“Large-format printing is not a supplement to our business; it’s a necessity,” says Kyle Yeager, owner of two UPS Stores in the Atlanta area. “It’s a major part of our product line, and a piece of our business that we use to define and separate ourselves from most of our competition.”
Yeager’s UPS Store has something in common with photo studios and other types of franchise businesses, namely a built-in market ready and willing to buy large-format prints. Yeager’s stores have been printing banners, canvas wraps for photo enlargements and other display graphics on their 44”-wide Canon printers for almost four years.
“Banners are easiest for the consumers to understand and see the true value in, because banners are a focused product for anyone from small businesses to even residential clients,” says Yeager. “We print a lot of graduation banners during the high-school graduation season, and throughout the year we print banners for businesses and organizations that are having a grand opening, a product special or a special event… The possibilities are endless.”
Yeager has set aside a space along the wall for samples and signage product suggestions that works as a silent salesman to spark ideas with customers who walk in the store. Plus, Yeager’s outside sales reps are actively selling both stores’ large-format output.
“LexJet has been a tremendous help recommending materials for specific jobs. If I tell them the type of job I’m working on, they’ll tell me the best media to use, whether it needs to be indoor or outdoor, if it’s a high-impact poster or a volume job, or whatever the case may be,” says Yeager.
Allen and Autumn Thomsen, owners of Thomsen Photography in Eagleville, Mo., have had a similar experience. They added a 44”-wide Canon printer this past summer and found that the large-format printer not only added profit but also cut down on outsourcing costs.
“What led us to printing on our own was the high cost of having it done elsewhere. We were looking for ways to save money without raising our prices too much. We saw this as a way to save money and increase our income without increasing the final cost to the client. It’s panned out really well,” says Allen Thomsen.
Like Yeager, Thomsen has a display area that entices customers to buy value-added packages and larger prints, such as 30-in x 40-in. images on canvas that are difficult for customers to pass up when they walk in to pick up their regular assortment of photo prints.
“We can have a nice large print in the viewing area when people come in, and when they see that print they’re more likely to buy something that size,” Allen says. “We can have bigger prints for our display area at a friendlier cost to us, and when we put them on the wall people go, ‘Wow!’”
Style & Substance
Raytron Enterprises Inc., which is the regional office for Fantastic Sams hair salons in Florida, found a fantastic way to elevate its marketing and promotions using large-format printing without breaking the bank.
Of equal importance to Nobbe is turnaround time. Raytron Enterprises’ time to market is almost instantaneous, plus inventory is kept to a minimum since large-format media and ink can be shipped to the office in a day or two.
“When I started using LexJet I got a great package deal on a new printer, but it also came with my LexJet account specialist’s cell phone number. I don’t know how many times I’ve called my account specialist, Alex, and told him I needed something right away, and it shows up when he said it would,” says Nobbe. “I was using another supplier before, but they didn’t provide half the services and customer support I get from LexJet.”
In Raytron Enterprises’ case, Ryan Nobbe decided to purchase a high-end Epson GS6000 solvent printer. On the other hand, UPS Stores like Yeager’s don’t need the same horsepower since they’re not producing thousands of prints for hundreds of stores.
Mike Difillipo, owner of a UPS Store in Brooklyn, has an Epson 9600 and a full color calibration system since he does a lot of fine-art reproductions for local artists. The Epson is fine-tuned for fine art, but Difillipo’s work runs the gamut, giving his store a versatile cash cow.
“It’s a money machine; it just prints money,” says Difillipo. “We hit some great niche markets in our area that weren’t really penetrated, like the local art community. Just being able to offer reproductions on LexJet’s superior canvas really helped us break into that market. On the flip side, we’re doing regular photo enlargements for birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, the entertainment market in general and families. The way we position it is that you’re buying a keepsake; you’re not buying a picture. You can get a picture blown up anywhere, but you can’t get a piece of cloth or canvas printed anywhere. Our customers see the benefit and value of that.”
Difillipo says large-format printing practically sells itself, thanks to various displays in the store that showcase the variety of materials and styles he can offer. He adds that he goes for the “baby factor” with most of the samples in the store. Difillipo found that much of his walk-in business loves to have large photos of their kids printed on interesting materials that bring the photos to life, like LexJet’s Sunset Photo Metallic Paper and Water-Resistant Satin Cloth.
“You have to let people know the gamut you can print and that it’s not just a big paper machine for blueprints,” he says.
Out in Brookings, S.D., UPS Store owner Don DeSmet has two Canon printers for his large-format mainstays: banners, posters and trade show/exhibit graphics. DeSmet says that large-format printing adds to the store’s print offerings while opening up doors for additional business opportunities.
“It’s a very important part of my business. We print a ton of matte and glossy photo-quality paper, Tyvek for retractable banner displays, scrim vinyl banner material for longer-term outdoor banners, Water Resistant Satin Cloth and some other specialty materials,” says DeSmet.
In addition to in-store samples, DeSmet made a swatch book so customers can see and feel all the printable materials they offer. When customers can see for themselves how different materials and top coats can create subtle yet distinctive changes to an image, the value of everything large-format printing can do is elevated.
Because everyone has different needs, different cost structures and different strategic goals, LexJet provides a free, in-depth consultation designed to provide the best possible answers and solutions for large-format printing. A personally-assigned LexJet account specialist will explore all the variables involved in either bringing large-format printing into your franchise or taking your printing to the next level to lower costs, boost productivity and build business. Call 800-453-9538 or go to lexjet.com to find out more.