Always Do Your Best for Customers
Serving customers is a privilege that must be earned daily. This privilege is granted on the condition that you, the service provider, will always do your best. Always. In most cases, there are no guarantees or long term commitments in business – you have to earn your business every day by doing your best.
Take Adversity With Grace – See the Silver Lining
We recently had a very significant customer come to us looking for massive cost reductions. The organization we serve is part of a larger national company and there was huge pressure from above to cut costs. The entire organization put all their label and packaging business out to open bid – everything was on the line. Relationships, service, history, special arrangements – none of this had a cell in the spreadsheet. It is all about the bottom line dollar. We were initially concerned and even a bit offended, but as we went through the process, we realized that we had to play ball or be left behind. Digging in our heels and relying on charisma wasn’t going to retain this business. We had to do our best for the customer – again.
Rise to the Occasion
After some hand wringing, we realized that this is an opportunity to become a better, more competitive supplier – for this customer and for all our customers. The work we do and the efficiency we realize by this exercise will benefit all of our current and future customers. We will force ourselves to get better – fast! A small crisis motivates people.
Spread the Work
We will run the press faster, with less waste, and fewer errors. We will hold each other accountable to be on our ‘A’ game every time we print for this customer. But we also pushed some of the pain down to our suppliers – they have to help us find these cost savings. Guess what – they have risen to the occasion too. With creative problem solving, more aggressive price, and reviewing options we hadn’t considered before, our suppliers provided most of the savings we were looking for. Together, we worked hard to always do our best for the customer.
Always Move Forward
The final bid award isn’t out yet. We don’t actually know if our bids will allow us to retain the business, but we do know that our business will survive and thrive regardless of the outcome. Each day we work hard to serve the customer. We always want to win, but sometimes you learn and grow the most from the ones you don’t win. Time will tell – we will be ready and we will move forward.
We are very fortunate here at Rose City Label that our business seems to be back on track. We still have challenges, as we always will, but if our business could continue to prosper like it has the past 24 months, we would be very happy.
This improved business climate caused me to reflect and remember when, not too long ago, things weren’t very good.
Like many businesses, ours was caught flat footed when the bottom fell out in 2008. We were not prepared for the dramatic slowdown, and we had to take some serious measures to correct things quickly. We said goodbye to an employee that wasn’t performing, and we cut back hours in our production facility. These were difficult, nerve racking times for all of us. One of the things I remember most is that I never appreciated when things were good! I just assumed things would always be good. Now I know this isn’t always the case.
So, with these past 4 years behind us, what have we learned:
- 1. Celebrate Success! We aren’t setting records or hitting a home run on every single order, but we have much to be thankful for. I am trying to remind all the people in our company, and trying to remind myself, that things are good. We all need to take time to recognize this and give ourselves a small pat on the back for hanging in there.
- 2. Don’t Take the Future for Granted. Now I know that things can turn sour – in a hurry. I know that we can’t afford to get lazy, complacent, or arrogant. We always need to push forward and keep getting better every day. Tomorrow is promised to no one. Continuous improvement and staying hungry are the only things that will help us stay strong.
- 3. Protect the Downside. If, God forbid, we do have another major dip in the economy or world events, or if we have a serious problem in our own company, we need to protect the downside. As a leader I waited too long to make the hard decisions last time. I assumed all would be good – I didn’t know how long the downturn would last, or how deep it would be. Thankfully, we are a conservative, financially secure company, so we could withstand the storm, but I don’t want to get that close to the edge again. More proactive management would have helped ease the pain, and I am going to keep that in mind for the future.
Hopefully these three ideas can help our customers as we move forward. They are all important, but especially now, I am focusing on #1 – Celebrate Success!
Thanks to all of you for being a part of that success for Rose City Label.
We Support Women Business Owners!
Women Business Owners are very important at Rose City Label. It’s hard to believe that just a generation ago, the opportunity to grow a successful business wasn’t really available to women. Today it is and they are taking the business world by storm!
According to a recent post on the Constant Contact blog, there are over 11 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., and that business count is growing at 5x the national average. In fact, the number of women owned businesses has doubled since 2007. Read the full post by Miranda Paquet by clicking here. Learn more about Miranda by clicking here.
We find many of these dynamic women business owners are more courageous and committed than their male counterparts. Maybe they recognize the opportunity more clearly, maybe they are born tenacious, or maybe they want it more? Regardless, they work hard and they succeed.
Here are 5 great tips from successful women business owners:
1. “Know your market. If you don’t know where your market is and what they want, you have no chance.” — Barbara Felix, owner of Felix the Cook
When Barbara started her custom-made sugar cookies business, she got the word out by donating her cookies to large charity events. Barbara knew her target audience and where to reach them. Focusing on a specific market and delivering them an exceptional product and experience helped her grow an impressive client list, which includes Google Ventures, UPS, and The Four Seasons.
