December 9th, 2013
Written by Derrick Doi
Vice President, Quick and Franchise Print Segment, Xerox Corporation
In today’s challenging print market, where digital color is the only technology showing consistent growth, it’s one thing for a print provider to continually grow the business. It’s quite another to grow by 36 percent annually over five years.
That’s the recent track record at PIP Printing and Marketing Services in Downey, Calif., southeast Los Angeles County, the birthplace to the Apollo space program, home to the oldest surviving McDonald’s restaurant, and hometown of musicians Karen and Richard Carpenter. Bruce Pansky, who owns the franchise with his wife Linda, recently discussed what’s behind his success with Insider, a publication for the PIP Network of Franchise Services Inc. (FSI)
Good fortune certainly plays a role. The Pansky’s bought the franchise from Bruce’s parents, Phil and Joni Pansky, who opened it in 1969. Bruce had recently graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, advertising and marketing, and married Linda, a bank vice president. Their backgrounds, seemingly unrelated to print, have actually played critical roles in the franchise’s success.
Bruce immediately applied his education to aggressively market the company, driving initial growth. Linda brought information technology skills and soon led the franchise’s ahead-of-the-curve march into computer-based services. More recently, Bruce applied his marketing background again, to lead the firm’s embrace of marketing services as a growth platform.
Here are the key tenets of the Pansky’s management philosophy and their comments on them:
- Approach investing with conservative aggression—“We don’t purchase equipment for potential business or make large capital investments for any single account. We get the business first.”
- Choose your customers—“We strive to work with companies that are doing well, that are aggressive and are working to grow. Our opportunity, then, is to partner with them in their growth.”
- Maintain your reputation—“From the day my parents opened until today, the challenge is the same: to establish and maintain our reputation. We count on our reputation, and we use it as a selling point. Referrals are a natural way for us to approach lead generation and new business.”
- Provide great customer service—“Customer service is even more important today than in the past because of the impersonal nature of online ordering. We make a point of staying personally in touch with our customers so that they regard us as part of their team, not just another vendor.”
- Nurture partnerships with clients—“To win partner status with a client, you have to make recommendations that will increase your value for their company and its bottom line. You have to know how to deliver what they need.”
- Nurture partnerships with vendors—“Xerox has been a strong partner—they support us with the technology we need to be competitive— especially when we entered into book and publication printing. Other vendors have worked with us to better meet our customers’ expanding business requirements and to be price competitive in our offerings.”
- Train your staff—“When new services are introduced, we train our staff using the FSI training modules. We recently had two employees “USPS Platinum Certified,” which helps to strengthen our position as a professional mailing company and gives us at an advantage over our competitors.”
- Keep selling—“You have to have the mindset of always selling, always marketing. Even with all of our gains, we can’t stop selling and trying to grow our company. If you are not growing, you are sliding. Keep selling!”
For more on the Pansky’s business success, you can read the Insider article in its entirety by clicking here.
What are you doing to grow your business? Is there anything in the Pansky’s management philosophy that you can apply?
November 11th, 2013
Written By: Nancy Chetron, Worldwide Marketing Manager
Production Customization/Workflow & Solutions, Xerox Corporation
Print Service Providers continually wrestle with the challenge of maintaining consistent color on their digital presses. The problem is not the color management technology, it’s the lack of automation and the reliance on multiple players in the print process to determine color outcomes. What if this process could be simplified by using a single color management solution for an entire fleet? What if you could remotely access and respond to the status of your presses, greatly increasing the efficiency of your workflows?
Well, these desires are now a reality thanks to a new cloud-based color management solution, which provides centralized automation of printer monitoring with a pre-defined workflow and customer-specific recovery procedures. The solution, called IntegratedPLUS Automated Color Management, uses web-based Software as a Service (SaaS) technology to eliminate the need for running local color management packages at multiple sites. The solution provides access to the iGen fleet’s embedded inline spectrophotometers (ILS) to quickly and easily monitor presses.
