Commentary & Analysis
By Carole Alexander Printers occupy the ideal position in the supply chain.
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: March 14, 2006
By Carole Alexander Printers occupy the ideal position in the supply chain." March 14, 2006 -- Reenergizing is good for your body, your mind and your printing business. The Printing Business part was the title of a presentation at GOA/Xplor given by Michael Kind, and is also the title of his book. It was unlike many how-tos that tell you to do things which, if you could do them, you wouldn't be reading the book in the first place. And, unlike others that tell you the obvious, such as "increase sales." Duh! The difference with Kind's book is that I went home and cleaned up my desk. He got me to take a fundamental step towards improving my business. And the road to greater success is, after all, one small basic task after another. Kind gives you ones you can actually do. The book is written as a novel about Marty, the "everyman printer." He's frustrated, tired of HOF (hair on fire) jobs, worried about technology challenges, facing future uncertainty, carrying the entire load himself, overwhelmed and wishing he could get out of the business. Kind says it is based on his own story of owning a print shop "with incredible initial success followed by near financial and business ruin" and managing to turn it around, tripling sales over a four-year period during the dot com bust and the years following 9/11. "The resuscitation of the business back to health," Kind claims, "was the right way," and he sold the company in 2004, starting MyKind Advisors consulting to help others benefit from what he learned. The book shows there is hope if you are prepared to take the necessary steps and properly execute your plan "Printing is, without a doubt, an industry in decline," says Kind. But his book tries to demonstrate that "not everything is lost and that there is hope if you are prepared to take the necessary steps and properly execute your plan." The five components it takes to energize your business, Kind suggests, include "organization, vision, communication, execution and controls." This may sound like the usual how-to jargon, but in fact, it is more step-by-step about cleaning your desk and setting an example. For example, "Start with 4 boxes and a trash can. Use the 80/20 rule, and expect 80% to be discarded. Boxes are labeled "to Do", "To File", "Immediate" and "Distribute." Take everything off the desk and put it on the floor in 3" stacks. Start to pick up piles and put in appropriate boxes. It should take 1 hour. "With a desktop that is clear, your mind clears." The fact is that, when we are overwhelmed, we cannot think clearly. By taking the time to organize we give ourselves a change to rejuvenate and clarify our thoughts. "This lays the foundation," claims Kind, "for creating the needed vision and implementing it." Marty, needless to say, had a plant that was a mess. In the book, he learns how to listen to clients and adds a new revenue source in a businesslike (not haphazard) way. This is useful information. Kind touches on the opportunities that lie in capturing the client's marketing dollars, diversification and working as a team to tap into the knowledge throughout the organization. In other words, the transition involves the owner realizing he can't do it alone and letting go in the right way. By taking the time to organize we give ourselves a change to rejuvenate and clarify our thoughts. Adding a new revenue source effectively is an important topic. Kind counsels, "Treat it as a separate business. Not I'm a printer, but I also do this." It should have a separate P&L, dedicated person/people and strive to be the best "in the category" of that service. Kind urges bringing in "expert personnel and having a passion for the business." This opens the door to providing services other than print that will help build the business. Kind admits his total print sales went down while revenues were increasing. A key suggestion is to join industry associations so finding expert personnel is easier. Another key concept is to have the right activities. He urges a "baby step process" which includes setting implementation timelines, breaking goals into manageable pieces, regularly scheduled meetings, and specific tasks. Kind recommends following up to assess progress and communicating in writing to effectively move forward. "Emailing," according to Kind," has more effect than verbal communication." He wants owners to develop a standardized process so they have time to run the business. He gives step by step information on how to have good meetings. "Emailing," according to Kind," has more effect than verbal communication." Kind thinks "printers occupy the ideal position in the supply chain." When you consider a marketing program from concept to creation to dissemination, printers are at the center point of that strategy. They can add other services desired by customers more easily than other services can add printing, which has a high cost of entry. So, they have the potential to become a larger part of the marketing program and gain services with higher profit margins. Recommended reading. To get your book, go to mykindadvisors.com.