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Wagging the Dog

(February 2010) posted on Thu Mar 11, 2010

Wagging the Dog

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By Craig Miller

For those of you who question meeting with your competitors, here’s my rationale: In this downturn, most of us have let our inventories fall to the lowest levels we can remember. The same is true with our vendors. Competitors have saved our bacon and we theirs. From simple things, such as loaning ink and media, to actually completing the printing or finishing on a job when a competitor’s equipment was down. It was good karma for everyone involved in 2009, and I recommend it for 2010 and beyond.

Three, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts: Form at least one new strategic alliance this year. An ally can allow you to produce a product or service that you can’t on your own. Do you do dye sub, but can’t sew a garment? Can’t print wider than 3.2 meters and need a print 5 meters with no seam? I rest my case.

Four, become the master of your own tech destiny: If a tech isn’t stationed in your city or town, send your most proficient technical guy or gal to be trained by the company that built your most important piece of equipment. If you have to wait even 24 hours for a tech to show up and fix your gear, you have lost time that you’ll never recover—and it could mean the difference between keeping a client or losing them. Consult with the manufacturer on what spare parts are cost effective to keep in stock. This investment will pay dividends for years to come.

Five, circle the wagons and all hands on deck: Your staff is your team. You have to play well together to win. Even if you are the star, you can’t do it by yourself. Get everyone together—I mean everyone, not just managers—and talk candidly about the months to come. If you have a really big company, you might first do this by departments. Developing a company-wide vision and mission and creating an esprit de corps improves your chances of success.