For some printing companies, the holidays mark a sales slowdown that doesn’t ramp back up until mid-January. This makes it the perfect time for printers to review their companies and make sure everything is running like a well-oiled machine. Each year keeps getting harder, so you will want to enter 2013 with all the advantage you can get. Now is a good time to sit down and make some New Year’s resolutions.
Plan for one hour of training per employee per week in the coming year. When was the last time anyone in your shop took time for training? For instance, the prepress department is always updating software, so start learning all the new features that can save time and money. The new Adobe Creative Suite has a number of new features, and Adobe.com, YouTube, and other sites are full of free training videos that walk users through steps for better productivity.
Successful companies schedule training on a regular basis with planned outcomes. One of the best training techniques is to have one of the managers or employees train others in a procedure, system, or solution. This month, take time to develop a training schedule for the next 12 months. This way, everyone can learn the best practices for your shop.
Raise prices. There is more to raising prices than just keeping up with paper costs. Make sure you are covering all your rising costs. Many shops overlook or discount prepress charges. Just adding a file handling fee for customer files can have a positive effect on the bottom line.
What if you raised your prices overall by five percent? That means the price will go up $5 for every $100 in selling price. For most printers, the average invoice is between $300 and $500, so the increase most customers will see is $25 or less. If you are worried about certain companies objecting, then don’t raise their prices. You’ll find that most customers don’t even notice a small price increase since most printers don’t have a published price list.
Ask your top 25 customers for new business once a month. For most printers, their top 25 customers represent 50 to 75 percent of their business. What if you could add five percent in sales for every one of your top 25? These customers already know you and like you. If you take time at least once a month to talk to them about what new business you could do for them, you’ll find your sales growing. Making a delivery isn’t a sales call. Talking to the decision maker and letting them know what else you can do for them is. It is easier to explain services such as personalization, websites, marketing service support, and online ordering when you can demonstrate it face-to-face.
Touch all of your customers once a month. Printers have a variety of vehicles to reach customers. The tried and true method of a monthly newsletter still works if it is published on a regular basis. The new email broadcasts made available by programs such as iContact and Constant Contact make it easy to communicate with customers and prospects on a regular basis. Tie these types of communications to outgoing telephone sales calls and you’ll see an increase in sales just because the customer knows you want his business. In the coming year, make sure you get a customer’s email address as well as his other contact information. Learn to use this type of software and you can sell the service to your customers.
Update your website. Don’t forget that people are constantly looking for you on the Internet. Make sure that your site provides them with the information they are seeking. You’ll also want to make sure that you have a mobile website so when people are searching for a printer on their smartphone, they can easily read your website and contact you. Mobile sites are a great way to link QR codes and create a bigger demand for printing.