Posted on by Dave Erlandson | 2 Comments »

As companies look for ways to grow the digital printing portion of their business, they’re finding multiple options. And this is great news. Every company is different. Not every company that adopts digital printing needs to become a marketing solutions provider.

One of the strategies I really like is when a company re-engineers a process – that has print as a key component – to increase value and lower overall costs. The idea is to change an entire process workflow, not just the printing step, to either add more value or lower overall costs. The customer is willing to pay more for the printing step because more sales or increased savings are created in another part of the process. This more than offsets any increased printing costs. 

The benefit for the service provider is that the strategy maintains the value of digital print, protecting it from the commodity pricing trap. Savvy service providers can get their fair share of the value created maintaining high margins. Applications where this principle is applied include:

  • Reminder Notices – automation saves labor
  • Enrollment Kits – personalization reduces overall pages
  • Collateral Management – via web-to-print systems that reduce waste and obsolescence

REMINDER NOTICES A great example of this strategy in action is from Alexander’s Print Advantage in Salt Lake City.  They worked with the electronic services division of Henry Schein Practice Management Solutions, which has developed software solutions used in over 45,000 dental offices nationwide.

Dentists are keenly aware that if a patient misses an appointment it is lost revenue that can’t be made up easily. As a result, they all have systems to help customers remember their appointments. Dental offices employ a variety of methods including phone calls, emails and handwritten postcards to help ensure that patients get to their scheduled appointments.

custom card printingHenry Schein Practice Management Solutions has the Dentrix system – if a patient responds to an email reminder, the appointment is automatically confirmed. But if the patient doesn’t have an email address or doesn’t confirm, the Dentrix system works through Alexander’s Print Advantage, their technology partner, to print a custom card and mail it out on behalf of the practice.

This system is automated and no longer requires labor in the dental office to create and send out reminders. It interacts with each patient individually, depending on the methods they respond to the best. If the patient responds to email and cell phone messages, the system sends an email or text message. If they don’t regularly use these channels, the system will send them a customized post card.

This represents a significant advance over the typical practice of sending out stock reminder cards. It’s a great example of how re-engineering a process can save costs, create new value, and create an ongoing revenue stream for the print service provider.

ENROLLMENT KITS Another interesting solution can be found in benefit enrollment kits for new employees.  When a new employee starts at a company he or she is typically given benefits information, about health insurance, dental, pharmacy and vision plans.  The information is typically delivered in a pocket folder with hand collated inserts for each plan.  The information is same-to-all and often contains a large volume of printed pages that are unnecessary.

A savvy service provider can take on the challenge of re-engineering the process with the intent of reducing costs and increasing value.  Start by integrating the existing ordering system to develop a scalable solution.  Then create vibrant four- color versioned, perfect bound booklets that contain fewer but more relevant pages. The end result – new employees prefer the new booklets over the previous option and the plan provider is pleased as costs are reduced.

COLLATERAL MANAGEMENT systems vary greatly in terms of capability and sophistication. The simplest systems allow end users to interact with the system to build their own brochure and deliver a quantity of one. On the other end of the scale, complex systems exist to fulfill millions of requests for product information or to manage multiple direct mail campaigns.

It turns out that the collateral on-demand process is analogous to lean manufacturing principles that strive for avoiding inventory and using smaller batches and just-in-time manufacturing. In collateral management systems the savings associated with inventory, obsolescence, waste, labor, storage space, and administrative tasks typically far outweigh the potentially higher cost of digital printing versus offset for long runs.

Collateral management systems gain efficiency by automating the print set-up process and by distributing the administrative costs of ordering materials to the user. We have also found that user behavior changes. In many situations there is pent up demand for multiple versions of a collateral piece that was not created because brochures are only printed in long runs on offset devices. So what happens is that the big orders for collateral are replaced with a high number of orders for short-run collateral.

IN SUMMARY – there’s no reason for companies to try to force square pegs into round holes. There are different ways to avoid commodity print prices and find a business model that will work with your unique company strengths.   Re-engineering processes is a viable strategy to drive print and add new value.  Just be sure to price the work to make sure you get your fair share of the value generated.

Interested in learning more about the many paths to success that are open to you? Come to PODi’s AppForum conference – Jan. 28-30 at Planet Hollywood in Vegas. It’s independent, unbiased, peer-led and focused on digital print solutions.

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Comment from malik
Time November 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Nice article.However i was expecting it about custom business card printing solution. Any idea how to reduce the cost for embossed business cards.

Comment from PODi Team
Time December 3, 2012 at 11:37 am

We have lots of case studies that look at collateral management solutions that may include business cards.
Here is a case study that addresses the issue:

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