Mind Your Business
To effectively compete in a cut-throat world, in-plants must learn to operate like any other business, concentrating on cost, quality and customer service.
There was a time when in-house print shops had it made. They knew work would keep flowing in; all they had to do was sit tight and wait for it.
Incredibly, even as companies trip over themselves in their haste to outsource "non-core" operations, some in-plants are still pretending to live in that dreamy time of eternal job security. Unfortunately, their dream is destined to take a nightmarish turn unless they wake up and start running their in-plants more like what they really are: businesses.
"We are a business, and we're going to have to run very efficiently," proclaims Dan Thurke, Mercury Marine's in-plant manager. "If we do that, we're going to stay in the in-plant printing business." And if he doesn't maintain an efficient operation—if the quality, customer service and cost savings aren't there—then Thurke knows his business will go down the tubes.
"If you don't have the customer satisfaction, you ain't going to have customers," he notes.
This issue is confronting today's in-plant managers full force. To survive, they must eschew their nostalgia for the simpler times and dive head first into the business world.
Like other businesses, in-plants must learn to effectively compete in a cut-throat world; they must market themselves vigorously—with non-existent marketing budgets; they must control their finances, know their expenses and prove they're saving money; and they've got to supply the same quality and stellar customer service that their clients have come to expect from outside vendors.
Watch Your Wallet
One of the most crucial elements in any business is money—particularly, keeping track of it. If you can't manage incoming and outgoing cash flow, you'll be out of business in a flash.