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  • What Shadows Are Stalking Your Company....?

    By Sid Chadwick, Chadwick Consulting, Inc. – 07/19/2023 Published in American Printer “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”…….Nelson Mandela INTRODUCTION: What “shadows” in the marketplace are quietly stalking… you… and your company…? Why did your Reps overcharge a customer…because they could…? (There were no policies re. overcharging. In fact, some Reps claimed department “bragging rights” over who was able to overcharge the most – each month.) Does your incentive commission program encourage your Reps to (quietly) overcharge in order to earn significant additional commission…? What we don’t see…but somehow…inevitably occurs (It’s too often just a ma tter of time): Suddenly announced competitive bidding – at an important account - that reveals dramatically lower pricing available – from multiple competitors (and not just one - who’s trying to buy their way in). A local charitable golf tournament involving several of your best customers and prospects – includes an informal and unexpected discussion of what competitive bidding revealed about your company’s sometimes excessive pricing - by one of the participants. (Yes, it’s like a highly contagious virus. And when that “fuse of pricing practices starts burning, it’s nearly impossible to stop.”) Suddenly, for unexplained reasons, your company is facing multiple highly competitive bidding situations. More Heat: Your competitors have learned to pursue your customers - in particular – and they’re winning work (and new customers). SUMMARY: A long-term client recently asked us to draft a Sales Rep Agreement that in particular, included the maximum mark-up allowed for pricing without senior management review. Why is the maximum markup – allowed without senior management review? He had one Sales Rep in particular, who was charismatic, and had repeatedly demonstrated her ability to embarrassingly over-charge her customers. (Turnover of her customers - was noticeable.) She was interested in short-term, immediate income for herself, with little concern for negative long-term market consequences – that can become catastrophic. Her company owner had very different perspectives, different responsibilities, and financial obligations. He wanted long-term customer relationships – that would last – and not having to predictably, inevitably - rebuild his account base. That was the first time an owner had made such a request in my professional experience. That limitation was written into his Sales Rep Agreement, and my understanding, after some discussion, was accepted. I thought his thinking – was thoughtful, respectful – and had a long-term commitment of values – that his company’s customers - would cherish. Our great industry needs more long-term perspectives and planning. “A good head and a good heart are a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue and pen, then you have something very special.”………………………Nelson Mandela

  • Are You Raising The Standards Of Who Your Customers (and Prospects).... Call First....

    By Sid Chadwick, Chadwick Consulting, Inc. – 07/06/2023 Published in American Printer “Educating your Customers… starts with relentlessly 1st educating your personnel”…………………Anonymous INTRODUCTION: Who does your Buyer call… first….? It’s not the department of the supplier - that’s not allowed to take interrupting calls from customers. It’s not the department of the supplier…that doesn’t know many answers, or how and where to go - for answers. It’s not the department of the supplier that gives the impression they don’t have time to be bothered… about anything other than processing an order. It’s not the company whose telephone and voicemail systems…just don’t work correctly…or reliably. (When was the last time you tested your phone and voicemail system – after hours…or on a holiday….?) Your customers know they’re not of primary importance by what they – and your personnel….experience….! I’ve heard – and read - that primary school teachers – and nurses – make terrific CSR’s….not for their innate knowledge about printing….but because of their combined capacity for empathy… intelligence…and integrity- to do things the right way… promptly. However, we lose customers…too often…quietly. Six to twelve months - or more - after they’ve gone elsewhere, someone up the ladder finally sees the drop-off in revenues, and asks, “What happened to Ms. Smith?” OPTIONS: Rational reasons Ms. Smith does want to pay your price? We conducted a Periodic Business Review (a.k.a. PBR’s) at least once a year, and always found new ways to improve: (a) our service, (b) our communications, (c) our consistency of product quality, and (d) our ease of doing business. (Note: This required exercise led to our being introduced to two other divisions of one customer.) We helped our customers find new suppliers, that they desperately needed, repeatedly…. Over time, they learned to call us - first. We helped their Art Dept. more correctly use their new software. Our electronic storage systems allowed them to not be in jeopardy of losing valuable files when one of their designers might leave. (Note: We now send them a list of their files we store – every six months.) We were able to clean-up their computer files, regularly, which increased the speed of their computers, and improved their defenses against hackers. Our review of their mailing lists and response profiles increased their ROI on all their Direct Mail marketing initiatives. We taught their marketing dept. how to use (and cross-reference) “public databases” for better targeting of prospects. Several customers have attended our Trade Shows with us, taken many notes, and improved their development of new customer markets, and new customers. We shared our approach to “Systems Thinking,” with several major customers …and it’s now become a regular part of their “Quarterly Department Performance Improvement Reviews.” When we ask for Referrals, they often respond with not just names, but with personal introductions. This one initiative improves our mutual importance to each other, including their value to us…! SUMMARY: This business can be far more about Value - than “low price wins.” What is your organization recognized for…? What does your organization communicate….? What’s the message…? “If you think you can’t afford ongoing education & training for your organization, you probably don’t realize you are already paying for it”…….Allie Hutchison, Sr., Hutchison Allgood Printing Co.

