Chris McGroder celebrates 8 years, shares insights on building her Minuteman Press Franchise into a million-dollar business

July 13, 2022
Pat and Chris McGroder inside their lobby of Minuteman Press, Concord, NC, located at 400-50 McGill Ave NW. Pat and Chris McGroder inside their lobby of Minuteman Press, Concord, NC, located at 400-50 McGill Ave NW.

When Chris and Pat McGroder bought their Minuteman Press franchise in Concord, North Carolina in May 2014, they set lofty goals for themselves immediately. Chris shares, “When we started, we bought an existing Minuteman Press shop barely doing $10,000 per month in revenue with only one employee. There were 3 key areas we focused on the first year: hiring additional staff; identifying equipment to replace/upgrade; and increasing revenue.”

She continues, “I also left training with a goal to grow to a million-dollar shop. I remember asking the training directors Dave Scadin and Pete Tagliano how quickly someone had ever done it. I don’t remember the specific answer but that goal has always had top of mind awareness not only for us but for the entire staff. We followed the advice of our field rep and regional vice president (Dave Walton) to increase revenue through marketing calls, utilizing FLEX for email campaigns, and always looking for opportunities to suggestive sell to our existing customers.”

Today, after eight years in business, Chris and Pat have successfully achieved their goals, becoming members of the Minuteman Press International President’s Million-Dollar Circle. Minuteman Press in Concord is located at 400-50 McGill Ave NW.

In addition to expanding products and services and following Minuteman Press marketing strategies, one of the biggest ways they have grown is through strategic acquisitions. Chris says, “Our most successful steps to growth are attributed to acquisitions. In February 2016, we hired a sales person and acquired his extensive book of business in the apparel industry. This propelled our growth in this area of business and screen printing/embroidery grew to be 30% of our business for the next 5 years. In October 2021, we acquired a large independent printer in Concord when that owner retired. In both cases, these acquisitions not only grew the business with additional customers but also expanded the types of products we could now provide to these customers.”

“We identified Concord Printing as our main competitor from the very beginning. They had a very strong, family-run business in Cabarrus County for over 50 years. One of the first things we did when we started was list our competition which included Concord Printing and a few smaller, independent print shops. Last fall, when we learned that the owner was considering retirement, we approached him with a plan to transition his customers to us. This acquisition had an immediate impact on our revenue and the customers were given a seamless transition to a new print provider.” -Chris McGroder

Creating Positive Customer Experiences & Providing Custom Branded Apparel

Chris shares the following insights on providing a positive customer experience. When describing Minuteman Press in Concord to prospects, Chris shares, “We educate our clients and explain how we are a full service commercial printer specializing in graphic design, printing, signs and banners, branded apparel, and promotional products. There are a couple of key areas that set us apart from our competition: It all begins with exceptional customer service. Our customer facing staff excel at making each customer feel important. Whether it’s a simple business card order or a complicated apparel order, each customer feels like an individual.”

She adds, “Secondly, our production staff ensures quality results at each step of the production process. We excel at providing a wide range of products within the reasonable time frame they request. We frequently hear our customers say they love the convenience of being able to have all of their printing needs met at one location.”

For Minuteman Press in Concord, high-demand products and services include “apparel (screen printed and embroidery), promotional products, and wide format products including signs, banners, and labels,” according to Chris. “Our new customers who come in for traditional ‘ink on paper’ products are excited to learn that they can also get these additional items through us.”

She continues, “Our key growth area continues to be apparel. Almost every business has a need to outfit their employees with some type of branded apparel. We have plenty of opportunity to grow this part of the business just with our existing customer base.”

Pat and Chris McGroder have expanded their capabilities and sales by making custom branded apparel a point of focus and key growth area of their business.

Pat and Chris McGroder have expanded their capabilities and sales by making custom branded apparel a point of focus and key growth area of their business

5 Keys to Growing the Business

Chris shares the following 5 keys to growing Minuteman Press in Concord, NC, into a Million-Dollar business:

  • “Customer Service: Creating a skilled, customer service-oriented staff. This is the first impression a customer has when the speak with us. Our philosophy is to do what we can to build and maintain such a strong relationship with each customer so that it would be difficult for them to want to go to a competitor.
  • Always looking for additional opportunities to meet the needs of each customer – asking questions and suggestive selling. (i.e. “Your logo looks great on that polo you’re wearing! Are you happy with your current apparel provider?”)
  • Marketing and Advertising: We aggressively participate in MMPI SEM programs which results in Google being our number one lead generator.
  • Participation in BNI, Chamber of Commerce, and other small local networking groups
  • Actively engaging in Minuteman Press functions such as regional meetings, conventions, Talk Minuteman, etc.”

