Longtime Print Industry Pro Opens PostNet Printing Franchise
Michael Looby gets back to business with a new PostNet printing franchise near Chicago
Michael Looby knows what it takes to succeed as a printer. For 29 years, his company, Diversified Graphics, offered printing and graphic design services to everyone from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies in the Chicago area. His business took a temporary backseat for a few years as he worked to raise funds for an area school, but Michael recently decided to dive back into the printing business. This time, though, he wanted to be part of something bigger, something that could offer more services to clients and would allow him to build a bigger business.
He started looking at printing franchises and discovered PostNet. His Neighborhood Business Center opened Feb. 3 in Wheeling, IL.
Michael recently spoke with us about the changes he’s seen in the printing industry since the late 1970s and why he decided to partner with PostNet.
PostNet has seen a lot of changes in the printing industry since our franchise started in 1993, but your experience goes back farther. Tell us about the changes you’ve seen. I have been involved with printing since college, when I was working on an offset press. At 28, I started my own print brokerage. I was like a printer without a press — I offered production services as a typesetter and paste-up artist. I knew the production side very well, and I developed a pretty good reputation among small and medium-sized companies.
Digital technology has had a huge impact on printing and lowered a lot of barriers for small businesses. It has given all businesses a lot more choices and options, and most business owners don’t fully understand all the options available to them based on price, quality and service. What set my brokerage apart was that I liked to understand customers’ businesses and goals and help them make the choice that was best for them.
PostNet takes the same approach.
Why did you decide to open a PostNet printing franchise?
I still had several existing clients, but it wasn’t a huge list, and I wanted to be able to reach more people and offer more services. PostNet provided a broader base of services for me to offer. I also share PostNet’s goal of helping businesses grow. I think one reason I have had long relationships with customers is that I don’t just talk to customers about their printing — I talk to them about their businesses. I like to understand what they do and what their goals are.
Also, long-term, I wanted to build a business that I will be able to sell or hand over to a manager when I am ready to retire. As a print broker, operating by myself, once I retire I have nothing to sell. PostNet lets me build value by building a sellable business.
What do you think of the franchise family so far? Before I joined PostNet, I had a very good conversation with Jerry Kahn, who owns the Center in Lake Forest. He shared a lot of information about how his business was doing and about the franchise itself. Through many years in business, you sometimes hear bad stories about different franchises, but I heard nothing but great things about PostNet and its responsiveness and support. When I researched further, calling other franchisees, I found the same good feedback. When I asked people to rate various things about the franchise on a level of 1 to 10, it all came out as 9’s or 10’s.
How has support been? Everybody has been very helpful. Jerry Kahn has been great. He let me work at his location once I signed up to get a better feel for the business. Everyone at corporate has also been very nice and very quick to get back to me with answers to any questions.
What direction do you think the printing industry is headed?
Customization is key. For instance, say you are printing a short run of postcards — you can use data from a mailing list to customize that postcard to different audiences. One example recently was a postcard that included a skywriting plane, and the plane wrote the name of the recipient, so each postcard was tailored to the person who received it. That makes a huge impact on a person — seeing their name in the sky.
Customization allows you to do a better job of targeting certain audiences and helps direct people to the precise websites you want them to visit. Customization and print-digital integration are direction things are headed in, and I’m glad to see that PostNet’s strategy is ahead of these trends. That’s another thing that made PostNet attractive — when I was researching printing franchises, I saw that PostNet was building a broad business model, encompassing digital printing, the Web and large format printing, which all come into play for businesses. I was also very impressed that PostNet had grown into this business after starting in the packing and shipping business. It takes strong leadership to make that kind of transition.
Who is a typical customer for you? A typical customer for me could be anyone from a one-person home-based business working out of their house all the way to a small manufacturer with 30 or so employees looking to market their product.
What do you enjoy about the work?
I did work for an 80-year-old company that had marketing pieces that looked like they were from the 1950s, and we updated their materials and it dramatically impacted their business by helping them win more sales. That’s what I like to do for my PostNet customers.
Learn more about the PostNet franchise
PostNet offers a full range of digital printing solutions for small businesses, as well as graphic design, direct mail, websites, email marketing and shipping. We have been consistent innovators, which is one reason the franchise has successfully evolved from a pack-and-ship innovator to a leader in the digital printing industry. We have been ranked a top franchise opportunity by Entrepreneur magazine for 20 years in a row and have also won consistent awards from Franchise Business Review for franchisee satisfaction.
To learn more, fill out a form to download our free franchise report and start a conversation. Want to learn more first? Check out our research pages for the answers to many questions about the PostNet franchise opportunity, and visit our blog for more franchisee interviews and news. We look forward to talking to you!