In the hectic daily struggle to keep a small print shop profitable, many may fall into the trap of cut-throat pricing – quickly seeing what competitors in your area are charging and shaving a few percentage points off their prices. This race to the bottom helps no one and makes margins wafer thin.
Example: I have a friend who runs the Toronto International Bicycle Show. His printing needs each year involve everything from show passes, floor plans and perforated exhibitor badges etc., to full-colour brochures. Last month he had to use four different printers for these relatively simple projects. One local franchise printer raised prices a few percentage points, so he got a quote from another franchisee closer to where he lived. It was double (yes, double!) An offset printer who does his full-colour brochure was very competitive, but couldn’t compete on the one-colour and B&W pieces. Another printer that handled his B&W items and envelopes didn’t have perforating equipment, so the exhibitor badges went to yet another printer. At the end of the day, my friend saved about $2,000.
Here’s my point: the most successful local printers I know never work in silos. They visit local competitors, introduce themselves and suggest working together. What are your strengths and theirs? What equipment do you/they have, and where does your efficiency and expertise lie? Are there jobs that you’d rather not handle for whatever reason? If I owned a print shop and specialized in full-colour brochures, for example, I’d make sure that I knew every other print shop in my area that could do one-colour and B&W items more efficiently. Then I’d recommend them to the client. With one move, I’d keep the client happy, foster loyalty, and encourage my competitors to recommend my shop for higher-end projects.
Now this may seem like a fairly obvious business strategy. But be honest: how often have you rushed a job through so you could earn a few extra dollars, while possibly sacrificing more lucrative future work? Sometimes you just can’t take on all requests cost-efficiently. Don’t be afraid to recommend local competitors. Find your niche, know your local printers’ niches and work together. Then everyone wins!
Until next time, always remember that we’re here to help.