  • Does Your Organization Know Your Priorities....?

    By Sid Chadwick, Chadwick Consulting, Inc. – 06/16/2023 Published in American Printer “You can have results or excuses, but not both”……Arnold Schwarzenegger INTRODUCTION: “What’s most important here….?” “How do you know if you had a good week…?” “What do we celebrate…?” “If you could change one thing, what would you change…?” That’s a small sampling of Interview Questions I would ask when visiting a prospective client, or when starting-up a project. As you can imagine, answers given by a dozen or more key personnel told me much about organizational values and priorities, organizational cohesion, and potential land mines needing attention. To ignore these issues was to place almost any project - on a slippery slope. The larger the organization, the steeper the potential slippery slope. Exercise in Priorities: Dick Gorelick taught me a “Client Exercise” I still consider profound. Get a list of the Top 10 Priorities from the client president, numbered 1 to 10 in terms of importance to the president. Question their order, 1 to 10 with him/her, to ensure the listing of 1 to 10 is solid in the president’s mind, and represents some “semblance of reality.” Now scramble the order, and in a room with all senior management and supervisors, give them the list of scrambled priorities, asking them to number them 1 to 10, as they think their president would number them. (Everyone keeps their answer sheet.) Then have the president reveal his list of priorities, one at a time, explaining why no. 1 is 1, no. 2 is 2, and so on. SUMMARY: This exercise is priceless – as an organizational reality check, and for communicating why decisions should be made, per the president’s priorities. I never experienced anyone matching a president’s list of priorities – as he/she listed them. Going forward, understandably there were fewer arguments, less wasted time and “gamesmanship,” and improved productivity and organizational execution. This exercise also elevated the probable success of the Project I was to implement. Generally speaking, implementing this exercise every six months - is not too often. “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”……Leo Tolstoy

  • "Buyers Are Waiting...."

