One quick way to increase your offerings to customers … and improve your bottom line … is to invest in print finishing equipment. We turned to Michael Clementi, who heads up LexJet’s Experience Center, to give us tips on how and when to expand your business.
I want to add finishing services to my business. What are some good equipment investments?
Laminator: Adding a laminator to your business will open up new avenues of revenue. You’ll be able to mount prints to metal, board, plexiglass or any rigid substrate that the model of laminator will allow (half-inch to 2-inch thick substrates). You’ll also be able to over-laminate prints for protection and create rollable panels for pop-up booths for tradeshows.
Like any new machinery, there is a learning curve, therefore we recommend looking into onsite training from the original equipment manufacturer of whichever brand you choose. It will be worth every minute and every penny to make sure you are comfortable with operating the equipment before you jump into the game.
Laminators can be basic or complex depending on the requirements that you have for the applications you are looking to add. For instance, if you are only interested in mounting, then a cold-only laminator will be your least expensive option. You can add heat if you want to be able to over-laminate or encapsulate images. Even though pressure-sensitive laminates can be used on a cold laminator, it is recommended to use light heat even on cold-press laminates to help them apply smoothly to the surface of your print.
Canvas Stretching Equipment: Working faster is working smarter. The canvas stretching options that LexJet carries boasts speeds of up to 50 8×10’s per hour. You could be spending one to two minutes per stretch instead of 10 to 12 minutes per stretch by hand. This video offers a quick introduction to the Canvas Stretch Master.
Cutter: Adding a contour cutter to your business will allow you to do custom shaped graphics for decals. There are different products for printing and cutting that can open the door for window, floor, car and a multitude of other decal jobs.
What are some key tips to keep in mind when purchasing this finishing equipment?
Make sure to accommodate the size of your printer, and know your media options before investing in the equipment. For example, do not buy a 40-inch contour cutter when you are planning on selling an end product that’s only available in a 54-inch material.
Let us help you plan the purchase to make sure it fits your needs and application requirements. If it is not right for your business model we will not make the recommendation.
Make sure you have ample space and look at the spec sheets to map out where the machinery will go in your place of work. Know what goes into installing the piece and if you will need training. We have a multitude of educational videos for support and also a tech department here onsite that can answer questions.
If the finishing equipment’s original manufacturer offers onsite training or extended support plans, you may want to seriously consider this, especially if this is your first purchase of this type of equipment.
How do I know I’m ready to make this investment?
When you’ve done all of the above and mapped out where it’s going, the installation requirements and the training you and your staff will need.
It is always beneficial to have a launch plan in place for any new products you are going to make available at your location. Put some marketing behind it to let your customers know. This, in turn, will result in more customers coming to you asking if you can handle their request.
If you are getting a lot of these questions already without having equipment in place, keep track of what profit you would have gained, and that will illustrate month-to-month if you should consider the investment in new machinery.
If you need a jump start because your current customer database is stagnant, send out a survey to your mailing list of customers asking them: Would you benefit from any of these new applications I’m thinking about offering?
Is there an easy way to track my return on investment?
Tracking ROI is all relative to cost per unit. One easy way is to compare what you’re currently paying to send out the work that you are now planning to bring in house with the new equipment. Get with one of our representatives and we can help you go over the figures on what the job would cost you to do yourself.
There is always a very high rate of mark up with mounted graphics. The difference is that you could be the person marking it up and making more money on the same project, instead of sending it out to someone else.
The ROI will be based on competitive pricing from local vendors around you. Do your research and know where you should be pricing things so you are not out of the ballpark when it comes to quoting your customers, but also be happy with what you take home.