To Expand Services or Not? Guide to Navigating Investment Decisions in Your Print Shop

In the world of printing, the decision to expand services is both exciting and daunting. It often entails significant financial commitment, which can be nerve-wracking for the family-owned print shop striving to grow. One cost-effective strategy to help you with this decision can be subcontracting as it allows businesses to test the waters before fully diving into a big investment. This article will give you 4-step plan on navigating the decisions in your print shop: when to subcontract and when to invest in new equipment.

Understand your customer needs

The first thing you should do before considering investing in new equipment, is to see if there’s a need within your target audience or customer base. Are people longing for additional services that you currently don’t provide? Often, the answer is right in front of you – your customers. Engage in conversations with them to discover their future projects and needs to see if they would value the convenience of additional services offered by your print shop.

The beauty of this approach is its simplicity and directness. By directly asking your customers, you bypass guesswork and get straight to the source. You can uncover opportunities that you might have otherwise overlooked. However, bear in mind that this isn’t a one-time exercise. Make it a habit to continuously seek feedback and check in with all of your customers. This gives you an idea of how popular a request is and keeps you updated with evolving needs and preferences. If you mainly deal with customers online, consider adding a question on your quotes that people can easily fill out to let you know if there are additional services they would like to see offered.

It’s also important to remember that not all customers will have the same requirements. Therefore, consider segmenting your customers. This will give you an idea of what type of customers will be interested in the services you add and allow you to target your services more effectively.

Taking this customer-centric approach can help shed light on the possible paths of expansion for your print shop. It’s an essential stepping stone in your journey of service expansion, laying a solid foundation for subsequent decisions. You’re not just growing your services, but you’re doing it in a way that resonates with your customers. And at the end of the day, it’s all about them.

2. Leverage subcontracts

After understanding what additional services your customers need, the next move is to put this into action. Subcontracting provides an ideal and cost-effective pathway for this. This approach involves joining forces with another print shop, allowing them to deliver these services on your behalf. This enables you to focus on your key strengths – design, print, and sell.

You want to get an idea of the actual demand and profitability before making any substantial investment. Taking advantage of subcontracting gives you the opportunity to do just that – test the potential of new services without the financial burden that comes with buying new equipment.

Beyond being a testing ground, subcontracting also opens doors to beneficial relationships. By partnering with other print shops, you lay the groundwork for future collaborations, further enhancing your ability to deliver a wide range of services. Think of it as building your network within the industry, creating alliances that could prove mutually beneficial in the future. However, remember to choose your subcontracting partner wisely. The work they produce will reflect on your business, so it’s essential to find a partner that aligns with your values and shares your commitment to quality.

Lastly, communication is key in subcontracting relationships. Make sure expectations are clear, deadlines are understood, and quality checks are in place. This includes ensuring that invoicing and payment schedules with subcontractors are well-structured and adhered to. After all, seamless collaboration is at the heart of successful subcontracting. As you navigate through the decision of subcontracting, keep your eyes on the prize – a widened service range, delighted customers, and potential growth for your print shop.

3. Monitor your progress

As your print shop begins offering new services through subcontracting, it’s crucial not to neglect the importance of tracking your journey. Having a clear overview of business operations, inventory and customer preferences is an invaluable asset as you assess the success of subcontracting. To facilitate this, consider leveraging a good sales software that allow you to streamline the workflow completely, so you can effectively track the performance and acceptance of the newly subcontracted services. But, what exactly should you monitor?

Start by closely observing the frequency of customer requests for the subcontracted services to get an idea of customer demand

  • Are they as popular as anticipated? Or are they more of an occasional request?
  • Are these services driving up your revenue or eating into your profits due to high subcontracting costs?
  • Is your team able to easily manage the added coordination with the subcontractor without disrupting the usual operations?Note the impact of these services on your sales, margins and overall workflow

Pay attention to customer feedback because happy customers are repeat customers, so their satisfaction with the new services will determine the long-term success of your expansion

Lastly, keep an eye on the efficiency of your processes.

  • How smoothly are the subcontracted jobs being integrated into your existing workflow?
  • Are there any bottlenecks or roadblocks that need to be addressed?

The purpose of monitoring your progress isn’t just about recording numbers. It’s about gaining insights by understanding the story these numbers tell. Having an integrated system to track subcontracts, client sales, payments, and inventory levels can significantly make the process easier and help you make data-driven decisions that steer your print shop towards success. Remember, every bit of data you gather is a piece of the puzzle, bringing you closer to a clear picture of your print shop’s future.

4. Making the decision to invest

As you progress on the journey of subcontracting, there may come a time when your print shop notices a substantial uptick in demand for the new services. You may find your sales charts are steadily climbing upwards, with the new services acting as the primary propeller. You may even observe an increased flow of repeat customers, all looking for more of the freshly introduced services. Regularly reviewing your inventory and sales data can help in identifying these trends early on.

When any of these signs begin to appear, it’s time to seriously discuss the possibility of investing. The idea of purchasing new equipment to bring these services in-house begins to look less like a risky venture and more like a calculated, logical progression. This would also give you the opportunity for increased control over service quality, more streamlined operations, and potentially higher profits.

However, it’s not just about the numbers on the sales charts. It’s also about the financial health of your business. Are your finances robust enough to absorb the investment without derailing your cash flow or dipping into your emergency fund? Keep in mind, the cost of new equipment isn’t just the purchase price. It also includes installation costs, maintenance, training for your team, and perhaps even additional space. Carefully weigh these factors against the expected boost in profits from the in-house services.

Of course, you don’t have to make this decision alone. Consulting with your team can provide additional perspectives. They are, after all, the ones on the ground, dealing directly with your customers and managing the subcontracted work. Their insights could be invaluable in deciding whether it’s the right time to make this significant investment.

Remember, this decision isn’t just about expanding your print shop’s services. It’s also about nurturing your business, boosting its resilience, and preparing it for the future. It’s about building a legacy that would make any family print shop owner proud. So, take the time you need, analyze all the angles, and when you’re ready, make the decision with confidence. If you’ve determined the new service you want to introduce, see article here on the basic steps you need to take when launching your new offering!

Your print shop’s journey is far from over; it’s merely turning a new page.

If you’re interested to learn how a sales software can help you create quotes, invoices, receive payments and follow-up on clients in one streamlined process, don’t hesitate to book a free live demo with QuoteMachine.

Share the Article