Commentary & Analysis
Your Top 10 for 2006 Business Growth
By Peter Bouchard of Presstek January 12,
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: January 12, 2006
By Peter Bouchard of Presstek January 12, 2006 -- Over the past year, we have shared a lot of information with you through the monthly Presstek Perspective. As we approach 2006, I thought it would be a good time to distill that information and some other thoughts into a concise Top Ten To-Do list for 2006 that will help position your business for growth and make 2006 your best year ever. You may already be doing some of these things; the more of them you can incorporate into your business model, the more successful you will be. Some of them are very easy, and others are a bit more complex. A Print MIS will allow everyone to work from the same set of information for a more accurate, productive environment. 10. Read at least one trade article per week. I'm sure you get all those trade magazines, and if you are like me, you stack them up waiting for a convenient time to read them. Make it a point to scan the table of contents when you first receive a magazine and select at least one article to read that is relevant to your business or will help you stay current with the industry. Then read it within that same week. 9. Attend at least one conference per year . Whether you attend a local, regional, national or even global conference, you will find that it is time well spent. Not only do conferences provide you with the opportunity to learn about industry trends and issues, but they also provide you with an opportunity to network with your peers and suppliers to the industry. To make your time as productive as possible, schedule specific appointments with peers or suppliers to ensure that you are able to spend quality time with them. 8. Try two new things to promote your business. These could be as simple as taking out a newspaper ad or sending a postcard to your client and prospect list. Of course, the objective should be to raise awareness about your business and the wonderful services you offer, so you will achieve better results if you run multiple ads or send multiple postcards. Be sure to include a compelling call to action. "We sell print" probably won't deliver much return on investment! Printers must think of themselves first and foremost as providers of a much broader set of services--and the moment they do, their world will change. 7. Develop a marketing plan for your business. A longer term and consistent approach to customers and prospects will help keep your firm top of mind. A good marketing plan does not necessarily need to consume a tremendous amount of resources. The important thing is to have a strategy in place with specific objectives you wish to accomplish, and then execute flawlessly. You should always measure results against the objectives you established and modify your plan if it is not delivering as expected. 6. Differentiate your business. Although printers often describe themselves as a provider of a service, they have frequently restricted their definition of "service" to the activities around the actual manufacture and delivery of the printed product. Printers must think of themselves first and foremost as providers of a much broader set of services--and the moment they do, their world will change. This broader set of services is focused on solving customer business problems rather than laying down ink or toner on paper. Talk to your customers to learn how you can expand your range of offerings, differentiate yourself, and become a partner rather than a supplier. Invest in a close examination of your production process to look for bottlenecks and inefficiencies that can be corrected to make your operation more effective. 5. Improve the efficiency of your production process. While it is clearly beneficial to invest in newer equipment to take advantage of production efficiencies, you should also invest in a close examination of your production process to look for bottlenecks and inefficiencies that can be corrected to make your operation more effective. Automating a broken process will not gain you much. Talk to your staff and consider bringing in an outside consultant or taking advantage of consultative services offered by many of the equipment vendors. The key to improving your process is understanding your current state--and then from a position of knowledge, determining how best to move to a future state that will deliver even more efficiencies. 4. Go digital. Once you have improved the efficiency of your processes, look for ways to infuse more digital technology into the mix. From estimating and order entry to prepress, plate making and press set-ups, today's digital technology offers significant benefits in building an efficient workflow. The more automation you can introduce into your work process, the more profitable you can expect to be. The good news is that establishing an effective digital workflow no longer requires an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars in large integrated solutions, an IT department, and custom software development. Start by jumping on the CTP bandwagon and then consider installing a RIP that can output to all of the devices in your shop, such as Presstek's Facet RIP co-developed by Presstek and EFI. The more automation you can introduce into your work process, the more profitable you can expect to be. 3. Install a Print MIS. A Print MIS will help you make better tactical and strategic decisions about your business. A good Print MIS will provide you with a total view of your operation, allowing you to more easily identify bottlenecks and constraints and adjust processes to eliminate them. It will provide real-time business information that will allow you to make real-time, informed business decisions. A Print MIS is one investment that will touch every employee in your organization, allowing everyone to work from the same set of information for a more accurate, productive environment. 2. Conduct a customer satisfaction survey. Even a one-time survey will provide you with valuable information about how your business is perceived and unveil measures that can be implemented to improve both overall customer satisfaction and to address individual customer issues. Like marketing, customer satisfaction surveys are best conducted on an ongoing basis. They can be mailed, e-mailed, or even placed in each job that is delivered. Most importantly, if customers tell you they are unhappy about something, you will get the best results by closing the loop with them and telling them what you are doing to address the issue. It is nearly impossible to have loyal customers without a base of dedicated and loyal employees. 1. Measure employee satisfaction. There is no question that it is nearly impossible to have loyal customers without a base of dedicated and loyal employees. Disgruntled employees will quickly communicate their dissatisfaction to customers and prospects, both intentionally and unintentionally. It can be as blatant as speaking negatively about the company or as insidious as a sheer lack of interest in the company, its products, and even the customer, that becomes obvious as soon as an employee picks up the phone or greets someone in your lobby. Survey your employees on a regular basis in a non-threatening manner and act on their issues and concerns. I hope this "Top Ten" has given you some food for thought as you face the new year--and the new opportunities it will bring. I started with the easy stuff and went from there. The further you can work down the list, the more dramatically different your 2006 can be. Please let me hear from you--I'd love to hear about your own "Top Ten," and I would love to hear how you have benefited from mine. Peter can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.