Not Having Fun? Change the Game
I asked you a few weeks ago if you were having fun yet. If you are, fantastic. But if you’re not, what options should you consider? One option is to change the game. Printers talk about their ability to produce quality products, have fair pricing and deliver great customer service. Few take it beyond those words in the marketplace, yet they are actually doing a lot more.
Deliver a World Class Experience
Fast forward to several of the recent ideas coming out of the inkjet conferences that talk about the need for a great workflow system if you’re going to get into inkjet technology. A good idea indeed. But, why not have a great workflow, from start to finish, even if you don’t have inkjet? One way to look at a great workflow starts by providing a customer experience that says “we’re easy to do business with and we value you and your business.” A workflow that covers the upfront buying experience, new client on-boarding process, quick and thoughtful quotes, order entry and job processing, scheduling (and actually telling the client what’s going on with their project), file processing and proofing all the way to the manner in which you deliver the jobs and send the invoices. I know that I’ve omitted some of the process steps, but you get the idea. So when you say “we have great customer service,” be able to elaborate in each of these areas about what you are actually doing to help differentiate your company.
It’s a Huge Investment
I’m not suggesting that you try to match your order processing capabilities to someone like Amazon, that’s not the point. The point is to streamline your process and procedures - how you do business, and make them consistent, reliable and scalable within your company. How you do it will be different if you’re a $1MM shop versus a $100MM shop. And yes, it is a huge investment. A huge investment in people and technology. The good news is that most companies already have the people and the technology - they are just not being deployed as best as they could be.
A few areas that you may want to explore would include:
- Have your MIS system dialed in to provide management, the CSR teams and sales with relevant, timely and critical information about plant loading and scheduling, on-time performance, are we charging too much or too little on certain jobs and where are we really making money and with which clients.
- Have regular client review sessions with your best clients and some of your worst as well. Find out what’s really going on, why they picked you as a supplier, what are you doing that they continue to come back (or don’t) and where do they see print in their future needs. Show them that you are interested in them and their continued success.
- Stop doing things that your clients don’t value and won’t pay for. Take a look at the internal things that you do that clients never see and it only adds cost to the project. Is it really critical or are you doing it because “that’s the way we’ve always done it”?
- Stop buying software and either not installing it, keeping it updated or using it to its fullest power. That goes for MIS systems, RIP workflows, job layout applications and CRM’s.
- Many firms have processes and procedures in place to make sure nothing goes wrong. That’s noble, but why do projects still go off the rails sometimes? The response too often is to add another layer of complexity and thus slow down the process.
- And if you’ve already got a bulletproof system, start measuring your spoilage and on-time delivery results and use it as a competitive advantage in the market.
So, take a hard look at what you’re doing, the things that actually matter to your clients and find ways to tweak your process, your strategy, and your “here’s how we do business.” Your goal should be to become an even more relevant and strategic partner to your clients and start having fun again. Let me know how you’re doing with this.
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com (launching soon), LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Philie leverages his 28 years of direct industry experience in sales, sales management and executive leadership to share what’s working for companies today and how to safely transform your business. Since 2007, he has been providing consulting services to privately held printing and mailing companies across North America.
Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the graphic communications industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion, and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach.