By Debbie Nicholson, Think-to-INK!
Many companies have an imaginary Do Not Enter Sign on the door to their Wide-Format production areas. Why is that? Do you?
1. I interviewed production staff - here is what I learned (just a few quotes)!
Production staff - re: (Sales & Customer Service)
- “We don’t have time to help sales with their projects; shouldn’t they already know this stuff?”
- “They never choose the right products for customer’s projects.”
- “They have no concept of how much time it takes to produce what they are asking us to do.”
- “We have told them, again and again, what substrates to estimate for projects.”
- “Why don’t they ask us before they promise customers a RUSH delivery date?”
- “They never ask customers the right questions; they take the order, and we fill in the gaps.”
2. I interviewed sales/customer service staff - here is what I learned (just a few quotes)!
Sales & Customer Service quotes – re: (Production)
- “Production never has time to help us with our projects; we don’t know this stuff?”
- “We don’t know enough to choose the right products for our customers.”
- “We have no concept of how much time it takes to produce what we are asking them to do.”
- “We have told them, again and again, we don’t know what substrates to estimate.”
- “We want to help our customers and bring work in – we just need answers.”
- “We don’t know the right questions to ask our customers – can someone help us?”
Do you see some commonality here? I sure do! What are they saying to us?
We must work together to learn from each other decisively and progressively. We know there are complexities of the Wide-Format industry that demands clarification, piece-by-piece, and broken down so every individual can learn and understand effectively. Remember – we all learn differently!
Attention Production Employees…challenge management to provide specific times -- weekly/monthly to educate sales/customers service about the intricacies of Wide-Format printing. A lunch and learn format would be appropriate to unveil the following…
A few conversation starters:
- Flatbed & Roll-to-Roll - Equipment Capabilities (print size, inks + white + clear, print quality options)
- Substrate uses (rigid, flexible, textiles – inside/outside, thickness options)
- Layering Opportunities (dimensional – combining different substrates)
- Digital Cutting Systems (perimeter, contour and internal cuts, scoring, engraving)
- Specialty Finishing with Embellishments
- Ask Sales & CS to take part in vendor presentations to learn about new and revised products.
- Schedule a specific time for each individual to work in production as a learning process
- Select a point-of-contact in production for sales/customer service to review project requests
- Be open to educating and listening!
Attention Sales & Customer Service Employees…be aggressive in learning Wide-Format printing and take detailed notes. If you do not understand – ask questions and be relentless in learning all you can about the production process. Discuss your projects with lead Wide-Format Sales staff.
A few conversation starters:
- Invite production staff on sales calls…they will learn about your customers’ needs.
- Schedule one-on-one production training -- convenient time considering workload.
- Never confirm a RUSH delivery with a customer until you have talked to production.
- Use Wide-Format resources online to help you understand processes and utilization.
- When writing up Job Orders, review your content and then recheck it for correctness.
- Ask production to provide you with identified substrate samples and their common uses.
- Be open to learning and listening!
Teaching Moment - Literally!
Owners and Managers: Being triumphant is when the entire organization works as a TEAM and not as separate departments.
Continual Learning (CL) promotes individual employee confidence, team-building, project accuracy, on-time deliverables, higher-quality rating -- which adds previously untapped profit to your bottom line. Win-Win!
So, what will you teach someone today?