GCK Business Services Ltd is a Luton based company offering printing, shipping, and mailbox services. Through its franchise with Mail Boxes Etc (MBE), it offers worldwide parcel delivery, courier & postal services, printing, copying, mailbox rental and virtual office services. Its range of printing services covers business cards, leaflets, customized gift cards to friends, family, and customers as well as branding materials. Guy Keen, the founder of GCK Business Services Ltd gave Herts Review an insight into the business.
Prior to embarking on his entrepreneurial journey, Guy worked as a Print Buyer for a national company. He was running the warehouse, picking, and dispatching items. Due to various reorganisations within the business he took on other roles in new product development and sales. Further reorganisations also meant the warehouse was to be shut which meant his role was to become redundant. After leaving the company, Guy researched various opportunities and with the encouragement of a friend (now a director of GCK Business Services Ltd), settled on establishing an MBE franchise in Luton. At the time, he leveraged his 5 years’ experience in the printing industry and 20 years’ experience in sales, operations and purchasing roles.
GCK Business Services Ltd also trading as Mail Boxes Etc, Luton started operations in May 2010 offering printing, shipping, and mailbox services. “I started off the business not sure what I was doing. Although there was some training from MBE, most of my knowledge came from actually serving clients and understanding their needs. For instance, the cost of printing a leaflet depends on many variables – what is the leaflet for, the size, colour, volume etc. I did not learn this on a training course. It came from dealing with client requests and solving their problems”.
The early years were a struggle for the business until Guy hired a business coach. “I was going through the motions. I needed help. The greatest thing to happen to my business was hiring Steve Saunders, a business coach who had been there and done it. He helped me put a lot of things into perspective and learn to work on my business and not in my business. This means my business is designed around process and systems that are scalable. With or without me the business can run otherwise it is just a job. Before I was doing everything – sales, fulfilment, product design etc. Now I stick to a few tasks for which I have documented the processes. Diana also joined the team 8 years ago and has been a great asset to the business.
With the prevalence of the internet and technology, traditional printing is on life support. GCK had to adapt its business to survive. “The era where we have bulk printing jobs is over. Most printing jobs now would be a maximum spend of £500. If there are bigger jobs from large corporates, they are usually done in-house. We focus on small and medium enterprises providing solutions for their problems. Unlike other printers, I do not focus on what the customer wants. I focus on their needs. I ask a lot of questions to understand the reason behind a request. It could mean them spending less money, but they get value and always come back for more services”.
So how has he coped with the likes of Vistaprint and other online printers? “Vistaprint has done a great job for my business. My business coach always advised me to have an image of my ideal customer and channel all my efforts to serving them. Our service is based on quality and delivery. If we provide one service really well then, we get more services and recommendations. As our focus is on solving their problems rather than selling anything, we build trust and the customers become loyal as well. We are not targeting the big companies as they have in-house resources and will not value our services. Instead, we are targeting the little guy that is not sure what they need and will therefore appreciate our advice and service”.
GCK’s operations has grown year on year before the covid-19 pandemic. The covid-19 pandemic has led to a 20% reduction of the overall business. Printing volumes are down but have been offset by increase in demand for shipping and mailbox rentals. “With offices closed, less events and business activities, there has been a reduction in printing services. However as there are more redundancies and restricted movement, there has been more mailbox and virtual office rentals as people launch new businesses to offset redundancies and move items through our delivery services. If printing recovers, then we would be in a much stronger position”.
Through networking and marketing, Guy is looking to stabilize the business in the next 6 to 12 months. “We will continue to be creative and adapt to our new realities. Every person or business has one challenge or the other. Somehow, we can offer solutions to these problems with our range of services”. If you are looking for quality printing services or need items shipped across the globe or need to rent a mailbox or virtual office, contact GCK Business Services on 01582 456 404.