Posts Tagged ‘vendors’

Shouldn’t Every Service Business Have a Bill of Rights?

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

In my last blog entry Credit is Our Lifeblood, Usury is Our Deathbed I criticized the banking and financial industries for passing off PR statements as a  Customer’s Bill of Rights. I suggested some rights that I would like to see instead.  That got me thinking about my own business. What promises am I willing to make to my customers, and what should they be able to expect from me as a printing broker?

Bill Ruesch Print Broker’s Customer’s Bill of Rights

Whereas the customer and Bill Ruesch Print Broker are entering into an agreement to produce a printed product for the customer, the customer can expect the following:

  • The Right to be Heard.  The Customer shall be treated at all times with respect and cordiality. All concerns and questions shall be answered promptly to the best of the Print Broker’s ability.
  • The Right to Expert Assistance. The Print Broker will advise, consult, and assist the Customer in all aspects of the printing and mailing arrangements, using his experience, wisdom and common sense to place jobs with Vendors best suited to produce the work with proficiency, reasonable cost, and in a timely manner.
  • The Right to Free Consultation. The Print Broker will draw on his experience and the knowledge of other professionals to make recommendations  toward improving quality, decreasing costs, and saving time. The Customer is not bound to act on any of  suggestions.
  • The Right to be Fully Informed. A bid specification sheet will be prepared by the print broker for every job. The bid sheet forms the blueprint for the job and informs all parties to the scope of the work. It is the Customer’s responsibility to review said specs and make corrections, preferably in writing to keep the job on track and prevent misunderstandings.
  • The Right of Mediation. The Print Broker serves as an intermediary between the Customer and the Vendors. While not responsible for the Customer’s debt, the Print Broker will work in behalf of the two parties to assure smooth financial transactions. In the event a problem occurs with quality, timeliness, delivery or any other Customer concern, the Print Broker  shall be available to mediate and mitigate the issue to find an solution acceptable to all parties.
  • The Right to have Expert Access. The Print Broker is primarily invested in getting the Customer’s job done right, on time, and at a reasonable cost. At any point in the production or estimating process that the Print Broker sees a need to have the Customer interact directly with the Vendor or other sources of specialized expertise, acting immediately connect said parties.
  • The Right of Friendly Support. The Customer has the right to assume that the Print Broker is working in the Customer’s best interest, and will continue to do so as long as the Customer’s demands are moral, ethical, and legal.
  • No Surprise Fees. It is understood by the Print Broker and Customer that bid prices are subject to change. Any changes from bid specification sheet that become necessary in the process of the job will require adjustments. The Print Broker guarantees that all fees for his services will be included in bids, and charges for changes. The Print Broker is committed to a no surprise policy.
  • No Long-Term Contracts. Unless otherwise agreed, Bill Ruesch serves the Customer on a project-by-project basis. The Customer is not obligated to hire him for future jobs unless it suits the Customer to do so.

The above nine rights are flexible, in that if any of the readers have suggestions or recommendations for changes I would like to hear them. When my Bill of Rights solidifies I will keep it on my website as a continual promise. And that’s a promise.


 

Stealing Customers for Profit in the Recession

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Have you ever been woken up by cold water splashed in your face? That was what happened to me when I read a blog post on another site the other day. To paraphrase (because I failed to bookmark the site and can’t find it again–drat) he said that those in the printing business should not hold expectations that 2010 was going to improve the state of the market. Furthermore he said that there were only two things companies could do to remain viable during the coming year. The first, was concentrate on customer retention. In this market losing customers is like losing blood. Do whatever you have to do to stop the loss. The second thing  was steal customers from the competition. Honest to goodness, steal was the exact word used. It wasn’t attract new customers, it was steal customers.

Part of me understands his point while another part of me is revolted. In a down economy new customers are rare. Prudent people rarely start new businesses during hard times. Banks are loath to loan and entrepreneurs are careful.  So if new customers aren’t springing up that only leaves current customers. If they aren’t your customer, then they are someone else’s. There is something very distasteful to me about targeting some other company’s livelihood knowing that if you win you may be causing their demise. That is what the emotional side of me says.

The pragmatic side says that you have to face reality. If it takes stealing a customer to keep your company afloat, and allow your employees to put food on their tables, that’s what you have to do. Strike first before they strike you.

pirate skull and knifeIs that cutthroat? Maybe, but business is a jungle and it is survival of the fittest. Don’t we benefit as a society if those moving the bar up are the ones surviving? Don’t we get better goods and services? For the sake of all shouldn’t those weaker companies be weeded out? For the good of the garden thinning has to take place. OK, I’ve managed to mix at least three metaphors in the previous sentences, but you get my point–right?

