Heidelberg's Print Media Academy (PMA) is a multinational educational network that has mentored industry members from more than 70 countries in everything from learning to operate folders to earning advanced degrees in print media management. The PMA also has a multimedia publishing program that has released some of the best general material we've seen for knowledge-hungry print professionals.
Case in point: Behind the Scenes of a Successful Print Shop, the latest in the "Concepts & Solutions" series of management guides. Available free of charge as a 65-page PDF, Behind the Scenes is presented as a real interview with an anonymous print company CEO who's described as an ideal entrepreneur - a boss with a clear vision of his strategic goals and a methodical system for achieving them. Under his leadership, readers are told, the company's staff size and sales volume have more than tripled over the last four years.
In keeping with his emphasis on adding value, Behind the Scenes actually is two books. The second segment is a conversation with a "successful sales rep" who describes a goal-driven, highly structured, and scrupulously time-managed personal strategy that embodies all of the top-down tenets articulated by the CEO.
To be successful as a print shop proprietor, says the boss, it's necessary to take six principles to heart:
1. Set a company goal. Think about where you want your company to be in three to five years.
2. Inform your employees. Make the goal palatable to your employees and explain how they will benefit.
3. Establish a paradigm. Develop a paradigm, anchor it in your employees' minds, and make it the basis for all action.
4. Define management principles. Work with your managers to develop principles for taking action.
5. Formulate goals. All managers and staff should establish partial goals as milestones and capture them in writing.
6. Define indicators. All managers should define indicators for all work done, so that the results can be monitored
The sales rep expresses the house rules as selling strategies in his own way: "Tap sales potentials. Establish priorities. Set partial goals as milestones. Create added value for customers. Act positively. Inspire trust."
Formulaic though he may be, the boss has a maverick streak. Asked how he managed to turn around what had been "a floundering printing company" in less than a year, he answers, "I familiarized myself with the individual processes, investigated customer complaints and moved my desk to the middle of the in-house sales department."
What about pressure from customers for discounts? "We reward staff who successfully avoid granting them," replies the CEO. "If the average discount a sales representative gives over the course of a year doesn't exceed a certain percentage, he receives a cash bonus."
There's much more to learn from Behind the Scenes of a Successful Print Shop, and we'd like to hear your comments on the quality of its advice. While its prescriptions for management excellence aren't really new, its presentation of these evergreen concepts is straightforward and persuasive. It's hard to disbelieve the boss when he declares, "We practice a consistent management style that is free of contradictions. And we have attained a level of management quality in our print shop that lets us generate lasting value and realize our vision." Compliments to the PMA for opening a window onto the thinking of this "ideal entrepreneur," whoever he may be.