Printers Are Big Fat Liars!
I am the owner of a printing company, so I can tell you (used to hear it a lot)—PRINTERS ARE BIG FAT LIARS...
- about quality,
- about service,
- about delivery dates,
- and to cover up mistakes!
Now that I’ve got the hair standing up on the back of your neck—let me tell you a story.
Many years ago, when I was a very young apprentice, I worked for a printer in the bayou country of Louisiana. Small shop, about 10 employees, and one of the last letterpress shops in our town.
The owner was a good man—one of the hardest working people I had ever met. But, it seemed like we were always late printing and delivering orders. When jobs ran way behind schedule, and customers would call to find out if their job was ready, my boss would give them every excuse in the book. Many times he would come to me in a panic, saying, “Philip, get off that HOT job and get on this HOT HOT job!”
One day, he called me into his office and asked me to get on the phone with an irate customer, wanting me to stall the customer somehow about his job being delayed again. I was just young and dumb enough to go along with it, and concocted some elaborate (actually, lame) excuse to give the customer, while smiling at my boss like a Cheshire cat.
After I hung up the phone, my boss was also grinning and said, “Philip, you’re a better liar than me!”
Now, I’m not saying my boss didn’t care. In fact, I guess he tried harder than anybody to do his best for his family, his employees and his customers. He just didn’t know anything about the power of good business systems, nor was he trained in anything like Total Quality Management (continual improvement in every area of a business). He was just a hard-working man who had worked his way up from Linotype operator to owning his own shop—still putting in 12 hours a day, six days a week, and sometimes Sundays. Sound familiar?
TRUTH IS, printing is a complicated process, with an almost infinite amount of variables. One misspelled word or one graphic out of place and the whole job is bad. The list of what CAN go wrong is also infinite.
TRUTH IS, all businesses have complexities, and without good systems, there WILL be chaos. Without good systems, you CANNOT promise consistent quality or service, so some owners find themselves bending the facts to calm a situation!
TRUTH IS, you often catch vendors and other people you do business with telling you BIG FAT LIES!
OK, so are ALL printers just BIG FAT LIARS? As a printer myself—and after listening to the feedback from prospects over the years—it’s easy to see how people might come to that conclusion.
In 1988, when I opened the doors to my own printing company, along with some pretty worthy skills, I had also learned all the “shortcuts” (bad habits) that people like my old boss had demonstrated. Like him, I didn’t know a thing about how to systemize a business to guarantee quality and service. As a result, many times I dropped the ball—jobs were late or printed wrong, along with other problems. And it wasn’t because I didn’t care, either!
The decision to change the way I did business came in 1993, when I began reading and studying everything I could put my hands on about quality and service systems. I was determined to build a company that could actually GUARANTEE quality and service.
I didn’t like thinking of myself as a BIG FAT LIAR!
So, I made a decision to TELL THE TRUTH, no matter what the cost to myself, my employees, OR my customers. We would not only correct our mistakes, but put in a system to ENSURE a mistake didn’t happen again and again.
TRUTH IS, it takes a serious commitment!
TRUTH IS, it took 10 years to systemize my printing company, and today we’re helping other companies do the same in only a matter of months. We now ship 99.99 percent of our jobs on time, every time—and there’s no need to lie to anybody!
TRUTH IS, however, although I can truly say I never lied to a customer after I opened my own business, I sure said “I’m SORRY” a lot!
Until I SYSTEMIZED!
Have I mentioned? Great systems work!
Philip Beyer, founder/president of Ebiz Products LLC and founder of Beyer Printing Inc. in Nashville Tenn., is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant. Author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business" and recipient of an InterTech Technology Award for the design and development of System100 business process management software. Beyer speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses. Contact him at (615) 425-2652.