Cut-Sheet Growth Branches Into Specialized Products
Beyond the obvious commodity products exists a wealth of profit-boosting solutions.
Offsetting not only the decline in traditional products, but also the ups and downs of the economy, cut-sheets are a reliable growth product, say manufacturers.
Over the past three years, as forms sales overall have slumped and then posted a modest recovery, cut-sheet sales volume has been "flat or slightly up," according to Jim Hill of Carolina Cut Sheets, Huntington, W.Va. The producer has manufactured only cut-sheets since 1982.
At Printegra, there has been steady cut-sheet growth attributed to new business and the ongoing decline of continuous products, according to Bill Reid, director of marketing for the Peachtree City, Georgia-based manufacturer. "Currently, more than 50 percent of our sales are for cut-sheets, compared to less than 20 percent five years ago," said Reid, who expects the trend to continue.
Cut-sheets have been a blessing for traditional forms manufacturers. Mat-Co Business Forms, Nashville, Tenn., has been in existence since 1971 but only began producing cut-sheets four years ago. "It's been steadily growing, approximately 15 percent to 20 percent annually, and is now 25 percent of our sales," said principal Mark Harris. "The whole time, continuous has been eroding approximately the same percentage as cut-sheet growth."
The demand for cut-sheets means that opportunities abound for distributors. End-user needs range from letterhead, checks and invoices to medical forms, packing lists and marketing mailings. "The markets that cut-sheets can be sold to are still unlimited," Reid asserted. "Any customer using a sheet-fed printer is a good prospect for cut-sheet products."
Distributors can specialize in vertical markets such as the financial, hospitality, educational, manufacturing, health-care and retail markets. Another option is forming alliances with vertical market software companies whose software is designed for use with cut-sheet forms and checks.
Add Value & Utility
Cut-sheets by themselves are hardly a gee-whiz product, so manufacturers counseled distributors to look for ways to add value. "Find out how the cut-sheet is being used and promote ways to increase the value," Reid advised. Upgraded paper, printed security features, additional colors, integrated labels and cards, and a redesign are all tools that the distributor can use to make a cut-sheet work harder and better for the customer, he said.