What local print shops should have been looking for, rather than excuses.


No, I don’t mean the Boxster. We’ll get to that soon enough.

In the meantime, answer me this: If you own a local print shop, how many EXTRA generic one sided black on white regular bond paper kind of print jobs will it take you to add $700 to your bottom line this year?

If you don’t know off the top of head, I have to wonder how long you’ve been reading this blog:)

But I’ll continue anyway.

When Adobe released an upgrade to their software that included a “Print to Kinko’s” button, a ready-made link to Kinko’s printing services was available to any user of Adobe software. A great idea.

Of course, locally owned print shops all over the country went into a tizzy.

Why? Partly because they didn’t think of it first, partly because they were lazy and partly because of our “protect me, mommy” society. More on that in a minute.

When I saw the button, I didn’t really care because there’s no Kinko’s up here. But I secretly wished for a “Independent Print Shops of America” button. Yeah, and I’m getting a 911 Boxster for my birthday too. Riiiight.

Then the big question came. Would there be whine, or would there be competition?

We got whine, of course. It’s easier to whine than it is to be competitive – in fact, more competitive than the Kinko’s down the street.

Here’s how: Last month on my way back from Billings, a phone reminder popped up to tell me that I needed to get my article for the Columbia Falls Chamber Newsletter ready and delivered. Normally, I would dismiss this reminder because I’ve already done it before heading out of town, but in this case I hadn’t.

Yes, it was due that same day. Oops:)

Normally, you’d be out of luck, even if you had the article written. Instead, I stopped at my favorite Missoula coffee joint (yes, I do occasionally have a cup somewhere other than Billings), wrote the article, uploaded it to Staples’ Online Copy Center and headed up US93 toward Kalispell.

3 hours later (lots of traffic, weather getting worse), I walk into the Kalispell Staples and the last 20 copies are coming off the printer. I pick em up, pay for em, head for Columbia Falls and drop them off before 4pm. Gravy.

Normally, big box stores don’t get mention here, at least not in good terms. But in this case, they won this battle on convenience alone.

So how do you compete, Mr Print Shop?

Do what they do, and deliver it the same way you do every other product and service you offer. In the case of print shops, there are several options for providing this service without you having to get into the software business, including PagePath.

Staples didn’t write their own, why should you?

PagePath starts at about $700 a year and is based solely on print volume. It gives you the same edge that Staples and Kinko’s have (er, had – since Adobe wussed out by caving in to pressure to remove the button).

By the way, $700 net is (ball park) about ONE more 100 page, one sided black on white regular bond copy job per day. If my local print shop had this ability, they’d already have 50 of those days taken care of just from my business.

But they don’t, at least not yet. What’s the Kinko’s button for your business?