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Is It Weird to Reach Out to Other PSPs?

Not according to this North Carolina print pro, who lends his perspective in this month’s “Ask Big Picture.”




I have a big staff, and they like to talk amongst themselves. How can I control my shop’s internal grapevine to keep gossip to a minimum and ensure the atmosphere remains as positive as possible?

You can’t really “control” a grapevine – they come as naturally to humans as the need to bond with coworkers. You can, however, ensure the information being passed around the office is accurate and generally positive. To do that, says Andrea Waltz, the founder of Accelerated Performance Training and co-author of Unlocking the Secrets of Retail Magic, share information, broadly, anticipate their need for information and answer questions before they start asking. You can get help managing your in-house grapevine by going to those team members who have the respect of the rest of your staff. “If there is something significant that needs sharing, be sure to hold a meeting as quickly as you can. That way you can take control, answer all questions, and take the air away from the little flames that could have resulted from the situation. In short, be as truthful as possible,” says Waltz.

I have so much respect for other PSPs in the industry. Would it be weird to reach out to them?

In the past few years, Rob Matthews, print and production manager of M3, really dove into the wide-format industry. “I’ve found help is just a direct message away and that most business owners want to share their knowledge and passion for what we do,” he says. “We do a lot of big work in this industry, but at the ground level we’re a collection of relatively small businesses. I love that I can reach out to someone I’ve never met via social media to ask how they made something. It’s an honor when someone does the same to me, and I love being able to give back.”

I’m thinking of hiring a guy I met at a local networking event. He has managerial experience, but no print experience. My gut tells me I’m right. What do you think?

We think hiring outside of the box can have payoffs, especially if the person can bring fresh perspectives. But you should still go through the formal interview process – the fact you hit it off with someone doesn’t always produce positive results. Invite the candidate in for a sit-down session and ask how he’d respond to different scenarios. Second, introduce him to key employees or business advisors. It’s important to get their perspective and an inkling of how they would work together.

After five years in operation, my business has plateaued at a modest level (annual sales of about $250,000). The store generates enough cash to cover our bills, but I am still a long way short of my financial goals. How do I take it to the next step?

From the few details here, we suspect you might be taking too much of a “cash-flow” view of your business. As in your case, most small businesses use internal accruals to fund initial growth. While sometimes a shop has a location or model that alone is strong enough to drive continued growth, in most cases you are going to need the spur of additional investments in marketing or other areas to take your business to the next level. And while you believe you’re covering costs and generating profit, it’s possible you’re not generating enough to support growth. (It’s even possible you could be running at a loss from a purely accounting point of view after you take into consideration depreciation and those other “hidden numbers.”) So, how to boost your profit? Get some outside help. Join a peer group or bring in a business coach to identify the areas you need to work on.

What’s the best way to address someone (a customer, job applicant, production manager) with a name I don’t know how to pronounce? Admit I’m probably going to butcher it and plunge in, avoid saying it until I hear someone else say it, or ask them how to pronounce it?

It’s good you’re asking. While it might seem like a relatively minor issue, a recent viral post on LinkedIn revealed how people with non-Western names often feel excluded and devalued when people mispronounce their names. The author of that piece, Damneet Kaur, says his preference is you just ask for the correct pronunciation, before you attempt to say it. Note that it’s a good idea to try to do your homework beforehand. LinkedIn offers a feature that enables users to click on a person’s name and hear them pronouncing it. There are also sites like PronounceNames, which allow users to type in a name and access a database of recordings.



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