Let’s Consider Being Thankful

Since mid-June I’ve had a new CSR; his name is Larry. Although Larry is trained as an estimator, he was hired at Ussery as a Customer Service Representative. If you’re in the loop of printing gossip, there are some changes happening at Ussery and Larry will again be an estimator. Here’s a snippet of an email I sent to Fran, CEO, and Mike Lamb, President, of Ussery Printing.

“All I want to say is how much I’ve enjoyed having a CSR like Larry McFadden. Granted, he hasn’t had much CSR experience, but what he brings to the table is attitude…GOOD attitude. If you ask down the sales hall you’ll get the same response. Although we understand that he’ll now be an estimator, I wanted to reach out and give him a huge pat on the back. His gracious, agreeable and helpful attitude will never be forgotten.”

Larry has taken some ribbing from coworkers about being so gracious, agreeable and helpful. His response was, “you would be too after months of an unemployment check.”

It’s obvious that I’m going to miss Larry in his capacity as my CSR, but his response reminded me of how thankless we can be during good times. It’s only when we go without, that we become aware of how thankful we should be.

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My Last…

Earlier last week I wrote about my first CCN job. Aren’t firsts always fun, exciting and loaded with anticipation?

This morning I was a bit sad because this is the first time in twenty years that I haven’t gotten a child ready for school. John Lucas has been grown and gone for so long now that he’s getting his own two sons prepared for the first day of school. Tyler is still in Honduras; so there my house sits…empty of spirals, back-packs and anticipation. I know it won’t be my last because Ty will return and we’ll get him ready to start college in January. But, it’s a little taste of what will ultimately become my last.

The changing dynamics of growing children is similar to the changes in our printing world. Some things just end and we have to admit that it’s something we’ll never do again. We can still reflect back on how fun it was…the processes and products we counted on. But like children who grow up, we are forced to realize that some things will never be the same again and will become our last.

Printing 201

Kristi with Pink Jacket Creative took time out of her schedule to drive over to Ussery for a Printing 201 discussion. She’s been in our shop a number of times, took our Printing 101 tour, and generally understands our crazy industry. But, she’d mentioned to me recently that she was interested in furthering her printing knowledge and I greatly respect her initiative. When Kristi was hired for her job, like most people, she had no idea that printing was so complicated.

We started out talking about all the presses we have, and we really do have a great mix. We discussed the 640, 440 and 628 presses and what the numbers stood for. She caught on quickly that the size of the designed piece, the quantity and the ink/paper combination significantly influences how we estimate and what press would best print the piece.

We talked about paper sizes and product size and how the two would relate in press imposition. We talked about how to spec a job and why the flat and finished sizes are so important for us to know. Little errors made in the details can completely change the layout and pricing. All the details are important.

I think the most important aspect of our discussion centered around establishing budgets with clients and why this is important. There are so many options and ideas we can offer if we know some of the constraints you’re under. We’re not trying to be nosy, only helpful.

My First…

My first CCN job printed last week and it turned out very well.

CCN stands for Color Control Network that consists of proprietary software and inks. Try selling that when you don’t really know exactly what the process will produce. It took a bit of a leap of faith on the part of the end client and the designer, and I thank them for taking that leap with us.

The job printed CCN cmyk inks, two Pantone inks with overall gloss aqueous. We used 100lb Endurance White Gloss Cover. The job had heavy ink coverage with dense black and lots of 485 red. The pictures had already been enhanced by the designer with some serious Photoshop work, taking out tattoos on the arms of some of the workers and lots of clean up work to enhance the factory location. There were pictures of gooey oil and bright vials of green and yellow liquids, machine parts and a location shot. The only challenge we had was to soften some of the skin tones that became too intense, but otherwise the color was awesome.

On press, Richard was able to run densities far higher than conventional cmyk inks, which is part of the reason you achieve the high-fidelity look. The other element concerns the curves that are applied by CCN. Personally, I was happy that our production crew took on the challenge on a Friday afternoon instead of waiting until a Monday morning. If you’re in printing you know it’s so much better to go into the weekend with tough job behind you…knowing your team worked together to create a printed piece with the challenges of a new process.

That frosty beer tasted extra good Friday night.

That Telephone Book…

Probably like most people, I drive the same route to work everyday. I’m usually on automatic drive and don’t necessarily pay much attention. But, for the last two weeks, as I made the turn by the Dr. Pepper bottling facility I would drive right by a telephone book laying in the middle of the road. It was still intact and flopped open, right there, right there in the middle of the two lane street that curves around before you get to Ussery Printing. After the first week of driving by that telephone book every morning, I began to wonder just how long it would lay there. Would somebody ever pick it up? Or, would it just slowly deteriorate over time?

All last week I chuckled every morning, now in a bit of anticipation…wondering if the book would still be there. Then, this morning it bothered me that the book was still there and nobody cared to pick it up. I wondered if there was anyone else who drove by, besides me, who wanted to stop and pick it up. The street isn’t a busy thoroughfare so it wouldn’t be difficult or dangerous.

So, today, as I drove by I thought to myself, no more and pulled into the next parking lot and turned around. I saved that telephone book from a life of deterioration in the middle of the road where nobody cared about it anymore. Maybe it’s a true metaphor for printing and the state we’re in. Well, I care.

The Seduction of Sales~

Am I a seductress? If you knew me at all you would laugh out loud, because I am not.

Early on in my career many of my female peers wore their skirts very short. Out of pure modesty I could not re-hem mine beyond my knee area. I just couldn’t do it. I asked a coworker what he thought about the short skirts and if I should shorten my skirts to the popular thigh-high height. He asked why, and I bemoaned that it seemed like the thing to do and I was curious about his opinion. He said, “no, buyers will have no problem knowing what you sell…with some of the other reps, that might be up for discussion.” Since I valued his opinion and intuitively knew what was right for me, my hem lines remained steadfast at my knee.

Why do I write about this now? I am not amused hearing comments made towards sales people, who some will equate selling to seduction. I do not seduce my customers.

Once I was asked to bring “sexy samples” to a meeting I’d just landed with a male print buyer. Oh dear, I thought…sexy samples? Why would this man ask me to bring sexy samples of printing? I don’t have any sexy samples. The meeting didn’t go well.

Personally, I think sales people get a bad rap. You’d probably argue, well of course you do, you’re a sales person. Sales people are by their nature inquisitive and assertive, that’s usually why they ended up in sales. You must have those qualities to be able to effectively seek out and engage people. I’ve discovered that people will not buy what they don’t already determine to be something they want. It’s my job to locate people who want to buy some type of printing and they will either value what I bring to the table or not. What I bring to the table is product knowledge, a great mix of presses and talented people…oh, and, wink, wink, respectability.