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Give Your Best Operator to Your Customer

(August 2006) posted on Tue Aug 22, 2006

Save time and money by making your employee your customer's employee.


By Stephen Beals

This kind of relationship also brings an additional positive aspect: You will be training their people in creating files that fit your company’s specific workflow. There are some tricks and tips that your key operator can share with your customers-information that will help your company handle those files with the greatest efficiency.

Weighing the costs

It will cost you resources to send a key employee out to a customer site. And although it’s likely to save you considerable money and probably bring in more work if you enter into an on-site partnership like this, there’s no reason you can’t charge a reasonable fee for such a service. Can you tie a customer to a contract that says you will provide this service in exchange for an agreed dollar amount of work? Maybe, but I wouldn’t push it. I’d even advocate providing the service without charge, and with no strings attached-relationship building is key here.

In the greater scheme of things, paying a few hundred dollars to send one of your best people to spend a couple of days helping out a customer likely will have a higher return on investment than just about anything you might do. Sure, it will make your customer appreciate your operator’s expertise and your company’s generosity, but it’s hardly charity-you will almost certainly recoup your investment many times over. If you do charge for the service, you might want to consider giving the employee a little bonus for service above and beyond.

Plus making your customer more efficient will save them money. And while there’s no guarantee, chances are excellent that this money will be spent on more printing- likely with you. they will be spending it by sending files to you that no longer gum up your entire workflow and cause your employees to pull out their hair.

A special skillset

The chief argument against offering these types of services is that shops need their best people to be running production-not out training customers. While this is certainly an understandable point, it’s also rather short-sighted. The greatest amount of down time, by far, is spent on correcting files created by just a handful of poorly trained customers. If you do not fix the problems at the source, they will continue, and every day they will continue to cost you.

One last suggestion: Not all good production people are good teachers. It takes a special skillset to be able to impart your knowledge to others. Even temperament and people skills, for instance, are vital in the selection of the best person to provide these services.

Stephen Beals (bpworkflow@verizon.net), in prepress production for more than 30 years, is the digital prepress manager with Finger Lakes Press in Auburn, NY.


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