TIGARD, Ore.–Bob and Ruth Davidson have been Minuteman Press franchise owners in Tigard, Oregon since 1987. Bob’s son Craig Davidson is also part of the family-owned business handling direct marketing duties among other responsibilities, and Craig has also completed the Minuteman Press training program. Each Minuteman Press franchise serves its local community with digital print, design and marketing services that meet the needs of today’s business professionals.
In this candid conversation, Bob Davidson talks about what it’s really like being a Minuteman Press franchise owner, the power of marketing, the value of training and support, being active in the community (including sponsoring this past weekend’s Festival of Balloons in Tigard), and how it all adds up to running a successful million-dollar business.
Good morning Bob and thanks for taking the time out to speak with us today. How did you first learn about Minuteman Press?
Bob Davidson: “Good morning and thank you for having me. We first came across Minuteman Press at one of the franchise events we went to that connects franchisors with franchisees. Of the vendors there, Minuteman Press was the most logical and made the most sense. From there, I liked what I saw from the local tours of existing franchises and here we are today.”
Why did Minuteman Press make the most sense to you?
Bob Davidson: “Minuteman Press was just well-organized, the costs were in our acceptable range, and I really appreciated their business-like approach. There were no gimmicks with Minuteman Press, and that really stood out to me the most. It all just made sense.”
Can you tell us a little bit more about your background before franchising with Minuteman Press?
Bob Davidson: “Sure. I wore two hats back then. First, I was an officer in the military, serving 25 years in the National Guard. I was also a truck driver for a national trucking company. I had no prior printing experience before franchising with Minuteman Press, and I liked that I was being given the chance to own a small business with no industry experience needed. As an interesting aside, some of the customers I delivered to 30 years ago are my Minuteman Press customers today.”
That’s awesome that you have been able to establish and maintain such long-lasting business relationships over the years. So when you first started out as a Minuteman Press franchisee, what were the biggest keys to your success?
Bob Davidson: “When people visited the store, we followed the Minuteman Press program. They really laid out a blueprint for success for us, and again to me everything was just extremely logical, organized and made great business sense.”
How valuable was the Minuteman Press training program to you?
Bob Davidson: “I felt the training gave us a solid basis for what we needed to know and it was just very helpful to us. The accounting side was the toughest part and when we started out, but the support we got from Minuteman Press during the training program and onsite was just very valuable.”
When you first started out, what do you think helped you the most in terms of growing your business?
Bob Davidson: “The marketing training and application of what we learned from Minuteman Press is what really grew the business. For us, I found out that the marketing was a huge key to success and we got off to a fast start with our franchise and were blessed. The first year in business, we got tremendous support from Minuteman Press locally in terms of setting everything up and they are always there for us now if we ever need anything. We also had (and still have) a tremendous additional resource from the other franchise owners that made us feel at home and were a huge help whenever we needed anything. Everyone in the Minuteman Press franchise system from the corporate office to the local support staff and other franchisees really do take care of each other, and not only do I have great respect for my colleagues, but many of them have also become close friends of ours over the years.”
You mentioned how marketing helped you grow your business. How do you market today vs. when you first started?
Bob Davidson: “My son Craig is now involved in the business and does a lot of the direct marketing for us. The same principles of direct marketing we learned when we first started are still very much used today. People like to put a face to the name and the level of service and quality we can provide is also a great thing that keeps us going strong. We also gave a high rate of turning Internet leads we get from our Search Engine Marketing (SEM) program into jobs.”
How does it feel having your son Craig on board with the franchise?
Bob Davidson: “It’s been great. He did sales and other work before joining the business, and the hope is that he takes over the franchise one day. He’s about the same age as I was when I started with Minuteman Press, and so the future looks to be in great hands.”
That’s great that you can pass your million-dollar franchise business along to him when the time comes…
Bob Davidson: “Definitely. We’ve enjoyed the President’s Club meetings and gatherings for million-dollar franchisees, and it’s absolutely fulfilling to be a part of that and also meet with all of the other people who have worked hard and been successful by following the Minuteman Press program. They really do take care of their own and this is just another way Minuteman Press does this. I also love the fact that people who were with Minuteman Press when I first started my franchise are still with the company today, from Steve Cooper to Mike Jutt and the list goes on.”
The Minuteman Press World Expo 2015 is coming up. Will you be going this year? What are you looking forward to the most?
Bob Davidson: “The World Expo is always refreshing and reinvigorating and shows us new things. You will find sources for vendors that you need for certain projects and it really helps us stay on top of everything every year. We also look forward to seeing all of the owners including those that we have become close friends with over the years.”
Obviously the industry has changed over the years. What is biggest change you’ve seen in terms of customer needs and the kind of services your Minuteman Press franchise provides?
