The Problem Gremlin

Back in the day, we used to call them, “PIRs.” It stood for “Product Improvement Report.” You filled out this particular form at UARCO when an error occurred. One copy went to the District Manager, one went to the Regional Manager, and on and on. This thoroughly useless example of bureaucracy and ineptitude did nothing to stop The Problem Gremlin. He finds a way to create other issues and he rears his ugly head in batches.

Errors, mistakes, misprints, missed shipments…they seem to appear in rapid succession, spread across multiple jobs for a few days at a time, then disappear. For a while, all is calm. But then…it’s as if TPG jumps into the life of another salesperson for a while, visits the post office, sits on the shoulder of a few baseball players, is the cause of America’s Funniest Videos, and then returns to you like a boomerang.

I wish I had the perfect suggestion for you to avoid The Problem Gremlin. That would be an awesome blog! Can you imagine? But there is no such solution.

Sometimes errors occur and it is your fault. You order the wrong paper or spec’ed the job incorrectly or shipped it to their old location. But most often it is completely out of your hands and all of the checking and double checking in the world will not make any difference whatsoever. Stuff is going to happen. Communication is your best weapon against TPG but in the end, it’s unavoidable.

When a problem occurs, first reach out to the customer to find out what the immediate needs are. Second, work to meet those needs. Third, look into the cause of the problem. Then…

Expect another problem. Immediately. There’s a good chance that TPG is just getting started.

Bill Farquharson is a Vice President at NAPL. His training programs can drive the sales of print reps and selling owners. Check out his Sales Resources page and contact him at (781) 934-7036 or

As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."
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