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Is Low Employee Morale Impacting Your Print Shop?

Specialized training program has potential to lift spirits as well as profitability.

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WHEN MAKING A decision on investing in the training and implementation of G7, many companies that I have had the privilege of working with begin with the external objectives that are related to increasing sales or sometimes not losing a client who is now demanding their print providers be a G7 Qualified Vendor. But after many companies are G7 qualified, they quickly discover major internal financial benefits that are not in the IdeAlliance “Why G7” brochure.

1. Morale

I have no idea of how many press calibrations and press trouble shooting projects I have been on throughout the years. I didn’t count them. But one thing I observed, as I would arrive at a print facility when they were struggling with producing results that wouldn’t pass their internal tolerances or their customer’s requirements, was low morale.

Tragic Results of Low Morale

I would see different departments blaming other departments, and sales, prepress, and print departments demoralized. Disappointed owners who were searching for answers in the chaos, but would actually be pouring gasoline on the flames of confusion. Then, to shame employees into somehow becoming better, the in-house CPA’s would come along at the end of the month and bayonet the battle-scarred wounded. Sometimes the results of low morale actually led to losing very good, hard working, caring employees.

In 2006, thanks to Don Hutchison, morale got better in print shops.

Way better! Don introduced G7 to the world of offset printers after two years of testing and proofing the process at multiple print facilities. I was a consultant and a four-color process graphic and display screen print trainer for SGIA and I immediately knew this was, at least, a solution to our biggest problem; the ever-changing color of the CMYK ink sets and the substrates. I immediately acquired a G7 Expert certification, and I quickly began to implement this magic formula in screen print and later in digital print. It worked! Smiles were back on the faces of the disillusioned companies trying to do it with TVI and Density. I also found “morale” was a major benefit of G7.

Forbes Magazine Article on Morale

In an article published by Forbes Magazine, William Craig wrote about “the secret of company culture in entrepreneurial success.” Mr. Craig reported statistics of 30 case studies taken from the 11 most-relevant research papers on the costs of employee turnover. The data documented that it costs businesses about one-fifth of a worker’s salary to replace that worker. For businesses that experience high levels of turnover, this can add up to represent significant costs that can potentially be avoided by prioritizing employee morale.

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That might mean if your average worker you lose every year is making $50,000 a year and you need to replace five people per year, it costs you $50,000 for the year. This is an expense that has zero return on investment. It should move morale up on the old “things to do” priority list. The poor morale of inconsistent and unpredictable print results is often overlooked.

2. Internal Confidence

How valuable is the internal confidence provided by G7?Have you ever produced a product you were very proud of, only to have it fail an ambiguous comparative standard you couldn’t have possibly been aware of? i.e. A person that “thinks” they know if a press sheet is right by just looking at it?” If you’re an artist or a printer, the answer is, “Yes, and I hate it.” It doesn’t need to be that way.

Missing a Point of Predetermined Tolerances

An example is something that happens almost every time I do a “new” G7 Master Printer qualification. I find they have an ambiguous standard for final print results. That should not be because no one knows when they’ve arrived at the “point of predetermined acceptable tolerance.” I have witnessed production departments mess around attempting to hit “what someone likes or thinks is right” for hours. But if not doing that, even it’s only 15 minutes on every job, it can cost thousands of dollars per year. G7 gray balance and tonality can be an indication everything is good, or something is wrong, and do it quickly.

Let me be clear. If the press is calibrated and profiled properly and G7 is applied correctly, we do not need to check all the solids and overprints to know we have arrived at our final destination of color. G7 is a clear runway to a final result and the final result is measurable and repeatable. We only need to do a quick G7 gray scale and tonality check. If the gray is balanced, head for the light booth.

You might say, “Well what about the solids and overprints, Mike?” Yes, they are important, but think about it, if they are off, your grayscale and tonality will be off as well on a properly calibrated and profiled press.” You know how the kids are always asking, “Are we there yet?” Well, when you are there, you will know it. Check it visually and roll the presses. Your pressmen love quickly knowing when they have arrived. It saves a ton of time. The opposite of that is “someone’s opinion.” Pressmen should not be artists. They are paid to produce someone else’s creation quickly, confidently, and accurately.

