Bottom Line Counts…. Someone told me…. Four Questions You Better Answer

Someone told me the bottom line counts.

Someone told me that a respectable blog begins to mature and gain acceptance at 50 posts and 100 posts.

Someone told me that you should blog at least once a week to stay in the minds of those that read blogs.

Someone told me that you need to get a life and not blog so much or sit around reading FB and LI and Twitter and Pinterest and Tumblr and, and, so much.

Well, bottom line results count more than what someone told me.

Every company is pressed to improve the bottom line, not improve blog hits and social media viral statistics.  If those items can be directly related to your revenue to expense ratios, then you need to dog them daily.  If those items just make the marketers feel better about themselves and all the attention they are getting, you need some “come to Jesus” meetings and explain you are in business to make a profit not be pretty and cute and liked.

Ask yourself:

Has my socialization spend in marketing improved revenue?

How much did it cost me per improved dollar in sales for my socialization?

Has “promoting the brand” with no discernible impact on bottom line been replaced with socialization tactics?

Have I distanced my customer base through using socialization versus good old fashioned phone calls, personal notes, and visits from the sales team?

The People We Serve… Consider Well..

The People We Serve… Consider Well… This is a great comment on the Print Production Professionals group  from one looking for great service.

Jayne Bennett • I believe solid relationships are built on positive working experiences, mutual education and growing trust. Suppliers can create those positive working experiences through performance and service. They can also earn my respect when they bring me up to speed on something they offer or can offer ways to enhance what I do for my clients/end users. Brownie points if they try and understand my clients’ needs and industry/marketing challenges. They can establish, nurture and grow trust through performance, honesty and integrity.

Yes, folks, price is important! It always will be. But it’s not the only game in town and buyers who look solely to price aren’t adding ANY value as a buyer. As a buyer, I try and hold up my end of the teeter-totter by sourcing judiciously (let’s face it–as a supplier, you do NOT want to get another quote you know you aren’t suited for–it’s a waste of your time), communicating thoroughly and honestly and being a fair, but admittedly demanding, customer.

In my opinion as a buyer, you can build strong relationships and still get the pricing and service you need–there is no need for browbeating and haggling. I source to those who are equipped and able to do the job–the competitive pricing flows from there. My vendor pool is bidding on work that suits their shop, not to try and put a number under my nose and hope I bite this time. In fact, when you have to perform the impossible, isn’t it great to have someone in your corner who WANTS to make you look good vs. one that grudgingly has to do so because it’s a “good job to get in this market?

Excellence Starts Here! Three Tips For Top Performance. Engaging Ingenuity.

IMG00354-20100730-0810

These two gentlemen represent a great event in a production shop.  What really is the beginning of such powerful events?  Oh, the event?  The team had kept key equipment up and running and productive for 30 days with no vendor calls.  Amazing.  Especially considering the fact that prior to this the equipment required calls every 2-3 days for many years.  They are holding an award for the historic event.  Now, back to the question.  What really is the beginning of such powerful events?

Think about why you need these events?  A friend used to call them “Big Days”.  Big Days build strength in an organization, overcome defiant obstacles, and release energy of the team in a positive manner that is brooding in a negative manner.  For those reasons alone, you need to engage the next three points.

One: Get dissatisfied.  Yes, that is the beginning of all great change.  If you are comfortable and content, change is a threat.  You must engage vision for the future with passion and be dissatisfied with the status quo.

Two:  Spread your dissatisfaction.  Now, you don’t need to get people upset over nothing.  But if the people you are serving can’t get their jobs done or their product delivered or their services received on time, you need to get some partners in your dissatisfaction.  Other managers, co-workers, staff, key customers, executives and others probably are already dissatisfied.  Let them know you understand and listen to their view points.

Three:  This is where real change starts.  Pick a key point over which everyone is dissatisfied and attack it with passion and purpose.  Dig for a root cause that will help everyone in the process.  The theory of constraints explains that when you dig out a major point of constraint, you loosen up other constraints to become visible so they can be resolved.  In other words, break the dam!

You will be amazed.  This team went into overdrive for customer satisfaction when they found this one barrier to productivity resolved.  They annihilated this bothersome downtime issue on key machines, developed new procedures for maintaining the equipment, gained independence from the vendor, improved production turnaround times, and improved the entire shop morale.

Just a thought today for those looking to do something good for themselves and those they serve.

