In the urgency to meet daily deadlines, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s happening in the business world beyond your doors. Hiring a print business consultant can give you a sense of how your printing business compares to others. A consultant can help validate the soundness of your thinking or identify issues you may be overlooking. Outside advisors can also talk candidly about print businesses that failed because they ignored disruptive trends and industry changes.

But print-business consultants can’t help you if they aren’t clear about the current state of your business and the type of advice you need. In some cases, your employees can gather the insights and advice you seek. But here are nine common situations in which hiring an outside expert might be helpful.
Declining sales. If economic conditions are generally good, why are you losing sales to competitors? Are you prices to0 high? Is you product range too limited? Are you falling behind in terms of quality and delivery expectations? Are your salespeople using outdated methods of approaching and communicating with younger buyers? An outside consultant can help you pinpoint and confront some uncomfortable realities.

Complying with new regulations. If you sell products or services to national or global brands or e-commerce companies, you need to stay abreast of changing state or national regulatory requirements. For example, some customers may need to start collecting state taxes for online sales. Or, they must comply with strict regulations about the collection and use of customer data. Still others may need to issue warning labels when using certain chemicals in their products or processes. Any advice you gather from a reputable expert will be appreciated by your clients.

Gearing up for the sale of your business. If no one in your family wants to take over the business, how can you find potential buyers? What steps should you take now to attract the best offers? Print-shop business consultants who specialize in mergers and acquisitions often lead buyers to printing businesses that seem to be a good fit with their acquisitions strategy.

Resolving color quality issues. If you are repeatedly getting returns or complaints due to inconsistent or inaccurate color, a good color-management pro should be able to help you quickly identify and resolve the issue. It is often less expensive to hire an experienced consultant than to ask your staff to spend hours, days, or weeks to pinpoint which variables in your workflow are creating the problems. Color management experts have visited literally dozens of printing facilities and witnessed almost every type of color problem you can imagine.

Expanding into a new market segment. If you plan to add a new type of product of service such as packaging, decor, or cross-media marketing, it’s wise to find a consultant who can bring you up to speed on what’s involved. Theoretically, you can into almost any segment you choose with today’s versatile digital printing equipment and automation software. But you are unlikely to succeed unless you have a thorough understanding of the intricacies of the new product, service, or market.

Growing your online sales. Whether you are setting up an online store for your own print shop or for your customers, you should understand the fundamentals of SEO, online marketing, and social media. Consultants who specialize in these fields can make sure you’re following the current best practices.

Handling a PR crisis. If your shop experiences a catastrophic accident or data breach, the right communications expert can help limit the long-term damage to your company’s reputation. While your first instinct might be to cover-up the issue, a good consultant can explain why that strategy may be short-sighted.

Scaling up your business. If you want to open new facilities in other cities or add dozens of new employees through a merger or acquisition, the right consultant can help you avoid expensive mistakes. If you will be adding new automated equipment to your production facility, a qualified consultant can help make sure it is properly integrated with existing equipment.

Protecting critical data. Is your print shop doing everything possible to protect your internal data and the data owned by your customers? An outside consultant can help assure you that your internal IT staff is using the most up-to-date technologies and tactics.

Finding Consultants. You can meet many print-business consultants at industry trade shows. Many consultants present seminars or participate in panel discussions. Others write books, white papers, or articles in trade publications. Even if you don’t need a print-business consultant immediately, it’s wise to maintain a list of outside experts who can assist with specific types of problems.

Like anything else in business operations, working with a consultant will require some time and effort on your part.You will need to provide clear instructions and answers to the many questions the consultant may have.

When you use Ordant’s print-shop-management software to streamline your everyday print-shop operation, you can focus your attention on longer-term business management challenges. For a demonstration of our easy-to-use, customizable solutions for estimating and order management, visit www.ordant.com