Simple strategies that deliver
Three ideas guaranteed to make your print shop run smoothly and happily
This month I’m going to focus on several ideas to help you manage your print shop more effectively. It’s quite a potpourri of information, but I know from experience that if you put these ideas to work in your print shop, you will be happy with the results. I want to focus on three areas: managing the front counter; the use of coupons; and how to determine if your business is going off the tracks.
When I think about sales and marketing, I find myself remembering the great Sam Tract, the longtime marketing columnist who wrote printing and marketing articles before I did. I’m sure most of you knew of him, and some lucky ones actually knew him personally. To me, Sam was more than just my predecessor. He was one of the best printers and communicators I have ever known. As a writer and a speaker, he was charismatic, funny, energetic, and downright fascinating. Every one who read his columns or listened to his speeches just loved him. Although he passed on a while ago, his memory still plays a part in my life. Just a few weeks ago, as I was reorganizing some of my files, I ran across a very interesting piece of paper that I had long forgotten about. It’s something that Sam gave me many years ago. It was dated August 5, 1980. He had written down his list of The Ten Commandments for the Front Counter from his printing firm, CopyFast Printing in Framingham, Massachusetts. I think you all might enjoy reading it, so I’ll share it with you verbatim.
THE TEN commandments
for the front counter
Thou shall greeteth the customer as a friend, with a smile and a hello. Remembereth, it is he, the customer, who places the bread of life upon thy table.
Thou shall take the time to properly prepare the job order, searching diligently for all details, listing all items, and pricing the order in its entirety.
Thou shall keepeth the counter clean and free of waste material.
Thou shall collect in advance all monies from those thou knowest not, and shall obtain a substantial deposit if thou cannot collecteth all of the monies.
Thou shall callest back on all inquiries and shall contact the customer in all cases of doubt.
Thou shall oilest the squeaks and reporteth the improperly working equipment as soon as thou doest spy it.
Thou shall answer the ringing of the telephone with glee, thy joy at the call shall shine through the line telling the customer that we are truly happy that they chose to call us.
Thou shall keepeth thy work area clean and shall on occasion cause it to sparkle brightly.
Thou shall insureth that all items delivered to us are of proper style and count and thou shall assure thyself that each delivery made by us is complete and correct.
And, if thou followeth the law and doeth all these things and a few more, then thy days at CopyFast shall be numbered many. But harken ye who fail to subscribe to these precepts, thy days shall be numbered few, and thou shalt pass thy time in the land of the outsiders.
Coupons have long been a highly-debated topic in the printing industry. Should we use them or shouldn’t we? I think that there are some really good points on both sides of the spectrum. Myself and printing industry marketing experts, such as John Stewart, advocate the use of coupons for printers. We’ve both experienced ongoing success with them at our printing business—and we’ve seen too many other printers have good results with coupons to feel otherwise.
I would like to share a few ideas about coupons that come from my acquaintance and friend, marketing guru Jay Levinson. Some of you recognize his name, and for those of you who don’t, I’m sure you will recognize the titles of some of the books he’s written, such as Guerrilla Marketing, Guerilla Selling, and Guerilla Marketing Attack. Those books have brought him great success; he’s been a number-one selling author for years. He truly is one of the most respected marketing experts in the country today. As president of his own marketing consulting firm, he has clients that range from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses. Here are some of his important points about coupons:
n Coupons do work, and they work for virtually any kind or size of company.
n Coupons not only generate more sales, but they turn strangers into customers. They also increase traffic and motivate many people to patronize a business such as a printer by getting them off the fence and into the business to “give it a try.”
n Coupons do not make a business look like a discounter unless that’s the only kind of marketing employed by the firm. But they do not give that identity to a business that uses coupons only a few times a year.
n It is definitely possible to use coupons without compromising a business’s identity and perception as a quality company. It is the overuse of coupons that upsets these apple carts.
You’ll have to decide for yourself whether or not you’d like to make coupons a part of your printing company’s marketing program. The comments by Jay Levinson only confirm what I’ve discovered about coupons, but his input may help you evaluate whether to use them.
My summary is simple: coupons work. They are not an entire marketing plan, but one small component of the total marketing plan for your printing company.
Mike Stevens is one of North America’s most successful small printers. He owns Express Press in Fargo, North Dakota. Starting with sales of $10,900 a month in 1985, volume now exceeds $250,000 per month. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.expresspressusa.com.