Mail-Well's Strategy to Surround Customers Takes Shape
Press release from the issuing company
ENGLEWOOD, Colo., April 7, 2004 – Determined to leverage its core strengths as a national company to benefit customers both large and small, the Commercial segment of Mail-Well Inc. is forging ahead with "360°" solutions—a sales support strategy that surrounds the customer with service.
Among other advantages, 360º customers enjoy a dedicated account team and a single point of contact for all of their business with Mail-Well, one of North America’s leading producers of visual communications. Behind the scenes, sophisticated data processing and job management systems assure 360º accounts and all other Mail-Well customers of maximum efficiency in the production and delivery of their work.
"Our Fortune 500 clients have been telling us that they want to control their brand, control their print spend, and reduce cost," says Keith Larson, Executive Vice President-Sales and Marketing of the Commercial segment. "They also are narrowing their supplier lists, developing stronger relationships with those remaining, and looking for reporting mechanisms and controls. We’re responding with an all-around approach. Our 360° concept means that our focus wraps around the customer."
According to Larson, the campaign to position Mail-Well as a single-source supplier benefiting large and small customers has been in progress for the last two years. "People have been trying to offer one-stop shopping for a long time," he points out. "However, today Mail-Well has two things on its side: our geographic footprint that enables localized customer service, and our processes that enable national coordination and control.
"No one has as many locations," says Larson. "Nor, do I believe that anyone has the process implementation we do at this time."
He notes that from its 65 plants, the Commercial segment offers planning, design, prepress, printing, and fulfillment overlaid with custom-configured software controls. This system, based on an SAP platform, is a tightly integrated collection of software modules that can be tailored to the details of the end-user’s operations. This helps Mail-Well coordinate and speed job reporting, invoicing, warehouse inventory, and real-time delivery from e-catalog orders, among other functions. Five advanced distribution centers around the country also facilitate prompt response.
At the same time, an initiative called VISTA (Vision Information Standards and Technology in Action) is helping Mail-Well to identify its most effective standard procedures for adoption throughout the company. Among the 175 standards spotlighted by VISTA, Larson says, are a uniform chart of accounts now being used by all Mail-Well companies, as well as common systems for budgeted hourly cost accounting, estimating, and shop-floor data collection. These systems will tie into the IT backbone soon, says Larson.
To leverage its advantages of location and process, Mail-Well has assembled the 360° Enterprise Solutions Group—a team of senior executives who specialize in 360° selling to accounts worth $10 million or more. Based in Atlanta, the team consists of an estimator, a customer service representative (CSR), sales and marketing experts, and supervising executives. Other 360° team members are located in San Francisco, Denver, and the New York metropolitan area.
The goal of 360º selling is to give the customer a complete system of production and inventory tracking with easy access to all of the products and services that Mail-Well has to offer. The company’s successful application of the concept to the business that it does with a major hospitality chain is a telling example of how the strategy works.
Mail-Well sales coordinator Judy Edland originally sold printing to one of the chain’s properties in Seattle. The 360° program let her open the door to servicing the account on a national scale. Today 22 local sales representatives, all reporting to Edland on this account, call on the chain’s high-profile hotels around the country. Mail-Well prints envelopes, business cards, brochures, forms, labels, and other products for the properties, but with Edland serving as the single face of Mail-Well to the parent corporation.
Another key aspect of this arrangement is that even though the chain’s work may be produced at many different locations, the customer receives a single, all-inclusive invoice from Mail-Well’s processing center in Minneapolis. The IT system is what makes unified invoicing possible, says Larson, likening it to a major airline’s hub-and-spoke strategy for consolidating traffic through one location.
While noting that the focus of 360° selling is on larger accounts, Larson says that customers of all sizes can benefit from Mail-Well’s size, scope, and resources.
"We’re really excited to be able to serve our major customers with this innovative program," he says. " However, we never forget that our bread and butter is localized business. Our facilities are mostly small plants with core local customers. The 360° program sits on top of that. We cannot and will not lose sight of our local operations, and 360° offers a vision of where we will be in the future.
"For instance," he says, "we can provide national pricing because we buy consumables like paper in high volumes. Through our computer systems, we provide tracking and monitoring that mom-and-pop shops simply cannot afford. When we invest in major programs like VISTA, they are replicated and the cost is spread across all of our facilities. And, finally, customers of every size have access to all our services from design to delivery and fulfillment as well as archive and retrieve."
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