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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.

 

'This Is a Football.' Back to the Basics

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This famous quote by Vince Lombardi, legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, has always been a favorite of mine. There are many football and sports analogies that apply to business, but how does this one apply? Lombardi was a fanatic on basics and conditioning. The line he used when he introduced himself to the team the first time, "Gentlemen, this is a football" is a classic. Obviously he was going to take them back to the basics, and we all know how successful it was.

In our fast-changing environment with all of the talk about diversification and "becoming marketing services providers," we often leave the basics to chance and assume they will take care of themselves. Not true. The fundamentals are something that must be constantly practiced and inspected.

In operations, constant monitoring is required of things like scheduling procedures, quality control checks, equipment maintenance, computer backups and updates, etc. In sales and marketing, we can often forget how critical it is to follow up on quotes, track sales calls and update Websites. Or, we put off writing or adjusting our marketing plan. Even simple things, like telephone on-hold messaging, can be overlooked.

It may sound simple and it is certainly not necessary to belabor the point, but going back to the basics just makes good business sense. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is a printing firm."

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