Financially, confidence can be quantified. If you can have confidence that the production technicians know when they have arrived at the destination of accuracy to the print target, and it only saves a few minutes on each job, 15 minutes of press adjustment or making unnecessary color moves is huge over time. The reason is production goes right to the measurable gray balance and tonality on every job, just get your water-cooled calculator out and discover the savings. It can be thousands of dollars.

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3. Profitability Driven by Internal G7 Excellence

Sadly, all G7 Master printers do not invest in squeezing all the internal benefits available in being a G7 Master printer. Oh sure, they do qualify and use G7, but do they really grasp what is possible as a G7 Master printer? The answer is “no.” But it is possible to make a print production department a major part of the profitability of a print company. I think of Mike Todryk as an example.

The first time I met Mike was in California several years ago. He was proofing textiles on digital inkjet printers and then printing production dye sub textile transfers on an offset press. I was impressed that anyone would try that, but he didn’t just try it, he was doing it well. I introduced Mike to G7 and he quickly saw the benefit of G7 and he ran with the concept. He became the first DyeSub G7 Master printer in the country. (We even had to add a dye sub classification at IdeaAlliance.)

I invite you to listen to Mike’s Podcasts on IdeAlliance’s Gamut Podcasts. Mike, is the color technical specialist; IWCO Direct is the gold standard for G7 internal benefits. The impact of their color management excellence program has an incredible impact on every part of their business. But most importantly there is a dramatic increase in profitability and non-stop production. This is a huge internal financial benefit.

Investing in Training

Ron Davis, chief economist at PIA, used to do an ongoing presentation every year at Graph Expo. I remembered I had notes on his presentation when I thought about the benefit of investing in training. The study was interesting because of the long-term data they compiled and aggregated into an indisputable snapshot of the different things profit leaders did compared to profit challengers.

The graph below is a chart showing financial trends of the most profitable 25 percent of print producers based on “net profits as a percentage of sales” over a 13-year period. The profit challengers are 80 percent of the printers during his 13-year GATF study. Notice the best year the profit challengers had, they only managed to squeeze out a puny 1.2 percent annual net profit. When the winds of prosperity blew a little south, they were underwater. In comparison, the profit leaders maxed out at 11.9 percent net and never lost money or dropped below 8.0 percent even in major downturns. (And this chart included the 9/11 disaster.)

What made the difference?

Remember this, “If you look at a person’s checkbook, you can see what they value. And what they value determines outcomes.”

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In Ron Davis’ GATF, 13-year study, based on net profits as a percentage of sales, which levels out the large and smaller companies, the top 25 percent of profit leaders only spent more (as a percentage of sales) in one category than the profit challenged spent. What was it? It was training and education. Profit leaders spent 4.1 percent and profit challengers only spent 2.0 percent. Also 39 percent of profit leaders had formal training programs, while only 21 percent of the profit challenged had formal training programs. Does that surprise you?

Now go back and look at the financial value added by G7 by Mike Todryk. Was it worth the investment?

In conclusion

I hope I have communicated in this article the importance of G7’s internal value. Also, I hope I encouraged all current G7 Masters, to look at G7 as more than a qualification their customer’s demand. In reality, G7 can be a major part of your internal profit center. There is no doubt investing in training makes a difference in being a top 25-percent most profitable company.

Also, I hope this article encourages printers that are not G7 to take a serious look at becoming a G7 Master printer, even if your customers don’t demand it. The internal benefits of G7 are worth it.

Mike Ruff has more than 40 years of experience in the graphic arts industry and is currently providing consulting services for the grand-format, screen printing, and digital inkjet industries. For more on his award-winning sales building software and training visit www.mike-Ruff-Consulting.com, or call 816-304-9595.

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