Do You Need More Print and Mail Clients – Or Just Better Ones?
Every print and mail shop has a sales department, that person or group of people whose job it is to bring in new business – as much and as quickly as possible. For many of businesses, success is measured in part by how many customers are served each week, month or year, or even a simple sales revenue volume number. But sometimes this metric pulls the owner’s attention in the wrong direction.
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, he stated, “focusing is about saying no,” and he shrank the company’s product line to the ones that would prove most successful. Several print and mail shops have also found success by saying no. Businesses that used to have 300 clients a year are generating a higher profit margin and delivering impeccable customer service by culling their client base down to 50. The difference? A client that generates one project a week is of higher value than one that generates one project a year. This shift in focus, and saying no to pop up orders, provides many benefits that include:
- Higher Profit Margin. Many high-client based companies don’t know the true cost of small jobs and often underbid them to pull in business or meet a client deadline. These projects deplete the profit margin of the business as a whole. Companies that focus on a few high-volume clients, know their costs and can structure their deliverables to maximize their bottom line.
- No Schedule Disruptions. Fast turnaround and unscheduled “emergency” orders disrupt the shop flow. This process can force scheduled projects to be delayed and some clients may choose to take their businesses elsewhere. With long-term customers, these disruptions simply don’t happen.
- Better Staff Management. Companies that accommodate ad-hoc clients struggle to staff their shop appropriately. With a limited number of high-volume clients, it is easy to predict staffing needs and anticipate high and low volume cycles, which builds a more stable business model.
- Limited Staffing. A sales team is a must for companies that have a high volume of clients and client turnover. Businesses focused on a small group of long-term clients shift their attention from sales to customer satisfaction, which requires employee training rather than additional staff.
- Reduced Costs. Ad hoc projects can produce intense workloads that often result in overtime costs, emergency inventory restocks, and overscheduled machines that delay order completions and require discounts to keep customers happy. With fewer, high volume clients, staffing and inventory management are simplified and you don’t have to apologize for delays since they don’t occur.
- Improved Customer Relations – and Referrals. When the majority of clients requests one order a year, it is impossible to build a lasting relationship. When clients schedule weekly or bi-weekly projects, a strong working relationship is established. The print and mail staff develops an understanding of their client’s operations and can anticipate needs. When these clients are happy, they often refer other long-term customers, which allows the business to grow while keeping a tight focus on what matters.
Rather than worry about whether your competition will get that next job, ask yourself you actually want it. You may find that saying no to disruptive orders allows you to focus on the customers that matter, which builds a more stable and profitable business.