Scott Perkinson, president, Perkinson Reprographics sees things in a similar fashion. "We need to be more creative with our sales and marketing process. We need to reach out beyond our normal borders and find clients and projects that our different than our norms. We need to work harder and smarter than we have in years. The refining process is and will be good for our business in the long run."
"Now more than ever we need to focus on taking waste out of our processes, both literally and figuratively," said Tom Trutna, owner, BIG INK Display Graphics. "We will continue to use 'lean' and 'green' as our mantra that will move us forward today and in the foreseeable future."
For some of these companies, they have found new ways to partner with both their customers and their vendors—to positive results.
"Our goal over the next 12 months is to collaborate with our customers to find solutions that are both creative and cost-effective," said Kim Dahl, vice president, Mathison's. "We are finding new ways to help our customers realize the greatest impact from how they spend their promotional and printing budgets, also ensuring that they never compromise their brand image or quality."
Zach Sharpe, president of Sharpe Images, agrees. "The current economy is requiring every business to evaluate what it is printing, how it is printing, and what the value it is receiving. We are working closely with our customers and prospects to show them how to manage their printing requirements through on-line digital storefronts, we are developing new cost effective solutions for their printing needs and finding lower cost production equipment that continues to produce a high quality."
But, according to Jittu Sarna, owner, Inkjet International, these times also can be seen as providing some of the biggest opportunities for businesses. "We have invested in improving our customer communication tools through a dynamic new website, the convenience of a web-store with customizable options, and aggressive outbound marketing. These steps and others are forming the platform for us to step out from being a printer that reacts to an order, versus a solutions printer that creates ideas, earns loyalty and generates new business," said Sarna. "All of this requires a synchronized effort and collaboration with our vendor partners—whom we are working more closely with than ever before."
"Working with our current vendors and searching for new vendors that can offer better pricing on our materials has opened up more opportunities to help our clients out during this time. In doing this we've been able to lock down bigger discounts, allowing us to pass these savings onto our clients resulting in lower prints costs," said Gina Spring, Solar Imaging. "With these savings, our clients have been able to continue their advertising and print projects and sometimes even do more than they have anticipated for the year. It's really a win-win situation for all of us."
Many of these shops have turned to their employees for both ideas and support. The right people in the shop are key to growing their businesses—even during down times.
"We face many challenges in the next several years. The one area that will present my biggest challenge is employee retention," said Kevin O'Hea, owner, Academy Reprographics. "My company's greatest asset is its employees. These are the people that I trust day in, day out, to keep my customers happy and content. I can have all of the latest equipment and gadgets and services, but without good people, I'm just another blueprinter. So when I lay awake at night and worry, it's not about revenue and cash flow, it's about losing good employees. If our revenue slows down, we will be forced to let some of them go. I trust my people, and more importantly, they trust me to keep them out of the unemployment lines. We have expanded our market into nontraditional services and included niche markets that have typically been ignored. The employees themselves have provided some of the best ideas and we have invested heavily in those areas."