Connect with us

Franchisee Advice

Minuteman Press’s Blueprint For Success

Entrepreneur spoke to Minuteman Press’s Frik van Niekerk about the brand.

GG van Rooyen

Published

on

Frik-van-Niekerk

Vital Stats

  • Player: Frik van Niekerk
  • Franchise: Minuteman Press
  • Established: 1973 (US); 1996 (SA)
  • Visit: minutemanpress.co.za
  • Constant innovation: Minuteman Press head office in the US has a dedicated R&D department researching the latest developments in the print industry to help make the best equipment recommendations for its franchisees.

In the beginning

The company was founded in the US in 1973 and grew to five locations. It was then converted to a franchise model in 1975. Five existing company-owned stores were then converted to franchisee-owned stores, and all outlets since have been owned by franchisees.

From the US, Minuteman Press expanded to Canada and England, and in 1996 the first store opened in South Africa. In the time since, it’s grown to around 50 outlets in South Africa and has continued its international expansion to Australia, Ireland and Scotland.

Each territory has a regional office that answers to the US head office, rather than master franchisors.

“My role as regional VP is to expand our South African footprint, and offer support to existing franchisees with my support team, who are highly experienced in the print industry and travel between franchisees,” says Frik van Niekerk.

Related: In A Minute With Minuteman Press

The franchise model

“Our fees structure differs from other franchises. Royalties and marketing fees are an area where franchisees can get unhappy, no matter the brand or industry. There will always be complaints that the percentage paid to the franchisor for marketing is not being spent adequately or doesn’t work for the franchisees. Minuteman Press mitigates this by having no marketing fee,” says Van Niekerk.

Franchisees are provided with guidelines for marketing campaigns and are free to market their businesses as they see fit. Proprietary Minuteman Press software helps franchisees monitor their campaigns to assess viability and gauge the ROI.

“Minuteman Press creates a partnership which supports franchisees as they grow their own businesses. This means that we don’t force preferred suppliers on them — we rather provide a list of preferred suppliers, but if you find your own you’re free to use them. We don’t force store outfitting and revamps like the retail and fast food sectors are known to — franchisees are required to retain the Minuteman Press branding and logo, but stores can reflect their own tastes and personality,” says Van Niekerk.

Because its philosophy is one of partnership, and because it’s the new and inexperienced franchisees that require the most support, royalties are capped. Franchisees pay a 6% royalty that caps at a turnover of R200 000 per month.

Support for franchisees

Frik-van-Niekerk-Minuteman-press

“We’ve developed proprietary software that’s been improved and modernised to become the most comprehensive print software in the world — it does everything from estimates, to job comps, invoices, statements, production management, marketing scheduling, financial reporting, and everything else that goes into running a Minuteman Press shop. This means no industry experience is required of our franchisees — in fact, 98% of our franchisees come from other industries — because they’re given the training, support and tools for success,” says Van Niekerk.

Minuteman encourages entrepreneurial flair that’s balanced with ability to follow systems and guidelines, since franchisees must be owner-operators. With the right attitude, proper self-motivation and discipline, Minuteman Press franchisees can be successful business owners.

To this end, the organisation selects franchisees on attitude and how well they get along with the regional office staff.

“When expanding, we ensure every franchisee’s prospective area is properly assessed to ensure it has the right density and mix of small to medium businesses as they make up the core of a franchisee’s business,” says Van Niekerk. “If an area has reached saturation, we focus on keeping existing franchisees’ radiuses exclusive and profitable, while tapping new markets for new franchisees.”

For new franchisees, Minuteman Press assists with area studies, location assessments, and lease negotiations. When it comes to franchisee support, staff are 100% flexible and mobile.

“If there’s a problem, a franchisee calls us up, and if it can’t be resolved on the phone we will physically drive to their store and provide support. Where franchisees are so busy and successful without requiring support, like our top ten performers, we will have scheduled, periodic meetings so as not to cause disruption,” says Van Niekerk.

Related: Xpress Operation On A Roll

Franchisee success

“Last year, one of our franchisees turned over close to R17 million, and it came from a good mix of B2B relationships with small to medium-sized business, networking, direct and indirect marketing, extensive SEO generated business, website leads, word-of-mouth referrals by existing clients, and, of course, walk-ins,” says Van Niekerk.

Minuteman Press is a quality-driven business and part of the area assessment is doing a pricing survey of competitors to ensure that the brand is in the middle to upper third. For Minuteman, being quality driven doesn’t stop at quality output, but is also about excellent customer service.

“Our ultimate goal is not for clients to think ‘I need printing… Minuteman Press’. Then they’re only half way there,” says Van Niekerk. “We want clients to think, ‘I need printing… Frik’s outlet.’ And if a franchisee doesn’t have the services to complete a job, they need the ‘can do’ attitude and access to reliable vendors that can aid them in being a one-stop-shop for all printing projects.”