    By Sid Chadwick, Chadwick Consulting, Inc. – 06/01/2023 Published in American Printer “Most limitations… are an illusion”…….Arnold Schwarzenegger INTRODUCTION: From multiple sources, I’m hearing, “Buyers are wanting to see supplier Reps – that can tell them, ‘What’s New’, and ‘Information they can use, that won’t waste their time’.” (Our standard: give them at least two pieces of useful information - on every Sales Call…!) Two years from now, smart Business Development Directors and owners can expect to reflect, “That 3-to-6-month period after the Debt Ceiling was fought and settled, was a rare opportunity to make our mark.” “Business Development Team Education & Training”… is not a seasonal or once-a-month item on your calendar. (Your entire Team should participate: Estimators, CSR’s, Inside Sales Reps, Outside Reps, Business Development Director, Designers, Marketing Mgr., and invited Production Supervisors.) It’s an attitude – from the top of your organization. “We will have the best educated and trained organization - in our marketplace...!” (We want Buyers calling us – first…!) When that attitude is achieved in your organization and marketplace, by what you do (and not by what you say) - personnel, customers and what you hear that didn’t go well – are providing your next “Education Session’s - Agenda.” Two hours, at least every two weeks, starting off with: Recent successes, in some detail (volunteered from attendees). Excellent Estimate Requests – that won work (from your Estimators). Excellent Quote Letters – that won work (from your Reps). Detailed review of at least two terrific Samples (from your CSR’s and Reps). Review of excellent Production performances (from Production Supervisors, including ‘Why?’). What Production needs Reps and CSR’s to improve (which improves what Production can accomplish). Which areas of the Production Schedule need more work, need more time, need more complete, timely information? SUMMARY: We were claiming and developing the market position our Buyers were hungry to receive, and our competitors were neglecting. Today, with more younger, inexperienced Buyers, conditions are more sharply visible. When Buyers receive useful information from your Reps, your Reps receive a next appointment. When your Buyers keep seeing your Reps, there’s a professional reason that benefits your Buyer. Buyers who keep seeing your Reps, buy from your Reps….! Smart, top-performing Reps – know this…! Smart- top management - know this….! “Life’s six rules for success: 1. Trust yourself. 2. Break some rules. 3. Don’t be afraid to fail. 4. Ignore the naysayers. 5. Work like hell. 6. Give something back.”…..Arnold Schwarzenegger

  • Your Customer's Value.... Far Exceeds What They Buy From You....!

    By Sid Chadwick, Chadwick Consulting, Inc. – 05/18/2023 Published in American Printer “You just don’t luck into things as much as you’d like to think you do. You build step by step, whether it's friendships or opportunities.”..…...Barbara Bush INTRODUCTION: Committed Business Development Leadership… is hard to hide……It’s also hard to fake. I was asked by the son of a company owner, who was his Dad’s only Sales Rep at the time, “What can I be doing to get ahead… a little faster…for my next position in Dad’s company?” I shared my response later with his Dad: “Michael…do a better job with everything you are doing - now…including… checking your work…” Michael didn’t look pleased with my reply……his Dad, however, was thrilled. Almost everywhere I turn, company owners are trying to hire and encourage their new and current Sales Reps – to go after new customers. As a self-destructive pattern, New Reps receive too little real education and training. Current Reps receive even less…or none… of an ongoing nature……. …And Buyers know it. In one-on-one discussions, I ask Reps, “Which of your current customers are you receiving ALL their business…?” Their answer, after a quizzical look tends to be, “None.” Our Customer Survey results continue to testify that Survey sponsors are receiving far less of most customers’ business - than was previously recognized….! A Beginning Check-List……. Questions uncovering common Business Development apathy and lack of Leadership: Which of your customers have visited your Plant, and taken a Plant Tour – in the last year? Did they meet your president…? Was there an itinerary and Agenda, that your customer participated in developing…? Which and how many talented Production and Creative personnel have been introduced personally to key prospects and customers…?.... How many have been on Sales Calls with you…? How many major Proposals have you initiated and submitted to customers – in the last year (we’re not talking about Quote requests)…? For only your top 5 customers, “What are their business objectives and goals for this year…?” (How can we support them with Proposals and Quote Letters - if we don’t know what they are…?) How many Referrals have you asked for, obtained, and followed up with appointments…in the last year? How many written “Thank You Notes” have you written and mailed to customers in the last 90 days…? (I do not mean emails…!) Fellow employees…? Suppliers…? Which Trade Shows do your most loyal, most profitable customers attend….? How many of those Trade Shows do you attend…? Results…? SUMMARY: I’ll never forget a client’s “Customer and Profit Improvement Discussion” - in which we were – through one means or another - getting rid of the client’s bottom 15% of their customers – who were “obstructions to company performance improvement.” However, on one customer name, their president quickly said, “That one we need to keep – they supply us with at least two Referrals every year, that develop into very decent customers…!” Committed Business Development Leadership… is hard to hide……It’s also hard to fake. “An unexamined life is not worth living.”…….Socrates

  • A Spectacular & Rare Celebration....!

