International Minute Press printing franchise owners Tracie and Glenn Hansen are helping people in Flagstaff celebrate milestones, stay safe and get back to business during COVID-19.
Just five months after celebrating their first year in business, everything came to a sudden stop for them.
“March was shaping up to be a record month, but it all came to a screeching halt once the governor declared a state of emergency. It was alarming. But from Day 1, local and corporate support staff from Minuteman Press International were actively connecting owners around the world and positioning us to tackle this together,” said Tracie Hansen.
As part of a global network with nearly 1,000 fellow franchisees, adapting and innovating during this critical time was easier to accomplish together. Their franchisor communicated the organization’s ongoing concern and support, and the Hansens realized how prepared they were to take Flagstaff through a shared journey. “Right off the bat, I found comfort and camaraderie by logging into our owners’ portal each day, where our peers were sharing ideas and advice to navigate the uncertainty and help spark business,” Hansen said. “I was blown away by the genuine care our brand had for all of us as owners.”
Hansen credits Dawn Brown, owner of Minuteman Press in Kent, Washington, for sharing information about her timely and popular yard sign campaign. “Dawn’s idea took the ‘Class of 2020’ yard sign to the next level, with signs customized to individual graduates and delivered right to their front yard. It was a creative idea that really resonated with me, and so we launched a similar campaign in our community.”
Very quickly after implementing this campaign herself, International Minute Press had its first 60 orders, followed by a “crazy rush of activity” as word spread across social media. The phone calls and emails blew up with requests. “We are a family business, so it was ‘all hands on deck’ – even our kids played a role, delivering them to homes all over the city.”
For the graduates waking up to their own Class of 2020 signs, it was reason for hope. “It felt so good to help them celebrate their accomplishments, especially as they were missing out on all the traditional customs and rituals because of the pandemic.”
Parades of decorated cars replaced the usual pomp and circumstance, with a main street blocked off in drive-through graduations. “Families lined the street as graduates drove up to receive their diplomas in cars decked out in balloons, streamers and even our repurposed yard signs. It was awesome to see.”
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, sales at the shop were strong. “At the pace we were going, I’m not sure I would have had time to consider how to pull off an effort like this. But out of necessity, we jumped in and figured it out as we went. And now we can look back to learn from the experience and make improvements for the next time around. We are being forced to find inventive solutions. We are grateful to be in an industry that has so much range, not just for the survival of our business but also for the practical solutions we can help produce for others.”
International Minute Press in Flagstaff has printed thousands of yard signs over the last few months and is seeing growing demand for personal safety products like hand sanitizers and facemasks – items that weren’t even in the marketplace prior to the pandemic.
Through the course of spring and summer, Hansen realized her center was meeting a demand for low-cost graduation printing. “We had many good-hearted people who ordered signs for other families, even when they didn’t have kids themselves. They didn’t want any graduate missing out. As word continues to spread, so does our reach. We’ve shipped signs as far away as Hawaii. And we’re poised to help recognize college grads in December. We see this as an ongoing effort for years to come.”
Hansen implemented online custom ordering for “new normal” agility. She is also doing a lot of work during this election and fundraising season. “We are developing new relationships and getting larger orders in ways we didn’t see coming.”
Tourism, hospitality and gala events have been stifled, but with the resilience of the printing industry, she’s ready. “We hurt for our local businesses that are enduring extended closures and changing restrictions. We chose to close our lobby initially, but it was an easy transition to conduct business online or by phone and offer curbside pickup. We have come to realize how essential our industry is as we provide continuing support to our county emergency management, hospitals and police. Printed communication is a critical part of these efforts.”
Their business is now known as a friend in times of trouble. “Every day, we are fulfilling orders for products we never could have predicted – floor decals to promote social distancing, branded hand sanitizers and custom promotional items to make up for lost in-person events. In some ways, we are learning a whole new way to be of service,” she said.
As scary as the early days of this coronavirus were, Hansen has renewed vision today. “I am doing things now that are going to make business better for everyone. It’s the little things that matter, especially when times are hard. People need to know that someone has their backs, and we definitely do.” FBN
By Mary Friese, FBN
For more information on International Minute Press, visit flagstaff-az.intlminutepress.com.
Mary Friese is a writer for Minuteman Press International.