Buying Is More Than Writing the Check…

By John Giles

With all of the cool new print equipment and technology at drupa and at the upcoming Graph Expo, printers need to make sure they are covering the basics before they add something new to their production mix, especially if it requires a big investment.

Financials – In this day and time, you need strong financial information before you make a decision and ask your banker for help. Many printers are coming off slow growth years and don’t have the cash they need to safely add new debt. A strong current ratio is needed before adding to your liabilities. Not enough cash can cripple a company, even if sales are climbing. Creditors don’t want to wait until your customer pays you before they get their money. You have to have a cash reserve. Working with your accountant to know your financial situation on a monthly basis and managing your cash flow so you can either build or protect your current ratio is important for a company’s survival. You’ve heard about the “next big thing” and you want one. Just make sure you have the financial strength to get it without putting your entire business in danger.

Employees – Much of the new technology is fast and efficient and will save production dollars if the employees know how to use it. Too many times printers buy new equipment and leave out the time and dollars it takes to get the employees trained. When this happens the new technology gets used, but not at the productivity levels that it was purchased to do. Employees are only using a small potential of the current technology because they never got the training. Owners need to make sure they schedule training time and support so employees can learn the new system correctly. Too much equipment and software sit unused in printers’ shops today because no one ever had the time to learn to use it correctly.

Expectations – Expectations of what the new equipment and technology will do for the profitability and productivity of a print shop have to be managed. What are realistic expectations on how long it should take employees to learn the new systems? How long will it take to realistically see a ROI? What are the problems and issues the new equipment and technology will solve and what new ones will it create? Printers have to be honest with themselves and their employees as to what impact the new system will have on the organization. Great technology such as automation, web2print and variable data printing sit dormant in some print shops because the first attempts were filled will false expectations. When the results didn’t match the expectations, the owners and employees lost interest in the technology with excuses that it was “too complicated” or “my customers weren’t interested.”

When you go to a trade show or start to look at adding new equipment and technology, you have to do more than just homework on the technology. You need to look at how adding the new stuff is going to effect the entire organization. A simple decision to buy might be the best decision you have ever made…or the worst. Consider all the angles because in the new world of printing, the successful printers aren’t just going to have the equipment…they will know how to use it.