From the Editor: Never Stop Marketing
Many of you have no idea how your in-plant got started. To be fair, it may have been a really long time ago for some of you. I know of several in-plants that are more than 100 years old, and many that came to life before the Beatles hit the airwaves. The details of why those organizations originally decided to get a press and print their own forms and brochures are lost in time.
This is one reason why our story on Schneider Electric’s in-plant is so interesting. The in-plant was created just eight years ago, so the decision-makers are still around, their reasons still known. In essence, the company saw a way to save money on a specific project and get it done faster, then realized they could also save money and time by printing other applications in-house. Thus an in-plant was born.
Kris Tanner, manager of Schneider Electric’s Solutions Support Group, didn’t come in with a printing background; he simply wanted to bring efficiency and savings to his company. When it worked out as planned ($1.1 million in savings the first year), Tanner looked for other items his fledgling operation could print. Some of these opportunities required new equipment, so he calculated the ROI, justified it and brought it in-house.
This is how it works at all in-plants: you save your parent organization money, deliver projects quickly, then look for other ways you can bring convenience and savings. Yet over time, your organization can forget about the benefits you’re bringing them — the reasons they started the in-plant — and just take you for granted. And when you’re the status quo, that’s when management might start wondering, “Is there a better way?” — forgetting that they already have that “better way” in place.
So you need to remind them. Compare your prices for individual jobs with those of outside printers and report this to upper management; let them know what their rush job would have cost them at Sir Speedy; remind them that the fast, free delivery you provide wouldn’t be so fast or free if you weren’t there.
At Schneider, Tanner uses the company’s internal social media platform, as well as LinkedIn, to highlight the in-plant’s services and accomplishments. He sends sample kits to customers and visits them to promote the shop’s capabilities. He recently held an open house.
“If we don’t stay top of mind, we will be forgotten and we will be out of business,” he told IPG.
And this is coming from an in-plant that’s still fresh and new, its customers and senior management still excited about it. The lesson here is never stop marketing. Never assume everyone knows how much value you provide or that you have all the business you can possibly get. Staff turnover, as seasoned managers know, will rob you of your loyal clientele, and the newcomers will find other sources for their printing. You have to stay “top of mind,” as Tanner says.
As you’re busy promoting your value, it wouldn’t hurt to include references to companies like Schneider Electric that went from outsourcing to starting an in-plant as a way to save money. Some organizations, maybe yours, like to look outside their walls for inspiring ideas and success stories. If this leads them to vendor-written case studies that promote the value of outsourcing, things may not go well for your in-plant. Keep management informed about companies like Schneider and others IPG has profiled that turned away from outsourcing and found savings and convenience through their in-plants.
We all know the value you’re providing; it’s your parent organization that needs a reminder.
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Graphics since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited more than 130 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Graphics.