With a new interface that Xerox has introduced to its strategic color management partners, a color expert can submit and print targets and within seconds know the status of a press and whether it’s “in” or “out” of spec. This check is done using a partner tool such as CGS ORIS Certified // Web which connects with software in the cloud to perform the color check.
The Xerox® IntegratedPLUS Automated Color Management can:
- Improve productivity and reliability over current manual processes
- Simplify multi-engine/multi-site color management
- Cut costs by making color management far more predictable and efficient
- Reduce manual errors and eliminate wasted time and materials
- Increase the efficiency of your workflow
Think of the efficiencies gained by having the ability to run your entire color process remotely in a single, consistent workflow—even from multiple locations. Since this solution leverages your current technology, no new IT investment is needed – which means you can reduce costs and streamline your color management, allowing you to focus on getting more jobs through your shop.
The solution includes Xerox Professional Services support. This team of experts provides color and workflow support, helping you configure and set up the right level of print specification tolerances for your shop based on your color and productivity requirements. Whether you print color-critical graphic communications jobs such as auto brochures, or internal newsletters, Xerox Professional Services will help you to set up a recovery process to fit your needs.
How could an automated, integrated, and cloud-based color management process impact your business?
The solution is one of the technology solutions available as part of the portfolio. For more information go to http://www.xerox.com/IntegratedPLUSColor
November 7th, 2013
Written by Bill Michael
eMarketing Manager, Xerox Corporation
How does an online print provider continually achieve a 100% increase in revenue, year after year? And how does that same provider, in a single month, surpass 3.53 million print impressions between their two workhorse digital production printers? To find the answer, all you have to do is look to the example set by the great online printing team at Smartpress.com. A keen eye towards benchmark quality and an uncanny knack for customer service has resulted in nearly 80% of Smartpress.com’s current business coming from repeat customers.
“The customer is really at the heart of everything we do,” says Chuck Reese, President at Smartpress.com. “From our meticulous quality assurance processes, to our 100% customer satisfaction guarantee, to our smart buyer program rewarding our graphic design professional customers – every component of our business is strategically designed with the customer in mind.”
Launched in 2009 and based in Chaska, Minnesota, Smartpress.com has already outgrown their two Xerox iGen4 Digital Production Printers. To accommodate their growing online business and customer base, the company invested in a brand new facility, opening in December, and the first equipment installed In the building is a brand new press offering the latest in digital printing technology – the Xerox iGen 150 Press.
The iGen 150 brings the same substrate versatility Smartpress.com customers have come to appreciate and expect, while also delivering enhanced speeds (a 36% increase in page per minute output speed) and improved quality. These press qualities are paramount to a steadily growing company that seeks to stay on the leading edge and continue to meet customer deliverability expectations. The improved technology will enable Smartpress.com to maintain high quality standards for booklet printing, postcard printing, brochure printing and more, even as the company continues to rapidly grow in the future.
All it took was one glance into the horizon for Chuck Reese, President of Smartpress.com, to see just how important the new press would be for Smartpress.com. “In 2001, print orders placed online through a print service provider’s website represented only 3% of the total marketplace. By 2014, that number will steady climb to reach 30%, with early indications projecting it to reach a staggering 50% by 2017. Our customers, both today and tomorrow, are placing their orders online – and they need the peace of mind knowing they can count on us for quality and reliable print.”
Which is why Smartpress.com has chosen to partner with Xerox and invest in the latest technological advancements in digital printing. The new iGen 150 will allow the company to maintain a tight turnaround time for customers and continue promising a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee. As an additional measure to enhance the efficiency of the press, Smartpress.com has added a new workflow system that streamlines the proofing and printing process from start to finish. With these investments, the company will continue to deliver on really fast turnarounds throughout its projected growth into 2015.
