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The Elite Edge

"Elite was instrumental in restructuring our document management procedures to help our business print supply chain become more responsive and efficient."

Suzanne Shikany

Koorsen Fire & Security

Tough Times Call For New Print Strategies

Here we go again. On the heels of the largest one-day point drop in Dow Jones history, even the most bullish market followers are grudgingly conceding that weíre headed for that long-forecasted economic downturn. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down almost 40 percent in the past year. Home values continue to fall and foreclosures continue to rise. Consumer confidence is in a tailspin, while unemployment is up. Things donít look much better overseas, where financial markets face similarly dire straights.

These are just a few of the grim reminders of our current economic situation. And, as sobering as it might be, we may not have hit bottom yet. Despite the passage of a nearly quarter billion dollar bailout package, many economists are predicting that the looming recession will last 18-24 months, during which time unemployment is expected to reach 9 percent and itís anticipated housing prices will falter by another 15 percent.

The Problem: Diminished Purchasing Power
And if things stay true to historic form, the fallout from Wall Street is eventually going to trickle down to Main Street. So whatís that mean for your business? Consumers with less available discretionary income to spend, businesses with less credit to purchase goods and services, and intense, cut-throat competition for increasingly scarce client dollars. Or put simply: the kind of less-than-rosy economic trends that can have a pretty big impact on the financial health of your corporate balance sheet.

The good news is weíve been through this before. The panic of October 1987, the S&L crisis of the early 1990s, the tech buble of 2000. Through it all, the U.S. economy (and, by extention, our stock markets and indices) has continued to chart its steady course upward. But as reassuring as that ray of sunshine on the horizon may seem, itís little help when facing shrinking budgets and rising costs in the here-and-now.

So itís no surprise that cost-cutting becomes a major focus in times of economic downturn (like we now face). The critical key, however, is to do a little belt tightening without sacrificing customer satisfaction or dragging your hard-won brand equity through the mud. In other words, finding strategies that turn the typical more efficiency/less effectiveness tradeoff on its head, instead providing the best of both worlds.

The Solution: Effective Print Procurement Can Cut Costs
One potent, yet seemingly low-hanging-fruit solution? More effective print procurement and utilization practices. Yes, itís not as high profile as outsourcing or cutting capital expenditures, but when it comes down to it, controlling costs is controlling costs. And inadequate print management practices are definitely a substantial source of hidden overhead: inefficient ordering and excessive waste that cuts into revenues, large inventories that limit flexibility, and additional workload that saps employee productivity.

So just what kind of bottom-line effect on your balance sheet are we talking about? Well consider this: external print purchases account for nearly 4% of the average companyís revenues. And of all that purchased collateral, almost 16% will be wasted due to obsolescence and inefficient, undisciplined procurement practices. In other words, clearly pretty substantial.

Fortunately, a centralized, web-enabled print management approach thatís governed by a procurement strategy grounded in actual order and usage data can be a major boost to your profitability, driving smarter collateral production and management, increased inventory turnover, and some pretty darn impressive savings. So just what should you be looking for?

1). A Centralized Toolset
At the center of any truly effective print solution thereís a shared, enterprise-wide, rock-solid collateral management application. For maximum employee reach and usability, we recommend a platform thatís completely web-enabled. At a minimum, this should act as a kind of mission control for your companyís print practices: centralizing all collateral into a simple, intuitive online toolset that can be easily accessed and used by employees dispersed in order locations across the enterprise.

2). Access to Print Order Data
Smart, cost-conscious print management starts and ends with unfettered print supply chain visibility and insight-rich reporting tools. Shining a light on order, inventory, and usage information enables you to get lean by crafting an intelligent procurement strategy thatís disciplined, iterative, and based on real-life data. Oh, and it also saves money and optimizes your print investment. Which is nice too.

3). Best-Class Usability
Employees with more work time. Managers with more oversight. Itís no pipe dream. Top-tier print management solutions should not only save employee time and productivity with simple, easy-to-execute online procurement tools, but also offer order and usage controls and location-by-location monitoring that helps qualified administrators drive smart production practices.

4). More Flexibility
Smaller production runs and web-to-print tools can help lock in responsiveness, delivering more inventory turns and (consequently) far less out-of-date collateral and print waste.

5). Bundled Ordering
Thereís power in numbers and wisdom in crowds. By eliminating the location-by-location and multi-vendor ordering so prevalent in large companies, you can unleash the power of scale-economy discounts not available when print spend is split among vendors.

The Bottom Line: Elite's Here to Help
In tough economic times, smart, effective print management strategies can have a big impact on your financial health: cutting costs, reducing waste, and giving you more control. Okay, so now its time for the hard sell. (Come on, you knew it was coming eventually, right?) Elite Print Services is proud to offer our clients a ridiculously functionality-rich, but-still-shockingly-cost-effective print management solution. For more information about how we can help you print smarter, manage better, and spend less please click HERE.

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