Philie Group Blog

Participate in a Changing, Dynamic Marketplace
By Mike Philie

Everyone wants to capitalize in the market rebound and participate in the economic recovery, right? Time and attendance will not, by themselves, ensure full involvement with these improving business conditions. And while the glimpses of better times can serve as a healing lotion for those who have endured difficult times, there is still some heavy lifting to do. To ensure your position and be counted as one of the winners, you’ll need to navigate through a changing, dynamic marketplace.

Blocking and Tackling Assignments

Change is hard, but change with a purpose can yield outstanding results. Start by working some of your blocking and tackling assignments. The pandemic certainly created some unintended consequences for printers, and no one signed up for this. Some companies had to downsize, and in many cases these changes disrupted their normal workflow and how they processed work through the business.


Clearly, those that had a tight order entry process were less affected than those that were making it up as they went along. You’ve seen it, or heard about the six CSR’s who write up the same type of project and it enters the production cycle in seven different ways. It’s very difficult for a production operator to be “halfway efficient” if they have to interpret each job ticket based on who wrote it up. In the best of times, this is problematic. When you’re trying to catch the wave of the economic reopening, it becomes a true deterrent.

Unintended Consequences

If you were fortunate, you retained your best people and their commitment to your vision has allowed you to make the best of a bad situation. In many cases, the folks who were retained were flexible and worked as necessary to make things happen. In other situations though, we’ve seen folks who don’t feel the need to step out of their comfort zone. They are the ones that say, “that’s not my job.” This is where those uncomfortable discussions need to take place. You can’t afford to have that kind of attitude remain in place as you try to rebound the business. Remember, you get what you tolerate.

Lessons Learned — Reload, Rethink and Re-engineer

What have you learned from all of this? This has been a humbling and painful time. But all shouldn’t be lost. You should use the lessons learned and the takeaways from this pandemic as an opportunity to reload, rethink and re-engineer your business. What are the changes that printers have put into place over this past year, or at least working on?


Here are a few examples that I’ve seen recently: deal with problem employees quickly, get buy in or leave; build a flexible, cross-trained workforce — minimize single points of failure; step up the marketing program; make the hard decisions quicker; realize that sales reps could work remotely; understand the need to relentlessly drive sales; automate as much as possible, and that know that you can do more with less. This certainly isn’t the entire list, as many printers have been very inventive this past year. What were you working on?


Don’t look at these times as a time to relax your steadfast drive to improve. Rather, keep the pedal down and use this time as a catalyst to build an even better company than what you had pre-COVID. If you have any comments or thoughts as to how you’ve approached these times, please send me a note or include them below.


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


Originally published in Printing Impressions


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