Chambersburg, PA - These are tough times for many printers, large and small. Commercial accounts are either drying up or underperforming and leads for new clients are all but nonexistent in some places, according to Deborah Snider, senior vice president of e-LYNXX Corporation and president of the firm's Government Print Management division. Printing Industries of America (PIA) predicts about 9,500 printers in the United States will disappear by 2020. That would leave about 27,000 printers nationwide, down from a high just a few years ago of 36,500.
"If you are concerned that you may be one of those 9,500 who will not be here in 2020, you should change your strategy if you are now going it alone," Snider said. "Professional print management firms can offer invaluable assistance if they provide services that will help you increase your profitability. A good print management firm will be an extension of your sales force and less expensive than adding another sales executive."
The best print management firms know how to help printers increase their profits by helping them win work from one of the most dependable of all print-job sources -- the United States Government Printing Office (GPO). "Any printer not now doing GPO work should seriously think about developing GPO as a secondary market," Snider said. "This is a huge market that you can go to when you need work to fill gaps in your production schedule. GPO awards private sector printers more than $358 million in print work annually, and welcomes competitive bidding."
A print management firm that knows how to work with GPO doubles as a GPO bid service. Being successful with GPO requires experience, and here are Snider's five reasons why working with print experts at a GPO bid service in 2011 would benefit a printer's bottom line.
1. GPO print management experts are print industry veterans who know how to work through government bureaucracy and red tape. They understand the stringent detail that must be provided when bidding for GPO work and then followed to complete a job. For instance, sometimes paper on a GPO job can be substituted, and sometimes doing so can be considered fraud. They know the difference. They will help printers understand the JCP code numbers that are contained in the Government Paper Specifications Standards. These spell out requirements for everything from acidity, weight and bursting strength to opacity, thickness, color, finishing and formation. Working with a print expert can help the printer bid competitively using the best paper quote to increase its profitability. This is just one example. Beyond paper, there are volumes of production, packaging, labeling, shipping and invoicing requirements.
2. GPO print management experts monitor GPO job postings from a variety of GPO sources. They are the only ones with a comprehensive list if they subscribe to the GPO Bid Subscription System (BSS). Through this program, bid opportunities are delivered to the subscriber via fax, e-mail, other transmission methods and by the subscriber actually picking up bid postings in each and every GPO regional office. Subscribers must pay for all of the costs of the program including the requirement to have adequate communication capabilities, i.e. phone and internet capacity for the receiving numerous communications simultaneously as well as pay for the every-day pick-up and delivery from each office. The alternative to buying the program directly from GPO is to obtain screened opportunities from a GPO bid service. Only one GPO bid service subscribes to the GPO Bid Subscription System.
3. GPO print management experts utilize historical GPO job data and provide it to clients so they will be making an educated bid -- a significant advantage over the competition who bids based on guesstimating rather than facts. Knowing when and what to bid, based on a thorough knowledge of the marketplace at any given point in time, gives the GPO bid service client a decisive advantage. For example, competition for GPO work in the $2,500 to $5,000 range is fierce but if the printer can bid on large, difficult, specialty or fast turn-around jobs the competition is limited. Print management experts will keep clients informed on all jobs so they can make an informed decision about what GPO work would be best for them.
4. GPO print management experts know how to manage GPO contracts. They know the proper documentation that must be provided to obtain contract modifications. To receive payment from GPO, the printer must negotiate requested amounts with the GPO contract administrator, not a representative from the government agency for which the work is being done. GPO is the customer, not the agency. Print experts also will be alert to contract change orders because not to acknowledge a change order can cost the printer a job. Print experts monitor GPO activity and alert their clients to changes as they are posted by GPO.
5. GPO print management experts know how to work with clients to complete GPO work and invoicing on time and as specified so they get paid within 30 days. They know that their clients cannot miss deadlines, that all packaging and labeling must be correct and that all paperwork must be in order.
GPO is a dependable and profitable source for work to fill non-productive, non-revenue generating downtime. Printers that enter the GPO marketplace both strategically and consistently, with knowledge of how to work the numbers and fulfill requirements, increase their bottom line annual profitability from a national average of less than 3% to more than 10%. "This is an excellent way to start 2011," Snider concluded.