Your print shop is still open and you don’t want to lay off or furlough employees unless you have to, but the work isn’t flowing in like it was. How can you justify keeping them on? One of the answers is to see this as an opportunity to invest in strategies that will pay off in an even stronger, more profitable workplace for everyone long term. Here are five ideas for starters.

We see it happening all over the country in other businesses. While business is slow (or closed to the public), there is still steady activity going on inside.

At the Maryland-based ministry where my husband works, for example, all programming is on hold. No revenues are coming in, but the facilities team is as busy as ever tearing through the list of projects that they couldn’t get to before. The team is shoring up infrastructure and renovating office space, and my husband is moving ahead with the design portions of the capital projects. All of this supports the ministry’s long-term viability and, consequently, its ability to fulfill its mission to serve local families and the larger community. Similarly, a family friend, a structural engineer, is busier than ever as his corporate clients do the same things. They are seizing on the downtime to do those forward-thinking projects that may not be moneymakers now, but that will position their organizations to be more competitive and more profitable in the future.

As a printing business, you can take the same approach. What are projects you can be investing in now that will put you in a better position coming out of this crisis? There are many projects you can kick off at little to no cost but that will enable you and your employees to make productive use of this slowdown to better position your company for the future.

Here are five starter ideas.

  1. Go LEAN. Every organization has waste and inefficiency. Use this time to implement a lean strategy (Six Sigma) to mine out areas of inefficiency and waste in your plant. There are plenty of training opportunities at very little cost, so mine the collective wisdom and experience of your employees to find and address those inefficiencies so that when business ramps back up, you will be even more productive and profitable than before.
  2. Consider G7. By calibrating to precise gray balance, G7 makes getting up to color and achieving consistent color—even across processes—achievable, faster, and easier. Not only does this improve efficiency and reduce waste, positioning you for greater profitability long-term, but it enables G7 printers to be confident in working together in outsourcing arrangements, creating more business opportunities for everyone.
  3. Cross-train. Printers know the value of cross-training employees, but who has time to do it with the presses are running nonstop? Now is a perfect time to get that cross-training done!
  4. Update your website. Just like cross-training, printers know the importance of keeping their websites updated, but when things are busy, it’s tough to make it happen. I recently had a printer contact me to write web copy on a service he’s offered for some time, but because the shop had been so busy, he hadn’t had a chance to add to the site. Now, with the slowdown, he was playing catch-up on the website in a way he hadn’t had a chance to do before. What about you? What on your website needs refreshing?
  5. Investigate new products, services, and markets. Been thinking about launching into new markets are investing in new services but didn’t have time to do the research? Now is the time to get that done, too, and with so many people working from home, you may find that people are easier to catch and that it’s easier to have those longer, deeper discovery process conversations.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a tragedy, and we are all working together to weather the storm. One of the ways we can do that is find ways, not only to justify keeping employees working, but to use this time to invest in making even more stable, viable, and more profitable businesses that benefit everyone long-term.

I’ve suggested five steps toward that goal. What are yours?