Learn how this UPS store owner increased his monthly print revenue

UPS store owner, Dave Allan, tells us how diving into a new printing revenue stream: poster printing, made all the difference for his business. Take a read through the interview to see what he has to say and the advice he gives to his fellow UPS and other print business owners.

Did you have any previous experience before getting in to the poster business?

When I bought my store 11 years ago I often received requests from customers to print posters, and at that time I was outsourcing. I went out to an outside print shop and they had an old large format printer and the quality on that wasn’t great. I soon came across the Canon large format printer, the quality was, and still is amazing as well as the price point shocked me. The other printer was so much more expensive! At that point I figured out the math – if I can print six posters a month, I’ve likely covered my cost for the month and everything after that is gravy!

How’d you build your customer base?

All you have to do is go out and market, get two or three posters a week and you’re going to make a substantial amount. It’s one of those things you have to work at, market it, and the ones you really want to work hard with are small businesses. I get a lot of small businesses that need a single poster or two posters and that works great, but at the same time I do have a larger customer and they’ll send me an order for 15 or 20 posters. Another great target are non-profits and churches, we tend to get a lot of business from them.

What’s one marketing tactic that’s worked well for you?

There are a number of different ways, a lot of the times I display posters in my store front windows and when the weather is nice I place them along the side of the road. That is the most effective, cheapest marketing tactic!

Do you design the posters in-house or do customers bring them print-ready?

Customers usually bring them in as a print-ready PDF file. If they ever need us to design the poster, our in-house graphic designer helps with that.

When you were outsourcing posters were you realizing you were putting a lot more money into it then you should have?

Yes, even if I was getting a trade discount up to 40-50%, I was being charged $30 and from that making $15. If I charged my customer $30, three dollars was going back to royalty so then I was down to $12. Aside from that, I had to pick-up the poster, make sure it’s good, and all of that adds up in both time and money. By the end of it I was pretty much breaking even.

How can you avoid poster printing challenges?

The one thing I would recommend is having your customers bring the poster as a print-ready PDF to make the process super-efficient. If they bring it as a JPEG you have to make sure the set-up is good. The other important factor is to make sure the media you’re printing on is what the customer expected – be sure to communicate and clarify that before processing the print job.

What’s been one selling-proposition for you to get more posters?

When you tell customers that you can turn it around in a couple hours’ versus waiting that’s when they’re willing to pay. That’s definitely been a key selling point!

Have you had any challenges with Canon large format printers in general?

No. They are very easy to use; they are basically a giant ink jet printer. Quality is good and changing print heads is easy as you can do it yourself. I’ve never had a service call. You can do everything yourself. No quality issues and customers are always impressed!

Where is your large format printer situated in your store?

It’s sitting in the front window. I recommend it to every store owner; put it out where your customers see it. Every day I have a new customer that comes in and they’ll ask me what it is. That’s when I tell them it’s a large format printer and how it offers various printing solutions such as posters, banners etc. Again, a great opportunity to get the conversation started with the customer.

If you were to give advice to other UPS store owners and print businesses what would it be?

I would say target small businesses, like real small, such as a contractor that needs drawings done or that independent store owner that needs banners and posters. The other targets are non-profits and churches. If you’re going after a big huge account like a national retail store either they have their in-house print shop or they have a corporate deal elsewhere. Target the right customers!