Growth keeps your printing business healthy and alive. It provides strength, stability, and exposure to new opportunities. But if your print business grows too quickly, it can create stress, chaos, and costly errors.
Typical Growing Pains
Here are some print business growing pains your company might experience.
Communications breakdowns. Employees don’t know what other employees are doing or what information has been provided to the customer. New employees don’t get adequate training and lack information about your company’s long-term vision. The collaborative organizational culture that helped your company flourish start starts to suffer.
Lack of planning. You get so caught up managing day-to-day crises that you can’t focus on future growth strategies. You don’t have time to find ways to reduce expenses, make new connections, promote your business, update your technology, and recruit employees.
Missed opportunities. Your employees are so busy handling details and deadlines for difficult customers that they don’t have time to build relationships with new customers that might provide steadier, more profitable growth over the long term.
Poor cash flow. Cash for supplies and overtime hours goes out faster than payments for completed jobs are received.
Patchwork systems. When employees feel rushed and overwhelmed, they may improvise workaround systems to get jobs completed more quickly. You may be unaware of these shortcuts until a problem arises with product quality, safety, or regulatory compliance.
Employee burnout. Everyone feels stressed because there never seems to be enough time to do things, let alone do them well. Employees may start blaming each other when preventable errors occur in a customer’s job.
How to Avoid Growing Pains
Here are just a few of the steps you can take to ease some of the stress caused by growing pains.
Anticipate and plan for success. When you add new equipment, products, and services, make realistic plans for how much additional work and income these additions will generate. Develop and articulate a clear vision of where you want to business to go. Make sure all employees understand and support this vision.
Automate your management information systems (MIS). A well-executed Print MIS program can help your print shop lay a strong foundation for steady growth. Good software can help you avoid repetitive entry of job data, miscommunication among employees, and errors such as overlooked jobs, supply shortages, and missed deadlines.
Clearly define employees roles and responsibilities. Fine tune the workflows for each product and service. Make sure everyone knows who is responsible for which phase of the job. Cross train employees so they can step in and assist if the person with primary responsibility for a task isn’t available.
Monitor profitability. During growth spurts, your sales might be increasing but your profits are not. Are you incurring a lot of unexpected expenses such as overtime hours, reprints, or rush deliveries? Have your prices been adjusted to cover increases in the costs of labor or materials. A well-maintained print-shop management program such as Ordant can help you spot jobs in which costs exceed the estimated and invoiced amounts.
Use the data. Look for ways to continuously improve your operations. As the number of jobs going through your shops rises, where are the biggest bottlenecks occurring? What steps can you take to alleviate these bottlenecks? Who are your most profitable customers? What types of products do they order most often? What steps can you take to attract more profitable work or more business from good customers?
The reports generated by the Print MIS system can help you make informed decisions about the future of your business. If operations start spinning out of control in one area of your shop, you can take quick, decisive action to rectify the problems.
Ordant’s cloud-based print-shop management program is ideal for small-to-medium print businesses that want to grow in both size and profitability. Our modules streamline and simplify processes for managing estimates, orders, purchase requisitions, proof approvals, job tracking, customer relationships, invoices, and shipping. The system is so easy to use that everyone in the shop can stay informed about the status of each job in progress and any special instructions from the customer. When your shop adds new products, services, or production steps, you can easily customize the software to accommodate the changes. To schedule a demonstration, visit www.ordant.com