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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.

 

Time to Rethink Your 2012 Plans

 
One-third of the year has flown by. By this time, it’s fairly easy to predict 2012 business results. When you have four months essentially behind you, it becomes pretty hard to move the year-to-date needle very far in sales or profitability.

Assuming that you crafted a business plan for 2012, it is a good time to rethink your plans for the balance of the year. Of course, in these fast moving times, one should be constantly changing the ship’s sails to stay on course and/or to look for new opportunities.

Here are a few things at which to take a hard look as you rethink your business plan:
  • What are the discernible sales trends? What is growing and what is not? Why and why not?
  • Are you accumulating cash or consuming cash?
  • Have you lost or gained any key customers? If so, do you know why?
  • Are any planned capital investments (including technology and people) still viable?
  • Has anything significant changed with competitors?

Your list may be different, but if the year is not living up to expectations, this is a good time to figure out why and what to do about it. Conversely, if you are on track or exceeding expectations, it’s a good time to accelerate your growth plans.

If you read this far, you are probably thinking that this is just basic stuff and, “I knew that.” As I was writing this, I thought the same thing.

I decided to blog about it anyway because, in my experience running a printing business, I can reflect back on the many times I got caught up in the day-to-day and didn’t “change the sails” often enough or quickly enough to avoid a disaster. (Remember: This is the 100th anniversary of the Titanic.) Nor did I take advantage of an opportunity—and there are still plenty out there.

Don’t let that happen to you.
 

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