In conversations with printing and bindery company decision makers about investment in new equipment, staff, software or processes, there is one occasional comment that never fails to disturb us: “We’re going to wait and see what happens.”
A good friend and long-time successful survivor in the print industry was fond of saying “you wait around, wait around…pretty soon you won’t be around.” (We're paraphrasing his far more colorful colloquialism.) In our experience we don’t usually have too many follow-up conversations with folks that have the wait-and-see approach. They’re not around to talk in a few months or they end up in such dire financial straits that no further investment is possible.
A little research turned up this interesting fact: 70% of the companies in our database who have gone out of business never tried any of our products, despite a need. We're not suggesting that our solutions alone would necessarily have kept them in business. What we are suggesting is that it reflects a paralyzing wait-and-see attitude that is deadly when it becomes corporate culture, and that a more pro-active stance could have kept them in business.
There should always be something coming next to increase sales, productivity and profits in your company or department, whether you are a business owner, folding machine operator or shipping clerk. Here are two words you can use to ignite the fire of productivity and growth—‘what’s next?’
- What can we do next to make our press room more productive?
- What’s next for our bindery equipment productivity?
- What’s next for improving job workflow in the shop?
- What’s next for a better sales closing ratio?
Start asking “what’s next” about every department and pretty soon you’ll have a lively, pro-active strategy.
The good news is that most commercial printers are not in the wait-and-see camp. An article on MyPrintResource.com covering NAPL’s Quick and Small Commercial Printers Trends Report says that “70% of quick and small commercial printers surveyed expect sales to grow in 2011, while only 7% expect them to decrease.” That’s good news and it’s a wave you definitely want to catch.
More importantly, according to the report authors Andrew Paparozzi and Joseph Vincenzino “Companies that are growing are creating their own growth, not growing with the market…They recognize that there is plenty of opportunity—just not in the same old places or by doing the same old things.”
In other words, if you are 1 of the 3 waiting to see what happens, doing the same old things, remember there are 7 other shops out there making things happen. Your odds are not good. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with caution and conservative action. What’s harmful is a lack of action fortified by the illusion that the status quo can and will be maintained. There is always something you can do to improve your operation.
Business life is not static. You’re either moving away from success or towards success, however you define it. It’s easy to ride the market wave when expectations and business are good, to grow when everyone is growing. Asking ‘what’s next’ will improve your results during these times.
The trick is to avoid drowning when the wave crashes. Asking ‘what’s next’ minimizes the inevitable downswings and may even help you grow while others struggle. What's next for your company or department?