HEAR FROM OUR LICENSEES
Jim Linhoff - St. Louis Park, Minnesota
Jim Linhoff has been working in his family photo business since 1978 and recently became the sole owner. The company has grown from a pure photo lab and portrait studio into a diverse print and photography model in which the business is split between retail/commercial print services and sports/events photography.
Like many in the industry, Jim jokingly refers to himself as a “lab rat”, which means he’s traditionally been the one who fixes the equipment and manages production. However, in his new role, he understood that he needed to focus on strategies to sustain the business long-term.
In 2019, he decided to make big changes to better position the business for the future, starting with a move to a new location that October.
That’s where The Print Refinery® (PR) enters the story. Jim realized that the move was the ideal time to reinvent (not to mention he quickly needed help designing the interior and exterior look of the new space).
As part of The Print Refinery® model, a new logo and branding plan helped with Jim’s goal to modernize and attract a new audience.
Throughout the PR onboarding process, he and his team were exposed to new ideas and operations coaching, plus they completely embraced the new “upscale retail” concept. Admittedly, marketing was always a weak spot for the company, so the comprehensive marketing support was extremely helpful as well. They quickly experienced a boost in online engagement and sales. The team received training to expand their customer service skills and Jim realized how profitable commercial sales could become.
Jim has identified hundreds of commercial products that are an excellent fit with his existing sports and event division. Think athlete banners, yard signs, school murals, branded promotional products and much more.
- Modernize the business
- Ability to attract a new, younger audience
- Updated brand look with new logo and addition of PR
- New upscale retail approach
- Exposure to significant B2B sales potential
- Business coaching and goal setting programs. The PR Team’s support and direction provide me with a second opinion, helping me succeed as a business owner
- Increase value for future sale
The future of Linhoff Photo is bright and better positioned for whatever Jim wants to do next! He’s not quite ready to retire but is happy knowing that his business is in a solid position to appeal to a prospective buyer.
Right now, he’s busy working toward a record year by hitting $1 million in sales!
Lori Rupp - Perrysburg, Ohio
How did you make the decision to adopt The Print Refinery (PR)?
When I first saw PR presented at IPIC, I went back to our team to share my excitement. We kept an eye on the opportunity for about a year before adopting it. My business partner and I, along with our team decided to go for it when we saw the $1000 store design credit and IPIC travel perks announced. That savings really helped offset the amount we needed to spend on the remodel. The hotel incentive helped us bring another team member to IPIC. Also, being able to pay the startup fee in installments allowed us to invest a little more in store design elements and our open house event. All of these incentives were very generous knowing that franchises typically charge a whole lot more up front, plus interest.
How did you identify that your existing location/business model needed a change?
- We desperately needed to update our retail space, which was tired and very dated. It was cluttered with years of materials and there wasn’t any continuity or overarching cohesion to the space.
- We knew the store needed work, but once we heard the same thing from our team members, we knew a remodel needed to be prioritized before we started losing their interest. And if our employees were aware of the dated feel, our customers were most certainly experiencing the same response.
What were your goals for adopting PR?
- I loved the look of The Print Refinery “store” on display at IPIC.
- Could we have done a remodel on our own? Probably. Would we have done it? Probably not. Would we have done it this well or this quickly? Definitely not.
- I also loved that it was a complete system – not just a store design!
- After discussing the opportunity for a total reinvention with our team members, we discovered that they were also craving improvements to the brand, marketing, training and sales process.
- It seemed silly to reinvent the wheel on our own when all of the things we needed were right there in front of us with PR.
- Additionally, we dabbled in B2B/commercial sales already. However, we welcomed the motivation to grow that area of the business, knowing that as a PR licensee we would be expected to focus half of our efforts there.
How has PR effected your business or the perception of your business? What are customers saying?
- Now that we’ve been through the onboarding process completely, we are so glad we made the transition to PR. The store is open and cozy, plus it engages customers with our products and services in a way that we haven’t seen. We now have space to collaborate with them on their projects.
- Every customer that walks in says, “Oh, wow!” or makes a comment about the openness and new look.
- EXAMPLE: A customer who was visiting the area, never having shopped with us before, came in to browse recently. (He was a photo enthusiast and photographer who visits local camera shops during vacations and trips.) Upon entering he said, “On my gosh, it’s beautiful in here.” He stayed for a long time, visited with our staff, tested some equipment and purchased several items. It’s doing exactly what it was designed to do!
What has been your team’s reaction? Has there been a culture shift?
- We have experienced a HUGE culture shift!
- Our team is happier, more positive, more motivated and extremely proud of what we do.
- They take so much more pride in their day to day work now.
- Our sales methods have changed for the better. The team is more aware of being consultative. They are asking the right questions and truly providing an upscale service. We’re all more confident in terms of selling.
- They are striking up conversations with their eye doctor and other local business people to recommend our services in the commercial areas. I don’t know that they would have done that before PR.
How has PR made your job easier (or more complex, but in a good way – I hope)?
- PR has taken our professionalism to the next level.
- The remodeling roadmap provided by PR made the process so much easier and less stressful.
- Having so many helpful tools and elements at our fingertips saves us time in countless ways. Again, why reinvent the wheel? Instead, we follow the PR program and it’s just smoother all the way around.
- The professional looking PR displays actually help sell for us and make our jobs easier. If a team member is busy, guests usually browse and read all of our new displays. Everything is cohesive and helps to explain all that we can do.
- EXAMPLE: A customer saw an archiving graphic on the digital sign monitor above our camera counter and said, “I didn’t know you did that.” She returned a couple days later with a massive scanning project.
- The accountability and direction are HUGE. I like to check things off my list, but I need to be held accountable. I enjoy getting a second opinion on certain aspects of my business and welcome this direction from experts. PR helps us stay motivated to grow and improve.
- Now that we’ve been a PR licensee for almost a year – the ongoing support, guidance and turn-key programs are proving to be extremely beneficial.
What do you hope to do with the business long term?
- Lori is 58; Gary is 65. They’ve owned the business for 31 years.
- Lori would like to get the business to a point where she could manage from afar, feeling free to take three months off at a time to travel and not worry about the business.
- Their goal would be to sell to current employees, perhaps a group of two to four of them togetherm over a period of ten years.
- The DO NOT want to close. That would feel like all of this effort wasn’t worthwhile. Instead, they want to provide the next owner(s) with a modernized, profitable business.