For Expanding Your Value-Added Services Profitably,
Hiring Is Rocket Science
In today's business climate we at PrintLink are hearing ever-increasing reference to the need for printers to offer expanded value-added services to their customers. WhatTheyThink's Heidi Tolliver-Nigro recently defined value-added services as: "chargeable services beyond the press, either upstream or downstream, that add to the printer's bottom line." And measurable proof exists that evaluating and anticipating client needs with these new offerings have delivered profitable results and improved client retention for printers who have already embraced this trend.
We compare the task of expanding your value-added offerings to the historic Apollo 11 moon landing, when the world witnessed the first human to walk on the moon. Why? Both are evolutionary processes. Both rely heavily on robust and well maintained technology. And both require individuals who collectively form a cohesive human-resource team to manage, operate, and evolve the technology to accomplish defined goals. Training and ongoing performance management, as well as continuing strategic assessment, are essential to both operations. And additionally, the same recruitment tactic that assisted the Apollo team can also assist companies within our evolving industry: people were chosen for the mission who demonstrated the ability for continuous hands-on learning along with the ability to educate their fellow team members.
The purpose of this article is to demonstrate further how the right human resources can make all the difference in launching your company’s new value-added services to the marketplace with a blast.
Factor staff into your preliminary cost-benefit analysis
Obviously, in determining the feasibility of a proposed new value-added service for your company, your initial planning stage should involve more than just "build it and they will come". For one thing, some kind of cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is advisable. (CBA means weighing the total expected costs against the total expected benefits of one or more actions in order to choose the best or most profitable option.) However, the methodology you follow is largely up to you, since CBA has no precise definition beyond the idea that both positive and negative impacts are summarized and then weighed against each other.
But whatever procedure you follow, stay mindful that in quantifying the viability of an intended value-added services, a potential positive impact includes, among many other factors, the ability of staff to talk to customers and evoke positive responses. In this regard we agree with Heidi Tolliver-Nigro that the customer responses you are looking for are: "I didn’t know you offered that!" Or, "Hey, I never thought of that." Or, "Wow — that would really help with…" Also remember that in the absence of existing staff with the skills to effect this kind of advanced marketing strategy, you must budget either for training or hiring the necessary expertise.
The profitability of value-added services depends on people
In fact, it is all very well to identify a value-added service you can offer in a cost-effective manner, but the essential component you need to deliver the profit is people—people with the outlook and ability to build the awareness of your increased services proactively--not in terms of what they are, but in terms of what your clients can expect to receive from them.
And as more and more printers opt to expand their value-added offerings and the competition mounts, hiring staff who are competent and creative will become an increasingly important distinguishing factor for success. The masterful use of technology and an equally masterful analysis of its implications are what actually deliver the additional value to your clients. Fresh ideas will be the currency required for continued progress.
So look around your company and talk to your existing staff. Determine which of them can successfully enhance and build on new initiatives or alternatively what training they’ll require or what strategic hires you'll need to launch and execute your new services successfully.
Below for your consideration are four real-life examples of the kind of results you can gain from following an effective staffing strategy and from hiring top performers in their field:
Actual Case Study #1
Building the right team to deliver results
A company is working behind the scenes to develop the groundwork for new value-added services to augment their core business. To achieve this goal, company management first enlists the advice of experts in the type of services they are considering. After forming their foundational plan accordingly, including identifying the human resources required to drive it, the company then determines the optimum time to retool and launch their enhanced services into the marketplace. They next identify existing staff members who could be groomed to manage and operate the new initiatives, assess the remaining human-resources gaps, and delineated profiles for new hires needed to execute the plan. Their final step is to consolidate and train both existing and new personnel into an efficient, cohesive team. The result: a profitable new value-added initiative takes flight.
Actual Case Study #2
A crackerjack CSR researches lucrative new options
A customer service representative, whose responsibilities also include inside sales and administration, manages clients' daily print requests and requirements, including data files, receipt to proof, and proof to delivery, plus resolving any complications, whether accounting-, data-, or printing-related problems. But because she is a top performer, she also goes above and beyond the requirements of her job to work with all her clients' departments and levels of management and occasionally organize and lead sales and training presentations to them. Routinely and proactively she also researches the latest market information for her own VP of Sales as it relates to the printing industry and provides analysis through case studies. The result: she regularly identifies additional revenue-generating value-added services for her company to consider.
Actual Case Study #3
A superior production manager elevates efficiencies & customer confidence
As their new production manager, a rigid plastic packaging company hires a solid team player with more than 10 years of accumulative technical and managerial experience in the printing industry. He is experienced with Kaizan, 5S, and lean manufacturing, and holds an MBA with emphasis on production management as well as a Bachelor of Science in printing industrial technology/manufacturing. His day-to-day activities include: managing production-related activities, including scheduling, estimating and inventory; technical support for the printing department; participating with the company engineer in new technology assessments; and managing and coordinating preventive-action- and quality-control-related activities and procedures. The result: continuous process improvements and elevated customer confidence for his company.
Actual Case Study #4
A competent senior manager yields significant profit increase
A senior manager of a printing company talks to clients to understand their business requirements and then asks them: "If my company could assist you with a specific value-added service, would your management be interested in using it?" His procedure does not just amount to throwing darts at a wall: before approaching clients, he first did the necessary internal research to ensure that whatever it would take to deliver would be achievable and profitable for his own company. He then worked in tandem with his management team to build the technology, physical workspace, and staff to make the new initiative succeed. In addition to developing and implementing a service base, this manager's impressive capabilities include that he is subsequently able to manage the ongoing day-to-day requirements for the flourishing new endeavor. The result: he yielded his company nearly a 350% profitable increase in revenue!
In summary, human capital is as essential a component of increasing your company's value-added services as preparatory market research and the right technology. Be sure your mission will have a practical and valuable outcome by investing up front in the right human capital as well.