Eight Business Principles for Success as a Printer
In addition to all of the Comments posted online in response to my recent "You’re a Printer. Stop Denying It!" blog post, I received the following email message (posted with Jim Petritz's permission):
My company Carr Communications, AKA Carr Printing, has been in business over 40 years and like many companies is struggling to grow and get to the next level. You read so many articles about print being a dirty word, there are times you are tempted to enter into strategies that don't fit well with your strengths.
It is Saturday and I am doing research when I came upon your article. THANK YOU. I love this business and it has been my pleasure to be in it for over 30 years myself. (I am 51.) As I spend money on Web-to-print solutions and digital technologies, I keep asking myself the following question. Can we grow and thrive in the future doing business as we always have based primarily on Quality and Customer Service? If you read too much from the experts, it would lead you to believe the only way to succeed is to be an Internet based company.
I have always believed if you follow some basic principals you will be successful:
1. Return estimates in a matter of minutes or hours.
2. Offer alternatives that will improve the project.
3. Review the job once it is committed to make sure it is what everyone thought, so if adjustments are required they can be done then and there before the project runs into trouble.
4. Communicate additional charges or changes in writing up front to allow buyers to make an informed decision.
5. Constant communication thru the production process.
6. ** Be honest and up front about any changes or challenges that may occur during the production process. The buyer can usually adjust or figure out something with the supplier if given a heads up. Calling the day of delivery or worse yet on the mail drop date is a cardinal sin. (Although I am shocked how many sales people over the years think they can slide by.)
7. Confirm shipment and delivery of the job.
8. Get customer feedback on a regular basis of performance and quality
I would be very interested in your feedback. How important does your group find Web-to-print solutions?
Am I an old timer thinking the above is enough?
Love to hear your thoughts!
I replied to Jim in short order via return email, but felt it was also worth sharing here:
First of all, I suggest you send every customer and prospect your list of guiding principles. They exude sincerity and excellent business practices. In fact, they should be posted prominently on your website. (I have visited a lot of printers' websites and study them all the time.) They represent the qualities customers seek and appreciate.
Customers still reach for quality and terrific service—that won't change. And I believe today's customers don't buy it when a printer pretends to be a marketing company.
Customers (print buyers and marketing managers who develop print campaigns) are definitely interested in Web-to-print (W2P) technologies that will make their print materials easier to produce, reprint, reorder and ship. Most buyers I know/deal with purchase digital printing as well, and this will remain a growing trend.
Adding W2P capabilities at Carr is smart business, in my opinion. This doesn't mean you need to be or should be an Internet-based company. Yet every printing company needs a solid, current and contemporary Web presence.
Picture the younger generation of incoming print customers/designers. They are used to buying everything over the Internet. So your firm (and mine) needs a solid Web presence and some online functionality that will make doing business with you easier for them.
I am a peer more or less of yours. I was a corporate buyer for 15+ years and founded my organization to educate laypeople about printing and vice versa. We produce an annual print buyers conference, as well as various Boot Camps and other events. Next month, we're branching out into Webinars—because these days you/I have to be where the "eyeballs" are (and the potential business is). I remain true to my mission: building bridges in this industry.
We are undergoing a rebranding this year to become more relevant to more print customers so stay tuned for that news.
Anyway, I enjoyed your email and invite you to get my weekly email newsletter, "Margie's Print Tips," which I've written for 10 years! Also, you may be interested in participating in or attending our conference next November in Westford, MA.
I hope this answers your questions. Let me know.