(c) Shep Hyken
In this conclusive feature, you will discover the place of utmost customer relationship and efficient competition in navigating a post-COVID era.
(c) Uplifting Service
6. Better customer relationship
(c) Endicia Blog
This can translate into many things but, I hope, when the economic climate becomes as critical as it is in COVID times, cost, quality and service have equal priority in meeting the terms required of customers. Having worked for a few American businesses, I can testify to the fact that buzzwords are used liberally and the one that most aptly fits the current climate is “transactional”.
What this seems to mean is that the influence is less with the sales person and more about how the supplier performs or, in other terms, the supplier is chosen on an objective, results-based decision. If there are other, less clear, contributing factors, then it’s probably best not to become involved. I’m no salesman, so forgive me for not being able to impart any nuggets of wisdom here but from the operational aspect, now is the time to impress upon your current customer portfolio just how important a supplier you are.
I was recently on a Webinar, broadcast by PROPAK West Africa, titled Opportunities for a Circular Economy in Africa post COVID-19 where the presenters spoke at length about environmental sustainability and performance.
(c) Reliable Plant
By following LEAN methodologies, your print business can prove these credentials, which in turn become a marketing opportunity. Any positive aspect that applies to your business will endear you to your customer base, find it and use it.
In a recent assignment, I was brought in to improve output, capacity and supply (too late, in my opinion). At the time I started with the business, the relationship with some of the clients was, at best, strained.
It was only through the implementation of Continual Improvement techniques that we maintained a relationship with the customer and retained the business (actually, one of the sites was quoted as being a “success story” for the customer). Sales relationships are important but in today’s environment, results from operations is critical to maintaining (and even gaining) business.
7. The competition is more efficient
If we take the question raised by John, in the introduction to these articles, then I’m not sure that the “old man” he refers to falls into the category of more efficient, although this assumption has more to do with John’s phrasing, rather than a slur on old men. But let’s just think about this. We are all in the same industry and we should have a fairly equal understanding of the basic technology, the raw materials at our disposal are, broadly speaking, the same and the labour costs are low, in comparison to outside of West Africa. If you’ve looked at all of the other variables from 1 to 6. and are satisfied that you have answered them in the affirmative, then the logical conclusion is that your business is inefficient.
Now is the time for that introspective I spoke of earlier.
Firstly, I would recommend reading some of the articles that I’ve previously written for WHERE To Print, where I discuss LEAN, as a philosophy and various techniques that any print site can implement, with minimal cost.
Secondly, take a look at how you approach the services that you offer. Are you willing to specialise, with your specialisation being efficiency, or is your business model a “take anything that comes”? If it’s the former, then you should be looking at rationalising paper stocks and grades and all other raw materials to minimise downtime and increase utilisation. If it’s the latter, then think about offering those services via a cooperative type arrangement with larger printers, as a small printer your costs and therefore your pricing should be competitive.
(c) DQ Global
(c) Crossed Flag Pins
Nigeria could be in the same situation that Poland was when I arrived here 13 years ago. I wasn’t at the first wave of Western European business moving eastwards (that happened at least decades earlier) but, the print industry, for sure, Poland was about to become the most important country in Europe, in terms of press OEM sales and subsequently, the inexorable shift of printed material.
(c) AP News
In the 6 years between 2009 and 2015, the Polish print industry increased over all revenue by 74% and the employment in the industry increased by almost 20%, yes this was certainly aided by EU infrastructure and funding but just as importantly, the big organisations were bringing training, development and manufacturing techniques that all built confidence in the industry. Lower employment costs, coupled with the same (sometimes even improved) quality and efficiencies, made Poland the place to have your packaging printed, the export of printed material in 2016 stood at 38%.
Why the Polish example? Because Nigeria should be at the cusp of an industrial and economic boost due to print, I hope it materialises.
© Andrew Malson is a highly experienced, committed and passionate Operations Executive/Director/Manager with a demonstrable reputation for creating the change required to deliver significant improvements in business performance through quality, service and productivity. He has invaluable strength in establishing and ensuring sustainable success of single, multi, and regional manufacturing sites by creating right and enduring cultural change through involvement and development of people. In the 30 years since beginning in the industry, Andrew has been responsible for the design and implementation of systems covering quality, people development, environmental standards and operational excellence. He brought his wealth of experience and invaluable knowledge to bear at WHERE To Print magazine in West Africa in its quest to positively influence and improve print purchase decisions with special focus on Lean Manufacturing Implementation; Organisational Effectiveness; and Sustainable Business Growth. Andrew welcomes your connection via email@example.com or directly vide firstname.lastname@example.org