Over the past 10 years, we have been seeing some dramatic changes in the printing industry. The 2008 recession brought some drastic changes with the onslaught of Internet marketing reducing the need for print. Plus, we have to consider green printing and sustainability which is changing how we do our jobs.
Mitch Evans of Mitch Evans Consulting wrote an article back in November of 2009 to address the three battles print shop owners need to win in order to succeed. At the time, 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.
Communicating with employees can be tough. There is always a battle about open books communication or closed book. If you want your employees to act like owners in the business, sharing information like the cost of doing business is not a bad thing. Just because you are a business owner does not mean you are rich. A lot of business owners struggle with whether to fill people in about finances or keep it completely private. It’s not a bad thing to communicate to them how the business is going.
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 over time, changing your processes, adopting new technology, and letting go of old habits.
Do you have the right print finishing equipment in your operation? Are you using pouch laminators when you should be using wide format roll laminators? Have you purchased a UV Coating Machine instead of using lamination for some projects? Are you still using a manual binding machine when you should be using a commercial binding machine with interchangeable dies? Or, are you still using a manual round corner machine when you should be using an electric round corner machine?
Cash is always a battle. It is still a battle today because the economy no longer functions as it did in the past. There are more peaks and valleys, so planning can be tough. This is the battle that affects, and is affected by the other two. Employees need to understand the Battle for Cash whether it be collecting for work that has been done, or minimizing as much waste as possible.
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.
So, I think we can say the battles from 2008 are still the battles most Print Shops face today.