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TRUST AND RELIABILITY

Jun 1, 2000 12:00 AM


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Consideration for employees leads to exceptional customer service

Elizabeth Bradshaw is a firm believer in relationship building. Whether it be with customers or co-workers, the CEO of Ginny's Printing & Copying (Austin, TX) finds that earningtrust is paramount in achieving success.

"We have an iron-clad code of ethics here about keeping your word, internally as well as externally," she says. "We're certainly not the cheapest at what we do, but we don't try to be or pretend to be. We do try to be the most reliable and trustworthy, and of course, turn out good quality."

This commitment to reliability and high-quality work is a primary factor in the company's 63 percent sales increase from 1997 to 1999, which earned Ginny's the 32nd slot on american printer's list of fastest growing printers.

The firm's market niche is small-sheet, short-run, quick printing. According to Bradshaw, a typical job might be 500 to 5,000 copies of a 200-page perfect-bound manual with a four-color cover -a job that needs to be completed rapidly.

"We sometimes get jobs that price-wise, we should not get. I'll look at the job and think, 'Why did we get this? I know somebody else could do it for less.' But nobody else could get themselves in a position to do it faster, or better," Bradshaw asserts.

Ginny's operates one production plant, four retail stores and two managed facilities on client sites. Equipment highlights include three Xerox Docucolors, four DocuTechs and several small presses.

The acquisition of two small companies, including their staff, equipment, customer list and sales representatives, also contributed to the $5.2 million sales influx and the growth of the staff from 96 people in 1997 to 119 in 1999. But, Bradshaw attributes most of its growth to the relationship-building efforts within the firm and with clients, as well as the leadership of COO Michael Martin.

"We think it's a lot easier for our people to be ultra-considerate of clients if we're ultra-considerate of them," Bradshaw says.

The CEO points to several examples of how Ginny's is "ultra-considerate" of its employees, including health care benefits, education reimbursement and flexibility for family needs.

"We're a family friendly company," she states. "Perhaps it's because I was a single parent, and I know what it's like to have your children need some things of you, and to feel like you need to take off work sometimes to be a proper parent. We think that's really important."

In another strategy to please employees, the company strives to maintain a comfortable working environment, from the physical aesthetics of the workplace to employee morale.

"We bought a building for our plant that has floor-to-ceiling windows for about 100 linear feet because we thought it was very important to have a workspace looking out on trees and flowers. It's probably one of the nicest plants in the country," remarks Bradshaw.

Managers are also known to incorporate elements of fun into the working environment, such as impromptu ice cream parties, magnetic poetry sets on the lunchroom refrigerators and an office-turned-"gallery" of employees' pet photos. Bradshaw says there is also an effort on the behalf of management to keep bad attitudes to a minimum. "We don't like to have 'sour grapes' on the payroll," she states. "We try to not continue to employ people who make the atmosphere unpleasant."

When it comes to extending such consideration to clients, Bradshaw says the company relies on the golden rule as a guiding principle. "We think about ourselves as consumers when deadlines were missed or something went wrong for us, and we found out the hard way-when we went to pick it up. We just don't let that happen, because we know it's irritating," she says. "That's the time you would least like to talk to the customer-when you know they're going to be mad. It's during that time that you can really cement the relationship." The exec says there is little the company won't do for customers if mistakes occur. "It just makes sense. It's the way we all want to be treated as people, and it also makes good business sense. This is a business; like every business, it's based on trust and reliability."