there were fantastic.
“One of the big advantages of buying a franchise, as opposed to opening up an independent operation, is the support that you receive. Since we needed to learn about printing, knowing that an experienced team was just a phone call away really eased the pressure.”
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Having good staff
“It’s very important to employ the right people. There were five people here when we started — we now have ten. Your workers really are the lifeblood of your operation. We were very lucky to retain great staff when the previous owner sold the business. We wouldn’t have the successful business we do today if it was not for them.”
Providing great service
“We live by the motto ‘under-promise and over-deliver’. A lot of printing companies don’t reply quickly enough to a request for a quote. We have a strict rule that large quotes should be sent out within 24 hours of receiving the request. If it’s a quote for a small job, it should be done practically immediately.
“At the same time, you need to manage clients expectations. Some clients don’t realise how time-consuming and complex printing can be. It’s also a fact of life that things go wrong. Sometimes a printer breaks down or something else goes wrong, and you simply can’t meet the deadline. The important thing, though, is to communicate with the client. You need to let them know that something has happened. Simply sticking your head in the sand is not a good strategy.
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“In order to have more control over jobs and deadlines, we’ve brought a lot of printing in-house over the last four years. It can be good to send out very large printing jobs when you’re getting started, but bringing those in-house really helps as your knowledge of printing improves.”
Staying on top of technology
“Printing technology is constantly improving and evolving, which keeps things interesting. Once again, having a franchisor to help navigate technology changes and keep you abreast of changes is very useful.”
“You need to realise that you’ll be working hard. We typically have around 200 jobs in progress at any one time. As the owner of a Minuteman Press, you’ll rarely ever be bored.
“However, what I like about a franchise such as this is that it tends to stick to business hours. There aren’t too many late nights. We have a lot of corporate clients, so that allows us to stick to business hours.
“It should also be mentioned that the franchise offers great rewards. It’s hard work, but you get what you put in.”
A dependable franchisor
“Minuteman Press is a great franchise to be a part of. Of course, it is an international brand that’s highly respected, but it also has a great team in South Africa. The local team is knowledgeable and always willing to help. As a franchisee, you can always pick up the phone and ask for advice. We really have a great relationship with the franchisor. I know that, should we suddenly have a family emergency, he would be in the shop helping out the next day.
“Occasionally, issues crop up, and it’s great to have a franchisor that’s willing to assist. For instance, a supplier might be closed for the holidays, and Minuteman Press head office can then recommend a substitute for that period. Or, there might be a glitch with the software that head office can help to sort out.
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“As you become more comfortable in the role of business owner, you might need less assistance from the franchisor. In the early days, though, it’s important to have support.”
For more information, visit krugersdorp.minutemanpress.co.za.