Like many small business owners, Kellee left the corporate world to feel a greater sense of freedom, flexibility, and fulfillment. But throughout her years as an owner, there have been plenty of unexpected obstacles.
Kellee keeps her business going by taking small actions, including partnering with local businesses, sending her customers monthly marketing emails, and running timely events. If you hit a rough patch at your business, don’t stress over your shifting five-year plan. Start every day by thinking about what small impactful action you can take to get things back on track.
3. “You’ve got to follow your gut. What’s the worst that’s going to happen? You’re going to make a mistake?” — Dawn Noble, owner of La Provence
Once a loyal customer of French goods store, La Provence, Dawn bought the business over a decade ago. Starting without any business management experience, Dawn believes in the power of learning as you go.
Looking back, she knows she’s made some missteps along the way, but Dawn doesn’t let these mistakes slow her down.
When you find yourself second-guessing your decisions, ability, or strength, remember that doing something is almost always better than doing nothing. Trust your instincts and don’t be afraid of a little trial and error.
4. “Make a commitment to education, to learning as much as you can, an ongoing education.” — Marie Mouradian, owner of Window Designs Etc.
With over 35 years of as a business owner, Marie knows the secret to success is to never get too comfortable.
Change is part of almost every industry — even window design treatments. Marie prides herself in embracing new trends and refusing to be intimidated by market shifts. Marie gets involved by sitting on the board of her local Chamber of Commerce and always trying out new ways to get her business noticed in her community and online.
As an athlete turned business owner, Traci knows you’re not going to win every day. Sometimes you give it all you’ve got and still come up short.
But Traci’s refusal to give up has served her well. She’s landed a product deal with Shark Tank’s Kevin Harrington, appeared on major television networks, and spoken on keynote stages. As an owner, remember that success might not look like you originally imagined. But if you don’t take a risk and go for it, you’ll never really know what you’re capable of.
How Can You Apply These in Your Business?
We constantly share tips and success stories to inform and inspire. We know that our success is directly tied to yours. Is there something else we can do for you? Call us today! We are constantly looking for new ways to help our customers succeed.
Thanks for trusting us with your business – we appreciate it very much.
Rose City Label is proud to support Family Business education. As we mentioned in this post, we recently presented to the senior class at the OSU Family Business education program. We are proud to be a family business – there are many good reasons for this, as outlined here in this post.
As a result of this presentation, we were contacted by a student in the Family Business education program. He asked about pricing for labels for his startup Kombucha business.
Because of the students’ drive and dedication, we were happy to offer this first run of labels for free! We believe in supporting family business education.
We believe in growing the next generation of business leaders.
We Support Family Business Education
The story of INTEA is quite fascinating, as noted here below:
INTEA Kombucha is a Corvallis based company dedicated to the production of high quality, artistically crafted fermented kombucha tea. INTEA was born out of a shared passion for the art of fermentation by four friends from opposite sides of the equator. Despite our busy lives as graduate students and brewing professionals, we make time for what we are truly passionate about, and that is Kombucha. As the saying goes in Chile, we are crazy as goats! Along with a shared passion for fermentation science, the founders believe in embracing life with a sense of playfulness, curious engagement, and joy. The name INTEA came to fruition on the shores of a Cascade mountain lake; a play on the words “Inti” for the Incan sun god and “tea”, for the nutrient medium necessary for kombucha fermentation. The sun featured in our logo represents the light, brightness, and positivity that illuminates our everyday endeavors.
These young entrepreneurs are SERIOUS about making a good product.
At INTEA, we specialize in the production of small batch, artisanal fermented Kombucha. Our proprietary fermentation process begins with a symbiotic culture of yeast and bacteria and a blend of green and black teas. We create intense flavors by using only 100% real fruits, herbs, and spices grown under the sun, and capture natural effervescence from the fermentation process.
This process ultimately achieves a low or no alcohol, low calorie, gluten free beverage with a mouthwatering tart, pleasantly fruity, carbonated taste making it an excellent alternative to beer, cider, or wine. You can find INTEA Kombucha at the Corvallis Farmer’s Market, delivered right to your front door in Corvallis, and at select locations in the local Corvallis area.
Thank you, team INTEA for helping us have hope for the future. This is why we support Family Business Education – people like you that are carrying the ball forward into the future.
We always try to be a Customer Focused Business, but today I had an experience that made me pause to evaluate HOW we serve our customers. Are we really serving them the way THEY want to be served? What do our policies, hours, and communication methods tell them? Are we a customer focused business – from their perspective?
