With today's accelerating bombardment of information and sound bytes it's so easy to miss out on an opportunity. In August of last year FedEx Kinko's introduced a new online service called "File, Print FedEx Kinkos."
I never knew this program existed until viewing the SmallBusinessComputing.com forums the other day. File, Print is a free software application that connects you to over 1,100 FedEx Kinko's outlets in the United States for printing, binding and delivery service. The name sounds a little clumsy, but the service is noteworthy. Honestly, for anyone who works with clients nationwide, this is a great way to deliver outstanding service.
The Software and Its System Requirements
You download File, Print from the FedEx Kinko's Web site, and once installed, it integrates into your Microsoft Office suite (it also works with just about any other PC application). Essentially, it works like a printer driver, and it relies on the Microsoft .Net framework to provide online access and security to communicate between your computer and the FedEx Kinko's servers. If you don't already have .Net on your hard drive, File, Print will prompt you to download it.
Once you've installed the program, you'll find a new icon on your Standard toolbar for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. When using Publisher and FrontPage, I had to go to File, Print and then choose that driver from the Print Command Box.
File, Print FedEx Kinko's supports Windows 2000 and XP (both Home and Professional). Other system requirements include:
- Internet access
- Pentium-III compatible CPU with 500-Mhz processor
- Microsoft .NET Framework, Version 1.1
- 96 MB of RAM for Windows 2000
- 126 MB of RAM for Windows XP Home and Professional
- 30 MB of free disk space for File, Print FedEx Kinko's
- 150 MB of free disk space for Microsoft .Net Framework (1.1) if it isn't already installed
- Maximum document size is 50 MB
In many business environments, confidentiality is a major concern. For example in our firm, business and marketing plans are confidential. We simply cannot afford unauthorized access to the content. Maggie Thill, director of public relations for FedEx Kinko's, said her company provides online security through a FedEx encryption program.
How It Works Let's take a basic example of using File, Print FedEx Kinko's, but with all the options it offers. Say you have a 10-page marketing report for a client located hundreds of miles away in Chicago. Click on the File, Print FedEx Kinko's icon on your standard toolbar. A little box will appear in the middle of your screen indicating the application is accessing a FedEx Kinko's server via the Internet. Then a larger, three-tab command box appears on the screen. The tab options include:
- Printing/Delivery: provides control options for number of copies, collating, color or black-and-white printing (one or the other only it will NOT accept a document with both), six paper options for custom formatting and whether the order will be picked up at a FedEx Kinko's or delivered by FedEx
- Binding: Options for ordering binding, including stapling, coiled or combed binding, vinyl and/or card stock covers and color options
- Preview: View the final document. Includes various views of individual page, the colored binding and the front and back covers
Select the printing, delivery and payment options you want under each individual tab to complete your order. You can pay online with Visa, Master Card, American Express, Diner's Club, Discover or bill it to your FedEx account. Click on OK to send the order (and the document file) to Kinkos.
Calculating the Cost
File, Print keeps a running, dynamic tab of how much your project will cost in the lower right corner of the Command box in all three tabs. This lets cost-conscious customers adjust any of the printing, paper, binding and delivery options they choose. For example, the lowest price for black-and-white printing (single or double-sided) is eight cents per page and 89 cents per page for color (on standard 20-pound paper).
An Alternative for Mixed-Color Printing
Large documents with a mix of color and black-and-white pages can pose a serious expense. For example, our business- and marketing-plan documents can exceed 30 or 40 pages, but only eight or 10 of those pages might require color printing. There's a big difference between eight cents and 89 cents per-page, especially when you multiply that by three-to-six bound documents.
File, Print doesn't handle mixed-color print jobs. For these types of mixed-print situations you might consider using Print2Kinkos, the company's more traditional upload process. It offers a five-step process that lets you mix multiple black-and-white and color printing options in the same document and select other options too, including the type of binding, transparencies, delivery or pickup and online payment.
File, Print FedEx Kinko's is an extremely convenient and easy-to-use application that lets you send print orders to any Kinkos in the country while letting you choose additional items like binding, professional print quality, pick-up or FedEx delivery (locally or nationwide) and a dynamic cost tool packaged into the application. There is nothing like it on the market today, but I expect the competition will soon attempt to match this service.
Steve Windhaus is principal of Windhaus Associates, a business plan consulting firm serving small, existing and startup ventures throughout the United States and overseas. His clients range from technology-based firms in software development, e-commerce and telecommunications to retailers of ATV's and watercraft and a variety of service firms. Steve is a published author who also conducts training in business plan development and participates as a judge in business plan competitions. Steve can relate to small biz environments relying on computer technology. His technology skills are all self-taught.
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