Light Bulb Moments – Empowered In-Plant Printers

What was that “light-bulb” moment that had the greatest success on your operation?

People serve people?

Online really does work?

I can help others grow?

What Makes A Successful In-Plant Printer Successful?

Finding the right mix of product and service alongside an appreciative customer base helps every in-plant prosper.  Listen as these successful managers tell their stories.  This is one of an insightful series filmed at GraphExpo in 2012.

How can you make the changes needed?

Where will you get the people?

How will you train them?

Value Add: Six Core Areas of Print Cost Optimization and Efficiency for Executives

pyramidvalueaddReviewing the cost power of in-plants is important for any executive wanting to make key decisions regarding cost and value and profits.  Many make the mistake of simply categorizing in-plant production as a cost reduction or expense area.  That can blow costs up in many other areas of the company.  However, an inefficient in-plant that has not worked hard at value add may provide cost reduction after all.  Unless, you work on the value add.

Profit leaders in commercial print plants keep Value Add at 65% or better.   An In-Plant can do better.  I’ve seen plants up to 85% where materials are not of high significance.   Part of the problem is that corporations and organizations outside of manufacturing don’t get the concept.  Even companies in manufacturing forget to apply costing and planning principles to individual departments that are applied to the entire company profit and value calculations.

What is Value Add? 

Value Add is simple.  Value Add is what your shop produces minus materials (paper, ink, plates) and minus what you shop out and outsource to others (mail list handling, large runs, design, etc…)  When you shop out the work,  you are not adding value for the client, the departments,  or your business.  Someone else is adding value.  It devalues your overall business proposition.

Managers and executives, no one can do 100%.  We need to measure today and work to move it above the 65% line.  This is long term value for you as a business.  You can be making profits off of this work and improving your single source provider influence in the mind of the customer.  Customers want to go once place and get service from you, the provider that understands their needs.

So Where Can You Improve an In-Plant Service?

Simple.  Ask the people sourcing work out of the company and organization.

Are there posters and banners and event collateral being serviced down the street for three times what could be produced in-house?  Trust me, if you are doing these types of work and not enabling the in-house team with equipment to produce, you are losing money.  It is costing you profits.

Is direct mail being serviced outside?  Your in-plant should be working to integrate that into their digital offering.  If your in-plant is already out-sourced, you should challenge the provider in this area.

Are you supporting online and variable print collateral across your organization?  It is expensive out of house.  A committed in-house or commercially provided in-plant can make that area work excellence for your organization.

What does your organization need?

Are you doing finishing at a secondary site and adding confusion, less reliability, and production lags in delivery?    Think it through.

As an executive, you should be challenging the provider whether your in-plant is in-house or commercially provided.  As an in-plant manager, you should be actively seeking product and services that build the value of the offerings to the business or organization.

Value Add builds business value, expands worker capability and contribution, and reduces production mix ups and lags due to outsourcing.

Next up?  Product Optimization…  a real place to get costs down and profits up.

Responsibility and Sustainability

Pain Points

Removing Workflow Constraints

Profitable Cost Reduction

Removing WorkFlow Constraints = $$$: Six Core Areas of Print Cost Optimization and Efficiency for Executives

ImageEvery organization needs improvementEvery executive needs to perform with velocity and validity.  Velocity means right timing.  Validity means right area.  Over time and travel, it has been my experience that any operation can gain a 25% improvement in costs and performance through some basic approaches.  Most don’t believe it.  That includes the one that just improved.  Yet, most remain semi-productive behind walls of indecision and fear.

The language of growth resistance is well documented. 

  • We’ve done that before and it didn’t work.
  • So and So would never approve that.
  • You don’t understand MY situation, we are different.
  • Oh, that’s just the article of the week program, we don’t need that.

On and on it goes.  The language of fear and resistance is pervasive, stifling, entitlement driven, and deadly in the long run.  It is valid.  Yes, many times each of those statements has been true.  That does not make them true in every situation and certainly does not excuse using them to resist thinking creatively and cooperatively to build new solutions fit to present demands.

WorkFlow Barriers

So, let’s explore the first area where an executive, manager, or director can assist so an in-plant can develop greater value for an organization and move from being a cost to a benefit.  That is the focus.  Get the in-plant into a benefit position for the organization.  Eliminating costs is a dreary and sometimes necessary effort.  Yet, the real focus is to improve the bottom line.  The real need is to broaden the gap between expense and revenue.

