Describing the performance of his International Minute Press franchise in Cary, North Carolina last year, Neal Sugarman says, “We were steadily growing each year in what was just our fourth year in business.”
Since printing is an essential business and Sugarman is dedicated to his clients and his community, he adapted his products and services, reinforced his marketing strategies, and thrived as a result.
Sugarman explains, “All of a sudden, here we have this pandemic and relative to what we have been doing, our day-to-day operations were profoundly different. The phones and emails became strangely quiet, but we did not. We went to work, spending time on renewed marketing programs, keeping our staff safe and employed. We implemented four years’ worth of marketing ideas because we finally had the time to focus on them.”
Sugarman and his team brought new life into a business community fraught with new challenges. “We created avenues for revenue using health and safety signage, floor graphics, and other design and printed tools to help get our clients into a position to keep making money,” he adds.
The print service provider (PSP) adapted its business to fit clients’ needs during the pandemic, and it worked.
“Most of our payments were made online (instead of in our storefront), and we delivered products based on the guidelines and our customers’ comfort levels,” says Sugarman. “We would regularly come out curbside and load their vehicles or leave completed projects out for them, carefully, if they wished. We made sure every interaction was a good one for everyone.”
Sugarman also revised the PSP’s website, ramped up its social media use, and increased Google Adwords as part of the regroup. According to Sugarman, this proved successful, and orders began rolling in from hotels, restaurants, and new customers.
He reflects, “Our business shifted for the better in the past few months, and part of that growth was people realizing exactly how much we can provide. Some people didn’t know we could provide signage at this level, for instance. As they became aware, the sign business helped keep us above where we were last year.”
As part of its efforts to help businesses get through the pandemic’s challenges, the team printed over 100 “open curbside” signs for restaurants at no charge.
“It’s a really cool thing to drive around town today and see all of these signs still being used six months later!” says Sugarman.
Additionally, the PSP got involved with nonprofit Dorcas Ministries, which runs the only food pantry in Cary (a population of 175,000). The pandemic increased demand for the pantry, and Sugarman’s team printed and sold #CaryStrong signs for them and raised almost $400 for the pantry.
“In our community, we support one another. We used any extra time caused by quarantine in the beginning to do things to help our local area,” Sugarman adds. “We upped our game through diversifying into community service activities as part of our day-to-day marketing. Yes, it is good for business; but what matters to us is that our work is good for our community and makes us better citizens now, more than ever.”