VOXVOICE Customer Spotlight: Bentley Print Co.

Bentley Print Co LogoOperating out of Jacksonville, Florida, Derek Bentley and Drake Laws, the partners behind Bentley Print Co., have big ambitions. Someday soon, they hope to grow their business to a larger scale by becoming an online retailer. For a long time, though, they didn’t have the shop management software they needed to realize their vision.

That all changed six months ago when Bentley Print Co. made the jump from their old software system to shopVOX Express. Now, the company is growing by leaps and bounds, sharply increasing close rates while drastically reducing turnaround time.

large format printer running a print job on a roll of vinyl
To get the scoop on how shopVOX Express has helped revolutionize the way Bentley Print Co. does business, we recently sat down with partner Drake Laws to ask him questions. In the answers below, you’ll learn not only about what makes Bentley Print Co. unique among sign shops but also what makes shopVOX unique among sign shop software platforms!

Tell us a little about your business and what your company does.

We are Bentley Print Co., formerly Bentley Custom Creations. We've been here in Jacksonville, Florida, for almost ten years now. We started out as solely a screen printing shop for t-shirts and apparel, catering to retail clients like clothing brands and clients of that nature. But over the years, we’ve evolved and shifted to another direction where, now, I’d say 70% to 80%of our clients are home service companies: HVAC, plumbing, electrical, etc.

Over time we started introducing different products and services, one of the main pillars being vehicle wraps. That's something that's grown to be a pretty big portion of what we do. We still primarily screen print apparel; that’s still our main service and what we’re known for. But on any given month we might do 30 to 40 vehicles, so we stay pretty busy with that, too.

We also purchased embroidery machines, so that's a totally different service line that we offer. And the last piece of that puzzle we added direct-to-garment printing. We now have three direct-to-garment machines here in-house.

Fleet of vans with graphics wrapsembroidery machine sewing a logo on a capHow much of what you produce is done in-house?

All of it. We actually do a lot of contract work for other shops here in North Florida and even nationwide. When people need high-detail stuff specifically for screen printing, they call us up and contract us to do that.

Can you tell us what your team is like? How many employees do you have?

Right now, it's only four employees, shockingly enough. There's the founder, Derek Bentley, who I’m partners with. There’s me. And then we have two screen printers, Lane and Ryan. Otherwise, it's me and Derek throwing down the wraps in between apparel drops.

We subcontract workers for our embroidery and direct-to-garment, which is kind of a unique situation. That's actually where shopVOX Express really helps us. It allows us to integrate with the contract employees so we can hand them really detailed work orders. That way they don’t necessarily have to be always in our system. The workers we contract don't have to learn all of our processes; I can just hand them over the work order and they understand exactly what they need to do.

Ideally, we'd like to have a bunch of full-time employees, but that just hasn't been the case. Fortunately, we’ve managed to build good relationships with a lot of other print shops here in Jacksonville. There are probably five or six competitors about the same size as us, and we maintain good relationships with all of them.

We’re very big on sharing, rather than competing, especially when it comes to employees and stuff like that. Sometimes, the shops might have a really slow season, and they might not be able to employ everybody for the entire week or for the entire month. That's where we're able to fill in those hours for them.

two employees on Bentley Print Co working on screen printed shirtsDid Covid have a big impact on your staff and your workflow?

It didn't necessarily. When Covid happened, we pivoted really hard toward vehicle wraps. Where the apparel industry took a huge hit, vehicle wraps almost exploded. So Derek and I hunkered down. We kept everybody. Nobody got furloughed. Nobody got fired or anything like that. We just hunkered down and pivoted and kept our heads down.

It helped that we didn't have a lot of contractors at that time; it was actually right around the time we were getting ready to purchase the embroidery machines. So while it was a tumultuous time, we still didn't have a lot of downtime. We still were busy; we just pivoted to different services.

Do you do in-house graphic design as well?

We sure do. That’s where I came from; that’s my background. When I was in Seattle, I spent a lot of time working in art departments for agencies. I do most of the artwork. Occasionally, we sub out to freelancers, but mostly it’s me and Derek doing all the artwork. It's a lot to manage, for sure, but luckily we do have a backbone of freelancers who can help us out if we need it.

Headshot of Drake LawsIn fact, we have a whole sub-company just for art called Olympic Design Company. It’s a network for contractors and freelancers, so I might call a freelancer and say “Hey, I need a mascot for an HVAC company.” Then we’ll work together to make a whole brand and identity for a client.

That, I think, is where we stand apart from a lot of other shops. We like to be a lot more involved in the artwork process than a lot of other sign shops I worked for when I was first coming into the industry and getting my feet wet. I saw shops where nobody really cared what the customer wanted. They were always just trying to get client approval, but not actually looking back and saying, “Hey, is this wrap really gonna be legible? Is it actually going to get them leads?”

