After 8 years of our store being in business, and almost 7 years of me working here, my store owner/manager has decided to close up and move on. We had two stores at one time but one closed down back in 2009. We consolidated the two stores into the one with the higher volume and thought all would be great after that. At one time we had up to six employees working between the two stores then it fell to five, then two, and finally just to two - the owner and myself, back in 2010.
Things have changed so much in just the 7 years that I have been doing this. The failure rates have gone through the roof, the OEMs are constantly trying to fight against us these days, and it just gets worse and worse with each passing day. Our sales numbers have been falling at a rapid pace as more and more businesses are attempting to convert to paperless, or at least more paperless than they are now, systems. The walk ins do nothing for us, less now than ever, as more people are slowing down their printing. People are reading more on tablets, taking coupons to stores digitally, and so on. Even people with children seem to be printing less as more and more schoolwork is being done digitally. We have also noticed more and more people printing less photographs since they are on smartphones now, or other such devices.
I knew it was bad when Recharger closed up shops and all the assets sold off. I knew it was bad when SCC laid off a bunch of people. All of our suppliers are telling us that they have seen a HUGE drop in clints and sales - SCC, (SEE THIS
), (SEE THIS
), (SEE THIS
), all of them.
Even the topic of conversation at the big Las Vegas Conference is "Industry In Crisis? Remanufacturing in North America - What's Next?"
Mix in everything with the failure rates which I'm sure has hurt us a great deal and we have no choice but to end it. Believe me or not, but this is a dying industry. The concept of having a store where you attempt to reman most everything yourself is quickly dying off. The only way for anyone to ultimately survive in this industry is to add other services, or do what Cartridge World has started doing (at least overseas), and changing it to a more store front system where EVERYTHING is brought in already produced from their factories and focuse more on business to business deals, and as much as it sounds harsh, get away from the typical everyday walk in customer.
I wish you all the best of luck. Some of you may be prospering, but I know of quite a few of you guys that I have spoken with privately, and have even become good friends with, that have also reached your breaking point. Your business has dropped off, your store is closing or has already closed, or you have just tossed in the towel and quit your job and moved on to other things to leave the owners to deal with the frustrations.
I reached my breaking point months ago, maybe a year ago. I just got sick and tired of the changes, and as a result I started to loathe many of our customers and I hated myself for that. I never showed any of them my feelings, but inside I hated it. I knew where things were headed however and I decided to suck it up and stick with the store I work at to help it float along for as long as it could go. I couldn't stand to leave my boss needing to train someone else to do all that I do, when I knew where it was ultimately headed.
So thank you all for your help, thanks for all of the tips and advice you have given me over time. A few of you even spoke with me on the phone when I was first starting, and even made videos for me, to show me how to perfect certain techniques. I'll always remember all of the help.
I will add one more thing. It's not popular, the Admins may bust me over even stating this, but I need to say it before I go. I believed at the time, and even to this day, that switching this site to a subscription based service was a huge mistake. The day that happened the activity here dropped off substantially. Not nearly as many posts or replies were posted. I'm sure part of that was because of the state of the industry and people fading away, but I know part of it had to do with the pay system. I've spoken to people from here about it and I know others agree with me. To whoever is in charge, I understand we all need to do what we need to do to stay above water. I understand that all too well. However, there are much better ways to do so online on websites, especially those with forums. All that did was limit the information that so many of us used to depend on, and many still do. Those of us who are not the owners, just people who work for others who own the businesses, we are not all able to pay the fees and many owners will not dish out any money for such a thing. Just take that to heart, that's all I ask.
My wife and I just bought our first house last September, so now I'm off to try to find another job as soon as I possibly can. Wish me luck, and I'll talk to you guys later.