From the Editor: Increase Your Value
I heard a lot of great advice for in-plants at the various conferences I attended this spring. And when I return from the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association conference later this month, I’ll undoubtedly have even more good tips to pass along.
For now, though, I wanted to share a few things that in-plant managers and others have said recently that I thought would be useful for you to think about.
The importance of aligning yourself strategically within your organization was mentioned repeatedly at conferences. As a manager, you should stress how your mission supports your organization’s mission. To prove this, approach departments and suggest ways the in-plant can partner with them.
Talk to customers to find out what they need help with. At one in-plant, the admissions department was printing and mailing admission letters itself. Because the manager approached them, they realized they could off-load this arduous task and focus on their other work. That department will sing the in-plant’s praises for years to come.
It’s been said many times, but providing stellar customer service should be your prime focus. When customers feel taken care of, they will be your biggest advocates whenever discussions arise about sending work to outside vendors.
To promote your in-plant, get out into the organization so your face becomes known. Join groups or even sports teams. Continually communicate your current activities and the value the in-plant provides, such as your deep insight into the business needs of customers.
Revisit the reasons the in-plant was created to remind decision makers that there was a good reason for establishing it. Then measure your performance using measures that describe the strategic value of print to the organization. If you’re at a university, for example, show how printing supports the teaching, research and service missions of the university.
Conduct customer surveys to learn about problems they may be having, services they may need and how aware they are of your capabilities. Ask them what prevents them from using your in-plant 100% of the time, then focus on these obstacles to gain the business you’re not currently getting.
When adding a new technology, like wide-format printing or production inkjet, be aware that the jobs you get may not be the ones you expected. Be ready to expand into new applications. Your clients may be different than expected too so broaden your focus to new groups.
All of these tips are covered in more detail in our issue this month. Hopefully something here inspires you to make a change that improves your service and your value to your parent organization.
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 more than 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, co-sponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.