Philie Group Blog

Improve Your Chances to Rebuild and Thrive
By Mike Philie

Being the leader of the business means knowing, and doing the right things. You and your team have worked diligently throughout the recovery phase of the economic pause and you see light at the end of the tunnel. The first question is, is it daylight or another train? Let’s go with daylight!


Once the recovery was underway in past economic downfalls, most print businesses improved and returned to some sort of normalcy. The second question we ask is, when this economic and health crisis improves, how will the print industry bounce back? Maybe more importantly, will your business participate in the recovery and what steps can you take to improve your chances?


Through 2020 Q3, we’ve seen print organizations with a 20-45% decrease in 2020 vs. 2019 revenue due to COVID-19. These companies didn’t do anything wrong, they weren’t asleep at the wheel, they were victims. Other companies benefited from a customer base that was not overly affected by the pandemic and saw revenue either flat or in several cases, up over the prior year. While this second group had avoided becoming a casualty, there was no way to predict these two different outcomes. This brings us to today. Regardless of which end of the spectrum you find yourself, you can choose to stay the current course and see what happens, or you can elect to work at improving your chances of rebuilding and thriving as the recovery develops.


Many leaders have done a good job of re-aligning their costs to their reduced revenue model. For some this was accomplished through the difficult task of downsizing variable costs and managing cash. Others also faced the heavy burden of fixed infrastructure costs that inhibited them from making all the changes they needed to make. As we look back, the PPP stimulus funds made available from the government will be viewed as either a life jacket for some or as kicking the can down the road for others — we won’t weigh in further on this at this point.


As leaders continue to transition from survival to thrive mode, there are key areas that they should consider. These typically begin by finding ways to grow the revenue of the business. Some will be happy when they achieve “normalcy,” while others will continue and surpass where they once were and pull ahead of the pack.


Revenue growth can occur in different ways, here are a few examples:

  • Your existing clients re-engage and order to their pre-COVID-19 levels
  • Existing clients re-engage and enlist your help in re-inventing themselves in the marketplace, thus creating new print opportunities for you
  • Introduce post-COVID-19 signage and communication products for your customers
  • Continue, or begin, your new business development efforts. Note — the methods and resources you’ll use to engage with prospects will be different today than pre-COVID-19
  • Re-engineer your sales efforts by adding to your team and/or re-defining the sales role within your organization (you may have to do this regardless)
  • Create a strategic alliance with a complimentary business so that you can both expand the range of services you bring to the marketplace
  • Expand your reach and revenue through a strategic acquisition. Consider either a tuck-in, a stand-alone business, and/or a merger of equals


Leading a thriving print business has always been difficult, and it’ll continue to face headwinds going forward. Evaluate your team and make sure they are all capable and invested in the challenges that lay ahead. Solidify your plan and prepare to make the difficult decisions that will give you and your business your best chance of recovery and success in this great industry of ours.


If you’ve tackled any of these action steps in your business, I’d appreciate your comments on how it worked for you. What did you like about it, and what you would do different in the future? Please add a message in the comment section below or reach out to me to discuss further.


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, LinkedIn or email at


This blog originally published in Printing Impressions


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