Firms are finding themselves in good financial standing as the industry re-emerges from the pause that the pandemic brought upon them. Through careful planning, proper resource allocation and the assistance of stimulus funds, balance sheets are strong. Senior teams are meeting to decide where they should go from here. The options include strategic growth through acquisition, expanding the sales presence in existing and/or new markets or adding complimentary services to capture an increased share of wallet from existing customers. What’s the best approach — well, that depends.
Appetite For Change
My experience tells me that the culture of a firm drives many of the decisions that are made. No decisions are without risks — even choosing to do nothing comes with risk. The appetite for change or taking on calculated risks within the ranks of the senior team is a determining factor in the direction they take.
Planning for growth through acquisition begins with answering the question of what type of business they are looking for. There are three main strategies often deployed. The first is to expand with more of the same type of business they currently are in. Buying a competitor in the same or adjacent region can help to build scale and either be a tuck-in or operate as a stand alone business. This option enables a business to leverage their strengths in the same product or customer verticals that they already have experience in.
Strategic acquisitions also enable a business to move into new product lines. This can save the time and resources necessary to build those capabilities from the ground up. An example of this could be a commercial printer buying a wide format business. This allows the firm to sell additional products and services to their existing customer base as well as to sell printing to the new customers it just acquired.
A third strategy would be to acquire a business for their intellectual capital — their people. As the printing business has become even more technology driven, an acquisition of an IT/tech services business might be a solution. This would be akin to hitting the fast-forward button and would provide the oxygen for the firms technology-based customer solutions.
Expand The Sales Presence
Organic options for growth could be to expand the sales team in your existing or adjacent market. While this certainly is doable, finding salespeople with industry experience has proved difficult for many. Conversely, you could choose to recruit and train those who have the aptitude for selling in today’s marketplace but lack the print background. Whichever option you decide, articulating your expectations and sharing your “best practices” for sales success at your company are important elements to communicate to all new hires.
As the markets have changed, and the way many enterprise level customer have changed how they buy, this could be a good time to re-visit your sales team structure. Determine if you have the right compliment of business development reps, account managers and relationship builders. If not, it may be a good time to re-structure the sales team to reflect the times we are in.
Build It And They Will Come
The third option for growth is to add complimentary services to your offering. Building this business from the ground up allows you to properly integrate the business practices into your existing structure. No need to un-learn and re-learn. Some examples of this include adding fulfillment and kit packing or promotional products and apparel to your offerings. Make sure to do your homework and that you have identified an existing client segment that is looking for these services, and is interested in buying them from you.
There’s no “right or wrong” answer here. You and your team need to evaluate the risks and rewards involved in all of these options. Don’t take your eye off of the main enterprise while exploring and executing on these options. You and your team will need to evaluate which option minimizes the level of distraction in running the core business, all the while achieving your growth goals. The key will be to get from here, to there, safely.
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