Writers Worthy of Praise --DeWese
I don't understand why one day is a great day and the next day has to be a disaster. This happened to me on September 13th and 14th.
It's tough on my psyche to go from euphoria to—boom—the pits in the space of 24 hours. Saturday, the 13th, was perfect. There was a great sale at K-Mart. I now have 24 large cans of Maxwell House French Roast coffee, 108 rolls of Viva paper towels and 108 rolls of Scott toilet tissue. As you know, these are some of my favorite brands. It's not the bargains that thrilled me; it's the stockpiling I'm after. I have a large family and it gives me comfort to know that we're covered if there's ever a great toilet paper shortage.
Hoarding is a genetic thing that my dear mother passed along to me. When she passed away, I found 15 pounds of Keller's butter and 10 half-gallons of Edie's ice cream in her freezer. Mother lived alone.
After a great Saturday I had a disastrous Sunday. The Philadelphia Eagles were humiliated by the New England Patriots 31-10 for their second straight loss. After two games, the Eagles were supposed to have clinched their division title.
Then I made a huge mistake by calling AOL to complain about being charged $23.90 four times on one of my credit cards for one month's service. Huge mistake!
I was on the phone for 21⁄2 hours. I was transferred four times, disconnected three times and got to speak to four different CSRs—one of whom was in New Delhi. I didn't get my money back, but I did see that I was only charged twice on the next credit card bill.
Helping the Economy
I negotiate things for a living. I'm supposed to be good at persuading people to my position. Well, my self-confidence was destroyed by this AOL experience. I think I am single-handedly financing AOL, and I'm their ticket to a restoration of their stock price.
This customer service experience brings me to the topics for this column. I want to acknowledge some other writers who are making powerful contributions to the printing industry.
Erik Cagle writes for this magazine. He is senior editor, which means he writes a lot of the articles you read herein. He's written a couple of great pieces on the importance of great customer service by giving examples of lousy customer service. He is such a good writer that his bosses, Attila One and Attila Two, give him wide latitude and, as a print sales professional or a manager, you are missing something if you don't read Erik's stories. Once you have written up your day's orders around 10 p.m. or 11 p.m., I urge you to go to www.piworld.com, visit the "Article Archive" and read some of Erik's past work.
About 20 years ago, when Irv Borowsky signed me on to write this column, he said, "DeWese, I'm going to make you more famous than Harris Margolis." I'm not sure anyone is more famous than Harris Margolis, who heads H.R. Margolis Co., of Philadelphia. Margolis and his professionals specialize in the printing industry and are CPAs, financial advisors, and they have compiled and tabulated the PIA Ratio Studies for many years.
Harris and his son, Stuart, have been co-authoring a series of columns on finance and accounting for printing companies in another publication. Is it OK for me to name it? I'll give it to you with some letters left blank. It's Prin_ing News Ea_t, a tabloid that comes to my desk about every two weeks.
Harris and Stuart write concise, understandable, "right-on" advice about printing company profitability. Printing salespeople need to better understand the principles of profits, as well as their importance to the growth and financial success of their companies. Many owners, CEOs and CFOs certainly need a better understanding and the motivation to practice what this father-and-son team is teaching.
Time to Take a Stand
I get phone calls every day from CEOs complaining about competitors that are selling below cost. I have begged you to stop this and I beseeched all of you to raise prices by 25 percent on my last birthday, June 30, 2003. Damn it, you didn't do it. Apparently, you are wimps and fear the Feds and anti-trust laws. The Feds will never be able to prove that all 30,000 printers colluded to raise prices.
Well, if you won't raise prices, I implore you to read the entire series of articles written by Harris and Stuart. They have my highest praise for a job well done.
Another person that has been around the printing industry forever is Dick Vinocur. He got his start as an apprentice to Benjamin Franklin right here in Philadelphia. In addition to writing and running the press, Dick—who was then known as "Poor Richard"—had the responsibility for covering up Ben's many affairs of the heart.
Dick is a fantastic writer and, had he not gotten locked into the printing industry, could have been a nationally syndicated columnist or a best-selling novelist.
Dick has also been the industry conscience and knows no fear when inquiring into the real story. I speak at a lot of industry events and I always shudder when I see Vinocur sitting in the front row (always right in front of the podium) because I know he's going to ask me some hard questions.
In recent years, Dick published and wrote Footprints, a newsletter, until his retirement. It was a hard-hitting, incisive, concise survey of the real news in the printing industry and I relished Dick's editorial comments. Footprints was a winner. It had a large paid subscriber base (me included), and I'm going to miss it. Fortunately, I can still call Dick and maybe hang out with him from time to time.
Finally, I hope you all read Mark Michelson's editorial in the front of each issue of PI. Mark is the nefarious "Attila the Editor" who I frequently bash for the sake of humor. He has been running PI for nearly 20 years. He is a great editor, has worked hard to build this magazine and makes many unrecognized contributions to the printing industry. Be sure to read his column every month.
Finally, some praise to D.J., who spends hours at the bedside of sick children and who counsels and consoles parents. You are first a great humanitarian and second a great printer.
You salespeople may be wondering, "What is the message in this column?" In turn, I will ask you, "When was the last time you, a salesperson, artfully acknowledged the professionalism or skill of one of your print buyers?" Have you ever said, "Marie, I have a lot of demanding customers, but I must say that you are among the most knowledgeable and professional."
Alright, get yourselves out there and sell something and, while you're making PROFITABLE sales, be sure to praise somebody who deserves it!
About the Author
Harris DeWese is the author of Now Get Out There and Sell Something!, published by Nonpareil Books. He is a principal at Compass Capital Partners and is an author of the annual "Compass Report," the definitive source of information regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese specializes in investment banking, mergers and acquisitions, sales, marketing, planning and management services to printing companies. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.