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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.

 

The 3/3,000 Rule for Customer Retention

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What are your customers saying about you? There is a book by Pete Blackshaw called "Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000." Over the years, I have heard various ratios about how far-reaching positive and negative comments can be. It’s always skewed heavily to the negative, and the Internet and social media take this to a new level. This is what the book covers.

The best marketing plan is, of course, to have satisfied repeat customers. The problem is we often don’t know what our customers are saying. We have our own biases that can cloud our perceptions. I was reminded of this when I saw the announcement that  one of our fine franchise members surveyed their customers and found more than 90 percent said they were “very likely” to recommend them for printing services. 

What should you do?
If you are not using a statistically reliable method to survey your customers, like our franchise members do, perhaps you should start. If you are, do you have a proactive follow-up plan to cure any problems so the 3/3,000 rule does not have a negative impact on your business? It is one thing to collect the data and quite another to make it an actionable part of your marketing plan.
 
Why should you care?
It’s easy to get discouraged when we hear all the negatives about a flat economy and traditional printing’s decline. There are many ways to grow in this environment; understanding the 3/3,000 rule and doing something proactive about it is one of the best. Expanding your service offerings and executing an aggressive sales and marketing plan with customer feedback tools included is critical in this environment.

Now, go sell something to somebody!

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