Many businesses thought that they had a great plan coming into the new year. Budgets were set, people in place, and all ready to go. The challenge came about as they began facing inconsistent demand, staffing challenges brought on by the pandemic, and a supply chain nightmare. Some owners are weighing whether it’s time to pivot and move to plan B, or hold steady while they work through this.
After talking with business leaders, we see some of these issues as symptoms of a problem that may have been around for a while. Yes, there are several new headwinds that they face, but strategic execution issues can hamper the results of any well thought out plan.
Inconsistent demand can cause headaches to the best operators. What is causing this? Is this new? Have the assumptions they made for their best customers changed in the last 60-90 days, if anything? The pandemic certainly modified the customer landscape for many printing companies. While some of their customers never missed a beat, some took a pause, and some went away entirely.
Their best efforts will be rewarded by helping the sales organization replace the business that may never come back. The sales team cannot just wait for their customers to come back into the game. They’ve been waiting for close to two years now. They should take the other fork in the road and be more assertive in replacing that lost business.
The top companies never take their eye off of their best customers either. They’ve learned that it’s difficult to be all things to all people. In some cases, these firms have reduced the number of customers than they use to have — on purpose, but are better aligned with the value they provide.
Companies brag that the strength of their people is one their biggest differentiators. It even says so on their websites and in their sales collateral. By providing feedback, performance reviews, and cross training opportunities for their staff, the leaders keep their teams engaged and invest in their growth.
The progressive companies were also ahead of the curve in providing wage increases to their staff. Most did this before they began looking for alternative jobs and it’s paid off in employee retention. The employee absences caused by the pandemic though, have been no match for anyone, and very difficult to overcome.
The truck driver shortage has been but one of the factors that dealt a blow to distribution channels and ultimately in delivering paper to printing companies. The paper folks and economists explain this much better than I can, but at the end of the day, many shops are spending tremendous time and money resources in securing paper. It causes uncertainties throughout the business that are unprecedented.
Before they consider a pivot in their business though, they should go back to the fundamental parts of their business plan and make sure that they are performing as planned in the areas that they can control. Sure, there are many new and challenging headwinds they’re facing. This makes an even stronger case for focusing on the blocking and tackling parts of the business.
If you have questions or additional insight into this topic, please comment below or reach out to me directly.
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic advice, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in Printing Impressions