With a company like Kinko's, why do anything early?
Today, Kinko's is the Wal-Mart of retail photocopying, with nearly 1,000 branches located throughout the world, including Australia, China, Japan, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Its 24 hour/7 days a week service has allowed many a procrastinator to send documents electronically, mail packages, print business cards, and yes, make copies in the wee hours of the night - just in time for class or a business presentation. Founder and Chairperson Paul Orfalea reportedly plans to take the company public, considering Kinko's tremendous revenues in recent years.
A garage story
Suffering from severe dyslexia, Orfalea, nicknamed Kinko, had a poor academic record and few job prospects - so he went into business for himself. Borrowing $5,000, Orfalea rented a small garage and a photocopier. Soon, he and his partners were able to expand into new branch offices strategically located near universities. In 1985, Kinko's opened its first 24-hour store in Chicago. But not everyone was happy to see a Kinko's near campus. Four years later, the company paid $2 million to settle a copyright suit involving the photocopying of professors' texts.
Don't go for second-best, baby
As a result, Kinko's shifted gears to the small business/home office market. In 1999, the company launched the "Express Yourself" campaign to advertise the wide array of Internet, videoconferencing, and high-speed digital copying/printing services available to its customers. Comprised of television advertising, store merchandising, Internet promotion, and other PR initiatives, the campaign cost the company a cool $40 million. Kinko's has also tried to crack the corporate document market, buying Electronic Demand Publisher in 1997. The new Kinkos.com becomes available online by the end of Summer 2000. The site provides service 24 hours a day, seven days a week for all business needs. Fueled by success in these areas, the company plans to expand its network to 100 new branches each year for the next few years, targeting areas like Japan, China, Spain, and England. Many of these branches will house FedEx shipping centers, thanks to an expansion of the joint business between the two companies.
For those looking to secure positions in any of KInko's many branch locations, beware of the company's new automated applicant screening program. Your first interview will be with a computerized voice over your phone, during which you will answer questions by pressing the right buttons on your touchtone phone pads. If you pass the first two rounds, then you might get to talk to a real person, but only after you make an appointment with an automated scheduler.
Applicants should consult Kinko's career Web page, located at www.kinkos.com/info/career/index. The Web page offers applicants the chance to fill out an on-line application. In addition, Kinko's job hotline lists current openings at its World Headquarters in Ventura and Oxnard, CA.
State of confusion?
Kinko's employees benefit from a "nationally known name," "enormous potential," and "the opportunities that come with rapid corporate growth." However, "Kinko's explosive expansion has created some organizational confusion," say some insiders. As a result, some employees say they are left without "well-defined goals" or the benefit of a "true team mentality." Moreover, many corporate employees report that "long," "mindless" work schedules of up to 60 hours a week are "normal."
What's in store
Things do not appear to be much better at the store level where Kinko's is known as "the McDonalds of copy places." "There is a very high turnover rate," says one insider. "You are trained to know bare minimum and not much more. Worse, you are trained to think you are well-trained. Many copy and print places will not hire former Kinko's employees due to a lack of knowledge and high turnover. I can tell you your pay and marketability for future work can be damaged by having worked here." Another employee reports long hours and high stress.
Still one of the best
But these comments belie the company's generally employee-friendly reputation. In fact, in January 1999 Fortune saw fit to rank Kinko's 91st in its list of "The Best Companies to Work for in America." The company offers useful perks such as free copies and printing which augment its generous benefit package. Even better, says one insider, "Kinko's is a great place for a student or a creative person to express themselves."
Videoconferencing;Document reproduction;Digital printing;E-mail;Fax;Internet access;FedEx and UPS service
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