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Cutting Down Turnaround Time

(February 2006) posted on Wed Feb 08, 2006

Advice from production guidelines to dealing with e-mail.

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By Stephen Beals

It might help to build in some incentives to establish realistic
deadlines. We tend to think of negatives when it comes to
deadlines: If the job is late the customer will be angry, the job
will cost more, or the profit will be reduced. But when deadlines
are not realistic, these factors have little meaning, and ranting
about missed deadlines won't fix the problem.

Instead, try some positive rewards: perhaps a free lunch,
or tickets to a sporting event (both of which cost far less than
a missed deadline). If there is some reward for both sales and
production when a job is completed on time, two things happen:
The sales rep has some incentive to establish a deadline that
can reasonably be met, and production has incentive to meet it.

In addition, it's not unreasonable to establish higher shop
rates for producing a job when the customer demands that the
job be done in less-than-standard time. When the CsR says,
"We can have the proof for you today for $60 and tomorrow for
$30," you might be surprised how quickly tomorrow becomes
an acceptable due date.

Don't be afraid to ask the customer

When a question arises about a job, the average print shop often
wastes time by not asking the customer some specific questions.
It's not uncommon for jobs to get produced incorrectly,
even though a question has been raised in the production
department"?all because the customer was never contacted.

Of course, it's important to handle such queries professionally
and to not approach the customer in an accusatory manner.
Make it clear to them that you are trying to provide them the best
service; you're not questioning their ability to create good files.