A large printing operation in the Chicagoland area came to Blue Pearl with a challenge that plagues many industries – how to stay competitive in their market with advanced technologies while controlling costs. The printing industry has been dramatically transformed by both direct online competition and rapidly changing mass production technologies. The question posed by the COO was this: How do we invest in our capital assets while remaining nimble enough to meet clients’ constantly advancing demands, and keeping costs low enough to offer competitive pricing. Not a simple question, and not one with a single answer.
Blue Pearl went to work diving into the challenge by first developing a full understanding of the issue at hand. While the problem is common across many industries, the printing market has been particularly beaten up by the internet over the past 15 years. We began with research. Our first, fairly obvious, conclusion was that it is not possible for any single printing operation to own and operate all relevant technology in house. Our second data-driven conclusion was that customers value service, price, and quality over the use of the latest technology, and in fact, often don’t care how their pieces are printed behind the scenes.
With a focus on quality, service and price, we developed a plan under which the company financed and purchased specific pieces of equipment, leased others, and outsourced unique jobs requiring very specialized equipment. This structure drove a corresponding pricing evaluation, and resulted in a refined, tiered pricing strategy that placed the company in a more competitive position for standard projects, and allowed them to offer a wider range of creativity on the customized, unique projects.