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Carl Gerhardt

Business Sense & Sensibility

By Carl Gerhardt

About Carl

Carl Gerhardt is the chairman of Alliance Franchise Brands LLC, the parent company of Allegra Network LLC and Sign & Graphics Operations LCC, and a world leader in marketing, visual and graphics communications, linking more than 600 locations in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. The company’s Marketing & Print Division, headquartered in Plymouth, MI, is comprised of Allegra, American Speedy Printing, Insty-Prints, Speedy Printing and Zippy Print brands of marketing, printing, mailing and Web services providers. Its Sign & Graphics Division, headquartered in Columbia, MD, is comprised of Image360, Signs By Tomorrow and Signs Now brands of sign and graphics communications providers.

Carl and his wife, Judy, owned and operated their own successful Allegra franchise for nearly 20 years before selling the $2.3 million operation in 2003. He is a PrintImage International/NAQP Honorary Lifetime Member and was inducted into NAPL’s prestigious Soderstrom Society in 2010 in recognition of his contribution to the industry.

 

Ten Paradoxical Commandments for Printers

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Some years ago, I ran across something called “The Paradoxical Commandments.” I found these to be intriguing and have since used “paradox” as a way to talk about several management topics. A paradox is defined as a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd, but in reality, expresses a possible truth.

Take a look at my “Ten Paradoxical Commandments for Printers” and see if any of these “possible truths” apply to you.

1) If I diversify beyond printing, I may put my business at risk.    
Diversify anyway (carefully), and do it now.

2) Web-to-print and social networking don’t work with my customers.
Do business online and get social anyway, and do it now.

3) I am behind in technology, but don’t want to reinvest.
Invest anyway to catch up, and do it now.

4) Half of my marketing dollars are wasted.
Market anyway with the right half, and do it now.

5) I write a business plan, and it sits on the shelf.
Plan anyway, and do it now.

6) I give the best to my employees and get kicked in the teeth.
Give your best anyway, and do it now.

7) My competitors never raise prices, why should I?
Raise prices anyway, and do it now.

8) I hunt for acquisitions and never find any.
Hunt for acquisitions anyway, and do it now.

9) My profit is lousy! I don’t know how to fix it.
Fix profit anyway, and do it now.

10) I fell out of love with my business, and it’s not fun anymore.
Fall in love again anyway, and do it now.

If any of these paradoxical commandments apply to you, you may want to take a fresh look at your attitude toward the printing industry and your business—and fix it NOW...ANYWAY.
 

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