Saturday, June 27, 2009

Printshop Automation Real

Printshop automation was the theme at the CPrint(r) International World Conference in Indianapolis. With experts such as Julie Shaffer of Printing Industries of America's Digital Print Council and Patrick Ruebensaal of Xpedx, CPrinters learned that automation is a reality right now and even the smallest shop can take advantage of the technology out there.

Joe Urback, production manager, PressTech, Des Plains, IL, described how his company is doing more than $2 million in sales with 9 employees -- all because of automation.

Any printer can start automating his or her print shop today. Most digital printers have hot folders and imposition programs to automate common tasks. Enfocus and Adobe provide software to automatically correct PDF files with a push of the button so they will print properly. Workflow systems link all the tasks together for a seamless workflow.

What do you have to do? Learn about PDF files. Know the common problems and how to fix them. Delve deeper in the software you have and learn how to use it. Look at your work and identify what your standard work is. Automate your shop to produce standard work more easily.

It takes time to learn and owners will have make time for their employees to learn it. You can't just say "Automate my workflow." You have to commit time and a few dollars, but it will work. The time you save will translate into higher margins and more wiggle room when negotiating price.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It is Wednesday: Have you looked at your website lately?

Printing companies are being left behind by the Internet. You may find a lot of printing companies have websites, but you would be surprised by how many printers actually use them.

Websites offer a powerful tool to help printers make print buying easier. A good website can serve as a cyber CSR. A bad website can turn off customers and lose business for the printer. Too many sites are just an Yellow Page ad.

When was the last time that you looked at your company’s website? In too many cases, the owner is the “webmaster,” but he or she has too many other responsibilities to keep the site current. Someone in the organization needs to be on top the site and make sure it reflects what is really happening with the client.

With all the inexpensive print-specific website providers, a printer doesn't have any excuse not to have a fully-functional website. Even in these tough times, a website should have a positive effect on sales and make it easier for customers to buy from you.

All you have to do is invest time in learning how to use it and then keep it updated and responsive. Refresh your site today.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Position: Same Objective

As most people know, I accepted a position with CPrint® International, a franchise that works with existing printing companies and helps them prosper. The printer retains his or her company name but uses the business and marketing model Tom Crouser has developed over the past 30 years. Crouser & Associates were one of my biggest clients over the years. They always adopted my suggestions that enabled their clients to stay on the cutting edge, so it is fun to be working as a consultant and technology director for an organization that is forward thinking.

The move has allowed me to expand my knowledge and I'm getting an education in the financial side of the business. Now I'm able to put financial information together with sales, marketing and production. To me, this is an exciting time to be in business.

What is unique about CPrint® International is that it monitors the success of the individual shops. The affiliates are working toward a 2:1 current ratio, sales growth of 15 percent over a 3 year period and 20 percent income before owners compensation. Those are tough goals to meet, but when a company does hit those numbers they really begin to make money and enjoy life.

As technology director, I'll be working with the affliates on new techniques and procedures to improve production and sales. From websites to workflows, I'll be helping to make the printing buying experience easier for the customer and more profitable for the printer.

I'll still be writing for Quick Printing magazine and other publications. I'll still be writing and selling books such as 12 Secrets for Digital Success and The DTP Pricelist to help printers undertand the changing print environment. I'll also be available to select speaking engagements and customized digital audits. I'll be sharing the knowledge I'm getting with CPrint through this site and other outlets.

But all in all, I made the change because it is fun. The CPrint staff is excellent to work with and the CPrint affiliates are typically market leaders in their local community. It is great to see printers succeed and meet their goals. As an independent consultant, it was disheartening when a client doesn't implement your suggestions. With CPrint®, I am developing a deeper, long-term relationship that shows how the industry is changing....for the good.

So if you do have questions, comments or concerns, just contact me at or I'll be looking forward to hearing from you.