Screen Printing - June/July 2018 - 10
THE MARSHALL PLAN
Time to sit back, take stock, and apply three
simple principles to make the second half of
the year more productive.
don't know about you, but for me, the first half of 2018 blew
by at Mach 4 speed. A snap of the fingers, click, and it was over.
But that leaves the rest of the year in front of us. It's an
uncharted horizon, and it's a good time to take a step back
from your business and look at how to improve things over
the remainder of the year.
Got any plans? If you don't, I want to run three ideas past
you that could make a difference to your shop. They are fairly
simple concepts, but sometimes difficult to execute. I'll break
each idea down to help you determine whether it could have
a significant impact in how you run your business.
1. DISCIPLINE = FREEDOM
I'm borrowing this concept from my favorite book that I
read last year, Jocko Willink's Extreme Ownership: How US
Navy SEALS Lead and Win. He wrote extensively about this
principle in the book, and the concept is so simple that once
I explain it, I bet you'll be nodding your head in agreement -
even though the two words may seem as though they are on
opposite ends of the spectrum.
Freedom is probably why you started your business in
the first place. You wanted to be your own boss and run your
company the way you want to: the choices you make, the
customers you serve, the employees you hire. You're an entrepreneur; you want autonomy.
However, the only way you get that freedom is by taking
a professional, disciplined approach to things. If you want
more financial freedom, then you need strong financial discipline. If you want loyal customers, then you must have the
discipline to consistently serve them well. If you want fantastic employees, you need the discipline to train them well and
treat them right. The word is almost a zen-like mantra that
extends through everything you do.
But there is one area of your business that probably deserves to have this idea pushed to the front and center - time
management and scheduling.
For printers, it's the eternal struggle. Shops set all sorts of
rules to make the schedule easy to understand or predictable.
Often, something happens that disrupts the schedule, and
jobs start going off track like so many dominoes falling. I'm
sure you see the punchline coming: The key to keeping the
train on the rails and functioning with precision is discipline.
This means being proactive. Look into potential problems
early and do what you have to do to minimize them.
Get in front of
and ask what
they think. Listen
carefully to what
they have to say.
If you do a good
job having these
then you absolutely
won't like some
of what you hear.
And that's gold.
What throws your schedule off track? Having analyzed this
question in many shops, I know it typically isn't the production work. It's usually the support things needed to make production happen. The shirts aren't in. Screens aren't burned
yet. Maybe an ink color needs to be mixed.
Take a look into why these things happen. For example,
the order was entered in the system, but the blanks weren't
ordered for a day or two. Some of the sizes weren't available
from the closest distribution center and had to be shipped
from two time zones away. Maybe on that one order, the
screens weren't burned and washed out yet. Sure, they'll be
ready in a bit, but that one delay starts the chain of events
that leads to the entire schedule getting derailed.
Or maybe you don't have the tools you need to keep production on schedule. Let's say you have been talking about
getting an ink mixing system for over a year now. Instead of
spending five minutes mixing that quirky Pantone blue the
client wants, you have spent over an hour struggling to make
the batch. It still doesn't look right, and you've wasted a gallon and a half of ink in your unsuccessful attempts. Meanwhile, shirts are still not getting printed.
Here's how a disciplined approach can give you more
freedom in your workflow. The day the order is entered into
the system, the shirt blanks are ordered. If it is past the order cut-off time with your supplier, then the task is handled
first thing in the morning. This gets the inventory moving to
Screens need to be ready and waiting on the screen rack
one business day before the job is scheduled to print. This
rule then dictates when the art should be approved, and
subsequently when it should go out to the customer for the
initial approval. Everything works backwards from the ship
date. Your screen room has its daily work plan outlined with
a prioritized list of jobs that meet this criteria.