Winning new business has never been more important, and has never been more challenging. With that, you can’t afford to leave anything to chance. If you have a printing organization that is trying to secure accounts, versus transactions, you know that the solutions you provide can be somewhat complex. Defining the scope of work, all the way through to the deliverables is much more involved than providing an estimate for a static 16 page self-cover project. An area that is often overlooked or minimized, is preparing the internal team to onboard the new customer.
The areas that need the most attention are the pre and post production stages. Once a project is prepared to print, it usually falls into your best practices for execution. The pre-production phase is critical. How will you receive files and data and secure approvals for production? If it’s through an ecommerce platform or piped directly into your workflow, make sure that the job instructions and file prep steps have been properly addressed. Work to minimize human touches in the workflow. Use the software automation tools available (or that you already own) to automate as many of these steps as possible. If the project involves fulfillment or kitting as well, how will you receive inventory and accurately account for it per the requirements of your customer?
The post-production stages are no less important. How do projects get packaged and shipped or mailed? How about tracking shipments? What are the inventory reporting requirements? And most important, how and when will you get paid?
A good onboarding procedure is sure to cover all of these stages. It should begin with an initial planning meeting to go over the client expectations and timelines. Include all of the necessary folks that will have a hand in making this new client a success. Don’t cut corners or use the excuse that, “we’re busy now so we’ll go ahead and get started, and follow up with the details later.” This approach will not end well — not for you or your customer.
The details of an onboarding process will vary based on the scope of your work and the requirements of your customers. The basic message is, don’t skip this onboarding step! Create a planning process that works for you and make sure to get everyone involved. If you’ve already gone through this process like this, please share your journey in the comments below. If you have questions on how to get started, let me know. Good luck!
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.