“With us, you come to one place and can put your logo on a building, a bus, a golf ball, whatever you need, and we can make it look great every time,” Christian Collucci, COO of Instant Imprints, told The Canadian Business Journal.
A leader in visibility marketing, Instant Imprints is in the business of helping its clients promote their brand and message, critical elements to any company’s success. Instant Imprints is the single source for all visual communications and visibility needs, from custom clothing, embroidery, signage and wide format digital printing, along with a host of promotional products.
“A lot of times, customers come in and they may have an idea scratched out on a napkin, but they don’t know what they need,” Collucci explained. “They just know that when they come into one of our centres, they can get it done. We help them bring their idea to life.”
Ralph Askar, President and CEO of Instant Imprints, has spent more than 25 years in the business services and franchising industry, experienced in everything from store ownership, to international master licenses, to franchise development.
Guided by Askar’s leadership, Instant Imprints began franchising in Canada as a Master Licensee in 2008. Serving the small business marketplace, Instant Imprints now has 18 franchises across Canada, 24 locations in the United States. The company’s projected growth is about 30 Canadian locations by the end of the year in Canada and expansion from 24 to about 36 stores in the American market by 2014.
Askar and Instant Imprints acquired the master license to the organization in 2007, which had previously been held by its U.S. parent. The thinking was that the franchising experience of Askar’s team could take the company concept to the next level. “By adapting the original model to the Canadian marketplace we created more intimate store sizes, we upgraded the in-store equipment and digital technologies. Instant Imprints now services its markets more efficiently.
“We re-focused our stores marketing efforts on digital technology profit centres like wide format printing and signage, which has really improved the bottom line. We then opened four new stores right away because we wanted to work with the original model, debugged for Canada,” Collucci commented. “We have a 5-5-5 plan, which is our five-year goal to have 500 locations averaging $500,000 unit volume.”
In 2011, Instant Imprints acquired ownership of the company from its U.S. parent, allowing its Canadian operations to become the organization’s global rights holder with greater freedom to make operational changes. Now a Canadian organization with a U.S. division and offices in both countries, Instant Imprints retooled its executive board with a seasoned franchising team.
“We’ve brought in a lot of talent and that has been a huge boon,” Collucci explained. “What used to be 15 years of franchising experience on the board of directors, our senior management holds 15 to 20 years a piece and about 250 years of accumulated experience.”
The strength of Instant Imprints’ new management has already been recognized in Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500, ranking Instant Imprints as No. 351, a huge debut ranking for the management team in a short 18 months. Franchise Business Review also recognized Instant Imprints in its Top 50 under 50 Category, based on franchisee satisfaction. Instant Imprints’ franchising system, infrastructure, email marketing campaigns, and training program allows franchisees to better learn the business and to see profitability sooner.
Instant Imprints makes it easier for new franchisees to learn the business and to see earlier profitability. One example is the company’s new training program that provides the tools for new franchisees to be profitable within six months. It’s rare for any new start-up businesses in the industry, or any entrepreneur in general, to see such results so quickly, but Instant Imprints believes it has developed a proper franchising environment that realizes early success.
“A lot of franchises teach the franchisee what to do when they get the customers in the door, but nobody teaches them how to get the customer there in the first place,” Collucci detailed. “We actually teach our franchisees about business development and how to grow a viable, profitable business.”
To its customers, Instant Imprints highlights its strength as a one stop service provider. Instant Imprints makes buying easy, especially in a business of custom-made solutions. While many of its industry competitors source just one promotional segment, Instant Imprints covers all of the bases, from custom clothing and business apparel, to banners and signage, to custom logo promotional items. Additionally, most of its competition is also regionalized, whereas Instant Imprints has established a major presence across North America.
“Where we win and what gives us a huge advantage is that we are the only one who does everything,” Collucci beamed. “No one else dominates on a national level, all under one roof.”
Instant Imprints helps its customers create and its in-house production equipment allows the company to provide high quality finished products on time, every time.
“We have a lot more tools available to us and that means more engagement with our customers. The best thing for any business is a reason to be engaged with your customers as that is absolute gold for your marketing dollar,” Collucci concluded. “Instant Imprints simply knocks it out of the park, and we have territories open all over Canada and the US for Single-and Multi Unit franchisees, Area Development Franchisees and Master Licenses for people who want to build internationally.”