Fulfillment can be a great addition to a print and mail shop. This service can take advantage of existing skills, leverage unused space, and provide a steady source of additional income. While these are great reasons to develop a fulfillment service, there are 5 fatal mistakes that result in lost revenue and disappearing clients. Learn from these blunders so your fulfillment program can get off to a great and profitable start.
Rather than making an informed decision to start a fulfillment program, many people start the service to make one client happy. As a result, they aren’t prepared for the unique challenges of this program and don’t dedicate the staff and resources needed for success. When the fulfillment service evolves from this foundation, it will fail because they don’t have the skills, expertise, and resources in place to deliver a quality outcome.
Avoid this problem by identifying if there is a true need for fulfillment services in your area and if you are prepared to commit the resources needed to meet it. Make fulfillment a part of your business model rather than an add-on to meet a specific customer need.
Many print and mail shop owners don’t appreciate that fulfillment is a completely different service that requires managing inventory, processing returns, and working with an ever-changing mailing list. This lack of understanding of the various components of fulfillment often leads to disaster.
You must understand the unique requirements of fulfillment and determine if you truly have the space and staffing capacities to do it well. If you have these resources or are willing to acquire them, then you can confidently provide this service.
This service involves data processing, customer service, operational and fulfillment skills. Simply placing a floor employee in charge of the fulfillment with no training, support or decision making authority will result in a short-lived service that costs more than you invested in it.
Fulfillment can be a very profitable service but it needs the right leader. Training someone in-house or hiring this expertise is critical for your success.
Related to training, lack of cross training will devastate your new fulfillment service. Investing in initial training is crucial but losing that investment when that person, and their expertise, walk out the door, is short-sighted.
If you are truly willing to invest in fulfillment you need a plan for short and long-term success. This includes assuring that the business will continue to thrive even in the absence of its original leader.
When owners use fulfillment to maximize staffing and other resources the result is a hodgepodge service that only runs as well as the skills of the staff assigned that day. This lack of consistency results in poor customer service for your client and their end recipients.
With fulfillment you need to be prepared to go all-in or not to provide the service. You must be able to deliver consistent, reliable fulfillment and this means dedicated staff and space. These can grow as you add customers, but it must be consistent in quality and deliverables.
Not every print and mail shop can or should add fulfillment to their services. If you are considering adding this program, make sure you have the demand and are willing to invest to avoid these 5 fatal mistakes.