We’re seeing some dramatic changes in the printing industry, which makes it harder for us to keep everything afloat. We’re in a recession, the Internet is reducing the need for print, and green printing and sustainability is becoming the big buzz word, which is changing how we do our jobs.
Mitch Evans of Mitch Evans Consulting recently wrote about the three battles print shop owners need to win in order to succeed. I paid particular attention to this article, because these are the three battles I see my print shop customers fighting every day — at least, the ones who are aware it’s an issue. The ones who haven’t figured out which battles to fight, well, they’re not going to be around much longer.
Evans identifies the three as battles of Communication, Resources, and Cash.
The Battle of Communication
Communicating with employees can be tough. We’re constantly trying to walk that fine line between giving them the right amount of information or giving them stuff that we prefer to keep private. A lot of business owners struggle with whether to fill people in about finances, or keep it completely private. The problem is that owners don’t always think to tell their people what’s going on, especially when the news is bad. If you want to keep employees satisfied, and help them embrace whatever comes their way, communicate with them.
The Battle of Resources
How do you deliver your promises with fewer people, less time, and less money? Your customers are still depending on you to deliver. Their expectations — and yours — have not dwindled. Your expected productivity is still the same. But you have to do more with less. So how are you doing it? It may take overtime, changing your processes, adopting new technology, and letting go of old habits.
The Battle of Cash
This is the battle that affects, and is affected by, the other two. As Mitch Evans says, “each employee has an impact on whether your printing company is losing or winning the battle for cash.” But the challenge is that you need to communicate this battle to all of your employees, and then “manage the appropriate change in attitude and behavior.”
Cash flow is helped or hurt by your sales staff finding the right kind of customer and pricing the work correctly, the production staff completing it efficiently and without, and the accounts receivable department handling billing correctly.
As Evans says, those printers who win these battles will be well positioned when the economy turns around again. While the time to start fighting those battles is when the economy is doing well, there is (hopefully) still time to fight these battles the right way.