Road Warrior's Guide to Pit Stops
With FedEx's recent acquisition of Kinko's, now dubbed FedExKinko's, much is being made in the press of the road warrior's battlefield reliance on local business service support. Sun Tzu's The Art of War acknowledged the same strategy some 2,000 years ago with the statement, "When provisions are transported great distances, the citizens will be impoverished."
Personally, I have been pulling in to Kinko's for on-the-road copying, printing, and Internet access -- and RadioShack for emergency electronic accessory needs -- for years. Exhibit A: My drawer of extra cell phone chargers.
Inevitably when I traveled to a convention, I would valiantly try to arrange the bits and pieces of an office in my hotel. Since often the hotel of choice was not necessarily my choice, I would make do. Maybe there was in-room fax, copying, high-speed access, or maybe there was a business center with PCs and printers or maybe a helpful staff that would arrange for overnight delivery or not. Consistently I experienced of sticker shock with business center fees. You may wish to remember this advice from Sun Tzu: "Those in proximity to the army will sell goods at high prices." If you need volume and quality, your best bet is to rely on specialists, particularly if you need printing services.
Here are brief descriptions of five companies that are great resources for on-the-road business services and printing. This is followed by a list of five retailers that sell computer, electronics, and office supplies for those emergency situations while traveling. Mostly likely you are familiar these companies, but maybe surprised to learn of some of the useful services and products they offer.
While researching the Business Travel Almanac, I learned that all of the companies discussed below -- service providers and retailers alike -- offer handy store locators on their Web sites. All you need to do is type in your local address, and you will get a map (complete with distances) to the closest locations. Both FedExKinko's and RadioShack also offer a phone-based locator service. In addition, there are 7,200 RadioShack locations countrywide. Compare that to the seemingly ubiquitous Starbucks and its 3,100 locations. RadioShack estimates that 94% of Americans live or work within five minutes of a RadioShack.
Lesson learned: Business travelers are rarely too far away from the tools they need to use. They just need to know where to go to get them.
FedExKinko's offers copying, faxing, scanning, binding, document creation, color printing services, and, of course, FedEx shipping. You will also find computer rental (Apple and PCs) with wired and Wi-Fi high-speed Internet access. Videoconferencing is available in select locations.
There are more than 1,100 FedEx Kinko's locations throughout the U.S. In many major cities, there is a least one location open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The company's toll-free number (800-254-6567) and Web site are excellent resources for finding convenient locations and verifying hours of operation and services. Note that locations and hours of operation do change, so it is definitely a good idea to call ahead.
Laptop Lane operates 16 airport business centers. The centers offer private workstations with unlimited high-speed Internet access, unlimited phone calls (local and domestic long-distance), printing, copying, faxing, and multi-line phones with conference calling capability. Some locations even include conference rooms. Laptop Lane also sells business and travel accessories.
You can find Laptop Lane at the following airports: Atlanta (3), Chicago O'Hare (2), Cincinnati (4), Dallas-Fort Worth, New York LaGuardia, Oakland (2), Philadelphia, Seattle, and Salt Lake City.
Mail Boxes, Etc., a UPS company, is the world's largest franchisor of retail shipping, postal, and business service centers with more than 4,000 independently owned locations around the world. In 2003, Mail Boxes, Etc. began changing the name of its stores to the UPS Store. Services include packaging, shipping, copying, printing, mailbox service, and, in many locations, postal service, and computer rental (printing and scanning). The UPS Store and Mail Boxes, Etc. locations also offer additional services, such as notary services, passport/ID photos, rubber stamps and engraving, money transfers, and office and mailing supplies.
PIP provides professional business printing services, graphic design, and copying. PIP has more than 350 locations, mostly in suburban and rural areas.
The company is part of the Franchise Services, Inc., family of companies, which includes the Sir Speedy, PIP Printing, MultiCopy, Copies Now, and Digital QuickColor brands.
Sir Speedy locations provide printing, copying, and document management services. There are more than 700 locations worldwide.
Sir Speedy is also part of the Franchise Services, Inc.
Computer, Electronics, and Office Supplies
CompUSA primarily sells personal computer-related products, with approximately 225 stores in 90 major metropolitan markets. CompUSA's inventory includes all major brands of computers and information products, including Apple, Compaq, Epson, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Sony, and Toshiba. Stores also carry more than 2,000 software titles and all manner of cables and accessories. If you're experiencing computer problems, the company also offers technical service via Dial-A-Tech (877-777-8324).
ffice Depot sells office supplies, computer hardware and software, business electronics (digital cameras, cell phones, and so on), and furniture, and provides printing and copying services. There are 827 Office Depot superstores in 44 states and the District of Columbia.
Office Max sells office supplies, computer hardware and software, business electronics (digital cameras, cell phones, and so on), and furniture, and provides printing and copying services.
RadioShack sells all sorts of cables and gadgets, including wireless communications, cell phone accessories, PDAs, digital cameras, electronic parts, batteries, and hard-to-find accessories. Sales staff can recommend appropriate accessories and batteries for almost any brand.
RadioShack stores are common in urban and suburban areas; the company estimates that with more than 7,200 stores nationwide, 94% of Americans live or work within five minutes of a RadioShack. Call (800-THE-SHACK) or go online to find the nearest store.
Staples sells office supplies, computer hardware and software, consumer electronics (digital cameras, cell phones, and so on), and furniture, and provides printing and copying services. Staples maintains airport locations in Boston, Newark, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh; these locations provide merchandise and services (copy, fax) oriented to the business traveler.
There are approximately 1,100 full-service Staples stores in the U.S.
About the Business Travel Almanac: Praised and recommended by the New York Times, the Business Travel Almanac is a must-have tool for any serious business traveler.
Content is extracted from the Business Travel Almanac (ISBN 0-7897-2934-2, $19.99 USD, Que Publishing) with permission from Pearson Education.
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