In today’s fast-moving, forward-looking printing business, you can no longer rely on your shop’s past performance to predict future success. As business conditions and customer requirements continue to shift, your print shop must change with them. Even so, it is still worthwhile to evaluate how your 2018 business performance before finalizing your 2019 print shop business planning. It’s always useful to reflect on which initiatives went right in 2018 and which programs haven’t quite worked out as planned. Your goal is to detect emerging trends in your business that could have either a positive or negative effect on new 2019 business initiatives. Operational or personnel issues that aren’t addressed before year’s end may hinder your ability to bring in new employees, equipment, or software next year.
Here are some questions to raise with your staff during your year-end review. Are we close to achieving the goals we set for this year? If not, why not? Can we pinpoint specific incidents or issues that derailed our progress?
What did we do right this year? Think about our top three accomplishments this year and why they were successful.
What initiatives need to be refined? How are our newest workflow procedures or collaboration tools working out? Should we expand, tweak, or scrap them?
What kind of feedback are we getting from customers? Are customers happy with our performance and services? Are they complaining about quality or delivery issues? Asking for additional printing services or ancillary projects such as online storefronts?
How much do we really know about our customers? Are we able to offer them good solutions for adapting to changes in their business? Can we anticipate the types of services our customers might want us to provide next year?
What kind of feedback are we getting from prospective customers? Do we know why we lost out some of jobs we quoted this year? Were we too slow in responding to a request for proposal? Were our prices too high? Were we unclear in describing how our services and products differ from those of our competitors?
Are we gathering enough data on how our business operates? Are we measuring the right things? Are we accumulating more data than we really need to make smart, timely decisions? Have we reached a point where we focus more on data than listening to requests from customers?
What kind of feedback are we getting from employees? Do employees feel overworked and underpaid? Do they feel as if their concerns aren’t heard? Do they feel insecure about their jobs? Are they leaving for better opportunities elsewhere? Have changes in management affected the organizational culture? Pay particular attention to the concerns of your top-performing employees.or highly skilled, thoroughly trained employees that would be difficult to replace if they left. If some employees aren’t living up to their potential, what steps we take to motivate them?
What kind of feedback are we getting from prospective employees? If potential new hires have turned down your job offers, what reasons did they give? Is our shop viewed as a desirable place to work? Are we attracting applications from great candidates without even advertising an open position?
Are we reducing the amount of waste we generate each year? Have we reduced our error rates and ink consumption through better color management and job planning?
How much downtime did we experience this year? Was it due to aging equipment, lack of preventive maintenance, or operator error? What steps can we take to minimize downtime next year?
Which products were most profitable and least profitable in 2018? How can we generate more orders for our most profitable products? What changes can we implement to generate higher margins from our least profitable profits? This type of “year-in-review” analysis can help you identify dozens of small actions that can make a big impact on your operations in the coming year. Setting some changes in motion now builds momentum for the changes you plan to bring to your print business next year.
An easy-to-use print shop management program such as Ordant can help you track and analyze some of the data you need to address the questions above. Ordant is simple enough for all employees to use and easy to customize so you can have quick access to the data you need to make smart decisions about the future of your business. With the right system in place, you don’t have to wait until the end of the year to make adjustments to your plans. You can update your strategies every month. For a demonstration of our scalable framework for print-shop business management, visit www.ordant.com