Get The Respect You Deserve
By Mike Llewellyn
Managers say attention to detail and a focus on customer service have made their in-plants among the most respected departments in their organizations.
One of the toughest, and seldom discussed, challenges for in-plant managers is the battle to win recognition and respect from their parent organizations.
"A lot of managers think they're rated very low on the totem pole," says Mike Renn, assistant vice president for corporate services at Philadelphia-based Mellon Financial.
But this isn't because they lack the expertise needed to win the support of upper management. Rather, Renn says commercial printers have the time and money to sit down with company brass and tell them flat out that they'll do a better job than the in-plant.
"They'll say things like 'Nobody uses an in-plant anymore,' " notes Renn. And because the in-plant manager isn't around to offer a counter-argument, the commercial printers' erroneous message sticks, and people think in-plants don't have the expertise commercial printers have.
That doesn't make it true, though, and many in-plant managers have found a little attention to detail and a lot of communication go a long way toward reminding upper management that not only is the in-plant cheaper and more convenient, it's a source of printing expertise commercial printers could never match.
The Numbers Don't Lie
If there's one thing any parent company respects, it's more money.
"Outside printers tell the executives their message with slick presentations. They know management doesn't know that much about printing," says Renn. So it's up to in-plant managers to one-up profit-hungry printers with a fail-safe tactic: Invite the company to bring in a consultant, or hire one of your own.
"In-plant managers will always get respect for this kind of thing," he contends.
Scott Nelson, supervisor for Print and Mail Services at Otter Tail Power Co., in Fergus Falls, Minn., says he's not concerned about outside printers approaching upper management because his in-plant isn't afraid to look at the numbers.