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Small mom and pop print shop. Looking for ways to update our workflow.

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  • Small mom and pop print shop. Looking for ways to update our workflow.

    I work for a small mom and pop print shop. Both my bosses are in their 60's and are used to doing things the way they do things. We do use Franklin Estimating for our offset estimating. But billing is done via 4 part invoice and a typewriter. We have no customer tracking whatsoever. Jobs that come in used to be written down on a yellow legal pad but I've had the girl that works here set up a thing in Excel that we can both edit online to enter jobs but my boss has a hard time using it because its on the computer. We do no advertising whatsoever. I keep telling her that we need to get a customer list so we can do email advertising to our clients. Anybody have any advise that I could give to her that might help us out a bit?

  • #2
    I hate to be negative but are you sure your bosses want to change? If there isn't support or a budget for it then it will be legal pads and typewriters.

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    • #3
      LOL. No, they don't want to change. They are set in their ways. But I keep thinking, if there is something we can do to bring our stuff into the 21st century, that would be good. Just the other day she was talking about not making enough money even though we are busy. I brought up the point that we do absolutely NO advertising. It's all word of mouth. How the hell are we supposed to survive on that? I mean, it's worked since 1985, but we SHOULD have a customer list with all our customers in it that we can send monthly emails to, at the very least.

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      • #4
        Since there are a whole lot of directions you could try to push for improvements in, stop and ask yourself: which parts of your current workflow take the most time or are most cumbersome? What is keeping you from getting more/new business? If your job intake is small enough that a legal pad works, even if it makes you cringe, leave it as it is. People only have so much capacity for change at once - so don't tire them out with things they can't see a need for.

        Once you find that "thing", whatever it is, do up some kind of prototype or small-scale version so people can see for themselves how it'd be better. Shine and polish it a bit before you show it because people can get hung up on tiny, fixable details and discard the whole concept not understanding which parts are trivial to change and which ones aren't. Once you relieve the pressure on one part of a workflow, other pain points will become more obvious to people and you'll have some credibility to suggest further changes.

        General advice on introducing technology solutions to tech-adverse people: it's all about ease of use. Bookmark that website they need to go to as an alias on their desktop and teach their browser to auto-fill the password. Spend time formatting Excel files to be visually pleasing and easy to read. Ask for feedback about what's hard to do or what they wish they could change and then go make the changes.

        And my personal advice about advertising would be to ditch the email marketing idea if you're that small of a shop. If your market is random consumers, you'd be better served by a clean, simple website they can find on Google. If your market is other businesses or offices, you'd be better served by hiring a sales rep to go around visiting your existing clients and trying to win the business of new ones. Just my two cents.

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        • #5
          I'd suggest finding a new job. It seems they're just hanging on until retirement. Very few 'mom & pop' printers around anymore and it's unlikely yours will be the exception.
          Or maybe you can work out an arrangement to buy the place from them and them change as you please. I suspect the production equipment is pretty dated though so moving on might be best.

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          • #6
            Do you know what their succession plan is?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by arossetti View Post
              Do you know what their succession plan is?
              No, not really. I've been here about 15 years (I'm the graphic artist). There are tons of things I would change about how this place is run that are just my own personal opinions.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by OffsetStorefront View Post
                And my personal advice about advertising would be to ditch the email marketing idea if you're that small of a shop. If your market is random consumers, you'd be better served by a clean, simple website they can find on Google. If your market is other businesses or offices, you'd be better served by hiring a sales rep to go around visiting your existing clients and trying to win the business of new ones. Just my two cents.
                My idea about the email marketing is to let our customers know about things they may not know we can do and they end up going somewhere else for that stuff. I hear it time and time again "OH! You can do that!?" But in reality, we need to get some more business clients. I mean, we have enough now but some more larger clients are needed. I keep thinking about sending out personalized letters to businesses in the area that we don't work with. But like I said, we basically do nothing as far as advertising or looking for new clients.

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                • #9
                  I'd have to agree with Arossetti on two points. If the owners are not on board, you'll be wasting your time. Second, How close are they to retiring? Start looking into your own company. Learn everything you can now and when they have to close because they are retiring or can't sustain it anymore, you can put out your own open sign.

                  "It's all word of mouth. How the hell are we supposed to survive on that?" Like this: print yourself some business cards and notepads. Go to your next Chamber networking event and talk to people. Join a Rotary club. Volunteer on some town/city committee. Something. If you're not already doing them, ask if you can make some deliveries and give the customer a product list. That's how I grew my shop and kept it alive for 12 years. Despite being all digital, using the latest software and automation, I do very little advertising. When I do, it's usually direct mail or sponsoring an event. Honestly, people are inundated with advertising because everyone is doing so much of it because it's cheap and easy but when you show up in person or a post card appears in their mailbox, that get's attention because the first one is hard and the second one is expensive. My point is, a lot of companies are focusing on digital marketing and email because it's cheap and easy which leaves room in traditional or "old school" forms of marketing.

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                  • #10
                    Twitch... based on what you've said, I'd fish around with them and see if they want to sell? Maybe you could swing a deal to let you take over the shop? It's a long shot, but you never know. However... one thing really is a red flag... you said "we're busy but they say we're loosing money"... so that tells me they are not charging enough. Advertising and bring in more work won't get you out of the red if you're loosing money with every job produced. In the end, the best choice may be to start looking for another place to work... you'll start falling behind in new systems and workflows if you stay.

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                    • #11
                      I would be concerned if I was you with owners in their 60's, a business that is not brining in enough money, no desire to continuously improve, and has no succession plan.

                      I'm guessing the building and equipment are dated and worn; the only thing left worth any value is their book of business. I would think they will sell their client list to another local printer when they are ready to retire.

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                      • #12
                        This topic came up on #PrintChat a few weeks back...here's my 2 cents on the topic: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/print...ott-eganhouse/
                        I'd say you have a serious culture issue and those are tough to fix...

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