Inevitably, as technology jets forward, some business models are hurt, maimed or left in the dust. One example of an industry under assault is reprographic services, which have been taking a yearly shot to the checkbook as mobile electronic plan-visualization tools get more popular by the day.
To fight back, one printer decided to simplify, refocus on subcontractors, extend service boarders and, most important, get a catchy name.
"When the industry took a nosedive, we didn’t want to lay off people, so we made a change,” says Brian Burke, president of Buckaplan.com, a subsidiary of Universal Copy LLC, Waterbury, Conn. Burke says his company charges a dollar for any print, no matter the size—“unless a customer asks for half-size, then it’s half price,” he adds.
If Burke’s pricing structure is revolutionary, so is his marketing, which relies on social media. “I saw a Facebook [advertisement for] Buckaplan.com, so I checked it out,” says Eric Army, principal at Providence-based studioMEJA, whose boutique firm specializes in what he calls social-oriented design.
With his business only a few years old, Army says in-house printing—along with a $3,000 plotter, time for cutting and outlays for maintenance—“was not an option, and the local print shops charges $5 each,” he says. “I do wonder how [Buckaplan] does it, but I’m not asking any questions."
Burke says the one-dollar price is actually higher than what he was charging high-volume customers, such as general contractors.
“They were paying anywhere from 36 cents to 72 cents per plan, due to their volume of business with us,” Burke says. Buckaplan has changed its pricing structure to cater to the subcontractors, who are far less likely to be high-volume customers, according to Burke. “Everything used to be priced by size and quantity,” he says. “It was a tiered-structure pricing and based on square feet. We’ve taken that equation out of the mix.”
A story from one of Buckaplan’s customers captures the state of the printing industry as well as Burke's market opportunity.
"We print construction plans for plumbing and had a local printing company that was down the street, but it closed,” says Amanda Magazzu of S&L Plumbing and Heating Corp., Brewster, N.Y. “But we started using Buckaplan even before [that printer] folded.”