Kall Kwik is introducing a new business franchise model that focuses more on delivering business services and solutions than simply print production
It’s been 10 years since Nigel Toplis left Kall Kwik to focus on building a stable of franchise-based businesses that include Recognition Express, ComputerXplorers and The ZipYard. Now he’s come full circle and added the famous printing brand to his group of companies, following the acquisition of the Kall Kwik licence in December 2012.
How has the industry changed in a decade? According to Nigel, while there’s been significant technological changes, in many respects the print centres face the same challenge now as they did then - bringing in business.
“It’s great to be back working with Kall Kwik franchise owners,” he says. “I have kept in touch with many of them over the years and followed the company’s progress with interest and latterly a bit of sadness too as it seems to have lost focus.” Digital technologies have revolutionised the way we print in the 21st century, with the emphasis being increasingly placed on the speed of the manufacturing process and a reduction in the number of skilled people required.
But, according to Nigel, there’s still a huge overcapacity on the production side of the print market: “Too many people are putting too much money into machinery and not enough resource into developing and nurturing customer contacts - and that’s where I think we need to re-engineer the whole industry. Instead of being manufacturing led, we should be focusing on sales and marketing. It’s not a matter of ‘we’ve got this machine, what can we print on it for you?’, instead we should be engaging with customers to find out their business goals and aspirations and then look at devising solutions to help them get there.”
Nigel adds: “When I first left Kall Kwik I went to Recognition Express, a business that specialises in corporate branded goods and clothing. One of the strengths of that brand is that it builds expertise. A customer may initially approach one of our franchisees looking to buy branded pens, for example, but end up with something completely different after the Recognition Express franchise owner has carried out a thorough fact find into what the customer wants to achieve.
“The customer could have sourced cheaper pens from the internet, but the bespoke solution they ended up with delivered far better results and, as a consequence, that particular customer is more likely to bring repeat business based on the quality of service received rather than merely price alone.”
Nigel’s focus for Kall Kwik isn’t going to be on ‘how can we print that job?’ - it is going to be about ‘how can we get that order?’. “Buying the latest top of the range machinery alone won’t bring in the business and the large format sector is a perfect example of this,” he says. “Many of us identified the market potential as being huge, but very few actually went out to sell the benefits of the equipment to customers. Printers invested in large format machines and then waited for customers to come and ask for the service.
“I see Kall Kwik as a provider of solutions for businesses. Many of the 52 centres that have opted to retain the Kall Kwik brand enjoy high street locations and are ideally placed to take advantage of the 4.5 million small and medium sized enterprises that exist in the UK marketplace, not to mention the tens of thousands of schools and large corporates. There are hundreds of thousands of businesses out there who could use large format printing, but are unaware of the technology - all of which are potential untapped sales opportunities for Kall Kwik franchise owners.”
Over the next 12 months Kall Kwik will be expanding with the introduction of a new business franchise model that focuses more on delivering business services and solutions than simply print production. The existing network of Kall Kwik Centres will be called upon to make use of their excess capacity to carry out the printing requirements of these new Kall Kwik Business Centres.
“It is our intention that Kall Kwik Business Centres will be high street based, thus taking advantage of visible brand exposure, but with smaller premises,” says Nigel. “Employees will be very client focused, highly experienced in design and artwork and able to provide business solutions across the full range of Kall Kwik products and services, while the on site equipment will focus heavily on high quality digital output and large format production. It is all about adding value.
“These new Kall Kwik Business Centres will focus on identifying and meeting the business needs of customers, whoever they may be. The services offered could range from creating, printing, distributing and ultimately following up a direct marketing campaign with telesales to fulfillment and sourcing specialist printing services.”
Kall Kwik remains the most recognised brand within the industry. Says Nigel: “There’s a huge amount of talent out there and it’s time to focus on regaining that number one market position by putting marketing in front of equipment, solutions in front of specifications and, most importantly, people in front of the customer.”
BEING PART OF A WELL KNOWN BRAND IS A DOOR OPENER
Stewart Green (pictured), who owns Kall Kwik Bury St Edmunds, was born in Cheshire and for the past 17 years has lived in Colchester with his wife Karen and two teenage children. Winner of the Business of the Year 2012 Award by the British Association for Print and Communication, he has grown his franchise business significantly since joining Kall Kwik in September 2003. The business now employs seven people.
Stewart attended agricultural college in Bedfordshire before starting his first job selling agricultural supplies, seeds and fertiliser to farmers, as well as buying grain from them. After a few years Stewart moved into an international marketing role, working for a plant breeding company, and became a director at 36. His last role before moving into franchising was European divisional director for a supplier of pharmaceutical crops.
### WHY DID YOU LEAVE YOUR CAREER IN AGRICULTURAL SUPPLY? ###
I had a very successful career working in the agricultural sector, so it was difficult to step off the ladder. But I realised after 23 years in the industry that I’d achieved all that I could and I wanted a new challenge. I had a lifelong ambition to run my own business and I’d always been interested in printing. I have a keen interest in photography and developed a passion for marketing during my career. A well designed brochure can make a big difference to a business.
### WHY FRANCHISING? ###
I had no experience in the printing sector and it would have been too great a risk to have set up my own business. Franchising offered me the opportunity to run a printing business by providing all the training, support and expertise I would need to succeed. Also, being part of a well known brand is a door opener. You’re not starting from scratch.
### WHAT RESEARCH DID YOU DO? ###
When I decided to look for new opportunities, I began researching print franchises and came across Kall Kwik. I visited The National Franchise Exhibition in Birmingham and dropped by four print franchises, including Kall Kwik. I drew up a list of the strengths and weaknesses of each franchise and Kall Kwik stood out head and shoulders above the rest.
### WHAT KIND OF TRAINING AND SUPPORT DID YOU RECEIVE? ###
When I first started I had a business development manager working alongside me for the first week to help with any teething problems. That was very useful, as it all felt very strange and new. I also attended numerous training courses covering everything from the technical side of printing to marketing and administration. It’s great to be able to get together with like-minded individuals and even today I benefit from the sharing of ideas and new ways to develop the business with the rest of the network. It’s good to have a sounding board and better than being on your own.
### HOW DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR TERRITORY? ###
I looked at which Kall Kwik franchise territories were available and Bury St Edmunds appealed to me as there are a large number of small businesses in the town, which means a big target audience. The business was up for resale and I thought it had lots of potential. I felt my marketing skills could benefit the business.
### HOW IS THE BUSINESS GOING? ###
We’ve invested in good designers and our philosophy is very marketing focused. Where possible, we advise customers to make sure they have the right solution for their business. We’re not about just providing quotes. During the recession we had three record years, the result of hard work in the early years when we were building client relationships. Our sales have grown by a steady 7-10 per cent each year since we took on the business.
### ADVICE TO POTENTIAL FRANCHISE OWNERS? ###
Do your research, not just about the franchisor, but about the market and the local territory you want to operate in. Also, look for any opportunities to develop the business into the future.