May 22nd, 2014
Checking In: Franchise Partners Describe First-Year Experience
Curtis Gropman in Marietta, Ga. Joined the AlphaGraphics Network in October of 2012, purchasing an independent print shop in February of 2013. The former Coca Cola executive says that while the first six months were tough, they are off to a great start in 2014, seeing a surge in new customers and nearly doubling the prior year’s sales volume.
“We’ve become close with other owners in the network, and we share and trust each other a great deal,” Gropman says. “There are owners who have been around a long time, and it’s a tremendous benefit to be able to seek their counsel knowing that you can have a great degree of candor and confidentiality.”
He says the AlphaGraphics organization has challenged and supported him, but he recognizes that this is his own business.
“Anyone looking for something other than personal accountability shouldn’t be an entrepreneur,” he says. “There’s opportunity and there’s risk and those things are very closely related. But that’s what it’s all about.”
The last three months have seen Gropman’s team bringing in three to five new customers a week… last Monday, four new clients came on board with them.
“Now a year in, we’re building a reputation for ourselves, and establishing relationships that continue to gain value,” he says. “There’s so much energy within the team – orders are up, volume is growing. We’re doing some diverse and great jobs.”
That’s the beauty of this business, he says – the upward potential is unlimited.
“AlphaGraphics demonstrated to me that the potential existed, and you have to be of the right mindset to make it happen,” Gropman says. “An AG franchisee gave me the best advice when I was considering my future path: “Talk to the winners and the losers, and determine who you’re most like. If you see that you’re more like the ones who aren’t successful, then you need to shift your plan.”
As he brokered out of a sales office through the AlphaGraphics Ramp-In program. La Jolla, Calif.’s Scott Weathers built a 2,400 square-foot, state-of-the-art AG Business Center from the ground up. The location opened in mid-March.
Scott’s background in printing and fulfillment aided him from the outset and through the transition, having helped establish a network of clients and prospects throughout the region.
“I’ve spent the last 10 years developing relationships in San Diego,” he says. “Now that we have all the equipment, we are primed to really grow the business. The large-format capability has been huge.”
Weathers says 2013 was a great year, but that things really ramped up when the new center was up and running. Halfway through this month, the team has already beat April’s sales numbers, building momentum going into the heavy summer season.
“My flagship client is a local bank, and we do four-color training materials for their mortgage department,” he says. “I’ve been working to expand my reach to other departments, because they have a big footprint here. We met recently and are now looking at doing a lot more work across the business divisions.”
He says he’s surprised everyday with new projects and new opportunities emerging, and that demand is building the center’s inventory and capabilities.
“We’ve learned pretty quickly that if we ‘wow’ them and keep them coming back, then we have an opportunity to show them what else we can do to help them grow their businesses. It’s an exciting position to be in.”
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