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Stay in the Driver’s Seat —Cagle

September 2007
BITS AND PIECES

IN EASILY one of the more fun field trips this reporter has had the opportunity to take, our good friends at Eastman Kodak brought customers, journalists and analysts up to Rochester, NY, for a pre-Graph Expo roundup. As part of the weekend, Kodak treated its guests to a NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Watkins Glen, NY.

During festivities in the rolling hills of the Finger Lakes region, Kodak provided a 15-minute flesh pressing with the driver of the No. 12 Kodak car, Ryan Newman. Unfortunately, early in the race, Newman lost control of his Penske Racing Dodge in full view of the Turn 11 grandstand where the Kodak guests were seated. Still, Newman managed to make it out of the sand trap en route to a respectable 13th place finish.

I’m surprised Jeff Hayzlett, Kod-ak’s marketing maven, didn’t bother to point out that Kodak machines keep on rolling, even in tight spots.

It was truly disappointing, however, to see my favorite driver Jeff Gordon give the race away. Gordon led for 51 of the 90 laps and enjoyed a lead of three car lengths over eventual winner Tony Stewart. But Gordon drove his car too hard into Turn 1 of the winding road course and bobbled just before spinning out on the next-to-last lap. That opened the door for Stewart to weasel his way into victory lane.

Gordon later admitted to driver error. But, I wonder how many of Kodak’s printer guests picked up on some of the valuable lessons offered in Gordon’s transgressions:

Gordon led most of the way—more than half the race—but didn’t deliver in the end. It’s difficult to rationalize the equity you feel your printing company has accrued with earlier jobs when you drop the ball in the 11th hour. All that’s left is a hollow feeling, for you and your client.

Mindful of Tony Stewart in his rear view, Gordon was reactive and not proactive. You cannot afford to worry about what your competition is doing. Is your company taking care of business and expanding into areas that can provide value for customers? Do you offer clients turnkey solutions that will prevent them from jumping ship for the lower cost provider?

Are your customers in love with you? Really, are they? If they love you, there’s nothing to worry about.
 

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