Taking stock of 2010, and preparing your business for 2011 and beyond.
Boer: Those shops that have a defined process, and aren’t saddled with either burdensome debt or reliant on other sources of income (e.g., unpredictable rent from tenants in their building), will likely do fine. Continually trying to improve the details of process flow, from order intake to order delivery, helps shops to improve efficiencies as well as provide owners with a true understanding of costs and profits. The days of running a print shop on the basis of artisan skill alone are probably over. Understanding your business in terms of financial performance allows you to plan ahead for new technology innovation, application offerings, and so on.
Chesterman: A huge 68 percent of respondents in our World Wide Survey told us that they had looked at new market opportunities or developed innovative processes or products to tackle the impact of the economic downturn. Nearly a quarter of respondents see the future success of wide format being the ability to deliver marketing solutions to their customers. So it would seem that thinking outside of the box, and delivering value-added print to clients, has been the most ef¬fective way to raise that bottom line.
Greene: We’re seeing companies enter new markets and expand the portfolio of services they offer as a way to try to draw in new customers and grow their business with existing customers. This may sound easy, but the reality is it’s a lot of work. In the survey I mentioned previously, we found that 50 percent of respondents have added services to their portfolio to try to enhance business. I think the length of the recession has driven some of this, too; companies can typically do some cost cutting very quickly so those actions have been taken through 2009. But entering new markets or expanding their services to try to drive new lines of business takes longer, and I think people generally recognize this, which is why so many people believe the end of 2010 and 2011 will see somewhat of a recovery.