    By Sid Chadwick, Chadwick Consulting, Inc. – 05/04/2023 Published in American Printer “The SMART method means that goals need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-specific and recorded.”……Peter Drucker, Consultant, Author, Speaker, Innovator INTRODUCTION: 50 Year Celebrations - by the Founding CEO - and their organization – are rare – in any industry….! On April 28th, Wanzie Collins, CEO of Panaprint, located in Macon, GA, celebrated 50 years in business as a successful Commercial Printer, specializing in production of a wide range of publications, general commercial work, and Wide-Format…! I’ve known Wanzie for well over a decade, and on this evening my wife, Tina, and I sat at the dinner table with his older son and President, Rette Collins - and his family, and the company’s banker - of about 40 years. Over 160 guests, mostly but not only employees, enjoyed a great Southern Celebration Dinner, Awards, memories of tough times - and a few tears, significant personnel achievements, and repeated bursts of laughter. Here are my observations re. his Value System: Make it easy for customers to do business with your organization, and to want to come back. Make it easy for customers to keep your and their promises. Making it easy to do business with your organization requires a broad range of competencies in your personnel. His advocacy of Education in our great Industry goes back multiple decades – even preceding Panaprint (He was instrumental in our developing the “University Curriculum Website for Employees” – a strategic Recruitment and Revitalization of Technical Skills Resource – especially for new employees.) The loss of a good employee was viewed as another opportunity to improve that position’s performance. Loyalty to suppliers from his organization knows few equals. For example, both his main Paper Supplier and his Banker are relationships that approach and exceed 40 years. When he needed them, they were there for him and his organization. Use of Panaprint’s facilities, and Wanzie personally, are often available as Macon, GA works to improve community relationships and understanding. A Printer is often “the crossroads” for a community. His family he is most proud of, as he quietly works in the background to make sure his family’s succeeding generations know the values needed to be sustained for a more stable family and community. For example, “a rough estimate” of Panaprint’s long-term payroll in the Macon community far exceeded $100 million. Long-term conservative decisions and ambitions included growth, but not for growth’s sake, as an opinion. Panaprint’s technology and equipment reinvestments are excellent, including the company’s financial ratios, and reputation for quality production and service. Competing successfully for talented employees against a major military facility and Amazon – has made them a stronger company. SUMMARY: Beyond all that, Wanzie shared that he sometimes, even often - felt the guiding nudge and whisper of our Creator, especially at difficult moments. Looking back, he felt he was never alone. “God’s favorite language is silence.”………St. John of the Cross

  • Lead From the Front... By Example...

    By Sid Chadwick, Chadwick Consulting, Inc. – 04/14/2023 Published in American Printer “The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word…”……Isaiah 50:4 INTRODUCTION: Production and sales staffs knew…for possibly the 1st time in their careers…: …They had a leader….who would not wait for the phone to ring… …Who recognized the value of relentless, relevant education…for the whole Team… …Who invited Production Supervisors to attend two-hour Sales Team Education Sessions...every two weeks… …Who invited major Customers…AND…major Prospects… to come and talk to The Team in detail about their Best Suppliers…and… their “Previous Suppliers”…. …Every Sales Call would be prepared…with relevant educational content for my Prospect…(and…for me)…. …As a result…I was always invited back…requests for appointments always accepted…for our next “sharing discussion”…. …I deeply understood…if my Buyers wanted to see me…they wanted to buy from me… …We were differentiating ourselves…repeatedly…consistently…. Because my Production Team…and my Suppliers… knew I would ask for …and take instruction, I could make sure my buyers would learn more from me…than anyone else calling on them…! I have no memory of a request for a return appointment….refused. When Dick Gorelick was invited to visit by our company president, Dick’s private key employee interviews heard, “It’s a little scary sometimes…Sid would take on RR Donnelly tomorrow… and probably win.” Received two weeks ago, and provided here with permission: “RE: Recently Published Article by Sid Chadwick Rhett K. Gordon Wed, Mar 29, 2023 at 4:07 PM To: Sarah Ogburn I am an avid reader and recipient of Sid’s newsletters which are not only inspirational but more importantly EDUCATIONAL. I read about the use of “thank you” cards and decided I was going to try it and see what kind of response I got. It worked. Not only did it work, but it was well appreciated by our customers who received it, so much so gifts were sent in return as well as additional work. Truth be told, I also today decided to use two cards to say thanks to two members of staff that took it upon themselves to come in an hour earlier this week in order to process the numerous jobs on the floor. That simple note made a world of difference and all day these two individuals had a completely different demeanor…I could only assume it was the cards. Thank you Sid Chadwick for sharing your wealth of knowledge so freely. Rhett Gordon Rhett K Gordon O.C.F.I.S. Ltd c/o 60 A Boundary Road, Extension San Juan, Trinidad 868 372 2777 (mobile) 868 228 3592 (office)” SUMMARY: How often, or when - did you last send a personal card to an associate, acknowledging their helpful contributions…? Smaller organizations, with young-thinking, ambitious management - in our great industry…are where the hunger to innovate, perform and grow…can be found. Smart CEO’s divide their product and customer groups, and P & L’s…for improved accountability, and recognition…! It’s all about continuous education…and accountability…and giving public acknowledgement to those who support the dream, have a fierce internal work ethic, want to perform, and make their mark. I lived and died off the support from my Production Leadership and Team…they never left me hanging…or working a weekend - that I wasn’t also there - with them…! “Ultimately, we are all teachers”….Wanzie Collins, CEO, Panaprint, Macon, GA

