Ken Koch worked in telecom and sales management for 17 years before opening his Minuteman Press franchise in Centennial, Colorado; he is now celebrating 14 years in business. Visit Minuteman Press International in Denver at Franchise Expo West from October 6-8 at the Colorado Convention Center.
DENVER—The Minuteman Press franchise in Centennial, Colorado is celebrating 14 years in business. Owner Ken Koch and his team offer design, printing, advertising and marketing solutions to help other businesses grow.
There is life after layoffs
Before franchising with Minuteman Press, Ken Koch spent 17 years working in the fields of telecommunications, Hi-Tech, consulting and sales management. "I always had that entrepreneurial bug," says Ken. He continues, "When I was laid off from my job at Nortel along with 70,000 other people who were downsized, it was the catalyst for me to start my own business. When things are going well, you settle into what's working. After that, I knew I wanted to be my own boss."
Why Minuteman Press?
After Ken realized he wanted to start his own business, he did his due diligence and looked at everything from new business opportunities, established businesses for sale, and franchises. He ultimately decided to start up a new Minuteman Press franchise. Ken explains, "My background was business to business and Minuteman Press fit better than consumer-based businesses. Also, with all of the research I did including other print and business service franchise models, I liked the fact that Minuteman Press provided support but also allowed me the freedom to run the business the way I wanted."
"They don't penalize the franchisee for being successful."
Another reason Ken Koch chose to start a Minuteman Press franchise was because of their unique Royalty Incentive program. Ken states, "What really set Minuteman Press apart from their competitors was their cap on royalties. They don't penalize the franchisee for being successful, and my royalties as a percentage of total sales has really gone down."
Value in talking with other Minuteman Press owners
As the world's largest design, print, and marketing franchise, there is strength in numbers with Minuteman Press. Franchisees are able to take advantage of the international partnerships that Minuteman Press has with suppliers, and business owners like Ken Koch find true value in attending events like the Minuteman Press International World Expo. The World Expo provides the opportunity for Minuteman Press owners to attend seminars, meet with vendors, and network with each other. Ken says, "One of the best things for me now is taking the time to talk to other owners. If I bring back one idea from the World Expo – and usually I come back with many different ideas – it's well worth the time."
Ken continues, "I started my own business 14 years ago. We did really well early on, and I really made it a point to focus on both graphic design and digital printing. I have three graphic artists in-house and a staff of five, and we pride ourselves on service, quality, and custom design. If what I do helps others find their niche, then that's great."
Being a business owner is "extremely fulfilling"
When Ken Koch reflects on the last 14 years as a business owner, he draws the following distinctions between working in the corporate world and being the boss: "One of the things you find in any large company is that you are simply a cog in the wheel. As a business owner, I can simply take my ideas and implement them how I want. Now, I do have to be everything wrapped into one, as there are no human resources departments or people to report to. It can be intimidating early, but it's extremely fulfilling and it's worth it."
Another aspect of business ownership that Ken enjoys is being able to get things done and give back to the community. He says, "With corporations, it's really hard to get anything done. It's also hard to give back at a bigger company, whereas now I can just do what I want to do to give back. I love being able to do that."
Making a difference in Denver
Ken Koch and his team believe it is important to give back to the community. His approach is to get involved with various local organizations and charities every year, usually groups that provide assistance for battered women, homeless organizations, and children's groups. "We are involved with many different groups on a rotating basis. We like to change things up and not give to the same organizations every year. What I usually do is collect information on a charity or local group, and then I take into consideration these submissions for the following year. There are so many great organizations out there, and it's very rewarding to give back in this way."
Goals for 2017
Asked about his next big goal for his Minuteman Press franchise, Ken answers, "This year, we've been really focused on sales and we would love to join the Minuteman Press International President's Club for top-performing franchises. We feel we are right there and this year has been great. It has been a tremendous 14 years in business, and we are looking forward to many more.
Advice for others
For others who are thinking about owning a business or getting started with Minuteman Press, Ken Koch has two key insights to share:
"First, and I know it sounds cliché, but I would definitely tell other owners to not give up on their dreams. Simply don't give up. It's not going to happen overnight. You have to be persistent, get to know people in your community, and use your sphere of influence on a personal level to help your business."
"Also, the thing I always try to do personally is to do my best and bend over backwards as often as I can. 14 years into this, we get so much referral business because we always try to do the right thing for our clients, overachieve as much as we can, and do better by them."
On this point, Ken thoughtfully concludes, "Vince Lombardi said, 'Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.' No one is perfect, but we do strive for that excellence with everything we do."