Danger – Do Not Enter You Might Learn Something!

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By Debbie Nicholson, Think-to-INK! 

danger zoneMany 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?”


teamDo 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?



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