  • Are the Inmates In Charge....?

    By Sid Chadwick, Chadwick Consulting, Inc. – 03/24/2023 Published in American Printer “The reason I’m avoiding a Customer Survey, that would probably uncover at least another million dollars of extra business… at current customers… is I know I’ll end-up being the one who has to follow-up on all those new opportunities at current customers…..!” …………………………….Well-Respected Company President INTRODUCTION: The owners’ discussion was going in circles….focusing on: Needing to find and hire a Sales Rep….or two. Observing that current Sales Reps are too comfortable with their traditional productivity - and generous pay. Most of their companies are needing more business…….now. Most are needing to find and hire another CSR… to better support and free up current Sales Reps… who are handling their own work orders. All seemed to want and need an experienced “Print-Industry Sales Trainer” – for improving productivity and discipline…of their current Sales Reps. Finally, I asked permission to ask a few questions (you could see a couple of the owners “start to immediately tighten up”): Do any of you have customers who send you all – and I mean 100% - of their print, signage, and fulfillment work? (There were eight of them assembled for this Meeting – and no one indicated they were getting all of any customer’s work.) Are there any “Major Account Reviews” scheduled for the balance of this year – for you to attend with your Sales Rep (representing a major opportunity to improve both organizations’ Scheduling, Productivity, and Profitability)…..? Don’t these discussions almost always result in additional business…? What internal Incentive-Promotion, of any kind (e.g., Weekend Trip for Two, Dinner for Two at a Steak-House) do you have running that pays a Rep a bonus for developing “Totally New Work” - from a current customer? (or) To break your Team’s expectations of themselves, when did you last offer a bonus for extraordinary performance – that anyone could win (so you would not have just one winner)? How many Plant Tours do you have on average - each month?...Each week? Don’t they practically guarantee your hearing, “I didn’t know you did that?”(Do you insist that your Rep introduce the Visitor to you?) I created a “Plant Tour Customer Survey” – about twenty years ago. Giving that Survey to your Plant Tour Visitor, at the end of your Plant Tour, with a pre-stamped and pre-addressed envelope back to your President – seems to create a “WOW” effect….! (Note: Some users have received two-page letters with the returned Survey.) You may access that “Plant Tour Customer Survey” by this link >>> SUMMARY: The Wall Street Journal ran a story last weekend (‘March Madness Is An M.B.A. in Disguise’ ) – illustrating that a no. 1 seed NCAA Tournament team can be upset by a 13th seed team, especially when the 13th seed team’s coach is a keen observer, and knows how to get his team to trust him - to execute the non-traditional. There were multiple examples in the article, including in 1996 when Princeton upset UCLA, the defending national champion…! It’s my observation that too many commercial print companies are operating much like those eight companies - in that owners’ discussion. Mediocrity – at its best. And there’s the opportunity – for every company and Sales Rep – willing to step out and distinguish yourself – with consistent, extraordinary, personalized service - for your customer. “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful…that’s what matters to me.”………..Steve Jobs

