Wednesday 9 November 2011

Turning an idea on its head

I was talking to an old printer friend the other day and asked him how he was doing.  I expected the usual cautious optimism (people say you have to be an optimist if you're still in the printing game at present) but instead he said "We're making money for the first time in years".

When I picked myself up off the floor I asked him what had changed.  "It's my new marketing guru", he said.  Apparently this new advisor had asked him what boxes a new client had to check in order to be accepted as a customer.  "Are you joking?" replied my friend "it's the other way round. There are so many printers for each job that the buyer can pick and choose".

"Well," said the advisor "why not stand that idea on its head?"  What he recommended was to see if the the customer had what it takes, by checking things like:
  • Will you pay me up front?
  • Will you accept my prices including a reasonable profit?
  • Will you accept a reasonable time frame? 
I cautiously asked my friend whether his business had shrunk at all.  "No" he said. "The customers who were haggling away my profits, paying late, or defaulting now go to the big on-line boys, where they get what service they can.  But if a customer wants proper service, with the knowledge that we'll continue to be here to serve him next year, there's a price and it's worth his while paying it.  So that proper service is what we've been selling, and successfully too."

I've heard similar views expressed as an ideal by printers, but I think this was the first time I've seen the profitability increased in this way without compromising turnover. 

I take my hat off to him!

It's a funny old game, printing, isn't it?


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