Future of the brand

Minuteman-press-printers

Minuteman Press Printers

One would think that digital innovations are threatening the print industry, yet every year paper consumption of the previous year is exceeded as early as August or September. We are clearly nowhere near becoming a paperless society.

“What has changed, however, is the printing behaviour of businesses: It’s very much print-on-demand in much smaller, more frequent and more customised batches — and at much shorter notice,” says Van Niekerk. “Print jobs arrive on USB sticks or Dropbox, and technology and equipment are becoming better, cheaper and more efficient, but there is always a place for printing.”

Related: Healthy Body20 Franchise Leads To Happy Hearts

Minuteman Press’s head office in the US has a dedicated R&D department that monitors industry trends and tech advancements, analyses equipment investments in terms of quality output, maintenance costs and manufacturer support and then makes recommendations to its regional offices.

“Regional offices conduct feasibility studies with their franchisees to determine the best equipment purchases or rentals to help their stores become the most efficient, profitable, and best in class,” says Van Niekerk.

GG van Rooyen is the deputy editor for Entrepreneur Magazine South Africa. Follow him on Twitter.

Advertisement
Comments

Franchisee Advice

Factors To Consider Before Signing Up As A Franchisee

Franchising is a brilliant way to get into business with not many entrepreneurial skills as it comes with a roadmap to follow for success.

Diana Albertyn

Published

on

signing-a-franchise-contract

You’ve been considering entrepreneurship for a while, and now that you’ve finally raised some money and been approved for a loan, you’re ready to quit your 9-5 job to run your own business. You may even already have your eye on a particular franchise, but while franchising is considered an easier and more low risk way to get into business, are you suited to being a franchisee?

“The question is not ‘is franchising right for you’, but rather, are you right for franchising? Because if you don’t have the right attitude and skill set, it can be a very expensive mistake,” says small business expert and author Steve Strauss.

Franchising may seem like an easy way into entrepreneurship, but along with an established name and proven systems, come rules, regulations and little room for creativity. If you’re not ready to become a franchisee, but want to go into business for yourself, you may find yourself struggling to operate within the system’s blueprint.

Ask yourself these three questions before proceeding with the process of franchising:

1. Will you be able to follow the directions of the franchisor?

You’re buying into an existing and proven concept so it’s safe to assume that the franchisor knows best, and so you have to be open to learning and following guidelines for business success. If, for example, you have experience in advertising and think you have an improved technique of marketing the franchise, you may want to change the advertising material provided by the franchisor – don’t.

Related: 3 Ways You Can Innovate And Improve As A Franchisee

“Being a franchisee means following the directions of the franchisor, even when you think you know a better way,” advise experts from strategic and tactical advisory firm MSA Worldwide.

“In addition to initial training, you need to be prepared to accept coaching and advice from the franchisor on how you operate or market your location.”

2. Do you have the need to experiment?

Lou Groen may have had success in launching a new menu item that McDonald’s approved of in 1962, but not all franchisees are that lucky. Stick to the plan and limit deviations to the menu or anything that involves the customer experience.

If the franchisor’s concept doesn’t involve deliveries, offering them to your customers may cause issues for others within the franchise system. “If it’s not part of the franchisor’s concept, you’re deviating from the concept and therefore, no longer running your store as a franchise,” according to MSA. Franchising arguably limits innovation opportunities, so if you’re prone to implementing creative ideas and evolving business offerings based on said ideas, rather start your own independent business.

Related: 3 Pricing Tactics To Recession-Proof Your Franchise

3. Are you a team player?

These first two questions you address should already lead to the realisation that everything you do affects everyone in the franchise chain. One bad experience at your establishment and suddenly, all the stores are affected by bad press or unsavoury social media attention.

“Other franchisees are relying upon you to offer to the consumer a consistent level of service, product quality, and brand message. You are going to have to work with others in the system in making decisions,” advise experts.

Remember that as part of a chain of other business owners, you may have to accept that majority rules when it comes to decisions where franchises do have a say.

Continue Reading

Franchisee Advice

3 Ways You Can Innovate And Improve As A Franchisee

Although your role as a franchisee isn’t really to innovate, there’s room for creativity if you go about it the right way.

Diana Albertyn

Published

on

franchisee-advice

When you signed on the dotted line after reading and agreeing with the franchise agreement, you knew that you were buying into a proven system where everything has already been thought out for you, and all you have to do is follow the formula for success.

But you’re a franchisee longing to put your own imprint on your business, and it may be frustrating to feel boxed in by a formula, while you’re bursting with new ideas.

“Franchising, by its nature, discourages innovation on the part of franchisees, who are required by their franchisors to follow very specific policies and procedures on exactly what they will sell, how they will make or deliver it,” notes Randy Myers, contributing editor for CFO and Corporate Board Member magazines.

