Echuca Printers • Echuca
In 2017 Echuca locals Nick Lee, a trade printer of 30 years’ experience and his wife Chris, a business administrator, completed a three year purchase process to become sole owners of Echuca Printers, the culmination of a long held dream. But their work had only just begun.
Chris and Nick had long seen the potential in Echuca Printers, but at the point they acquired the business it was probably at its lowest ebb.
“One of the business’s strengths was the number of long-term customers, but the previous owner had been looking to retire for a while so there had been little recent investment at a time when print technology was advancing rapidly.”
Echuca Printer’s small but dedicated team, comprising themselves and three staff, rapidly identified the business strengths and weaknesses, and the essential steps they would need to take to realise their business dreams.
“Bringing digital printing in-house, which would require substantial investment in new technology, would decrease turnaround times for customers and increase both quality control and profit. We also needed to get out there in our own community, rebuild those relationships that are so important to a local business.”
In the knowledge the business they had bought had been reactive and had limited cashflow, Chris and Nick were focussed on what they needed to do. The difficulty was how to do it, how to move the business forward while also finding their feet as business owners.
“We had to work in the business in order to survive, but what we really needed was to work on the business, two very different things. I felt if we could get all our ducks in a row, we could progress.”
The first step to rebrand with a vibrant contemporary look and feel that would appeal to the local market as well as the wider national market.
“Our rebrand was the first stage in finding our feet. This gave us the confidence to get out there, begin building those important local relationships. But I’m pretty big on I don’t know what I don’t know. We needed a plan, needed to know how to market the business, and we had precious little time available to acquire this knowledge.”
Help was at hand in the form of Small Business Victoria’s workshop program run by Campaspe Shire Council.
“The Small Business Victoria workshops were exactly what we needed. Very time efficient, access to impartial business experts who we could trust and seek advice from, and great value for money.”
Chris found that the Business Planning Essentials workshop enabled her and Nick to draw a line in the sand, recognising the business challenges they were facing and developing a process for tackling them.
“We knew where we wanted to take the business, it was just how to get there. Working with course leader, Bruce Hall, we were able to develop a concise one page business plan. It made us accountable to ourselves, developing a strategy and timeline. This has probably had the biggest impact on our business.”
“I find marketing hard, and as a business owner everything you do is marketing. Marketing Your Business helped remove a lot of the stress around this for me and my staff member who attended. It enabled us to focus on what worked for us, get maximum return on every marketing dollar spent.”
The business is growing, a new in-house digital capability is up and running, effective marketing backed by personal service has seen the reputation and standing of Echuca Printers increase and working to a solid business plan has seen profit margins grow.
“I think for the first time we feel we are almost where we want to be. We’ve diversified into promotional products and workwear printing, while maintaining and improving our traditional core business.”
“We’ve also achieved a balance with our regular local ‘one stop shop’ business and interstate clients so feel we can now weather both local and global changes in the economic climate.”
“The plan we developed from the workshops is working for us, and we’re sticking to it. The future is looking good.”
Attend a Business Victoria workshop or event to improve your skills, network with others and get advice on your business from an expert or mentor.