Stealing customers might be a correct term even though it’s hard to swallow (yet another metaphor). I remember talking to a travel agency some years ago about their marketing. They got tired of fighting for position in the middle of the pack and decided to break out by being unique. What they did is identify ten commercial accounts who did large volumes in travel. Then they determined how much they were already spending on newspaper and magazine ads. They totaled their radio expense. In short they added all of their marketing costs and put it into an imaginary pot. Then they looked at those ten prospects again and divvied up the pot ten ways. During the next year they focused all of their energies on the golden ten. All they had to do was get three and their business would increase. When the dust settled, and the year was over they had six out of ten, and business more than doubled for them.

Those ten golden commercial accounts had been buying travel services from someone else. In effect, the upstart travel agency stole their customers. Or as I like to think of it they won the business. Because they were focused on only ten, they could service the businesses like they had never been serviced before. It wasn’t theft, is was a reward for a job well done. To not reward them with business after this effort would be criminal.

To stay afloat, and even improve during an economic downturn find a way to earn more business. Whinning all day long that business is bad won’t do it. No that won’t do at all.

10 Secret Traits of a Successful Self-Publisher

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Creating a Self-Publishing business is not for everyone, only those who:

  • are unshakable in their conviction that their book must be published–that the world needs it
  • are undeterred by rejections from traditional agents and publishers
  • are intelligent enough, and with enough moxie to promote their book themselves, and by themselves if necessary
  • have, or can get together the funds for the art, editing, and printing of the book, and
  • will not settle for a second rate product that demeans them, and tarnishes the reputation of self-publishers everywhere
  • understand that writing the book was the easy part, selling it takes major time commitments
  • are tenacious as a pit bull
  • know that they will earn more money by keeping the profits on each sale
  • are smart enough to set aside funds for future reprints of the book
  • are determined to operate their businesses in wise and irreproachable manner

I was tempted to elaborate on each of these ten points, but I think they stand on their own. Those who would be self-publishers must know that they are starting a business. Just like any other business endeavor, they must create a business plan, a marketing plan, and make plans for distribution.

The traditional publishing industry laughs at self-publishers because most will sell 100 books or less. They think that it proves self-published books are inferior. I don’t share that point of view. Sales figures reveal nothing about the quality of the writing, or the thinking behind it. I read a lot, and I’ve read many traditionally published books that were a waste of paper and ink, but they got through the system because they would sell. Publishing is still a business even at the loftiest and most snobby levels. A book that won’t sell is of no value to them, and is valueless to a self-publisher as well.

Vanity publishing is a different thing altogether

Some books are a vanity effort never meant for mass distribution. I’m not speaking of those. Authors who are writing for their friends and families are not obligated to the rules of business. Their reward is not profit driven and I honestly praise them and wish them well. “They’s good people,” as grandma would say.

Forty Thousand Dollars and nothing to show for it

I do feel bad for an author who puts all of her hopes and dreams into a book and believes that the world will beat a path to her door. It won’t.

I also feel bad for aspiring authors who are so book hungry that they are ready to believe any snake oil salesman that comes along. This past year I was introduced to a woman who had spent over $40,000.00 with an Internet firm who promised her the moon. $40 grand later not one copy of the book was printed. She was referred to a friend of mine who helped her with the editing, page layouts, and cover design. Then they came to me for the printing. For about one-quarter of the cost she now has a garage full of books that would proudly sit on any bookstore shelves alongside traditionally published volumes. Is she happy? You bet she is.

A new business is like a new baby

I keep pounding this drum, but The Red Hen Association of Self-Publishing Authors is being created so that we can steer each other toward reputable services, and away from the disreputable. The association is determined to provide educational opportunities for authors to learn everything they need to know to successfully run their self-publishing businesses. There is no magic wand. Anyone who promises miracles should be suspect. Successful self-publishing, assuming you have a market worthy book, can bring you an excellent, and even superior living, but you have to work it like a business. And a new business is like a new baby, it requires all the time, money, and energy you can muster, but end the end the rewards are worth it.

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© Bill Ruesch, Talking Through My Hat, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bill Ruesch, Talking Through My Hat with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.