You Need Print 

Every organization has needs for print and related services.  The needs vary according to the demands of the recipients of the product or service the organization delivers.  The needs vary based on the methods of marketing and sales and support that are in motion and planned.  Meeting those needs effectively and efficiently and responsibly with attention to compliance becomes the challenge for the in-plant operation.

WorkFlow Release

The first stop on improvement is workflow efficiency.  This area has been overanalyzed in the industry to the point of becoming high centered in detail approaches.  Most plant managers and team members have a great grasp on what could be done to improve efficiency.  Most plant managers and team members do not have a great grasp on how that will improve the service for the people needing access and turnaround.  There is no reason to simply save time and steps.  The need is to gain improvements that return value for people.

Simple, Simple, Simple

Loaded in my phone/camera are pictures of many shops located in many settings.  There are ten times as many of these in the gallery of photos in my mind.  Short ceilings, cramped corners, stacked supplies, dangerous aisles, and overheated equipment plague my mind.  Whew!  How in the world do we get into these situations?  What was that last person thinking when they reduced access to the supplies the operator needs 10 times a shift?  It is not usually expensive to resolve some of these items.  The human factor becomes the biggest blockade.  Convincing people that life can be better and less hectic and reduce costs for the client is the tough road.  Trust me.  Sometimes a little reorganization of equipment and supplies to fit the workload of the current and planned product production can return dollars in reduced bad runs, faster turns, less utilities, and better uptime on equipment to allow increased volume.  Costs go down quickly and morale goes up just as quick.

Smiling Servants Stimulate 

Good morale reduces costs and improves revenue.  In a production shop, parties and warm and fuzzy photo moments are not the quickest way to morale improvement.  Give a production worker the right tools and the right training and a person to serve and get out of the way.  The fastest route to morale improvement is workflow blockage removal.  You need to “get ‘er done”.   Bring on the orders and allow top performers to serve with excellence.

Deadly Organization

In a healthcare campus, our shop was located next to the morgue.  That thought can be quite a downer.  One worker complained when a nurse stepped in and asked her to hold a lifeless baby while she finished other arrangements.  Whew!  Some shops have bigger issues than others.   But worse than the morgue was the fact that the equipment was placed badly for heat exhaust and the air temperatures and volumes needed to operate were inadequate.  The team was in a constant state of fear a piece of equipment would be impacted and production would slow or halt.  No one can be productive living in fear of the unknown.  A little creative rerouting of cooling supply arranged by engineering alleviated the heat overload.  Some quick rearranging of equipment between 2am and 4am one morning brought more air flow sensibility.  An almost no-cost solution gained days a week of equipment uptime and brought pride back to the production team.  The doctors and nurses and administrative staff began getting what they needed to do their jobs more effectively for patients.   New work requests began to flood the shop as reliability of service returned.

Lively Results

Process documentation is not an option.  In an insurance group, we discovered there was no integrated production plan understandable by the entire team.  Every person on every shift had a different interpretation of how to get the job done, what was priority, and who else was to blame for every issue.  No one really knew when work would come out of the shop once it went in.  Ten day turnarounds were not uncommon.  You probably have worked with groups like this.  They are great people buried in an inadequate process built over time and patched together like Frankenstein with each change in organization need and chaos and priority of the day.

You are not going to get the full answer in this short article to how we solved this problem.  But, I will tell you, it was the team that solved it.  I will tell you they began working through point to point touch solutions and tracking.  I will tell you they talked to the people receiving their services and included them in prioritization based on business impact not personal departmental preferences.  I will tell you it takes executive support.

Oh, the team went to 8-72 hour predictable and communicated turnarounds on ten times the volume with the same staffing and equipment levels.  You would love to get that wouldn’t you?  The cost / benefit impact on company overall services became more than the cost to run the plant.  Think this way.  The beginning cost was $2000x and the volume was 1000x.  The resulting cost was $1001x and the volume was 10,000x.  Pent up demand was going to over-sourcers at higher costs.  The unseen expense to the organization of many departments having to arrange outside services couple with dollars buried in hidden budget line items was huge.  It went away.

Rapid workflow benefits your ability to work on the next area.  You can’t get buried in workflow improvements.  It is just one area needing attention.  There is a balance and every area needs attention all the time.  Next, we’ll talk about value add.  It has to improve.

Responsibility and Sustainability

Pain Points