User login

Re-thinking the Business of Output

(March 2007) posted on Fri Mar 16, 2007

The Signage and Graphics Summit helps attendees find the road to profits.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Peggy Middendorf

Each company buys huge chunks of printing and signage every year. Summit participants were eager to know how these companies make buying decisions and any tips/hints they could offer to help them break into the "big time." Questions from audience members focused in on what qualities each company looked for in a print provider, how companies could win a job, what to expect in terms of turnaround times, and-looking toward the future-what signage they thought was on the rise.

Colors, vendors, run length, and more
The Summit also offered 16 panel sessions and dozens of more intimate roundtable discussions. Topics ranged from sales and company profitability to purchasing new technologies and marketing strategies. The year’s highlights included:

* "Hitting the Colors your Clients Demand"-Panelists discussed how they brought color management under control in their shops. Most had problems meeting color demands in the past-causing reprinting of jobs, wasted time, and inconsistency. Each panelist explained how they educated themselves and their employees on accurate color, how it has changed their workflow, their newfound confidence when it comes to matching color, and how it has positively impacted their bottom line.

* "Selecting Vendors and Measuring their Performance"-Print shops explained the factors involved with choosing a vendor, including product knowledge and tech support, inventory (to allow just-in-time stocking), on-time delivery, service, carrying media compatible with all inksets used by a shop, product quality, and price. While most agreed that price was certainly an important criterion when deciding to buy from a distributor, most also concurred that it is often customer service (in its many guises) that allows suppliers to earn their long-term business.

* "Run-length Considerations Between Screen and Digital Printing"-Two print companies shared how they determine which technology and hardware runs a specific job. It is not always as simple as run length; other key considerations included color and quality demands of the job, waste, sq ft/hr, and the availability of the equipment. In addition, the shops stressed that, generally, they are not selling a specific technology-most customers don’t care how a job is printed, so long as it is up to their quality specifications and is delivered on time.

* "International Marketplace: Threat or Opportunity"-While many in this roundtable discussion saw the emerging print markets in China and India as a looming threat, others felt that it could provide an opportunity. Advantages that local companies have that overseas print providers cannot compete against include: service, on-time delivery, product quality, and quick turnaround times. In addition, smaller print shops can be proactive against this off-shore threat by joining a strategic network of print partners and specializing in printing for a market niche.

* "The Changing Face of Electronic Digital Signage"-Panelists discussed all types of electronic signage, from the digital billboards found near some freeways, to the smaller screens found in retail environments. Currently, approximately 400 digital billboards are installed across the US, says OAAA’s Stephen Freitas; in addition, many retail arenas also are sporting smaller plasma, LED, LCD, and even 3-D displays that broadcast static or changing advertising messages.

* "What is Lean Manufacturing and How Can You Implement It?"-In a nutshell, lean manufacturing emphasizes the elimination of waste through changes in processes-and mindsets-throughout the company. In this session, three companies that are in the midst of implementing lean manufacturing explained how the process started, where the glitches are, and how their company is overcoming these challenges.

Next year, shop owners and executives from high-volume digital-printing, sign, and screen-printing companies will gather again at the Signage and Graphics Summit. The three days of education and networking-with a round or two of golf thrown in-will be held January 16-18, 2008, in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, at the PGA National Resort & Spa.