Look Beyond the Recession
It is tempting these days for printers to accept the status quo and just hope for better days. Just riding out economic turbulence is an easy option because nothing is required, according to Deborah Snider, senior vice president of e-LYNXX Corporation and division president of the firm's Government Print Management Division.
"By not doing anything, though, you risk becoming a sinking ship," she said. "The greatest hurdle for many is simply confronting change and embracing it. These are troubling times for printers who long for the days when only solid commercial accounts would make for a profitable business. Those days are gone, and any printer seeking to stay in business needs to have well-defined secondary markets."
Developing secondary markets may be new to some, but basically what that means is finding work to fill downtime or those production gaps that occur when projects are not being run for key commercial customers. The average printer has at least 30 percent of its production time that is not scheduled for regular client work. That is time that needs to be filled.
One excellent source for predictably winning work to fill downtime is the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO). GPO awards more than $425 million a year to private sector printers of all sizes. Most jobs are in the $2,000 to $5,000 range, but there are many that can go for tens of thousands of dollars.
In addition to knowing how to navigate government red tape and knowing how to successfully deliver work on time per GPO's precise requirements, the printer that wants to win GPO print jobs must be willing to produce work during downtimes for less than what it would charge for the same work being done during busy periods. That is how GPO bids are won, Snider explained. Printers that use this approach strategically and consistently increase their bottom line annual profitability from a national average of less than 3 percent to more than 14 percent.
GPO print suppliers must be flexible and know exactly how to schedule GPO work during windows of opportunity. Snider said this takes experience, persistence, precision and patience. Having a track record of success with GPO helps. Starting out on the wrong foot with GPO may be a setback that is difficult to overcome. GPO does not train suppliers. GPO expects flawless performance and the delivery of quality work on time. The most successful suppliers find historical data on how past GPO jobs have been completed invaluable when preparing bids.