It all adds up to exceptional quality, outstanding customer service and a company committed to fulfilling its promise of complete satisfaction. Which is no surprise, as Smartpress.com has always billed itself as a company full of real people…who really know print!
October 30th, 2013
Written by Howie Fenton
Senior Technology Consultant, NAPL
One of the challenges today is to figure out which technologies are threats and which are opportunities. The challenging part is that this is a moving target. When the technology first comes out, it may hold great promise, but the first generation may face challenges. For example, when computer to plate (CTP) technology first came to market, some suffered from high failure rates. When the computer to plate on press technology came out, it was poor quality.
I was thinking about this recently for a presentation to SUPDMAC (South Eastern University Printing and Digital Managers Conference) in Austin, Texas. I categorized technologies into ‘Evolutionary’ or ‘Paradigm Shifting’ and then assessed the threat to companies in our industry. The result was these four groups:
- Paradigm shifting communication technologies that can substitute for printing (i.e. e-mail, social media, mobile services)
- Evolutionary Technologies that make print less expensive to manufacture (web-to-print, print MIS, PDF workflow)
- Evolutionary Technologies that make print more effective (VDP, QR codes, PURLs)
- Paradigm Shifting Technologies that threaten previous technologies (inkjet production printing)
Thinking about the Evolutionary Technologies that make print less expensive (web-to-print, print MIS, PDF workflow) it becomes clear that these are not a threat unless your competition implements it and you don’t. It would be a problem if your competition implemented them successfully, reduced their cost of manufacturing, and then under sold you.
Following this same train of thought, other evolutionary technologies that make print more effective (VDP, QR codes, PURLs) are not a threat unless your competition offers it and you do not. In this case, these technologies do not reduce the manufacturing cost, but instead make their products more effective for their clients.
Clearly the most significant threats are the Paradigm Shifting technologies that are replacing printing with digital alternatives (i.e. e-mail, social media, mobile services) and threatening previous mainstay technologies such as inkjet. The good news is, if you’re considering diversifying your product portfolio with e-mail marketing, social media marketing, or mobile marketing, the cost of entry is not high. The real challenge is integrating these new services into a unique value proposition, so you are not simply offering another service which will inevitably become commoditized, but rather a package of services that distinguish you from the competition.
The most significant threat may be the Paradigm Shifting inkjet production printing technology. The reason is cost. If you compare an inkjet page to a toner or electrophotographic color page, the cost can be 30% to 50% less (if the inkjet is printing a high enough volume). The challenge is that the vast majority of inkjet production presses are web based presses costing millions of dollars which would be unaffordable to most small commercial and in-plant printers, meaning that large printers would be able to offer less expensive printed products resulting in a significant advantage.
The good news is that at the Print Show we saw smaller web based printers that duplex in one frame (single engine duplex, SED) instead of two which has a significant impact on reducing capital costs under $1.5 million. Maybe more compelling is that we also started to hear rumors of new sheet fed inkjet presses coming to market at half their current cost or in the range of $750,000. As a result, the inkjet production presses will be more affordable and less of a threat to small commercial and in-plant printers.
It doesn’t matter if the technologies are Evolutionary or Paradigm Shifting. What really matters is if they are affordable and if you can integrate them into your value proposition.
Let me know if you agree: Any technology that you can afford and build into your value proposition is an opportunity; any that you can’t will be a threat.
Howie Fenton is a consultant and business advisor at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers and in-plants on benchmarking performance against industry leaders, increasing productivity, and adding digital and value services through customer research. For more information click here.
Extend your Reach with Digital Editions and Mobile Apps: Introducing Xerox® FreeFlow® Digital PublisherSubmitted by Bill Michael
October 2nd, 2013
Written by André Blaakman
Worldwide Marketing Manager, Workflow & Solutions, Xerox Corporation
In the world of publishing, a new era is upon us. All you have to do is turn your attention to the news and it becomes immediately apparent. Newsweek announced back in 2012 that it will end its print publication after 80 years and shift to an all-digital format in 2013. Lloyds List, a British paper publishing news about the global shipping industry since 1734 and dubbed the “world’s longest-published newspaper”, just recently announced it is going all-digital in December.
