This time last year, Lewis Pearce’s business catered for an evenly dispersed mix of small items like business cards and flyers, and larger posters, banners and vinyl prints.
Since the lockdown, his company, CMYK Design, Copy and Print, have had to think on their feet to adapt to new challenges and now, with thousands of orders for social distancing graphics every week, Lewis and his team are reaping the rewards.
On Friday 31st July 2020, Lewis joined Joe Wigzell, Academy Manager for Roland DG, in a live online discussion as part of the popular Roland Elevenses series. Read on to discover how he saw the lockdown as an opportunity in disguise and acted to take CMYK even further.
Even as a global pandemic brought his usual workflow to a virtual standstill, Lewis couldn’t sit back and neglect his business. “When the lockdown happened, I still came to work. I thought ‘I’m going to have to try and keep something going.’ So, in the first week, I managed to finish the new online shop and get it running.”
This is a trend we’ve noticed lately with a lot of our customers. In one way or another, the pause in regular business has been a catalyst for modernising processes and developing more efficient and profitable ways to manage things. In Lewis’ case, he saw an opportunity to grow his online presence by investing more time in his website and his social advertising.
“We managed to pick up a customer in the North-east who ordered some floor graphics, which led to some big orders – so I thought we were onto something from there. I started to really push the SEO and we became number one on Google for ‘social distancing floor graphics’, ‘social distancing floor stickers’ and ‘social distancing stickers’. So along with the Facebook adverts, it’s literally been 7 days a week, 14-hour days, just to try and keep up with the flow of it.”
Now that Lewis had identified a niche in floor graphics and stickers and gotten his site to the first page of Google, he was reaching an audience he’d previously considered a modest fraction of his business.
“Up until lockdown, it was okay – the wide format side of things just plodded on nicely. But it’s been a complete transformation – I can’t remember the last time I printed any business cards, so wide format is definitely the way to go.”
Lewis is quick to point out that floor graphics are nothing new, and he has his own theory as to why they have seen such a surge in popularity.
“I think we’ve printed over 30,000 floor graphics since April. They’ve been around for years and nobody’s really bothered with them, but all of a sudden… I think once everybody saw them in the supermarkets, they thought ‘actually, that could work for us’ and it just snowballed from there.”
Of course, social distancing print requirements don’t stop at floor graphics and CMYK has become something of a one-stop-shop for anything a business could need.
“Originally it was all ‘2 metre’ stuff, and now we’re doing a mixture of 2m, 1m then we have the directional arrows, no entry floor signs, signs that go on staircases – things like that – and it’s just been phenomenal.”
Naturally, this sudden boost in output came with its own learning curve. Lewis soon realised that his customers weren’t as familiar with floor graphics installation as he’d assumed.
“At first when we were just sending them out, I wasn’t prepared for it, we didn’t have the packaging, we had nothing. So, we were getting lots of phone calls, ‘what do I do with it?’, ‘how do I put it on?’, ‘it’s not sticking properly’. Now we have an instruction sheet with photographs which goes out with every set of graphics – how to clean the floor, make sure it’s dry, make sure there’s no debris on the floor and how to apply.”
Upgrading to TrueVIS
Towards the end of 2019, Lewis made the decision to upgrade his print-and-cut equipment. After years of reliable service from his SP-540i, he had every reason to trust Roland’s more recent TrueVIS series. With plenty of positive reviews to back up his decision, he invested in the TrueVIS VG-540 printer/cutter.
Unfortunately, the first-floor position of CMYK’s workshop came with its own challenges. “It was a bit difficult getting the equipment in – the VG had to come in through a window on a forklift truck.” Once that inconvenience was out of the way, however, Lewis was delighted with his decision. “The VG is a million times better – the speed, the quality, it’s a massive, massive jump from the SP.”
Given the increase in workload, the new recruit couldn’t have arrived at a better time and Lewis had enough work to put the VG through its paces. “It prints nearly 100m per day no problem. I’ve had a couple of engineer visits just for a bit of TLC purely because it’s been hammered, but it just keeps going.”
Upgrading to TR2 ink
Lewis was lucky enough to buy a new VG just a few months before the launch of a new ink upgrade. The new TR2 ink was developed for the updated TrueVIS VG2 and SG2 models, featuring a wider colour gamut and greatly reduced drying times. As of early 2020, TR2 ink was made available for first-generation TrueVIS machines like Lewis’ VG.
“I read all about them, did a bit of research and I really fancied the faster drying times – it’s a bit of a pain when you have to leave things to outgas for 24 hours. Now we can leave them for 4 or 5 hours and they’re ready for lamination.
“I applied via Rosefox, the supplier of the machine, and a kit arrived with a free set of inks – the instructions were easy to follow and that was it – done!”