By Ed Avis
Who has time to get involved these days? Between running your business, spending a few minutes with your family, and trying to get a little sleep, attending community events is nearly impossible!
But some reprographics shop owners have managed to find that time, and it’s paying off in bigger profits for them.
Take Bob Roperti, owner of Jiffy Reprographics in Clearwater, Florida. He attends “after hours” events and other social events for multiple local chambers of commerce, volunteers for four other organizations, and attends monthly charitable events.
Is it all worth it? “Yes, we get referrals weekly from Chamber personnel and members who consider Jiffy the printer of choice,” Roperti says. “Six new Chamber clients provided almost 30 percent of our 2014 new business.”
It’s hard to argue with those numbers.
Don Razinsky, owner of GraphX Digital Services in Shreveport, Louisiana, is chairman of the local fire district and vice president of Shreveport’s downtown development district. He also sits on the boards of the local food bank, the crimestoppers organization, and a homeless shelter for women. And to top it off he’s a member of Rotary Club and the Shreveport Bossier Executive Organization.
That keeps him very busy, but it also keeps his business humming: Every organization provides some kind of potentially profitable connection. Take the food bank: A fellow board member owns a dozen dry cleaners in town and has asked Razinsky to create his vehicle wraps, and another board member is the senior vice president of a 30-location chain of food stores who connected him to the marketing department for posters, signs, and floor graphics.
“And that was just through the relationships on the food bank!” Razinsky says.
Don’t Be Shy
Roperti and Razinsky both say that the key to making community connections pay off is to get truly involved, not just sit in the back of the meeting room.
“One thing about being on any board is that you get out of it exactly what you put into it,” Razinsky says. “If you don’t go to the meetings, or you don’t take part, you’re going to get exactly what you put into it. Don’t be afraid to say, ‘I now do vehicle wraps, or I just bought this equipment, come see it.’ You have to sell yourself all the time. If you just sit back you may as well stay home.”
Another tip: Move up the ladder. Being a leader of an organization gives you a lot more influence with members, Razinsky notes. “Everyone wants to work with the president, you’re not just a hidden name on a board.”
Some Organizations are Better than Others
Some organizations are specifically designed to foster business-oriented relationships among members. Nearly every community has some variation on these groups – their names include Business Executives Organization, Executive Leadership Organization, Chief Executives Organization, and the like – and they set up special times for business owners to present their services to other members.
Razinsky, for example, recently held an open house for the Shreveport Bossier Executive Organization in which he showed off his shop’s equipment and introduced members to his staff. He’s now doing business with 70 percent of the members of that organization.
Even organizations that are not specifically designed for business connections can be worthwhile. Razinsky’s service on the board of the Shreveport Downtown Development Corporation, for example, puts him in direct contact with developers, builders, architects, and other potential clients.
“I’m meeting any developer that comes into the city,” he says. “Tell me what reprographer doesn’t want to be part of that process.”
However, not every organization is worth your time, he notes. Organizations that don’t include many business owners on their boards are in that category, as are groups that exist merely to socialize. If you don’t see many potential clients among board members, don’t waste your time.
Part of being involved sometimes means contributing your services. Reprographics firms are in a good position to provide posters, banners, and other promotional materials to charitable groups, for example.
“We frequently ask key contacts about graphics and print for pending events,” Roperti says. “We accept sponsorship opportunities that result in brand advertising. We’ve become known as a community-minded company.”
The bottom line is that getting involved – despite the fact that it means longer hours and occasional rubber chicken dinners – can pay off big for your reprographics firm.
“You’ve got to let people know what you do,” Razinsky says. “They’re more likely to do business with you if they know you.”