In tough economic times such as these, everyone is looking for an edge. Printers are lucky because they have so many tools and resources that are readily available. The problem is many printers seem to be more interested in griping about their problems than in actually using the very tools that could help them solve those problems. The majority of printing companies are using some type of estimating software package, but very few of them are using all of the business tools that those programs offer. The pricing function is still primary, but today’s versions have morphed into full fledged MIS systems that can track workflow, equipment depreciation, and inventory, keep you in touch with your customers, and handle all manner of accounting activities. This is an opportunity to increase sales and improve your bottom line that requires no further monetary investment—just a little of your time. Then there are the industry specific studies that are available. NAQP publishes the Operating Ratio Study, Printing Industry Pricing Study, Bindery & Finishing Study, and the Wage & Salary Study. John Stewart’s Q.P. Consulting just published the 2009-2010 Mailing Services Pricing Study, which was co-sponsored by Quick Printing and Mailing Systems Technology. Printers who buy these studies and actually implement what they learn from them consistently report that the studies more than pay for themselves many times over. But so many business owners balk at spending a couple hundred dollars on a study. Even fewer will actually make the changes recommended. Why? Every week, we post information on www.quickprinting.com about various webinars, seminars, and training opportunities. There are trade shows and conferences that offer up all manner of learning options. And, of course, there’s Quick Printing itself. Advice from knowledgeable industry experts arrives in your mailbox every month for free. Lots of folks may read our articles, attend a webinar, or travel to a trade show, but when they get back to the shop it’s business as usual. Why? If you’re looking for the tools that can help your business stay alive and even grow during these turbulent times, turn over a few of the rocks in your own backyard. You might be surprised by the treasures you will find. What you do with them is up to you.