Jonathan Dunwoody has owned the Minuteman Press design, marketing, and printing franchise in Huntsville, Alabama since 2008. Jonathan has successfully built his business and he is a member of Minuteman Press International’s President’s Million-Dollar Circle for top performers.
Jonathan shares his entrepreneur tips and advice including what it’s really like to be a part of the modern printing industry as well as the Minuteman Press franchise family. This is his Minuteman Press Franchise Review.
1. Please provide an overview of your business – what do you offer your customers, and what would be your message to people who are interested in your services?
Jonathan Dunwoody: “I don’t think I’ve ever said no if a question starts with ‘Can you…’. We offer anything that you can print and being that we are very networking based we help with things outside of the print arena as well as much as possible. We started with just a digital printer, a couple of AB Dick presses, some computers, and finishing equipment. We have grown to have a full line of signage/vehicle wrap/vehicle graphics equipment and know-how. We are also a full service direct mail house and we offer all types of promotional products. Our focus is client services so if you’d like help from the vision stage to the product stage we are here for you!”
2. What year did you join the Minuteman Press franchise? What was your background before franchising with Minuteman Press?
Jonathan Dunwoody: “I started in the print industry in 1996 with Kinko’s. I started with very long hair and a desire to get out of the food service industry making tips. I just wanted a job that I could count on a steady paycheck and found a career. I worked my way up the management ladder, went through their training course, and was promoted to branch manager of the Montgomery, AL Kinko’s location in 2000. I did that until 2003 and then moved on to take care of the direct mail for a locally owned print shop in Montgomery.
Kinko’s sold to an investment company in 1997 and over the years the benefits began to drop off and it became less and less about the people and more and more about the money. I really enjoyed the direct mail aspect of the print industry and especially about learning a new part of the industry. I moved to Huntsville and opened my Minuteman Press franchise in 2008 on my birthday July 7th. Like I said before, we started with minimal equipment and a never say no attitude in a town where I knew not a soul. I used to do all of the printing/bindery and usually after hours, now I don’t get to do hardly any of it. I did outsource a ton of stuff to begin with until I grew each area enough to bring it in house. Signage, direct mail, a bit of bindery work as well.”
3. Why did you choose to franchise with Minuteman Press?
Jonathan Dunwoody: “My stepdad went to a franchise show in DC as he wanted to help me start my own business. He did a lot of research and Minuteman Press stuck out for all the right reasons. The royalty cap available to owners was one of the kickers and the other was the tremendous amount of support offered by the support crew with Minuteman Press International.”
4. What would you say is the most rewarding thing about running your business? How would you compare that to your previous career/industry/life?
Jonathan Dunwoody: “One of the main reasons I wanted to start this business was because of the experience I had with Kinko’s. It was very family oriented at the time and like I said, all about the people. I try to do the same, I hate the word employee; we are coworkers. I share part of the profit quarterly with everyone. Every quarter we have a store meeting and then an outing. We’ve done bowling, escape pod games, mini-golf and go carts, electronic indoor go carts, and this last time we went to a preserve for abused/abandoned exotic animals called Tigers for Tomorrow, then a wine/cheese tasting at a local winery afterwards. We have Christmas parties and I buy lunch occasionally for everyone.
I love that I have people working with me that enjoy what they do, who they work with, and enjoy coming to work…most days. We all have those days when it isn’t fun of course. I’ve been in the print industry for so long that I don’t remember my previous career but it was just waiting tables so it couldn’t have been too rewarding.
Since we opened in 2008, I’ve had two little girls who are now 3 and 5. Although being a business owner certainly doesn’t by any means mean that I can take off whenever I want to, I am able to leave to go get the girls if they are sick or go to a field day if my oldest is having one at school. I can take off for a week and go to a convention in Vegas, Chicago, or Orlando and the ship keeps sailing without me. I have control over helping clients and I am always in the loop with client’s orders as we go over a work in progress report every morning. That way, if something comes up I know exactly what is going on and it is much easier for me to look at things from many angles to find the best possible solution. This is something that I have tried to teach my coworkers to do as well.”
