Bill and Karen Grewe have owned their Minuteman Press franchise in Bloomington, Minnesota since July of 2007. As they celebrate 15 years in business, Bill shares keys to success, lessons learned, high-demand products and services, and many more insights and reflections. Minuteman Press in Bloomington is located at 8742 Lyndale Avenue South, Bloomington, MN 55420.
Congrats on 15 years in business! What does this milestone mean to you and what are 3 keys to your success and longevity?
- It means we’ve thrived over other competitors in the area, and we lasted longer than the average small business. Most recently, we survived the Covid-19 crisis, and we start to see a return to normalcy. Further, our retirement plans include continuing to work in our shop for the foreseeable future. We still enjoy it!
- Key 1: Our customer focus requires us to authorize staff to solve ‘the problem.’ We back the good faith decisions made in our absence. We prioritize discussions about how to solve issues when we are available. We emphasize that the customer is not always right, but we all make mistakes. Even so, there is no need to place blame. We look for win-win solutions.
- Key 2: Prioritize the quote. It is not the least expensive print company that gets the job; it is the most responsive. Sure, we accommodate ‘commodity-focused’ customers. We also price aggressively on three tiers: retail, print brokers, and non-profits. We also have two of our five employees, who generate estimates for us.
- Key 3: Value your team members. Our payroll is excessive, and that is intentional. We pay for talent, and that inspires loyalty. When Covid forced us to reduce hours and pay, our staff supported us. We share the successes and struggles, and we look for opportunities together.
What are some of the key ways you’ve grown your business?
- One of the hardest lessons we learned was ‘cold calling.’ We waited too long to start following the advice received at training. (What can we say, introverts find it difficult.) A business coach encouraged us to experiment with a variety of ideas. So, we ventured outside the ‘comfort zone.’ As the business expanded, we found a salesman to perform this task for us.
- Early on, we remembered an important lesson from Minuteman Press International (MPI), “When someone asks you if you can ‘print this’, the answer is always ‘Yes.’” Since our small print shop simply did not have the resources to produce every job, we figured out how to find “central facilities” to fill the gaps. (Hint: We asked our MPI friends, searched the internet for trade only printers, and checked the vendor catalog.)
- Before FLEX offered a feature to request reviews, we employed a vendor to perform the service on our behalf. Now, we use functionality built in to automatically make this request when invoices are sent. The benefit of our finding this functionality early is that we are working to maintain a 5.0 rating, not trying to earn it. Our Google rating is one of the most often mentioned ways that new customers find us.
What are the high-demand products and services that have really been helpful for your clients?
- EDDM offers one landscaping customer the opportunity to replace the 20% customer loss experienced year-over-year. On a routine basis several times each year, we use a central facility to produce 30,000 postcards. Our customer chooses the carrier routes they want to prospect. Then, we batch the postcards and deliver them to various post offices in the area.
- Wide format is a place where our central facility strategy permits us to offer signs for graduates. Our graphic designer offered to produce artwork for a school-themed graduation sign, and word quickly spread. Several other schools participated, and parents even paid in advance our third year providing this service to our community. One private school decided to pay for all the signs ahead of time and resell them.
- We print so many envelopes, regular and window. We moved our envelope printing off our digital toner machines onto an inkjet envelope printer, and we assigned the task to our graphic designer. This freed up our other machines for other work. We still have discriminating customers, who demand precise color. So, when our team cannot match color digitally, we work with an area pressman, who works out of his garage.
How would you best describe your community?
Bloomington is the 5th largest city in Minnesota with more jobs per capita than either Minneapolis or St. Paul, the two largest cities.
Businesses range in size from the smallest to large, multi-national corporations.
- From a business perspective, the opportunities are abundant.
Why do you think printing remains so vital to businesses today?
- Print provides tangible marketing messages that you can set aside for a convenient read. Where people skim their emails followed by the quick delete, they store and share meaningful documents.
What was your background before franchising and why did you choose Minuteman Press?
- Neither of us comes from a print background. Karen worked in a day care center, then provided home day care. I worked for the revenue department for 20 years before looking for something new. An advertisement caught my attention, and the rest is history.
What has the support from Minuteman Press International been like for you?
- After learning volumes of new information during training, I spent the first year figuring out what it all meant. Remember when I said we waited too long to start following all the advice we received from Minuteman Press International? I was so wrapped up in trying to understand it all, I missed the ‘do this’ advice that helped our business start growing.
- The FLEX software is a significant advancement over previous versions, which underscores Minuteman Press International’s commitment to improvement. Its integration with the website and increased functionality allows us to accept orders and payments online. Much of our business remains either an email or phone conversation, but the day is coming when current customers can reorder previously delivered projects with the click of a portal button.
- We should not miss an opportunity to thank the most important local support provided by Minuteman Press International, our field representative Kate. When Bill, our salesman, retired in July this year, Kate was on the job helping train Pete with updated advice from the franchisor, using FLEX, etc.
What are the biggest personal and professional rewards of owning your business?
- For us, our franchise provides a sense of security. While there are income fluctuations, the business provides a steady income. Furthermore, it is part of our retirement plan. (We enjoy working with our staff.)
What advice would you give to other business owners or people looking to own a business?
- For people looking to own a business, your first responsibility is to build your market share. Your employees depend on their paycheck. This means you must separate yourself from the day-to-day operations and focus on how to increase income.
- Our franchise focuses on building a relationship with customers. This starts with listening long enough to hear the vision, ask questions to clarify the intent, and suggest options that deliver the right product on schedule. It involves managing expectations and avoiding unrealistic promises. Sometimes the best thing to tell your customer is, ‘We simply cannot meet that deadline.’ Otherwise, you risk delivering a product that advertises failure. It’s better to overdeliver.
For more information on Minuteman Press in Bloomington, MN, visit their website: https://minuteman.com/us/locations/mn/bloomington/
Learn more about #1 rated Minuteman Press franchise opportunities and see Minuteman Press franchise reviews at https://minutemanpressfranchise.com.
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