Time to refill your cup folks. It may have been sitting dangerously low for the past year….

This time last year, we were looking ahead to a spectacular year full of promise. The year took a bit of turn on us, but that turn wasn’t the same for everyone. Whether you were one of the companies that found new growth opportunities or one that held on by your fingernails, the goal for 2021 is to build to a new crescendo.

Consider the three B’s as you build your 2021 plan:

  • Be Smart: Assess your print ecosystem
  • Be Prepared: Make an update plan
  • Be Proactive: Look for opportunities

Be Smart

No matter what your business plan for 2021 looks like, this is a good time to take a deep breath and assess the hardware and software you have against that plan. How does your workflow and supporting hardware line up against the orders you took this year and the catalog of products you want to offer in 2021? Are you one of the many printers who struggle with getting your work from the point of sale to the press? How many people are touching each job as it comes in and is passed into production?

Think of every touch as a dollar sign. The more touches you eliminate, the more of that money stays on your bottom line. Even if you have a web-to-print environment or most of your work comes in through FTPs and hot folders, it is likely that there is room for streamlining and optimizing. You can hire a consultant, ask your vendors for help, or do it yourself, but take the time to identify the bottlenecks before the 2021 work lands in the queue.

Be Prepared

Assessments help you to identify your less optimized processes and begin to prioritize, but it doesn’t magically turn into a plan. Identify the learnings from the assessment that look like low-hanging fruit. Perhaps it’s a tune-up of your web-to-print environment to make it more robust or the addition of preflight and optimization automation to ensure that nothing goes to print that isn’t ready. Perhaps you learned that your workflow is just not flowing and it’s costing you time and money. It might be that your finishing isn’t keeping up with your printing. Maybe you’ve uncovered other bottlenecks.

Create a plan that includes short term fixes, but also looks outward to solutions for long term capacity building, streamlining of turnaround time, and labor savings. Try to find at least one project each quarter that will contribute to your bottom line so that when we reach December 2021 you can look back with a smile.

Be Proactive

Whether your 2020 was a banner year or more of a challenge, a plan for 2021 should be on your must do list. This isn’t the year to sit back and assume all will be well next year because life will go back to what it was in 2019. Your plan should include defined efforts to grow your business by looking at the products you offer today and finding the extensions to offer existing customers and to attract new customers.

Think of it this way. Try to find new options or features to add that take full advantage of your print capability and finishing options. Look at options to offer upgrades in substrates or new types of folds. Can you do binding? Think about promoting company magazines or catalogs. Ask your team for ideas! Ask your customers for their wish lists!

The most important thing you can do to prepare for 2021 is to optimize. Make a plan and grow!

Don’t just sit there. Go!