Reinvent, Reinvest and Reengineer – Times Running Out

It’s overdue, but still not too late to reinvent your company, reinvest in it and reengineer how you do things.

There’s been a lot of talk about changes that need to be made in order for printers to succeed in these unprecedented times. We have way underestimated that need.

We don’t need slight course corrections or to “tweak” our sales strategies or even add a new product or service. We need to go to the very core of what we do and, most likely, reinvent our business model. This will take major surgery, or possibly even letting the existing patient die (hopefully slowly) while we give birth to a new business model—or at least a patient with a lot of new parts.

Is this shocking? Yes. But, if you have been following Dr. Joe Webb lately, you get a sense of not only how much has changed, but how rapidly it is changing. His tone suggests that we have this year to figure it out and make the needed changes in direction if we expect to succeed. Is it that serious? No one knows for sure, but it’s safer to error on the side that it is THAT serious.

Do I have the answer for your business? No, but I would challenge you that if you are not sure what direction you should go, it’s time you get up real close and personal with your top customers. (You know, the 20 percent that account for 80 percent of your revenue and profits.)

What do they no longer need that you are still selling? What are they buying that you are not selling? What do they need to be buying that neither one of you has your eye on yet?

It’s amazing how much time is spent in strategic planning sessions before the top management gets face-to-face with the people that have the answers—the customers. Don’t trust market research or what the pundits are saying. Even Dr. Joe would be the first to tell you that.

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.

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