AlphaGraphics Makeover Transforms a Business
In the fourth quarter of 2018, AlphaGraphics decided to take a promotion that a Phoenix location had success with and roll it out on a national level. The idea was to invite businesses from across the country to submit their locations for a $10,000 total makeover that would transform the look and feel of the operation. After narrowing down the entries, First Slice Pie Café’s Andersonville location in the historic district of Chicago was chosen as the lucky winner. The nonprofit has four total locations around the greater Chicago area, with a mission to feed the hungry. To do that, the organization serves a wide range of pies — including fruit, cream and nut varieties — as well as offers catering services and prepared meals for purchase.
AlphaGraphics CEO Ryan Farris notes that while the original plan was to begin the renovations immediately, it was ultimately decided to push it to the Spring, when the weather would be more agreeable for installing outdoor signage, as well as attract a wider audience when the time came for the grand reopening and the grand unveiling of the new look. That event took place at the end of April, and the results couldn’t have been more dramatic.
“This project really made an impact,” Farris says. “They really liked the outcome. They have a great business model, a nonprofit serving 700-800 meals per month to the homeless, with $1 of every sale going toward the service. They were trying to get more foot traffic in, and let more people know who they are.”
Farris went on to note that while the nonprofit is best known for its pie, many didn’t realize the organization had additional services as well. So, part of the AlphaGraphics makeover wasn’t just refreshing the look and feel, but improving the messaging across the board.
One of the reasons First Slice was chosen, Farris notes, is that they were open to anything when it came to the redesign, including wall, floor, window, and any other type of signage or graphic that could fit in the budget. AlphaGraphics North Chicago was the local shop that handled all of the work, with owner Rob Halverson leading the team on the design and installation of the makeover.
“[Halverson and his team] produced all the work. Once we specced it all out and determined the best way to go about it, they produced it and installed everything,” Farris says.
The AlphaGraphics team visited First Slice in the months leading up to the makeover, taking photos and creating mockups of the new space. Once the approvals were given, the installation itself took five days. When finished, AlphaGraphics and First Slice hosted a grand reopening, inviting members of the community to come see the renovated space. Farris notes that more than 100 people lined up outside — with snow still on the ground — wanting to experience the new First Slice.
“There was great energy, and a great community response,” Farris says. “The owner of the establishment was crying and very grateful, and local news stations even came out and did video coverage. It was really well received by everyone.”
For the $10,000 budget, AlphaGraphics completely overhauled the location. That included graphics for the exterior windows, the doors — both interior and exterior — full and partial wall graphics and wraps, plexiglass wayfinding signage, table throws, indoor and outdoor vinyl banners, chalkboard menus and even some “fun materials,” Farris says, such as loyalty cards that were handed out while visitors were waiting in line.
“We helped to enhance their logo, reinforcing the branding they already had, and accentuated their color palette. They had color, but they didn’t really define it previously. All the material was 3M, and it was all printed on a Ricoh 7110,” he continues.
One of the key takeaways for Farris is that they were able to completely transform this business while sticking to the $10,000 budget — which other shops can then point to, to demonstrate that businesses don’t need to have massive budgets to make a truly impactful statement. For First Slice, the results are so powerful the brand is already considering contracting with AlphaGraphics to renovate the rest of their locations to match the new look and feel. Farris notes that the nonprofit is working with a limited budget, so they aren’t planning to do it right away, but the reasonable price point for the major changes has them already considering budgeting for it in the future, although Farris notes no plans have been set yet.
“For AlphaGraphics, signage is the fastest growing pillar of business, although it still only makes up about 33% of the total business. There is opportunity here to further communicate that AlphaGraphics can provide these services — you don’t have to be a sign shop or go to three or four different providers to get these kinds of results. It’s an exciting application to get the message out to more small businesses that graphics can look professionally done without breaking the bank.”
One point Farris did note, that other providers can learn from, is that First Slice didn’t really know what was possible when the process started. “We included a consultative approach to this project,” Farris notes. “The owner didn’t know what they wanted, or what we were capable of with the various applications. They didn’t even know the questions to ask. So, we started with a consultation to get them comfortable with how to show off a brand on a budget. That is a huge part of the opportunity — that is the value add. Not fulfilling specs, but helping to create those specs in the first place, then executing on the vision.”