Today I visited stopped at a coffee shop on the way to work, but it didn’t open until 8am. What? If I am a coffee shop, serving busy professionals, I need to cater to their hours, right? Most people, like me, what coffee early in the morning on the way to work. Yes, some come in later and have meetings or chat with friends – but MANY coffee consumers need their caffeine early…
Open For Business
Do our policies and business practices say, ‘We Are Open For Business’? Are we meeting our customers where they want to be met? And what could you – our loyal customers and readers – learn and apply to your own business? There are many, many ways to be a customer focused business, but often we get caught up in our own internal operations to the point that we don’t see things from their perspective. We need to do a periodic audit to see if we are living up to this goal.
Our hours of operation need to match the schedules of our customers. We print for other businesses, so being open during business hours is fine for us. But what if you serve single parents? What if you are a dentist working on kids? You probably need times that allow them to get services without missing school. If people are always racing to your office right before you close, you may need to
stay open a bit longer.
Do people want to meet in person? Fill out a form online? Or meet in person? We try to accommodate all of these options. Email is fast and efficient, but many want to talk about their project on the phone. When we can, we always prefer to have people in for a tour to see our shop and meet our people – or, we go to them to discuss their labels. Whatever they want – however they need to be served – that is what we try to deliver.
Product Design and Delivery
What features and benefits to you offer? And do your CUSTOMERS care? Being a customer focused business means listening before you speak. Finding out where it hurts before you begin to solve the painful problem. Sometimes durability is a huge issue for labels, but sometimes it isn’t (for a temporary, or disposable label). We need to ask the right questions to provide the right product with the features that are important to YOU, not just the things we think are important.
We can’t be all things to all people. We can’t cater to every whim. Maybe the coffee shop today only serves neighborhood regulars that come in later and stay all day? Maybe I am not their target customer? If this is the case and they have determined this and chose their hours on purpose then BRAVO to them. It certainly wasn’t a fit for me, but it did give me pause to think about our own business to make sure we are asking the right questions. We have to always be mindful of what is important to our customers – we need to keep a constant pulse on what they want so we can continue to grow and prosper.
Want to work with a customer focused label company? Call us today!
We recently attended the TLMI Technical Conference in Chicago to network with leaders in our industry. This year it was rebranded as ‘PrintTHINK’ and it was packed full of good content. We have always been big fans of TLMI – click here to learn more – as it represents the very best label printers and suppliers in America. According to one survey, the 150 label printer members of TLMI (including Rose City Label) account for 59% of the $7 BILLION dollars worth of label printing in North America. The Supplier members that sell us ink, paper, and equipment probably account for an even higher percentage of the total in their fields.
As a past Chairman of TLMI, I was asked to speak at the conference two years ago about building an outstanding company culture. Check out the highlights of that presentation by clicking here. After the conference I followed up with a more detailed review – see those lessons by clicking here.
As with past conferences, there was tons of great value presented in the lectures and panel discussions. The vendors were very generous with their time and information. It was wonderful to get a quick snapshot of the industry now, and the direction for the future. BUT, without a doubt, the greatest value in the conference is having the opportunity to Network with Leaders. Comparing stories with other people running successful companies across the country is always the best part. People share freely and help each other to learn and grow. Many have invited us in for a tour of their shop. This is the what it means to network with leaders – sharing your stories and helping all companies get to a higher, better, more profitable state. We helped others and other certainly helped us. We will be back in 2019 for sure.
The agenda was jam packed and the evenings were full of dinners and time at the bar. These are a few of the main highlights:
Vendors are Out with New Technology
The pace of change has never been faster, but the cooperation has never been greater. In one panel, press manufacturers collaborated to share all the new features of automation, quick changeover, and precise print control. Along with automated presses, people talked about shop management software, printing inks, and specialty coatings.
Digital Press Options Abound
The HP Indigo digital press in our shop remains the Gold Standard for the type of high quality wine, beer, and spirits labels we focus on. It has more installations world wide than any other press in this class. BUT, new UV Inkjet machines are finally getting to a mature state. These presses have a different color profile and print on different label materials, but they print very FAST. As we continue to grow our digital business, we will keep our eye on these options.
The PEOPLE Make the Difference
More than anything, it is the personal, honest conversations with our friends that make the trip worthwhile. We learned the REAL story about their new equipment so we could progress without making the same mistakes. We learned about the REAL cost of accessories for one new press from a friend in San Diego, we got good ideas about revising our accounting from a friend in Vermont, and we were inspired by the dedication of another in Pittsburg. Real, honest sharing and best practices. This is the value of networking with leaders – and the value of all conferences.
Call us Today!
If you want to partner with a company that likes to network with leaders, call us today. We stay on the cutting edge of equipment, techniques, and systems so we can always provide you with the highest quality labels. Our business is booming but we would love to hear from you. Please call us today.