Change is one of the scariest things humans face. When it comes to your business and the career you’ve dedicated your life to, that fear can loom particularly large.
For any business, though, change is critical to be constantly evolving and adapting to the world around you. Remaining stagnant can put the business behind the times and leave you in the dust. This is something I realized when I took the helm as president of Cartridge World America in 2022, and I’ve been working steadfastly to reshape the Cartridge World brand—both internally and externally—ever since.
My career began at Canon, where I became the youngest branch manager by the age of 26. Following my tenure there, my wife and I set out on a new venture to found our own company in the printing and copy industry, which we ran for nearly two decades before selling it to focus on my franchising endeavors.
In 2003, I joined the Cartridge World team as a Territory Master, and then became the company’s president in December 2022. At the time, I saw the company had great potential, but to get there, we would need a complete overhaul.
Priority #1: Communication & Franchisee Support
My first step to moving the brand forward: opening the line of communication with franchisees. It started with weekly newsletters and then moved to biweekly newsletters and regular, monthly Zoom calls to keep all franchisees up to date on company news. This allowed me to instill trust and transparency within the company, showing franchisees that I am here to serve and support their endeavors.
As far as method of communicating with employees and franchisees—to be honest, I find email is so 1990s. We all receive hundreds of emails daily, some great, some good, and some are just wasting my time. If you think about it, you get a very important email at 9:00 am and by 9:05 you may have five more that are very important to you so the first one may never be seen again and it is only 9:30. We’ve always used Constant Contact for outbound marketing, but we began to use it to communicate with all of our franchisees with things we feel are very important. That gives us the ability to see who is opening and reading what we are sending out. I also use texting at a much greater pace. And don’t forget about the old-school ‘pick up the phone and call them’ or ‘get up off the chair and meet them, shake their hand, and have an eye-to-eye conversation with them.’ That is really still the best quality of communication.
Priority #2: A New Sales Model
Cartridge World was ahead of the remote work trend when we introduced the Executive Office Model roughly 10 years ago. It was a fully remote setup for franchisees; when they sign on, all they need is a computer, phone and a place to work from anywhere. They can work from home, a coffee shop or even an RV. It promotes remote work by providing franchisees flexibility for where they sell, where they work from and cheaper initial investment costs. By allowing this business model to flourish, we’ve made franchising opportunities even more exciting with the ease of accessibility.
Many of our franchisees have shifted away from brick-and-mortar stores to the Executive Office Model, and their fixed costs have been significantly reduced while revenue has increased to ultimately put more money in their pockets.
But to put that extra money in franchisees pockets, we made the shift to contract-based sales, a new automated system that warns Cartridge World when toner is running low or when there is a printer issue, creating zero wait time for the customer. As the traffic of clientele walking through Cartridge World’s doors began to slow, our solution was to mirror that same trend and put more focus on contract-based sales rather than our traditional retail-centric sales model. Contract sales provide every franchisee with a consistent cash flow while further emphasizing the B2B sales effort the company wants to focus on long-term.
Priority #3: Embracing Technological Advancements
For the past eight months, my team and I have aggressively implemented tools and programs that set Cartridge World America up for many years of innovative and measurable marketing, sales and communication tools. It began with bringing our website into 2023 and making it productive both for our clients to order from and for our franchisees to add to it. The new design has already increased traffic by 25% this year.
We also have made it part of our mission to change our firm of 30-plus years to embrace the mindset that we are a “Sales and Marketing Technology” firm. That was a shock when we first announced it. However, we have continued to add tools and products that lead our owners in this direction so they can focus on what is most important: taking care of our customers and clients with a clear focus of attention. Customer-focused efforts are made possible with our new technologies. We have made investments and major improvements into how the client is affected by ease of ordering tools and systems, including a fully-automated point-of-sale (POS) system, which allows for a quick and seamless customer ordering experience through just the click of a button. We took a 20-plus-year system and turned it on its head so our customers and clients can order and pay with great ease, learn about our No Cost Printer Programs, and so on.
Cartridge World has not stopped with the traditional tools to help franchisees, but we’ve encouraged the use of social media to create leads and business. The digital era is being fully embraced from top to bottom.
These technological advancements provide the ability to scale growth with multi-location clients, leading to higher incomes under the new sales model. Additionally, Cartridge World’s simplified ordering system implemented for all clients follows through on the brand’s goal of capitalizing on “Automatic Forever Cadence Marketing.”
Priority #4: Providing a Unique, Cost-Effective Product and Service
Perhaps one of the biggest changes for Cartridge World in recent years: our signature No Cost Printer Program, which arrived in 2015. Through this program, clients are supplied with a free printer – complete with all required maintenance services – in exchange for simply purchasing their cartridges from Cartridge World. Since this program took effect, the brand has given away more than 10,000 printers.
Prior to the introduction of this concept, Cartridge World had a 65% client retention rate. I knew the company needed to do something to differentiate itself from competition and get that number up. Today, there is a 99% retention rate through this program as customers no longer see a need to continuously shop around to fulfill their printing needs after just one or two purchases through Cartridge World.
The No Cost Printer Program not only makes the job more efficient for Cartridge World, but also provides ease for the client. There is never a need to worry about running out of toner or stress about purchasing the perfect-but-expensive printer/copier; there’s no need to keep inventory or really give your printer a second thought. Cartridge World takes care of it all for the customer.
Ease for franchisees combined with convenience for customers is all top-of-mind as I guide Cartridge World through this new era.
With less than a year under my belt as the President of Cartridge World America – and 20 years with the company – my leadership style and fresh new vision for the brand is already being rewarded with a renewed energy across the company.