According to Sarit Tichon, senior VP, WW sales, SAi, in today’s cut-throat market, it’s often the extra things that reap the biggest reward. She believes this is true of the sign and display and large format sector, especially when it comes to investing in new solutions for your business. This article appears in Sign Africa Journal.
When looking at your next software investment, it’s worth considering what other added-value aspects your provider is offering as part of their larger proposition. Keeping this in mind might help improve cost-management, business flexibility and all-round design to production efficiency.
Speaking from a software perspective, I would encourage you to explore exactly what your solutions provider grants in terms of all-round benefits in addition to the speed or basic capabilities of the RIP itself. The foremost suppliers are already injecting plenty of flexibility into their offering insofar as how you can access and pay for the software, not to men on the ever-increasing gamut of features, tools and bolt-on packages designed to improve the efficiency of your design-to-production workflow. After all, not one size fits all. Print providers have diverse needs and priorities and the leading suppliers will strive to ensure that there’s something for everyone.
It’s A Matter Of Time
Even in a favourable market, running a print shop or a signmaking business is not without its challenges. With traditional print shops competing with online platforms, the perpetual expectation from customers to have their job produced faster and cheaper continues to be a constant concern. Perhaps you’re one of these time-strapped providers? The good news is that certain software suppliers have revolutionised their solutions to improve efficiency and support you getting jobs out of the door quickly.
In a world where business owners have become reliant on accessing information 24/7, it’s worth remembering that more and more work is undertaken remotely. This means it’s crucial for managers to be able to track the progress of jobs while on the road. In this instance, a cloud-enabled RIP software may be the ideal choice. Some leading cloud solutions go a step further and are fully compatible with their own mobile apps, further supporting the need for conducting business on the road. These apps provide business owners with production updates, allowing them to stay in control of their business, virtually anywhere.
While we’re talking about productivity, it’s fair to say that a number of sign shops today are probably unaware of how their true production output is trending month-to-month. Hopefully you’re not one of them, but if so, certain mobile apps generate detailed production reports, allowing you to draw direct comparisons either weekly, monthly or annually and determine whether your throughput is increasing or decreasing.
The Flexi Cloud mobile app offers business owners on-the-go access to valuable production information and job reports. This ensures they can make informed decisions and pinpoint areas that could help them improve throughput, without being rooted to the print shop.
Needless to say, these effciencies aren’t restricted to business owners. Print shop employees can also benefit from these time-saving tools. Often tasked with creating custom quotes while visiting customers, employees traditionally needed to check these with the print shop before informing the customer – a typically time-consuming process. However, there are now certain mobile apps that are engineered to overcome this troublesome quoting process, while minimising overall job production time – from set-up to completion. This ensures that print shops can maximise their throughput and improve efficiencies.
On the topic of finance, it’s worth remembering that you can now buy software via alternative methods to the traditional purchasing model. Perhaps you’re a small, family-owned business that lends itself to a monthly subscription payment plan – a cost-effective alternative to a major capital investment. Purchasing software in this way is a huge benefit as it gives you instant access to the very latest features, ensuring that your business remains competitive.
Beyond this, this purchasing initiative overcomes the age-old uncertainty of the level and type of work that will come through the door. Aside from consulting a crystal ball, you can now manage seasonal demands or quieter periods more easily. During busy periods, you have the option to add extra licences to mirror the demand. This ensures that you can keep their operational cost to a minimum while taking on last minute jobs and responding to new opportunities.
Effciency-Enhancing Tools From Design-To-Production
The design stage is often time-intensive, and it is difficult to pass the cost to your customers, which can erode your profit margin. Certain software providers offer innovative design solutions that eliminate this costly burden. I would encourage you to check out those that might offer useful, time-saving stock libraries comprising images, graphics and logos.
Beyond this, there are other design efficiencies to be had using emerging technologies and the foremost providers are exploring how to harness these innovations to improve traditional printing processes. One of the technologies dominating the headlines is artificial intelligence (AI). This has the potential to unleash new possibilities within the large format and sign and display sector. It could inspire designers with suggestions, including best practice fonts, images and layouts; crucially reducing the time spent at the design phase.
This brings with it the ability to secure attractive profit margins along with widening the pool of applicants that you can recruit from. Indeed, our belief in the technology is such that we are undergoing a three-year research project with leading research institution, Oxford University, to develop an AI-assisted software solution – the first of its kind for the sign industry.
So, whether it’s hardware, software or consumables, next time you’re looking to invest in a provider check-out those companies who continue to collaborate with their customers to offer the sort of all-round value-added offerings that address these needs head on.