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Five steps printing companies should take to survive coronavirus

This was unthinkable a few weeks ago

At the beginning of 2020 it was business as normal. Now, just ten weeks into the year, many printing companies are wondering how they are going to survive. Jobs have been cancelled. Work has slowed to a trickle. Their staff are at risk.

Desperate times call for action. Most people have not been in this situation before. It is a learning curve for everybody. The one thing no-one can afford to do is carry on with “business as normal”. But that is what has surprised me in conversations with many printing companies.

Too many printing companies are still not taking enough action

I am surprised at how many printing companies are still making plans. Others seem to be leaving their companies at risk. So I have compiled this list of action points that all companies should be undertaking.

I apologise if these seem too simplistic or if you have already carried all of them out. However, in my experience if you have already done all of these things then you are in a minority of companies.

If you only do one thing, please carry out action point one:

1 – Make staff as safe as possible

If you haven’t put the right measures in place, it only requires one member of staff to come to work with coronavirus to put your business completely out of action. Here is a quick list of some of the things that you should be doing:

  • Make sure as many staff as possible work from home. Customer service and production CAN be done remotely. You may need to move some services to the cloud, but this is quick and easy to do. Phones can be diverted. Documents can be shared via Dropbox or similar if you do not have a shared server. Meetings can be held by Zoom.
  • Split your staff into zones or teams. If you have more than one shift, ensure there is a gap between one shift leaving and the next arriving. Where possible restrict everyone to certain areas. There is no need for a finisher to walk to a press. Create handover zones for work. Hand sanitiser is probably unavailable but enforce regular handwashing and disinfect all surfaces as often as possible.
  • Try and keep as much equipment as personal as possible: for instance, no sharing of pens or other stationary.
  • Consider taking staff temperatures at the beginning and end of every shift.
  • Keep people out of your premises. Deliveries can be left at the door. Customers should be stopped from visiting. If you rely on walk in business, ask people to phone outside your premises and then post any disks or artwork through your door. As far as possible, disinfect or wash items that are brought into your premises.
  • Finally, brief your staff on the measures you have taken and what you expect from them.

Once you have sorted out your staff, it is time to think about your customers.

2 – Communicate with your clients

Remind your customers that you are still open for business. Many people are assuming that factories are shutting when this is not the case.

If you are like me, you have probably had a couple of hundred e-mails from companies telling you what measures they have taken (usually not drastic enough). Buyers are bored of these! Tell your customers that you are open and what you can do to help their businesses as they adapt to this new environment. Most importantly, offer empathy: they are going through tough times as well. They do not want a standard sales pitch. I will write a separate blog with ideas for this very soon

Despite doing this, it is fair to assume that you will have a lot less business than you anticipated. That is why the next step is so important.

3 – Cut costs

It is time to be drastic. In the UK think about reducing staffing levels and using the government wage support. If government support is not available in your country you may be faced with hard decisions about the number of staff or working hours in order to ensure the survival of your business.

Consider your stockholdings and whether you can reduce regular expenditure. Try and negotiate rent holidays and a temporary pause in equipment payments.

The one thing I would not do is to stop marketing expenditure: I will explain why in my next blog.

4 – Have a plan B

What will happen if you cannot produce work? This may happen if you do not have enough fit staff. Make sure that you are talking to other companies to try and arrange mutual help with providing production capacity for each other should the worst come to the worst.

5 – Help others

This is a time when we should help everyone who needs it. What can you do to help someone in your community? It doesn’t have to be a big gesture: for many people, knowing that they are not alone is a big thing, especially if they are self-isolating.

Please consider doing one thing for someone else today.

We will get through Coronavirus

Remember that China is reporting virtually no new cases. The time will come when that is the case for your country too. As well as dealing with the present we need to think about the future! I will write more about this in my next blog.

For the meantime, please stay safe!

PS Here’s a thank you if you help someone suffering with the impact of Coronavirus

Hit reply to this e-mail and let me know what you’ve done. In return, I’ll send you a discount code for 25% off any of my online training products*. I have never before reduced any of my prices and this is strictly a one-off.

More importantly, please share with me what you have done whether you want a discount code or not. I want to share the best ideas with us all.

*In theory, I am not including my 1-2-1 live mentoring in this offer. But if you do something awesome enough, I might just reconsider!

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