  • Important Lessons....Too Easily Forgotten

    By Sid Chadwick, Chadwick Consulting, Inc. – 03/10/2023 Published in American Printer “If you think you can’t afford ongoing education and training, you probably don’t realize you’re already paying for it.”……Allie Hutchison, Sr., President, Hutchison-Allgood Printing Co. INTRODUCTION: My Adm. Asst. had just asked for a corporate “Thank You Card.” A long-term retired military officer and friend, working for charitable organizations in Alexandria, VA, had spent the better part of an hour guiding my Assistant on where to go for: (a) “How to write a successful Grant request”, and (b) “Where to find Grant money for our project.” When did you last (ever…?) see a Sales Rep - or an Inside Sales Rep - or a CSR – write a “Thank You Note” - to a customer - or a supplier? Does any of the following sound familiar? I wouldn’t know what to say… My handwriting isn’t good... We don’t have any “Thank You Cards” here…do we…? Do I have to pay for the stamp…? I don’t have time for that… Can’t I just send an email… Isn’t that kind of corny…old-fashioned…? People don’t do that anymore… When a deserving person receives a “Thank You Card,” professional coaches tell us the recipient tends to save it…placing it in a private folder, filed away in a private drawer. On a day when bad news has arrived, or nothing much has gone right, they privately pull out that folder, and read those two to five or more cards – to remind them that they’re a decent person –and this is just not a good day. At a client in Texas some years back, a disruption in their long-term senior management ranks - sent their front-line 13 CSR’s into emotional shell shock. The investment group who had bought into the company, who had to release the senior manager, were suddenly running scared. They had little credibility with old-guard employees. The investment group was seen as “the enemy.” Their new CFO, whom I had known in a previous company and project, asked me to come in and work some magic, to stabilize and refocus this critical department. As one of several steps to “break the department’s paralysis,” I asked their CFO if they had any corporate “Thank You Cards.” At first he said, “No”. Then he rethought the question, and went around the hallway corner, returning with a huge box of “Corporate Thank You Cards” – and a sheepish grin, saying, “They were buried in a closet under the stairway – I’m told no one ever uses them...” In our first group discussion, we began brainstorming opportunities to send a customer or a supplier Rep – a “Thank You Card,” and options of “What to say.” The department agreed, after spirited discussion, that all 13 of them could, and would – send two “Thank You Cards” – every week. I promised them there would be wonderful surprises. (It was also a test of who I was, and what I represented.) When I returned two weeks later on my next visit, stories began to tumble my way…you could practically taste their excitement - to share their stories and emotions – of what they were making happen, as they heard: Several customers called them on receiving “Thank You Notes,” increasing their order quantities. Numerous customers said they had never received a “Thank You Card.” Several customers called, and added a new item to their previous order. Numerous customers, for the first time in memory, paid the quoted price – no negotiating down. A few customers offered introductions – to other departments and divisions. SUMMARY: Next evolutionary steps: Track and publicly record each week’s number of “Thank You Cards” mailed. Record revenues this month compared to last year’s same month. Get those CSR’s started - proactively calling customers – never before expected, requested, trained - recorded - in the department. Writing those powerful “Thank You Cards,” proactively calling customers, and recording “the numbers” every week and month on a board in their department - became a source of frequent celebration and accomplishment – that they owned…! When the summer quarter was over, revenues had grown by just over 10% over the previous year, rather than decreased. There was no more waiting - for their phones to ring…! (Note: The investment group who had asked me to come in I don’t think ever fully realized the potential change in the value of their investment that had been created. There was no one assigned to insist (and celebrate) that those weekly and monthly activities and numbers were to be maintained, after my assignment concluded.) “One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.”………..Lucille Ball

  • Your Thoughtful Customers Are Correct... To Be Nervous....!