Bob Davidson: “The digital print side as well as the growth of color has been huge. With our expertise and the vendors that are at our disposal thanks to Minuteman Press, we are able to fill new niches and fulfill requests that have really grown in popularity, such as business cards with UV coatings. I would say our business is now 1/3 digital, 1/3 offset and 1/3 additional services, where it used to be much more focused on offset print. Because of these changes, I feel like keeping up with these new capabilities and leveraging vendor relationships that we have been able to establish thanks to Minuteman Press are big for us, and we definitely feel like we are able to keep thriving in new markets.”
What would you say is the value of the local service that Minuteman Press franchises can provide?
Bob Davidson: We have the expertise in assisting customers in the design and layout, as well as the file preparation for production and recommendations for how a project can be done as quickly and efficiently as the client wants. With us, you get options when it comes to methods of production that we can tailor to meet your needs in the most cost-effective and timely ways possible. For example, whether a client needs 5,000 brochures by tomorrow or by next week, we can accommodate those time constraints, and they as a consumer can come to us and know that we can do this for them.
People come to us and keep coming to us because we are the only ones who know what to do to get the job done. We don’t have high staff turnover and we have a depth of knowledge that can’t be matched.
Can you give me an example of a recent customer order you filled because of the unique level of service, quality and insight you can provide?
Bob Davidson: “There was a woman who came to us last week. Her husband had passed away 1 year ago and at that time she did a quiet family service. She wanted to do a more formal memorial service this year and she bought her own card stock that she wanted to use for invitations. Others were quoting her a price in the hundreds of dollars with a turnaround time of one week or longer. We were able to do everything for her in just one day at a quarter of the cost on the card stock she wanted, why? Because we have the experience and capabilities to do so and we always offer a fair price whether it’s this woman who needed custom invitations or a bigger commercial customer. We have a reputation in this community that we are proud of upholding in situations like this one.”
A story like that really shows the heart that you have as well as how fair you are with all of your customers. Is that how you maintain such a high level of repeat business with your bigger commercial clients?
Bob Davidson: “Definitely. We provide a great service at a fair price, and the core of our business is retaining those commercial customers. A lot of work goes into that and our repeat clients also help us through referrals that help us gain new customers. Referrals and retention are really important, and we pride ourselves on keeping our clients’ business and meeting all of their needs.”
Speaking to the quality of life that Minuteman Press helps franchise owners achieve, what are some of your personal hobbies and outside interests?
Bob Davidson: “We work pretty hard every day we are in the office to maintain the level of service and turnaround we can provide. We take our vacations and we give our staff all of the major holidays off, and so we try to give everyone who works for us a nice work/life balance. We have a staff of 6 and we provide benefits including 401K, medical and dental. I come from a union background so it was very important to me to provide these benefits to my staff. As a result, our press operator has been with us for 20 years, our prepress, and our bindery and delivery person has been with us for 15 years. Three years ago Craig came on board and we have another employee named Christopher who has been with us about 2 years. He came from a company called BCT that closed their local Tigard operation and are thrilled to have him as part of the staff.”
We heard that Craig also completed Minuteman Press training a couple of years ago. What was that like for your and for him?
Bob Davidson: “Craig being able to complete the training program is just another example of Minuteman Press taking care of one of their own. Craig went through the training and it laid down the groundwork for him like it did for me. He came back with a fresh set of eyes and was even able to teach me new things such as new software features and other technology innovations that Minuteman Press trained him on.”
He really enjoyed the training and appreciates the relationships he is now building with Minuteman Press’ corporate office.
You mentioned the importance of commercial business to your Minuteman Press franchise … do any recent stories stand out to you?
Bob Davidson: “We just finished up this past weekend (June 26-28) with the Tigard Festival of Balloons. We sponsored the event and my rotary club is also involved. We did all of the printing of marketing materials for the event, which draws tens of thousands of people every year for both the hot air balloons and the classic car show. We did everything including some last-minute orders that came in, such as laminated directional signs to point drivers to the right place and replacement ballots for voting on the classic cars.”
What was favorite part of this past weekend’s event?
Bob Davidson: I loved watching the balloons launch, and we had about 19 or 20 this year which was great to see.
It must feel gratifying to be able to combine your passion with business…
Bob Davidson: “With Minuteman Press, we are in the business of putting ourselves out there in the communities we serve. That has been the modus operandi of Minuteman Press, and I’ve found the Rotary Club and events like the Festival of Balloons to be extremely fulfilling from a personal as well as a business standpoint.”
You’ve grown a million-dollar business with Minuteman Press and I am sure you have a wealth of knowledge to share. What is one piece of advice you would give to potential franchise owners?
Bob Davidson: “Work hard and follow the program. Good people who do good business is what I truly believe the Minuteman Press franchise system is all about.”
Thanks so much for chatting with us Bob!
Bob Davidson: “Anytime, and thank you.”