Christmas is often seen as a chance to turn off the presses and have some well-earned rest! After all, by the middle of December, few people are really thinking much about work. The chances of getting your customers to commit to a major contract are very slim.
Many printing companies that I speak to budget for a low turnover December
They allow for the fact that there won’t be many jobs coming in at this point. They also allow for the fact that there’s not much point in talking to customers – apart from sending them Christmas cards and season’s greetings.
But printing companies that think in this way are missing a trick. It’s true that workloads are often light during this time of year. However, it’s still an important time to have business conversations with your customers.
Here are three important things you should be talking to your customers about.
1. Ask your customers to get organized
If you do have light loadings at this time of year, it’s important to schedule efficiently. You may be able to schedule downtime or even cancel some shifts. However, you can only do this if you receive jobs when you need them.
It’s a good idea to plan extra calls to customers to make sure that they send jobs on time. You may be able to persuade customers to send some jobs early. Having this level of communication can make all the difference as to whether you can manage under-capacity effectively.
However, it’s important to look beyond just the next few weeks.
2. Discover your customers’ plans for the new year
Many of your customers will have already begun their 2015 planning. By now they should have some definite plans in place. Some may even have set budgets. This means that by now they should have a good idea as to how much work they could be sending your way next year.
This is the ideal time to ask your customers what their future plans are. Should you be allocating more capacity to their business? Or, in a less positive scenario, are they contracting? Should you be looking for a new client to make up for the fact that you will be receiving less work from your current customer?
In either case, you will get some good insight on the work you will be receiving over the next few months and can plan accordingly. I have always been surprised at how few printing companies carry out this practice. I would particularly recommend it for your larger, more valuable clients.
There is another conversation that I often do not hear from printing companies.
3. Help your customers set their New Year’s resolutions
Some of your customers may not do everything in quite the way that you would wish! In some cases they may have good business reasons for this. Other companies simply work inefficiently through ignorance. Many are quite happy to change their ways if they understand the impact that it can have.
This time of year can be a good opportunity to have this type of discussion with clients. Offer to help them set some New Year’s resolutions. In doing so, coach them on how you would like to work in the coming year. Many will be happy to respond positively to such a request.
It’s time to take action
Start by setting up some December appointments with you key clients. Go through these three areas with them. You may be surprised at the benefits to your business.
But do remember to schedule that well-earned break for yourself as well!