Fenton's Road Map for Success
Increase your business acumen and prepare for battle. Those were two pieces of advice that Consultant Howie Fenton imparted to attendees of last month's In-plant Printing and Mailing Association (IPMA) conference.
Though Fenton has spoken at IPMA for the past couple of years, this year things were a little different for him. He told attendees that after years of working for other firms, he was returning to independent consulting with his own company, Howie Fenton Consulting.
In his IPMA session “Creating a Road Map for Success: Strategies from Leading In-plants,” Fenton noted that facilities management companies seem to have slowed their efforts to take over their in-plants because there’s not enough money in this for them. Instead, outsourcing firms focus on the copier fleets at companies and organizations, looking for opportunities to take over both the fleets and the production print operations.
“If you gain control of the fleet, full be in a much better position,” he said.
Still, he pointed out, the document outsourcing market continues to grow in annual revenue. And in-plants continue to view justifying their operations and their technology investments as their top challenges.
Fenton listed four things in-plants should concentrate on to stay ahead:
Increase business acumen: Listen to the voice of your customer through surveys and focus groups. Understand your costs. Support the mission of your parent organization.
Be prepared for battle: Use measurements and benchmarks to prove you’re a leader. Meet your financial objectives. Understand the literature of outsourcing successes and failures.
Improve production: Find your bottlenecks and fix them. Use cross-training and on-call staffing.
Increase value: Shift from cost-based to value-based pricing. Market your services so customers know what you offer.
In Fenton’s discussions with upper management, he has heard that they are more likely to believe in-plants’ cost-saving claims if the in-plant has priced a significant number of jobs with outside printers — not just 10 a year, but perhaps 200 a year.
Related story: IPMA Takeaway: Building a Strong In-plant
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited nearly 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.