I run a printing company and we fight to make profits. I hate to say it but selling printing is worst than selling cars, as the guy down the road is always “giving it away!” The owners of the company look me in the eyes and say “Increase prices it will bring back the profitability!” The problem is the market dictates the price and just like in the auto industry – buyers can shop around – so raising prices only lowers volume. And to make money we need volume…
Now I agree we need to raise prices, but if we understand that the price is a dynamic set by the market, then raising prices will just drive away business; some customers might pay a little more, but on the whole they will select the best price/value combination.
So… Give ‘em more value… OK… How do you do that? We put print on paper, fold and trim it and make it into brochure or something similar – So does the guy down the street! Maybe our dots are slightly sharper and our printing is slightly better, but who cares… the majority of our customers don’t. OUCH!
So… What can we do? Pretty much 50% of the selling price of a printed product is the cost of the materials and labor, the other 50% is the cost to run the business and somewhere in there is this thing called profit.
So… If we can’t control the price, we have to go and control our costs. More than that we have to change the structure of our printing companies so that we can once again make profits; enabling us to re-invest in our business. And for the shareholders/owners to take some dividends (make some return on their investment = take some money).
I’ve been a Coastal printing for almost three years and while we have made extensive change and seen sales grow and profits increase we are still a million miles away from where we need to be.
But more, I have made the personal decision to learn more. I am going to take the time and make the effort (and personally pay the money so that I am a stakeholder) to become a Six Sigma Black Belt. Starting in April I will begin my education all over again.
Between running a company, building a marketing strategy and implementing it, bringing in new services (such as mailing and multi-channel marketing), I am now going to fill my spare time (and brain) with Lean Six Sigma.
I started a Lean Manufacturing program back in August of 2010 and it has had a real impact upon us, however, keeping it moving and implementing is hard (if it was easy everyone would be doing it). I am off to the Continuous Improvement Conference in April to meet with over 200 fellow printers all facing the same issues and trying to learn how o dig out!
The course takes about a year and finishes with certification… so over the next 52 weeks I am going to share with you how a COO can juggle all of the above and have a family life and win!
PS: did any of you watch Julia and Julia? Just in case you did I am not going to be making “Coq-Au-Vin or Perfectly Poached Eggs” – but I am sure that plenty of butter will be needed – so I can slide my way through all of these tasks and come out the other end with my sanity!