    By Sid Chadwick, Chadwick Consulting, Inc. – 02/24/2023 Published in American Printer “It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked.”…..Warren Buffett, 1992 Letter to Shareholders, Berkshire Hathaway INTRODUCTION: We’ve had a few well-run Peer Group Members recently experience unexpected “uncollectable bad debts.” With recent Retail Activity Reports exceeding expectations, the Fed is now expected to raise interest rates three more times by June, and predictions are growing that - “the tide is preparing to go out.” Our Federal Reserve continues to tell us that it is committed to “breaking the back of inflation” through: (a) raising interest rates, (b) reducing M1 (the money supply), for (c) bringing unemployment back to normal levels. “The gap” between unfilled job openings and unemployment numbers – is unprecedented, and not really changing much. Only disciplined organizations, that are constantly vigilant, and lucky, can make it through this financially squeezing tunnel – unscathed. Experienced economists, like Larry Summers, to major banks and investment houses are consistent: “the probability of a Recession that mirrors or is worse than 2008-2010 - keeps increasing.” And those predictions do not appear to incorporate or mirror the geo-political scene. A Few Suggestions: Do not stop developing additional business – from credit-worthy customers and prospects. Be more purposeful and discrete. That said, be particularly vigilant of a new account that you’ve not been courting very long. (Who are they late in paying?) When evaluating credit extensions, be sure to count Outstanding Quotes (this activity requires your resources), Order Entry and W-I-P, and not just what has been invoiced. Work to Invoice W-I-P that’s been put “on hold.” Don’t hesitate to ask for up-front deposits for significant projects, and especially for 1st orders. Review all customers who are suddenly paying later than normal - by a week or more. Give them a polite courtesy call. Asking for signed personal letters of guarantee is not unusual. Be particularly vigilant of major customers wanting 60 and 90-day standard terms of payment. Will you “charge-back” if they’re late? Credit card payments should require an additional 2%, minimum. Sales Reps are to confidentially report back if a customer’s office or plant conditions have lost an orderliness, or are on short hours. We had our major commercial bank get us information re. major customers’ credit worthiness, including a recommendation re. credit risk. That information was often - helpful. SUMMARY: What you set the credit and collection rules to be should send a clear message to your Team. You want your representatives to understand “Why?” Early on, as a cub Sales Rep for an international packaging company, I would get that credit application filled out early (within 1st 3 months). What I noticed was that the smart buyers I was calling on, who were usually 20+ years older than me, seemed to smile as I presented that “early” credit application, and filled it in for them to sign, in front of them. None ever refused to sign it. Later, at a totally different organization and industry, as both Director of Sales & Marketing – and Credit Manager (the only company I’ve seen do that), our bad debts ran less than .001 of 1%. To collect a potentially serious late, significant outstanding balance, I’d learned to reverse engineer my customer’s position, and often, purposefully make a friend - while collecting late money, by asking, “Ms. Smith, I need some work… and I need some money….. Where would you like to start?” You could feel the smile on the other end of the phone, as we began working out both a payment and our next order. “A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something.”……Frank Capra

