In 1983, Larry Lynn and his wife, Rosemary, opened a quick-print business in Martinez, Georgia, 13 minutes from downtown Augusta. Today the business is a dual brand Allegra and Image360 Center serving more than 600 active accounts from a 4,040 square-foot facility. We recently connected with Larry to check his pulse on the business and to learn—in his own words—how he and Rosemary were doing. “I’m doing well,” he said. “I’m on my fourth or fifth cup of coffee, so look out.”
I got into this business, not on purpose, but because I’d been downsized and nobody in Detroit would hire me. That led me to the quick-print industry. We’ve been very fortunate. We were able to put three boys through college, own a home, a sailboat, and travel for fun.
Technology has dramatically changed the industry and put a lot of printers out of business. In our case, the Allegra franchise system has shown us how to leverage state-of-art technology not only for print production but also information technology that benefits our customers when we create winning messages that target their best prospects without having to throw a whole bunch of mud against the wall and hoping some of it sticks.
While our competitors were printing brochures, we knew that it wasn’t the brochures that got results, but the message in the brochures that was most important. When I meet with customers, I use the example of a golfer to illustrate my point. A typical golfer doesn’t care about the dimples on the golf ball. Instead, he envisions the great shot he’s going to make and the high fives he’s going to get from his buddies. He buys the golf balls to get the high fives.
I got into this business because I’m not a salesman. I just like having conversations. I’m basically the eye candy around here. Rosemary handles most of the day-to-day production, and she sees that things get done. She barely has to manage our two customer service representatives because they are so good. My job is to make all our employees successful—that they have what they need and the direction to craft high-five messages. I’m the outside guy, and I deal with the financial stuff. There are several business teachers from high school who would roll over in their graves if they found out I was in charge of the checkbook.
One of the great keys about our franchise organization is that we can provide all the products and services—marketing, printing, direct mail, signage—that our clients need to market their businesses, but we don’t have to have equipment here to do it all ourselves. We can leverage equipment throughout our network and from the Home-Office. I credit them a great deal for tutoring and guiding us. They’ve been a tremendous asset.
And, of course, we have a great team here helping clients get high fives. An example I like to share is of a customer who owned several gas stations. He said, “Larry I want to sell more of Styrofoam breakfast cups. We don’t sell very many, but my friends who own gas stations in south Georgia sell tons of them.” So we hired a professional photographer to photograph the food. Our designer created a colorful image showing an attractive young lady enjoying it all. We posted signage in the stores and on all the pumps. Our customer nearly doubled the unit price and still increased his sales tenfold. He covered his production costs in less than four weeks and got well-deserved high fives from his buddies.
Before we redecorated, we had a wall in our conference room devoted to all the sales plaques and other things we’ve received awards for over the years. However, one of my proudest achievements came from a very large golf cart manufacturer that named us their Vendor of the Year. We produced manuals for them that were distributed all over the world. We won the award not so much for the manuals, but because we created an inventory management system ensuring that the manuals were always available. Our client never received an urgent call because manuals were out of stock. That was his high five.
As you can tell, I talk quite a bit about golf. We are in Augusta, Georgia, after all, home to the Masters tournament. Yet, our economy is booming because Augusta has become a major hub for U.S. cybersecurity. The government is making a $12 billion investment in the area and hiring thousands of people. The medical community is growing. Augusta has a diverse economy and is rarely hurt by recessions. The weather is great here, too. And we’re only two hours from Atlanta, the mountains, and the beach. We’re in an ideal location.
I am a Rotarian and active in our church. Rosemary and I love to travel and the business affords us that opportunity. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the Allegra business and the network support. I’m no Einstein, but thanks to Allegra if I need anything, I know where to get it.