The anemic diet of bad economic information continues for print owners, many whom are working twice as hard for half the return. There are so many print owners who would love to retire or return to the “good old days”. Unfortunately, we are where we are.
In tough times—and sometimes in good times—hard work and long hours goes a long way. But a focused effort, combined with solid strategy and an action plan, implemented daily is a much more successful formula for better results.
A different perspective is called for these days. Now, having passed the mid-year, is a good time for a serious review of the future of your printing business. Here are some aspects to examine:
• Does your print shop have customers or clients? Now is the time to make the conversion. Customers are always good; clients are much better.
• As the owner, manager, and leader, what are you doing to improve your business model? How can you realize several ongoing revenue streams from clients? What new products and services can you add?
• What are you doing to lock in and keep clients longer? Transactions are good; relationships are preferable.
• What are your plans to harvest more from the biggest asset your printing business possesses: your base of former and current clients?
• Is everyone in your company focused on improving business cash flow? While cutting back may be part of the solution for a better future, most of us have cut back to the maximum. You need to look at cash flow is as an investment fund for the future. You need to upgrade your equipment and your facility.
• Printers can’t cut spending alone to insure a better future; revenue must also grow. Even in a shrinking industry, business is being conducted. Is it time to end the excuses? Almost all of my clients have grown sales this year—have you?
• Is your pricing high enough for what you sell? Or is it simply enough to get the business? Are you pricing for profit or for volume? Let your competitors die slowly as they underprice their products and services.
• Price discounts come right out of profits. Produce premium products, as they deserve a premium pricing position. It takes courage to hold the line against lower prices.
• Do you have the best people possible on the payroll? Do your people push you out of your comfort zone, and make you see things differently? No print owner can fly with eagles when spending time with turkeys. Being challenged on this issue is not a bad thing.
• Are your company goals high enough? Are the goals stretching all your people to ask: “How can we do this; how can we make this happen”? Too often, I see printing companies set goals that will only continue to have them struggle and not prosper.
Rockefeller continually asked “how” as he started and grew Standard Oil. He got wealthy as a result. Knowing what to do is no longer enough, the how is just as critical. The how is your strategy.
• Is everyone focused on the right goals? Are you certain that people are in alignment with those goals? I see print owners lose an employee and say, “Thank goodness they quit. I wanted to let them go anyway.” What are you waiting for?
• Are people being asked to step up and do more? Are you setting the example as a leader in this regard?
• Does everyone have an eye on the future? Have you defined the future for your business? Most print owners aren’t afraid of the future; they simply have not defined it. Set time aside to visualize what the desired future looks like.
Use a vision board, a vision statement, or a single sentence defining what your business will look like in five years. Get people involved in this process; make them part of the future. Make sure you and your key employees attend conferences, webinars, and trade shows often.
Amazingly, some print owners have already given up on 2012. This is a total admission of defeat; praying as if some miracle will occur on New Year’s Day 2013 and everything will instantly become better. U2 sang “Nothing changes on New Year’s Day.” This applies to businesses as well.