Background Before Franchising & Why Print Is Alive and Well

Prior to buying Minuteman Press in Concord, Chris and Pat had some experience with franchising as well as other industries. Chris explains, “Prior to purchasing our Minuteman Press business, we were the franchisor for The Perfect Wedding Guide – a quarterly buyers guide for wedding and honeymoon services published in 65 cities across the US. As franchisors, we knew the value of having a proven pattern of success to ensure our franchisees would succeed.”

She continues, “After we sold Perfect Wedding Guide, we both went into different careers that interested us at the time. Pat dove into real estate, opening a highly successful brokerage office, and I pursued a Master’s degree in Elementary Education and became a 4th grade teacher.”

Chris adds, “After four years of teaching, Pat convinced me we should look at buying another business. He came across the opportunity with Minuteman Press and we both saw the potential of the business. Knowing that virtually every business has a need for what Minuteman Press shops can offer along with the support of a proven franchise system made it an appealing business opportunity for us to pursue.”

Pat and Chris McGroder inside their lobby of Minuteman Press, Concord, NC, located at 400-50 McGill Ave NW.

“The support we’ve received from Minuteman Press International has been an integral part of our success. Whether we need an answer or assistance from our field rep (currently Valerie Pinnock), regional vice president (Dave Walton) or home office, everyone is always responsive and helpful. Whether it’s questions with FLEX, assistance with hiring, facilitating an acquisition, or getting involved with supplier or vendor issues, someone has always been willing and available to jump in and help.” -Chris McGroder

Chris also shares what it’s like to own a business in Concord. She shares, “Our community values doing business with local companies and people are very loyal to local businesses that offer a quality product delivered when promised. As business owners, we enjoy getting to know our customers and developing those relationships. Our goal is to make doing business with us so effortless and enjoyable that they have no need to go elsewhere. We enjoy the business because it offers us the opportunity to interact with so many different types of businesses and everyday poses new opportunities and challenges.”

As for why printing remains popular today with clients, Chris explains, “I don’t think print will ever be eliminated. I still feel that print has a more marked impression on the consumer than anything digital. It provides something tangible that the consumer can refer back to later. I also think there’s a perception that a printed piece required more effort to get into the hands of the consumer so there’s a higher perceived value to that message than say, an ad that appears in your Facebook feed. With so much information being received through so many channels (social media, email, tv, radio), printed pieces have a higher potential of being remembered. Print helps to reinforce the messages that consumers are being bombarded with through digital methods.”

Chris McGroder (center) and Pat McGroder (right) along with the team of Minuteman Press, Concord, North Carolina.

Rewards & Advice for Others

Aside from being members of the President’s Million-Dollar Circle, Chris says, “The biggest personal reward is the ability to reward yourself for your own efforts. The biggest professional reward of owning this business is the opportunity to work with such a diverse group of businesses in Cabarrus County and to play an important role in the community. We have relationships with many customers that go back 20 or 30 years. We are also proud of the fact that we continued to grow and thrive during the pandemic.”

When asked what advice she would give to others right now, Chris answers, “Remember you are in business for yourself but not by yourself. Surround yourself with the right employees and utilize the knowledge and expertise of MPI.”

She concludes with 3 things that other business owners can do to be successful:

  1. “Take advantage of all the opportunities you have to engage with other owners and the staff of MPI. Get to know other owners that you can share ideas, successes and failures with.
  2. Set goals and make plans to achieve them. We set monthly, quarterly and annual goals each year and share those goals with our staff along with a bonus plan that rewards the staff when those goals are met.
  3. Always be willing to learn something new or add a new product line to your business. It’s so much easier to build your business by offering more product options to your existing clients than trying to grow by acquiring new customers only. Listen to what your customers are asking for – if you have a lot of inquiries for something that you don’t currently offer, look at that as an opportunity for growth.”
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