One on One with Ken Garner, CEO and President of MFSAMay 27, 2011
Responding to the increased interest in sustainability, does a uniform method exist for evaluating mailing and fulfillment services companies that claim an environmental commitment?
Businesses have finally recognized that a commitment to environmental sustainability must be an integral part of their operations and strategy, and MFSA members are no exceptions. As a result, members recently led the development of MFSA’s first Sustainability Accreditation program that audits and verifies compliance with accepted sustainability practices. In addition, articles dealing with “green issues” frequently populate the content of our member publications. Our conference programs often include presentations on sustainability by industry experts. And, we have established an affinity partnership with a consultant that specializes in environmental consulting.
As mailing and fulfillment pros continue to move through the economic recovery, how are their business models for success changing?
Again, many mail service providers are still trying to escape the trap of commoditization by reexamining the relevance of their value propositions and are considering multiple options to expand their menu of product and service offerings. Most of our fulfillment-focused members are in a better competitive position to consider only incremental changes and improvements to their value propositions.
We constantly emphasize the need for all members to continuously monitor customer satisfaction and investigate how their customers’ needs and expectations are changing. Any potential changes to a company’s competitive position must be carefully considered, based on solid market research and hard data. Change simply for the sake of change is a recipe for failure.
We also emphasize the necessity of solid business management disciplines because, at the end of the day, it’s all about cash flow. Making your business more complex by expanding your service offerings without the benefit of a solid foundation of disciplined business management practices including business planning, sales, marketing, and financial management is another quick route to failure.
With commercial printers seeking to diversify their customer offerings by adding mailing and fulfillment services, in addition to investigating the Mailing & Fulfillment Center at GRAPH EXPO, what advice would you offer them?
I would advise them to invest in a MFSA membership! But seriously, they need to do their homework. From my personal experience as a printer, I tell those who are considering adding mailing capabilities that they need to understand mailing is likely to represent the most complex part of their service offerings tomanage. Mailing is highly dynamic and ever changing with a continuous stream of rule and regulation changes rolling out of Postal headquarters. The rules that govern mail entry are complex and require constant oversight.
Fulfillment operations are becoming more complex as well. The profitable expansion into product fulfillment has required consideration of multiple additional services. Technology continues to impact fulfillment operations as social and mobile media influence how data is collected and utilized.
Lastly, I would also advise them to take advantage of the outstanding consulting and educational content offered by their supplier partners as a value added feature.