Thursday, January 13, 2011

Women in Print

Today I had the pleasure of speaking at Ouisie's Table at the luncheon meeting of Women in Print.

I was asked to speak about my experience as a self-employed publisher and client for printing companies. I accepted readily, seeing this as a great opportunity to "get a few things off my chest."

With courage, I entitled my talk, "My Love/Hate Relationship with Printers," and prayed a silent prayer my audience would be open to hearing the truth - at least the truth from my point of view. My prayer was answered. The audience was great; the attendees were genuinely interested in hearing what a client like me wants and needs from a printer.

I explained that price was important, but it wasn't always the deciding factor when selecting — or staying with — a printer. "Yes, the price has to be fair;" I said, "but it doesn't necessarily have to be the lowest price out there to get my business."

Most important, I told the group, is the printer-client relationship. It needs to be based on unwavering trust and mutual respect. It needs to provide me peace of mind and make this part of my job easy!

I explained having a printer as interested in the success and continued growth of my business — as much as her own — was key. I talked about how important it was to meet expectations every single time — no matter what!

Knowing my magazine would get on and off the press when promised is crucial. I told them that "not every printer in H-town seems to get that." I also told them about printers who lie - who tell me what I want to hear on the front end, to get my business. Then, afterwards, deny their own promises and agreements.

I also told the women in print that expectations of clients change over time.

"In my experience, the longer you have a client, the more they expect."

I talked about short-term "sins of omission" that can cost them future long-term business. I cited a couple of personal examples:

• Printers who never send get well or sympathy cards when appropriate
• Printers who never say "thank you" for on-going business

People like me, I told them, want our printers to serve as ready consultants, educating us about ways to lower our costs, improve our production processes, enhance our products, create new offerings for our customers, etc.

It all boils down to customer service.

Provide the best, and you keep more clients. Let it fall by the wayside, and your clients will do the very same thing.

It's true for printing companies. It's true for every other kind of business too!

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