Adding Value and Services to Help In-plants Thrive
Many in-plants are securing their futures with the help of a wide range of value-added services that their customers need, want and will pay for. Some of them are based on graphic production. Others involve things that in-plants don’t natively offer but can learn to become successful providers of. Whatever they include, value-added services are good business and smart strategy for in-plants.
Providing something internally that departments and individuals would otherwise have to seek from outside vendors protects share-of-customer. Those who try the new services become better acquainted with the in-plant’s basic menu of service offerings and begin to consume more of them. The in-plant’s reputation for user-friendly support goes up, and its ability to withstand outsourcing and FM pressures grows stronger.
A value-added service can be almost anything that makes life easier for the in-plant’s customers and lets the in-plant be more responsive to their needs. The most comprehensive source of information about the kinds of value-added service that in-plants provide is the latest In-Plant Market Statistics report from In-plant Graphics. The survey it is based on shows value-added services to be well established among in-plants and likely to be expanded by a significant number of them in the near future.
Although the term “value-added” generally refers to services that are not derived from printing, some in-plants include certain kinds of print and related activities in the definition. According to the In-plant Graphics survey, value-added services such as design, web services, garment printing, scanning, and CD/DVD production accounted for 5% of all services provided by the respondents. But if wide-format inkjet printing and mailing and fulfillment are also counted, the total increases to 20%.
The range of value-added services that in-plants offer their customers is remarkably wide. In-plants that have not yet diversified beyond basic printing should be looking seriously at doing so with value-added services. The ROI they produce helps in-plants cover their operating expenses and remain financially self-sustaining. Attracting customers with new offerings gets them better acquainted with the in-plant and its full menu of services. The more things that customers know they can ask for in a one-stop shopping environment, the more things they are likely to think about purchasing.
Parent organizations always have the prerogative of asking their in-plants for the value-added services they want, but in many cases, the in-plant will make the overture. Succeeding with one value-added service improves an in-plant’s chances of winning approval for others.
Nevertheless, value-added services don’t blossom overnight—there are learning curves to master, marketing outreaches to make, and customer hesitations to overcome. ROIs can take time to develop. But, even if a value-added service isn’t a strong generator of profit initially, it can still be important as an internal marketing tool that the in-plant can use to introduce itself and promote its basic menu of services.
Although printing remains vital to in-plants, printing by itself is no longer enough to sustain the in-plant business model. Customers’ expectations have changed, and so must the in-plant’s conception of its role. Today, part of an in-plant manager’s job is to find and fill gaps in the supply chain of services that his or her customers want to purchase.
Any print- or media-related product that customers are buying externally should be on the in-plant’s list of things to consider adding internally. Proactive recommendations to the parent organization will help the in-plant retain the initiative and gain support for the new services it is targeting. Now, the in-plant can be equipped and ready to elicit a “wow, you do that too” response that seldom fails to put customers in a buying mood.