That's where we try to differ. We'll turn down customers and we’ll turn down big wrap projects just because we feel like it's not going to make them any money. If their investment is just going to be wasted because it’s a really bad design, we’ll make a stand and just say no. We’ll say “We're just not confident that this is going to be a good investment for you.”

Do you mainly work locally or do you do a lot of out-of-state work?

We primarily do local work. Luckily, North Florida and Southern Georgia is becoming a very populated area very quickly. I think the last census reported that Jacksonville grew by about 30% in population in the last two years. So business has been good for us locally. We haven't really had to do a whole lot of outreach out of state. That's on our list going into the next year: trying to become more of an outside retailer as far as somebody you can go online and purchase these services.

Our plan for growth right now is to streamline all of our processes and systems. That's been our biggest struggle along the way. Growing so rapidly with all these different services, we haven’t always been able to step back and ensure a perfect process is in place. We've just been “go, go, go” for a long time.

That’s another way shopVOX Express has helped us tremendously. We were using another software and we learned it was not fitting our shop at all. It just was not helping our flow and it didn't match what we were looking for. In fact, it would slow us down in most cases.

Switching to shopVOX Express was really one of our biggest steps toward ironing out those details and making sure there are better checks and balances in place. That way, when we do become that online retailer, we’ll actually have the production backbone and job tracking and job management necessary to handle that kind of work.

In that, shopVOX has been really transformative for us. We're already looking into upgrading to shopVOX PRO to take advantage of those advanced features, just because we've seen the value of shopVOX Express already. We're getting to the point of trying to stretch Express as far as we can take it and we’re constantly finding new things that we could implement and change and adapt to our flow.

When did you sign up for shopVOX Express?

So to give you a little more detail about our background, I actually previously worked for Bentley Print Co. three years ago, before becoming a partner. I only worked here for about ten months, right at the beginning of Covid. Then I moved back to Seattle, and that's where I've been for the last two and a half years.

I came back here about six or seven months ago, and one of the first things I did when I partnered back into the company was I said “Hey, I’ve heard of this software shopVOX. I’ve heard good things about it. I haven’t used it but I really think we should give it a shot.”

Initially, there was a lot of resistance from everybody internally, even though the other software we were using was dragging us down. It was just resistance to change, but we tore the Band-Aid off and said “We need to try something different.” So about six months ago we started using shopVOX Express and we’ve never looked back.

How would you say shopVOX Express has changed the way you do business?

For the amount of services and different product lines that we offer, the pricing matrixes have changed everything. To give you some metrics of how much it's changed for us. From before we started using shopVOX up to now, our close rate has increased by 70%.

Before that, a lot of leads were getting sent to a general email address, and so they would get lost. We had no real way to track leads or quotes and stuff like that. It used to be up to seven days sometimes until we'd get back to somebody on a quote. Now we're down to about two or three hours on average. The pricing calculator in shopVOX is just so intuitive for screen printing, embroidery, and wraps that I can bang out a quote within two minutes.

One of the most surprising things was when we realized that shopVOX was actively integrated with catalogs. That was one of the big discrepancies we had in the past, where we wouldn't always look at a catalog and find out “Oh, Next Level shirts have gone up a dollar,” or “It's gone up 60 cents.” Actually having an active price catalog has made our pricing so much more accurate and fast. It’s transformative.

shopVOX Express has changed every single aspect of our shop. With our email and customer service experience, we’re now able to send pre-made scripts. We've adapted all the scripts to match our shop’s product lines; we've gone through and built scripts for just about every touch point, whether it be a wrap estimate or an embroidery estimate, all sorts of different stuff.

The job tracking is awesome, too. It’s really helped our schedule a lot to be able to stage by task. I’d say it's cut our production time down from about fourteen days out for screen printing to maybe four or five. Now, anybody can look at their phone or we have tablets where they can access shopVOX and have everything they need.

I print work orders for every single item; it has the mockup approved right on it, signed off by the customer. That alone has been transformative to have real approvals, not just an email saying “Yeah, that looks great” without having an actual contract behind it.

For our production team, it’s so much easier for them to be able to look at shopVOX Express and see all the aspects of the job, what colors it is, what kind of laminate they need to use, what type of sign substrate, etc. It takes the guesswork out of it for them.

Our customers have definitely noticed in the last six months, too. I constantly send out automatic reminders for short orders for pick-up, and I’ve been getting responses back saying “Are you kidding? They're done already?” In fact, there have been times jobs have gone through so fast, it's gone from quote to proof to production to completion within two or three days for a thousand T-shirts. It's pretty incredible how fast shopVOX has made our shop!

Final Words...

When the team at Bentley Print Co. have a little down time, their favorite thing to do together is go fishing for flounder in the Florida inner coastal system. They have a shop boat and when they get the chance, they take it out for a fishing trip. 

Group photo of the Bentley Print Co TeamBe sure to check out Bentley Print Co. on Instagram!

Interested in seeing how shopVOX can improve your business? Sign up for a free trial today!