Then there are the statistics showing projections that by 2020, 80% of all media will be accessed digitally. It’s safe to say most content owners and publishers are looking at how to broaden their audience and extend their reach in the digital times of today. While some publishers have opted for the exclusively-digital route, many are delivering content in both digital and print formats.
Whether you call it a hybrid media strategy, Print + “e”, mixed media, cross media publishing – it all drives towards the same thing: the delivery of Print and Digital content to your end customers.
This migration to a Print + Digital strategy is certainly catching the eye of print service providers. How can they meet the print and digital needs of their customers and adapt with the times? How can they get in the game with a new digital revenue stream, but without a huge investment in a new IT infrastructure, or a legion of staff on payroll?
This solution, developed and offered in partnership with GTxcel, complements your print business today by creating new digital revenue streams simultaneously using the same workflow that drives your print. Digital editions of your print publications are created for Android tablets and smartphones, iPhones and iPads, PC and Mac web browsers… all automatically.
In addition to these digital editions, you can create a native app for the publication, accessible in the major app stores – Google Play, iTunes and Amazon – free or paid subscriptions. Incorporate rich media like videos, audio, slideshows, and surveys, making it more dynamic and interactive. FreeFlow Digital Publisher takes the PDF file and digital assets and utilizing our newest workflow automation software FreeFlow Core, seamlessly prepares the job for print and converts the job to digital formats readable in web browsers and most mobile device platforms – Android, Apple and Kindle.
FreeFlow Digital Publisher provides a dashboard, allowing print providers to manage the digital publications and add rich media where the customer wants it. It also provides critical analytics to track readership and clicks by platform, by region, by OS – a host of metrics that helps content owners to optimize future issues.
Imagine the possibilities:
- An annual report in print and a companion digital edition with a welcome message from the CEO.
- A print version of the division newsletter and a native app containing current and back issues.
- Print and digital services for a company kickoff event – including invitations, directions, special instructions and a host of photos and videos supporting the event.
- Manuals with how-to part replacement videos, catalogs and enrollment kits
For today’s digital savvy audiences that want content anywhere, any time, and on any device, Digital Publisher is a game changing solution.
How could offering these capabilities impact your relationships with current and prospective customers? What kind of print, digital and mobile applications can you envision all co-existing harmoniously?
Looking for more information? Check out Xerox FreeFlow Digital Publisher online!
October 1st, 2013
Written by Tod Viniski
Worldwide Marketing Manager, Workflow & Solutions, Xerox Corporation
The print marketplace is maturing. Print technology is getting harder and harder to differentiate. So what are your business strategies and priorities for the next 2–5 years? How can you truly stand apart and be in the best position for future success?
In a mature market, operational efficiency is a great place to start. If you are going to outlast your competition, you need to produce better output, quicker and cheaper. But how? What tools are available that can deliver higher quality output, higher productivity, all while reducing costs?
The answer is… Xerox® FreeFlow® Core.
Today we announce the worldwide launch and availability of the newest software offering from Xerox®: FreeFlow® Core. This browser-based solution intelligently automates and integrates the processing of print jobs, from file preparation to final production. To put it simply, it does the work for you…automatically.
Imagine simply dropping a 1-up PDF document into a Core hot folder and then without any other intervention the file is pre-flighted for key quality levels, modified to meet shop requirements, imposed to match desired output, fully programmed and sent to the printer with a custom banner page identifying unique finishing and routing instructions. And all this happens automatically.
Maybe you get a list of orders from your website or a key customer account. Core can be customized to read and process your order manifest. Once the system is configured, simply drop the data file with your orders and Core will do the rest. Picking up files from remote repositories, merging multiple files into a single document, imposing, programming, and printing each job. Imagine hundreds of short-run jobs going from your order system to being distributed across your fleet of printers in a matter of minutes. It’s all possible today.
