Thoughts, strategies, the right attitude and the long road to success for a Canadian printing franchise owner

Minuteman Press franchise owner Dan Murias inside his new 6,800-sq.-ft. location on the "North Hill" of Red Deer, Alberta.
Minuteman Press franchise owner Dan Murias inside his new 6,800-sq.-ft. location in Red Deer, Alberta.

For Minuteman Press franchise owner Dan Murias of Red Deer, Alberta, the time was right to move his design, marketing and printing business to its new 6,800-sq.-ft. location at 6781 52 Avenue on the “North Hill” in Red Deer, Alberta. “The vast majority of industry and commerce in Red Deer is on the North Side,” Murias revealed. “We are strategically located in the centre of the area. We thought through location versus price and weighed it carefully. I believe we made the right choice in our location, which provides easy access, fantastic visibility and is centrally located. This has given us an increase in new customer walk-in traffic. It’s also a stand-alone building with our own parking and a large staff parking lot, with great access for couriers.” Since 2005, he and his team have provided today’s business professionals with the products and services they need to help them grow. Over the past 12 years, he and his team have continued to expand their capabilities. “Minuteman Press in Red Deer has come a long way since 2005. We now have design services, offset and digital press capabilities, in-house signage, promotional products and mailing capabilities. We’re a printing company that knows the industry and the trends. We regularly take clients’ ideas from concept to completion, designing the project, printing, finishing and target-mailing it to help their businesses grow.”

Building the business and giving back to your community

When Murias first started out, he was providing quick turnaround for customers who needed jobs done fast. One customer at a time and with the help of the Minuteman Press franchise system, he was able to build a loyal customer base. “As we grew our capabilities, we started to gain recognition and respect in the business community as the ‘printer to go to.’ Being a franchise helped that growth. I never said no to any job. It got me in trouble once or twice, but it worked to our advantage as we took on jobs and timelines that others couldn’t – or wouldn’t – provide. That’s a key factor in growth, especially in the beginning.”

Today, Murias is a member of the Minuteman Press International President’s Million-Dollar Circle for top performers. And because he knows he couldn’t have built a successful franchise without support from his customers and his community, he prides himself on giving back to his community in several ways. “We work with and for a lot of organizations. I try to support local only because that’s what we are – local. From the very beginning, we would have local hockey teams come in to get a quote on printing programs for their tournaments. As I handed them the quote, I would tell them that I would take an ad on the back cover in colour, give them a colour on the front cover at no extra cost, and knock $250 off the price for their ad. Some customers were taken aback! I’d buy an ad, give them full-colour covers and knock money off – without them asking! The result was (and is today) fantastic. Today we get parents and co-sponsors asking for quotes. Our ad is now on the covers of the majority of team programs in the community. It gives me a chance to help out youth sports and get a little advertising at the same time.”

Among the organizations that Minuteman Press in Red Deer supports is the Festival of Trees, something that Murias is extremely passionate about. “The organization raises funds for our Health Region and last year they raised $950,000 for our local hospital. They put on a very prestigious event and we’re proud to be a part of it. It’s important that we, as business owners, support a local foundation in some way, shape or form. The bottom line is that it’s not only good business, but it’s the right thing to do.”

Dan Murias moved his design, marketing and printing business to a new 6,800-sq.-ft. location at 6781 52nd Avenue on the "North Hill" of Red Deer, Alberta.
Dan Murias moved his Minuteman Press design, marketing and printing business to a new and larger 6,800-square-foot location at 6781 52 Avenue on the “North Hill” in Red Deer, Alberta.

Influences of the past and the path forward

Prior to franchising with Minuteman Press, Murias was a 23-year veteran of the printing industry. While most Minuteman Press franchise owners don’t have prior printing experience, it says something when someone like Murias decides to go into business for himself – and turns to Minuteman Press International to get the proper business training and ongoing local support that’s provided to all franchisees. “I worked for a printing company for 23 years and I knew I didn’t want to work for someone else for the next 20. So I went to a franchise show as I didn’t have business experience. As a result, it made sense to partner with a franchise as they have a greater success rate than independent business start-ups. I remember the first week I went to work in my own business. I recall thinking that it was strange knowing that I didn’t have to punch a clock or explain to anyone why I was 20 minutes late. It was great! Only thing was, I found that I wanted to be at my business even longer hours than a paying job. I found that, as the orders came in and the marketing calls were generating quotes, the drive to be an entrepreneur became stronger. I no longer relied on the 9-5 cheque. I could write my own – albeit the cheques were smaller in the beginning than they are today. But I could see that, with hard work and drive, I could change that.

I attended the Calgary Franchise Show and met Team Minuteman Press at their booth. I chatted with them for a bit and turned to my wife Shelly and said, ‘No way am I going into printing. I need to try something new.’ The next month I flew to Vancouver to attend the franchise show, just to see if there was anything else out there. Again, I ran into Team Minuteman Press – in fact, the very same guys! I gave it more thought. All of the other franchises were either too expensive, took too much in royalties, or were too young. Minuteman Press was affordable, they have a royalty cap, and they’ve been around the block. The kicker was that I knew the industry was solid. It’s been the source of my income for 23 years…..and so the rest, as they say, is history.” Murias added that the local support team members are ‘feet on the pavement’ people. “I’ve had to call on my Regional Vice President Neil MacLeod and his field support staff several times over the years for many reasons – including new staff training, marketing assistance and operational assistance. Both the local and home office teams have been essential parts of our growth.”

What is next for Minuteman Press in Red Deer?

“My business goal is to grow by 15%. My personal goal is to have staff trained to be able to take more of the quoting for orders. I want to be able to enjoy more time off. One piece of advice to a new owner is to set business goals early on. You have to live by those goals – not just write them on a piece of paper or whiteboard in your office. I printed a map of my city and put a little pin flag on every competitor’s location. I numbered those flags guestimating who was #1 to who was #14. No question that I was #14. I had a goal to rise in rank by one “flag” each year. Today, I’m right on target. I no longer do this, but it provided a great visual reminder of where the pecking order in the city was – and where I wanted to be. The goal is only the first part; you need to have a plan to make the goal a reality. It sounds old-fashioned, but marketing door-to-door is still number one. Mailings, getting involved in your community, golf course, curling club, hockey rinks and social clubs are also important.” Murias’ bottom line is: “Promote yourself. Promote your business.”

For more information on Dan Murias’ Minuteman Press franchise in Red Deer, Alberta, please visit www.red-deer10.minutemanpress.ca.

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Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.