In-plants that offer fulfillment services find it increases their value to the organization, while bringing in additional revenue.October 2011 By Bob Neubauer
The deeper an in-plant can weave itself into the fabric of its parent organization, the better off it will be. Knowing this, some in-plants are endearing themselves to customers by offering fulfillment services, saving those customers from having to do this work themselves.
For example, University of North Texas Printing and Distribution Solutions has built a thriving business fulfilling recruitment materials for the Denton, Texas, university.
"It's a vital part of our operation," reports Director Jimmy Friend.
When prospective students visit UNT's website and request information on various programs, those orders are sent to the in-plant. Employees gather brochures on each of the selected programs and mail them back to the students, along with a personalized letter.
"It's tied us into the university as part of the recruiting process and the admissions process," remarks Friend.
It's also a nice source of income, he adds; between 25 and 30 percent of the in-plant's revenue comes from printing and fulfilling these items.
Across the industry, fulfillment is a growing area for printers. Surveys by the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL) rank fulfillment at the top of the list of value-added services offered by commercial printers. IPG data shows that 37 percent of in-plants offer fulfillment services of some sort.
Like UNT's in-plant, University of Oregon Printing and Mailing Services also fulfills recruitment materials. The Eugene, Ore.-based in-plant prints and stores these items, and when departments need them, the in-plant delivers boxes of recruitment pieces to them. Alternately, the in-plant will receive a mailing list and employees will stuff the requested materials into envelopes and mail them.
"It's what you do to help them with their core mission," notes Director Mark Dixon. "Any time I can stick our tentacle of our business into...recruitment, that's where the value comes in."
Fulfilling Promotional Products
In Mankato, Minn., Doug Fenske has also discovered the benefits of fulfillment. His in-plant at Minnesota State University has been selling promotional products since 2006. When departments host conferences on campus and order items from the in-plant to give to attendees—pens, pads, programs, handouts, lanyards, bags—the in-plant will assemble all of these items for the customer, saving them the trouble of doing it themselves.
"All you have to do is tell us...the day that you want them; we will deliver the bags completely assembled," Fenske says. "They're tickled to death because they don't have to touch them."