100 Independent Printers in Process of Affiliating With New Franchise
Press release from the issuing company
May 25, 2005 -- CPrint (Certified Printers International) has become the newest franchise in the printing industry. More than 100 independently-owned printing companies from throughout North America are in the process of affiliating with the new organization. CPrint companies will continue to use their own individual identities, but they will have the joint use of certain trademarks, brands, marketing materials, training, buying group, management services and other CPrint services to help increase sales and profits.
According to Tom Crouser, president of Crouser & Associates, the firm guiding CPrint, the new organization is unlike any existing printing franchises because it requires affiliates to maintain a “certification” that assures affiliates have a competitive advantage. Also unusual is that companies sign only a two-year agreement. During that period, the companies are required to meet minimum performance standards as well as implement and maintain minimum competitive standards. Once they meet the standards, they are allowed to use all CPrint services.
“No other printing franchise sets standards for the affiliate that must be achieved by a certain time or affiliation will be withdrawn,” said Crouser. “This helps us assure the quality for everyone, especially the customer. It also gives a printer the chance to leave the organization if CPrint isn’t right for them.”
The short time commitment also puts pressure on CPrint to demonstrate its value. Crouser said, “Accountability is automatically built in for both the staff and the affiliate with the short term. We must demonstrate that CPrint can help an owner quickly. And the owner must actively participate to meet the standards. So we are both working toward the same goal.” Over the past six years, the organization’s predecessor maintained an 86 percent retention rate with over half of the drops resulting from not meeting standards.
“Another difference is the cost of participation is much less than a traditional franchise,” said Crouser, “Since we target established companies, start-up costs are low.”
“Fees are based on the affiliate’s size when they join and are readjusted at each renewal,” said Crouser, “In the interim, the costs are flat as there is no percentage of current sales requirement. If the affiliate increases their business and renews, then we get a raise too. This is another way to keep both staff and the affiliate focused on the same goal.”
Crouser & Associates began providing printing companies management services and in-shop consulting in 1985. “At that time,” said Crouser, “the focus was on cash flow.” In 1986, the Crouser Professional Performance Alliance was formed and services expanded to include: board meetings as well as training and conferences focused on printing production and sales. Specific training courses include: business management; printing sales; production management; and issues involving family-based businesses. An annual owner’s conference is also held.
Within the last year a certification and marketing program was added and the CPrint brand introduced. CPrint stands for Certified Printers International, a network that allows printers to achieve financial and personal success using a combination of business advisors, peer-based board meetings, and applied educational programs tied with unique products and selling systems. Because the company began meeting the legal definition of a franchise, requirements governing the use of trademarks and brands required the organization to register.
According to Crouser, CPrint is targeting existing printing companies with 4 to 20 workers and less than $2 million in sales. “These shops are owner-managed and are mostly single locations,” said Crouser. About half of CPrint affiliates have other members of the family involved in the business on a daily basis.
“The family-owned printer can really benefit from CPrint,” said Crouser. “CPrint provides a business model that helps organizes the company for success. We provide uniform financial management, budget formats, and business practices. CPrint affiliates have a business advisor and a board of directors to assist in planning and ongoing operations. They get access to an organization that is dedicated to helping them prosper.”
Crouser said another advantage of CPrint was that the affiliates get access to tools that are usually out of reach for smaller printing companies. “CPrint offers more staff training opportunities than any other printing organization in the country,” said Crouser. “In addition to training courses and conferences held at our training centers around the country, CPrint offers more than 30 hours of online employee training each month. This is training specifically designed to train employees how to do a better job.”
CPrint is also helping printers introduce new technology to the market. “The printing industry has a wealth of technology available to make print buying and production easier,” said Crouser. “It is hard for the small independent printer to take advantage of the technology because of time and financial considerations.
“CPrint is taking new technology and making it easy for its affiliates to implement the technology,” said Crouser. “CPrint finds the technology and then develops the marketing material, the training opportunities and the support for the products. This allows the affiliate to get new technology to his customers faster. It gives the CPrint affiliate something to make his company unique.”
Crouser cited the SeePrint Driver program as an example of making a technology tool successful. “We provide our affiliates’ access to a special computer program that automates the customer file transfer and eliminates many file problems,” said Crouser. “The program has been successful in making it easier for customers to buy from CPrint affiliates. In addition to the application itself and marketing material, the affiliate also gets training and support on how to make the program successful. Our difference was we didn’t just introduce the program and hope someone would take advantage of it. We begin an ongoing program of training and support that helps the CPrint affiliate keep focused on the opportunities the SeePrint Driver gives them.”
The SeePrint Driver is one of the benefits of the buying cooperative, said Crouser. CPrint has purchasing agreements with a number of major vendors who, in addition to offer the best possible prices, work closely with CPrint to develop unique product offerings and special training opportunities. “Our buying partners not only help the affiliate’s bottom line by helping lower the individual cost through group purchasing, but they also are helping us learn the best ways to sell their products and services,” said Crouser. “It helps develop a partnership that most small printers couldn’t enjoy any other way.”
CPrint also assures none of the CPrint affiliates compete with each other. Crouser said, “We can share freely and openly and train our people together. This lets us deal with the real issues of our business and family life.”
Because of the competitive buffer zones, CPrint can offer some unique services to give its affiliates a competitive edge at the local level. The organization has such services as the SeePrint Driver as well as its RightType Document Creation Service, an overnight typesetting service. The group has also developed some special marketing programs such as its RapidRepeat System and CPrint Gateway System to give the affiliates unique reasons to call on customers.
“CPrint can have a tremendous affect on printers in smaller markets,” said Crouser. “Printers must be unique to make themselves standout from their competitors. CPrint gives the print shop tools that can quickly make a printer different from his or her competitor. A CPrint affiliate should gain a higher visibility because of the distinctive services it can offer to its
Crouser believes this can be an exciting and successful time for printers. “The printing industry is going through a change,” said Crouser. “The number of printing companies has been shrinking. Consolidations are up and shops are closing. Yet more printing is being produced and sold than ever before. A printer with a solid understanding of business, who has a trained staff, and has knows how to the new technology, can be successful.”
CPrint is currently accepting applications into its program. For more information, visit www.CPrint.org or call 304-965-7100.
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