5. How has the ongoing local support you’ve received from Minuteman Press helped you along the way?
Jonathan Dunwoody: “Minuteman Press franchise support has been excellent from the beginning. From Al DeLaura and Michael Spears to Keith Cawley and David Walton, I have always felt like someone was there to help if needed. Whether it was someone to talk things out with, someone to steer me in the right direction on machines or service of machines, meeting me halfway to Atlanta with shirts that were delivered there instead of Huntsville (4 hours) on a tight deadline, or help with knocking on doors and marketing I’ve always been able to count on them within a week’s notice. They are 4 hours away but don’t hesitate to come over if needed.
Then there is the incredible New York team at the corporate office. Seriously, they have been very helpful as well, from the training crew to the executives and support teams, with suggestions of vendors for certain things, to more ears to listen and give good advice.”
6. What local organizations (charities, non-profits, business organizations) do you work with and what causes are you passionate about?
Jonathan Dunwoody: “Since day one I have gone as far as I could to help other business owners to grow their businesses and not by selling them print but by connecting them with other businesses and connections that would help them. I also am a trustee at my church, I volunteer with two local chambers of commerce. I started a Habitat for Humanity team building houses a few years back on Saturdays. I give very deep discounts and sometimes donate print to the March of Dimes, a local shelter, the United Way, Crisis Services of North Alabama, the UNCF, His Way which is a local drug/alcohol recovery place, donate prints to some of the local PTAs of elementary and middle schools. I also volunteered for the UNCF for a few years. I was a member of a BNI group for 7+ years and now have a couple of coworkers in different groups. I’m a member/sponsor of our local quarterback club. I’d say it is very important to be in as many clubs/organizations as possible and to contribute to your local organizations as much as possible.”
7. What is a typical day like for you as a Minuteman Press owner?
Jonathan Dunwoody: “I typically am at the shop between 6:30 and 7:00 every morning M-F. My core team arrives at 7:30. I have a project manager who sits in on each WIP and we go over them individually with each area (Graphics, Digital Printing, Wide Format). Then I continue going through emails. After that it is generally getting quotes to clients, work ordering jobs that have been emailed into my email or forwarding to a coworker to handle. I will take a client to lunch a day or two every week, put out any fires that may arise, plan marketing strategies with my project manager and listen to my name being called several times per day… 🙂
I deliver some orders and go to meet with clientele regularly as well. I order supplies a couple of times per week and constantly walk through the shop ‘coaching’ as I go on anything I see that needs correction. I may hand out a gift card to a coworker who has gone above and beyond once a week or so, just a free $10 meal at one of the local restaurants that I’ve traded for printing with.”
8. What is your ideal day off or way to relax away from your business?
Jonathan Dunwoody: “I enjoy going somewhere with my wife and kids that doesn’t have any cell phone service. Seriously though, anything with my kids is enjoyable!”
9. What are your next business goals?
Jonathan Dunwoody: “I’m really working hard to promote direct mail and wide format printing, specifically vehicle wraps in that area. We do a good bit of both as it is but more is always better. I’ve been personally handling direct mail for about 15 years now and I have one of the only two 3M preferred certified wrap install technicians in the state of Alabama employed here. The other area that I strive to get ahead in is consumables, those items that are needed. I offer promotional products and advertising items as well.”
10. What are one or two pieces of advice you would give to potential franchise owners?
Jonathan Dunwoody: “Have enough operating capital to start with. Hire the right people for the right positions and as Minuteman Press Executive VP and Director of Training Mike Jutt says, “If you think you hired the wrong person, you did.” Don’t let them linger around on your payroll but make sure to document, document, document. On that same note, have a personnel policy for them to sign notating a 90 day probationary period, you’ll avoid unemployment issues if you can terminate dead weight within that time period and that is generally enough time to tell.”