  • No Shortage of Talent.... Wanting.... Needing.... Development

    By Sid Chadwick, Chadwick Consulting, Inc. – 02/10/2023 Published in American Printer “I’ve always been attracted to the more revolutionary changes. I don’t know why. Because they’re harder. They’re much more stressful emotionally. And you usually go through a period where everybody tells you that you’ve completely failed.”…………Steve Jobs INTRODUCTION: Memories of my entry from a wildly successful 11 ½ years heavy industrial manufacturing into this great industry in 1983 included a quiet shock regarding: How bright everyone was… How hungry younger employees were to learn everything they could about their craft and its evolving technologies. How much technology was in every department…that kept changing…we were on the edge (1984) of The Macintosh Personal Computer’s commercial entry… After my second “Million Mile Certificate” from Delta about a decade ago, my travel schedule slowed, seemingly in concert when Dr. Jerry Waite (Department Chair at the time for the U. of Houston) requested and accepted my proposal, which formed the core of a radically new curriculum course for learning how to use public databases to solve everyday business problems - for commercial printers’ customers - of all stripes. That lead into development of university online curriculum courses, courtesy of the Pandemic, that your brightest employees can now take (from their home or office), updating their skills to the technologies and thinking our industry’s OEM manufacturers are creating, and our universities are preparing students to use. Over 100 Online Graphic Communication courses – and growing - are now available to employees - without their being full-time students. Key Point: Your best, brightest employees can get updated on today’s newest technologies, equipment, and business strategies – while still working for their current employer…! Key Point: You have a new “recruitment tool and strategy” for recruiting bright, want-to-work, strategically skilled employees, with or without our industry’s experience. It’s the exception - that an industry “builds-in” ongoing employee on-the-job learning - for introduction of new technologies and skills. Supporting, Dramatic New Resource: Introduction to Graphic Communication – A New Kind of Book Combining PRINT & Multimedia Engagement, By Harvey Levenson and John Parsons. This profound text is overwhelming on first glance, for illustrating and explaining the richness of our great industry, and its future. (Note: This text is being used by well over twenty colleges, universities, and even high schools – to introduce students to our great industry’s rich, dynamic future.) Multiple CEO Members of my Peer Groups are ordering additional copies for their brightest, and for targeted recruitment. Go to “”… or click this link… for introduction to these dramatic new resources. SUMMARY: Is there excitement and innovation in your organization, that’s being led by department leaders…or is everyone waiting and looking to you for answers and direction….? Are your best and brightest setting an example, with your encouragement, of moving to a more challenging and successful future – for them… and your organization…? Do you and your best customers regularly discuss what innovations they could use from your organization, and your great industry - to improve their financial performance, or are you waiting for them to… “Ask for a quote”….? “Andragogy…the understanding of the science and practice of adult learning,” originally coined by German educator Alexander Kapp - in 1833.

  • Is "Increased Profitability"... Really... A Priority....?

    By Sid Chadwick, Chadwick Consulting, Inc. – 01/27/2023 Published in American Printer “Top line growth covers a multitude of sins” ……Client CEO Introduction: You may cover–up and delay attending to that “growing list of sins” only so long…trying to get those extra revenue dollars to cover-up that slowly growing list of neglected sins. Such actions tend to become part of your culture…. everyone participates. There tend to be multiple “warning sign moments”: too many promise delivery deadlines... missed, eventually making that OK, too many last minute, impossible rush orders… forced on production, too many overtime hours…incurred, with no remedial action plan, too many delays in providing personnel... needed and deserved pay increases, too many local ordinance requirements… not taken seriously, too many new personnel training sessions… postponed, neglected, no longer acknowledged as needed, too many key KPI performance measurements not tracked, posted, and followed-up, too many “security disciplines (HIPPA…?)” not followed, not updated, not understood, too many safety training sessions and safety audits, missed, too many “good health practices” sessions, missed, too many disaster planning sessions, missed, too few price increases, forcing improvements in quality and on-time delivery procedures, improved customer communications and commitments, omitted, almost total neglect of proactive contact of customers, or development of “customer profiles” (i.e., documentation of what to do/not do, and for whom), No “Periodic Business Reviews” - with top 10 customers. Eventually…inevitably…you are caught in a very expensive, traumatic - “perfect storm.” Summary: Last week, talking to a premier print company in Seattle, I heard the CEO say, “It’s our top 20 or so customers we have 'Planning Sessions' with – that significantly influence our profitability.” On the “other side of the ledger,” two decades ago, I demanded in an executive quarterly meeting at a client - who loved to grow sales (as their profitability, slowly, decreased each year), “Who here is passionate about profitability…?” No one answered. Within two years of that session, that client, from results of a surprise, nearly “perfect storm” – much of its own making - experienced a forced sale. “If you want to achieve greatness, stop asking for permission.”…Anonymous

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