It's kind of by accident that PHILIP RHINELANDER, owner of XPress Copy, has come by his influence. Once a musician and music teacher in Vermont, he relocated to Maine more than 30 years ago to open a copy shop on the advice (and the financial backing) of a friend.
"The first five employees were all musicians," he recalls, and he and they had "always felt the pinch of the nonprofits, of the musicians, of the arts groups." In the early years, XPress Copy helped them out by interrupting larger corporate jobs to do small reproduction pieces for art students and the like, making them feel taken care of. Rhinelander confesses to not seeing the benefit of this for a little while, but "within a few years, those art students were office managers" and making decisions about where their companies would get copies, enlargements, and other printing jobs done.
In the '80s, Rhinelander's growing firm gave people credit on their accounts for bringing in paper to be recycled, and even trademarked CleanPrint, an ammonia-free method for making blueprints.
And he always gave discounts to non-profits and arts groups. But it wasn't until the early 2000s that some friends and he hit upon the concept that has made XPress Copy's reputation in the arts and entertainment community around town. Bulk discounts are a given in reproduction, but what if they stopped viewing each organization as an individual? They adopted the idea that "if you're a non-profit, you're part of the biggest customer in Maine" and started giving even bigger discounts.
The program has grown — it has an official name (XPress Non-profit Program) and even a targeted-marketing brochure — and is now a sizeable percentage of the company's business, as well as a significant money-saver for countless non-profits and artists. It's now even serving sports booster clubs, an organization of Mayflower descendants, and pretty much any group that is "doing some good for people."
It's a clever arrangement, business-wise, because Rhinelander has structured the price sustainably: the discount is not so low that XPress Copy loses money — it's just enough to give a small profit that means he can keep expanding the service without worrying about hurting the company. Rather, as Rhinelander notes, "we've found our niche." Some of his most recent additions to the business have been inspired by asking — and answering — the question, "What do the non-profits really need?"
And it has been crucial for business overall, because, of course, pretty much everyone — including, importantly, people who make corporate copying decisions — is somehow involved in an organization that qualifies, whether as the parent of a kid who plays on a team, or a church, or some other community group. The discount gets them in Rhinelander's door, but the service and quality, he hopes, brings them back, with corporate accounts in tow.
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