Fight the Power
There’s a running joke about the forms business. It chooses you, not the other way around. So what’s a fated print supplier or distributor to do when, just to survive, he or she has two major opponents to battle: technology and the economy? In 2007, Print Professional’s Top 100 Manufacturers analysis reported that while paper-based forms continued to dominate all printed product category sales—accounting for $931 million of the $2.97 billion total sales figure—their numbers had dropped overall from the previous year. Not wanting to disappoint, forms sales continued to decline in 2008. Yes, forms were still the crowned champion of printed products, beating out direct mail, commercial print and labels & tags, for example. But, their profits took a dramatic tumble down to $813.4 million.
This isn’t surprising when the orders are slowing down. Tim Goodwin, president of Carrollton, Texas-based Goodwin Graphics said his company started to notice a decrease in orders around late July/early August 2008. “We started seeing people pull back. We also started to see we weren’t getting very many quotes. Normally, we take a ratio between quotes and captured orders, and that tapered off,” he commented.
Goodwin also has observed a change in quantities in regard to orders. He explained a job calling for 50,000 forms last year, now only requires approximately 15,000 to 20,000 forms.
In addition, customers are waiting until the last minute to place an order. Turnaround times are much more easily met with no backlog, but no backlog means no business.
All factors considered, it, in turn, becomes increasingly difficult to determine purchasing amounts because there is no longer a stable factor to base decisions. “It hurts us on our purchasing power, so far as our materials. We used to be able to go by our historical usage to forecast our purchasing, but you might as well throw that out the window and get a crystal ball out because you’ll be better off,” Goodwin joked.