Screen Printing - June/July 2018 - 11
But what about that ink mixing duty? It's the same deal.
Create a workflow that ensures ink will be mixed the day before the order is to start production. It certainly will go faster
if you have the right tools, such as an ink mixing system.
Establishing more discipline in how you operate your
shop will allow things to happen when they should. However, the benefits go beyond that. Discipline gives everyone
their marching orders on what to do next and an understanding of the importance of working ahead. It instills that
proactive culture that you need. You'll be able to handle
more things each day while freeing yourself from the timesuck activities that aren't producing value. How much time
might you save over the remaining six months of 2018 by
giving the concept a try?
2. CAN WE VS. SHOULD WE?
This idea is going to revolutionize how your shop agrees to
take orders. I'm sure you've recently done a job that turned
out to either be a gigantic loser, or made such a negative
impact on the production schedule that you were scrambling
to catch up for weeks.
The solution is to ask hard questions about what business you should accept. Sure, you can take on a 10-color
job for six shirts. You can accept an order that requires you
to print with a technique you've never tried before on an
expensive shirt. You can insert a rush order into an already
But take a step back and ask yourself: Should you be taking on these jobs? What would happen if you said no?
If you really want to dig into this concept, take a look at
your orders from the last year or two. Download them into a
spreadsheet and then sort them by sales total. If you follow
the 80/20 rule, what you will find is that 20 percent of your
total order count makes up about 80 percent of your revenue.
The rest of the jobs, which amount to 80 percent of the work
on your schedule, only bring in 20 percent of your money.
Check it out for yourself. Just data mine your history and
I'll bet you find that the 80/20 rule is true in your shop, too.
When you think about those time-intensive, low-revenue
orders, they involve a lot of work for little gain. Should you
be clogging up your schedule for those jobs, then? What if
you avoided those turkeys and spent more effort trying to
clone the orders that bring more value to your company?
For the remainder of the year, ask yourself that question
before you agree to do something that you know in your gut
you should avoid.
Take a snapshot of your company right now:
n How easy is it to order from your website?
n Are you constantly solving your customer's number one
n Do you educate your customers about what you do?
n Is your staff instinctively responsive and helpful?
n Have you automated the interactions you know your
customers want, such as sending tracking numbers after
something ships so nobody has to ask?
n Do you ask your customers for their opinion on how
you're doing? Have you done it recently?
n Do your customers feel that you have their best interests
and happiness at the forefront of everything you do?
How do you know?
More than likely, an unhappy customer won't tell you
that something is wrong unless you ask them. They will
just use someone else next time. Sure, certain clients will
complain, often loudly, when something doesn't go as
planned. But that's not how things work for the majority
Think about how you interact with other companies when
you're the customer for a minute. When customer service is
off, do you ask to speak with a manager? If you're like most
people, you usually won't. You find another store, restaurant,
or business to use and never go back.
If a website is hard to use, do you send them a note?
Again, probably not. You key in another search term and find
Do you typically shop for the absolute lowest price and
look for a bottom-drawer company for everything you need?
That's another "no." We normally buy on emotion, the belief
that a company understands us or makes us feel good.
So for the rest of the year (and beyond), think about how
you use the voice of the customer to make decisions, to communicate, and maybe even to decide what products you offer.
Start by getting in front of your customers and asking what
they think. Listen carefully to what they have to say. If you do
a good job having these conversations, then you absolutely
won't like some of what you hear. And that's the real gold.
When a customer is so forthright that they point out
something you have never considered, express a major
inconvenience in working with you, or suggest a change in
direction, then what you're hearing is opportunity disguised
as criticism. Do something with those nuggets of information
over the remaining 26 weeks of the year.
3. THE VOICE OF THE CUSTOMER
You have heard this phrase before, right? If not, it's easy to
understand. It's simply thinking about your company through
the lens of how your best customers see things. Extending
from how you answer your phone to how easy it is to do business with you, the voice of the customer can give you clarity
about what you need to do better.
Marshall Atkinson is the owner of Atkinson Consulting, based
in Gilbert, Arizona. He coaches apparel decoration companies
on operational efficiency, continuous improvement, workflow
strategy, business planning, employee motivation, management,
and sustainability. He is a frequent tradeshow speaker, author of
management articles and blogs, and host of InkSoft's "The Big Idea"
podcast. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JUNE / JULY 2018