Core takes touch points out of your prepress and press operations. This reduces the variability in your process thus delivering more consistent quality. Your productivity increases because time consuming manual steps are eliminated. And finally, you reduce costs by eliminating expensive manual labor and processing.
Last but not least, the software is modular, configurable, and scalable. Core is made up of 3 modules; the base software as well as optional Advanced Prepress and Advanced Automation modules. This provides you with a range of choices. Start small with the base software and let the solution grow by adding functionality as your business expands over time. Or jump right into the fully featured configuration for the most powerful automation engine in the industry.
How do you view the importance of workflow to your business? What benefits do you see from a flexible, scalable, modular workflow system?
September 17th, 2013
Written by Howie Fenton
Senior Technology Consultant, NAPL
While there were a lot of differences between this year’s Print show and last year’s Graph Expo – one thing that was wildly consistent was that you could not walk in any direction on the show room floor without hearing a presentation about how to introduce and offer marketing services. It seemed like everywhere you turned, you could hear presentations from everyone about how printers can offer marketing services.
Walking around the show room floor this year, I heard many of these presentations. I did not make a presentation on this subject last year but two years ago I made a presentation entitled, “Transforming from PSP- MSP: Print Service to Marketing Service Provider, A Step by Step Roadmap.” Before offering the same presentation this year, I interviewed companies who made the transition to see if there were any common denominators among those that were successful.
If you attended any of these seminars, the strategy you most often heard is one I call the “strategic planning process.” But that’s only one of three different ways that companies have succeeded in offering more marketing services. Another I call is a “market-based approach” and another I refer to as a “operations-based evolution.”
When talking to companies who have succeeded with either the market or operations based approach, I ask why they didn’t pursue the strategic planning process. I’ve learned that the strategic planning process has a bad reputation. Many are afraid of the time and costs associated with this process. In talking to companies that pursued the strategic planning approach, some did report time-consuming and expensive processes but others reported that it only required a few days.
Those that took longer periods were generally larger sized companies who hired professional facilitators to accelerate the process. Folks that reported less time and financial commitments described their own shoestring strategies that included taking courses at local colleges, buying software, watching videos, and reading books.
In the market-based approach, companies base their strategy on their customers’ needs. Some referred to this as listening to the voice of your customer. There are many different ways to understand your customers’ needs and many people described using surveys, focus groups, and one-to-one meetings. In the soon to be released NAPL 2013 State of the Industry Research, when asked “What are you doing to better understand what’s really most important to your best clients?” the number one answer was, “meeting more frequently on an owner to owner basis.”
The next strategy, which I call “operations based evolution,” is not easy to explain but it makes sense once you hear someone talk about. One company talked about how they decided to stop outsourcing mailing. Simply put they had enough work to justify equipment and staff and it was straightforward and easy. Others reported that the new service was simply a natural extension or evolution of their other services. The company that added mailing said it made them more competitive by offering one-stop shopping and resulted in winning more work. Another talked about offering design services which helped them reduce errors in the prepress department. Another talked how offering variable data printing was a simple addition after offering addressing services.
While not conclusive, these three strategies are real life. The question is which, if any, will work best for you? The operations strategy just works. You discover a need, have some experience fulfilling that need, can justify the investment, make it work and it becomes a natural extension of your other services. The marketing approach is a natural extension for companies with a sales and customer service focus. The strategic planning process is what most experts agree is the best strategy. It combines the ideas from both the operations and marketing strategies. If you’re reluctant because you’re afraid you can’t afford the time or the money, just remember: the less expensive options including night courses, software, videos and books.
Have you tried any of these strategies? If so, what’s your opinion about the effectiveness?
Howie Fenton is a consultant at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers and in-plants on bench-marking performance against industry leaders, increasing productivity, and adding digital and value services through customer research. For more information click here.