Related: Types Of Funding Available For Franchisees

This doesn’t mean your ideas will never see the light of day though. But before you approach your franchisor with your brilliant insight, consider the following steps that may well lead you down an innovative path:

1. Get the basics right first

Franchisors know that customers like consistency as it makes them comfortable and trust every location of their franchise they choose to visit. But, even the strictest franchisors get hungry for new ideas. It’s the timing that’s vital for your idea to even be considered.

“Most good systems don’t want new franchisees to even think about innovations until they learn the existing system inside out and prove that they can execute it like a star,” said Jeff Elgin, CEO of FranChoice, a network of franchise referral consultants. “At that point, they have become successful, their base is secure, and they have earned the right to consider innovations.”

It’s wise to ensure you’ve learned your franchisor’s existing business model before you suggest any improvements.

2. Do your homework

So, you’re doing well and you’re sure your idea will be welcomed as a crucial innovation to the franchise system – but research your proposal, suggests Kim Stevens, VP of Regional Development and Director of Franchise Awarding at Woodhouse Day Spas. “Especially if you’re suggesting something that would impact all franchisees, create a business plan before approaching your franchisor,’ she says.

Related: To Buy Into A Franchise Or Purchase A Licence? 3 Factors To Consider

It’s also good to have another look at the franchisor’s policy for accepting new ideas to ensure you’re prepared for tough questions before you propose your idea.

3. Speak to the right people

Elgin recommends you first identify the person at the franchisor’s head office who’s responsible for receiving new ideas. “Many of the ideas a franchisee comes up with will already have been proposed by another franchisee,” notes Elgin.

To avoid wasting your time, no matter how great you think the idea is, present it as early as possible before spending anything developing the idea.

Continue Reading

Franchisee Advice

3 Pricing Tactics To Recession-Proof Your Franchise

As consumers tighten their belts, how can you ensure your franchise is their first choice in the midst of strict budgeting and curbing of spending?

Diana Albertyn

Published

on

recession-proof-your-franchise

Whether or not there is a dip in the economy, you have stock on shelf you need to sell. But, if consumers are cash-strapped, you have to make every effort to ensure that your franchisees aren’t running at a loss.

“There’s no doubt that shoppers are more discerning about what they need and how they shop. However, quality remains significant and brands that continue to delight their customers will reap the benefit of being chosen,” says Ailsa Wingfield, executive director marketing and communications: Africa, at Nielsen.

Why not give customers the best of both – value for money at a competitive price – by applying one or more of the following pricing tactics in tough economic times:

1. Consider a greater focus on your house brand

“The days of in-house retail brands being treated with a fair amount of disdain by South African consumers have come to an end,” says Wingfield.

Related: What Makes Franchises Recession Proof?

The global performance management company’s research has found that R38.4 billion of the amount consumers spend at hypermarket and supermarket tills – or R10 out of every R50 – is spent on private label products. South African consumers are beginning to feel that the quality of these house brand products is as good as that of established name brands.

Since research indicates consumers are further likely to shift between branded products and retailer private label offerings, it would be of benefit to your franchise if your in-house products are perceived as viable value alternatives of similar or better quality.

2. Sell products in bundles

This the method combining various products and selling them together as one bundle for a lot less than if they were being sold separately. This method is great for moving items that might be selling slower but also great for achieving a higher value perception in the minds of consumers.

CEO of GuruShots, Gilon Miller, says there are several bundling techniques you could apply, including:

  • Pure bundling, where you offer a group of products that are only available as a bundle and aren’t sold separately.
  • Mixed bundling, where you offer products that are sold both as bundles and as individual units.
  • New- or lesser-product bundle, where you bundle a successful product with a newer or less successful product – the stronger product will help the other product find its way into a new market.

Bundling results in cost efficiency, more competitive pricing and might also encourage customers to regard a single store as a source for several solutions.

Related: How To Recession-Proof Your Business

3. Add even more value

When you price your product in alignment with the value your customer sees in it, you’re preventing both you and your customer from the possibility of losing out on value.

Calculating your optimum price, involves asking yourself these questions:

  • Will your customers save money or time by using your product or service?
  • Is your product or service is unique?
  • Will your product or service help customers gain a competitive advantage?
  • What does the competition charges?

“Value-based pricing ensures that your customers feel happy paying your price for the value they’re getting,” says Patrick Campbell, co-founder and CEO of Price Intelligently. “Pricing according to the value your customer sees in your product prevents you from short-changing yourself while creating an experience for customers that’s most aligned.”

The more value your customers see in your product, the more they will be willing to pay for it, ultimately improving your bottom line. When your pricing is reasonable, they won’t need much convincing to make the purchase at your franchise instead of your competitor’s.

Continue Reading

Trending

FREE E-BOOK: How to Build an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Sign up now for Entrepreneur's Daily Newsletters to Download​​