Two years ago today, I made the drive from a hotel room in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to the suburbs of Chicago.
I remember the trip vividly. It was sunny, albeit cold, and there were butterflies in my stomach the entire time. You see, this wasn’t just a weekend trip. This was the drive that made my move to Chicago real. February 27th, 2016, I moved from my lifetime home of Pennsylvania, three states over, to Illinois.
Rewind to early February, 2016, when I was in the Minuteman Press training school. This was the start of one of the biggest life changing months I’ve ever experienced. I was at training school to learn the ins-and-outs of running the Minuteman Press franchise that I was about to take over in a few short weeks.
Luckily, I have an amazingly supportive wife that supported my decision to take over a franchise three states away from her lifelong home. I honestly might not have made the decision to purchase the franchise without her support and encouragement. She could’ve easily cared more about herself, and resisted the idea of moving far away from all of her family.
But, she was supportive. And with her behind me, I made the definitive decision to move out to Chicago, and take over the Minuteman Press store in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois.
March 1st was my first day as a business owner. And while I honestly don’t remember the first day, I have many memories (both good and less-than-good) from the past two years of running this business, and being my own boss.
It’s been a hectic two years to say the least…
There have been ups, and downs. There have been times that I questioned whether I made the right decision. There were times that I missed my family (in Pittsburgh) so much that I would’ve shut the businesses doors and just drove home, if I had the opportunity. But, there have also been times where I get to sit back and recognize the wonders of calling the shots, getting to lead, and being the face of a business. I have developed countless friendships and business relationships, and can honestly say, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I made the best decision for my future.
Two short years of owning and operating my business has lead to more professional and mental growth than I could’ve ever assumed prior to this experience. The thing that really keeps me pushing forward is my habit of persistence.
So, let’s talk about what I’ve accomplished financially in these past two years…
I’m not going to be long winded about this section. And I’m also not going to beat around the bush.
I have accomplished a lot with this store.
Before I show the numbers, keep in mind that I’m referencing each year as March 1st, to the following March 1st since that was the day I took over in 2016.
Anyway, here is the breakdown, by years, of my financial growth:
- March 1st, 2015 until March 1st, 2016: $112,103.28. (This was the year prior to my ownership. I give you this number as a reference for a starting point.)
- March 1st, 2016 until March 1st, 2017: $172,775.94. (This was my first full year of ownership. The growth in revenue was 65% over the year prior.)
- March 1st, 2017 until today (February 27th, 2018): $224,458.93. (The growth in revenue was another 30% over the year prior. And, just over 100% from two years prior.)
So, I took part in helping my store go from a yearly revenue of $112,000, to double that in two years time.
What do I reckon is the reason behind this growth?
Well, a few things.
- Right place, right time. Some call this luck. I call it, being prepared for fortunate opportunites that fell in my lap. An example of this would be a big customer finding me online because their main printer flaked and left them high and dry. So, they found me, and I took advantage of the opportunity to take this customer and really wow them. I did everything in my power to make sure that they had no reason to go back to the other guy.
- Taking part in networking, and charitable groups. During the past two years, I’ve been heavily involved in not one, but three weekly groups. These groups have helped me establish relationships with other local professionals. Again, I wow them with my service, and they have no option but to recommend me to their network of business acquaintances.
- Internet marketing. More specifically, Google Adwords. Adwords has been responsible for leading some of my top clients to me. Obviously, I had to sell them when they made initial contact, but Adwords took care of the first step, which is just getting the customer to see me. Also, Minuteman Press has a great team of marketers that work for the corporate headquarters. They take care of everything Adwords related for pennies on the dollar of what outside agencies would charge.
- Pushing for online reviews. This ties into the last one. I put in effort to get a respectable number of online reviews, and am still rated 5/5 on both Google and Yelp. I noticed that all the other local printers had 1-2 reviews max. So, I made a couple call-to-actions, and got around 20 reviews between Google and Yelp. I believe this helped me show up more in Adwords suggestions (but I don’t know that for sure).
- Cold-call Marketing. Not the act of physically calling, but walking around the local office buildings, introducing myself, and handing out promotional products that allowed my name to be in front of them. I typically use pens and notepads because those are two things that everybody uses.
- Raising prices. This was the first major increase in revenue I had. When I took over, I noticed that the old owner was pricing himself out of business! He thought he had to be the cheapest in order to get the jobs… He had a commodity mindset, and therefore he produced a commodity product. I, on the other hand, deliver a top-notch experience to my customers. I give them service that nobody else will. I send out Thank You Cards after orders, give them holiday gifts, and send out emails every now and then just to say “Hey, how’s life?”. But most importantly, I deliver a damn good product, with mind-blowing turn around. And every single one of my customers knows that if I make a mistake, it’ll be fixed so quick, that their hat will blow off. The point is, that because of this extraordinary service, I am a premium service, and I charge as such!
There are many reasons that my business has grown by leaps and bounds. But the growth obviously didn’t happen with just me. I have a wonderful employee that actually cares about the success of my business. This alone makes up for any small mistakes that she may make now and then. It’s very difficult to find people that put forth such a high amount of effort and concern for something that belongs to somebody else.
I also had the support of the Minuteman Press corporate staff, who were there to help guide me when a job would come up that I had no idea how to handle, or could give guidance on how to price a particular job.
And third, I have a whole slew of vendors to thank that have continued to give me incredible service so that I can forward that on to the customer.
With that being said, I hope you picked up something of value from this. In fact, it’s hard for me to sit back and feel proud because I know that there’s more that I could’ve done to help it grow even more. But, that is in the past. All I can do is take one day at a time, and make sure I keep a student’s mind; always ready to receive new knowledge, and turn it into practical and rewarding application!
Until next time,