by Jen Clark, PostPress
It’s no secret the market conditions for the printing industry have changed dramatically in the last several years. Companies reacting to the changing dynamics, as well as competition from other media and service providers, have adapted by adding services that benefit their customers. Finding ways to add value to the services companies already offer not only benefits the customer, but also can mean increased revenue for the print finishing provider.
SunDance Marketing Solutions, an Orlando, Florida-based marketing services provider, commercial printer and producer of fine art lithographs, offers fulfillment and kitting services that increase innovation and efficiency to streamline its clients’ marketing efforts. Founded in 2007, SunDance has maintained a 24-percent compound annual growth rate and recently moved into a 43,500-square-foot facility – more than triple the size of its first factory.
“We’ve found that the more value-added services we offer, the longer clients stay with us,” said Brad Taylor, sales manager and partner at SunDance. “When we deliver on the value-added services, it builds trust with our client base and leads to more business from them with existing product lines, as well as new product lines. Clients seem to prefer dealing with fewer vendors, so the more we can offer them, the more business we bring in and retain. One of the biggest reasons we offer value-added services is we’ve also found the more we do in-house, the greater control we have on quality, turnaround and overall job efficiency throughout the plant.”
SunDance prides itself on always saying “Yes” to its clients, so value-added services aren’t exactly new to the multi-channel print- and marketing-solutions company. “We’ve always provided value-added services, just not to the scale we currently do,” Taylor said. “If they ask us if we can do something, as long as it’s within our wheelhouse, or even just reasonably close, we figure out how to get it done. Over the years, this has led us to develop a wide range of services that we can deliver to clients in a win-win manner. Our client gets the service they need at the price they want and we gain the immediate revenue, as well as greater control of the end product in terms of quality and turnaround – not to mention the further diversification of our offerings.”
He said value-added services really took off when SunDance purchased all of the equipment of a finishing company that was closing its doors. “Our customers asking for more has led to us perfecting many different services, including foil stamping, embossing, custom diecutting, laminating, punching, perfect binding, stitching, map folding and coil binding,” Taylor said.
In addition, the company offers fulfillment services that are “pretty popular,” he noted. SunDance provides mailing services, kitting, packaging and shipping, staging, inventory control and even web-to-print or print-on-demand storefronts for some of its larger clients. “Many have locations around the world and rely on us to ensure that their materials and brand are consistent with their standards worldwide. It really depends on what the client needs for each individual product line, project or item,” Taylor explained.
SunDance’s clients have realized the value in having the entire process – printing, finishing, kitting, fulfillment and shipping – handled with one vendor at one site, Taylor continued. This reduces cost, speeds up turnaround and reduces the potential for mistakes and delays. SunDance constantly is expanding its warehouse space to accommodate the growing desire for this convenience. “Many clients need us to store their marketing materials either short-term or long-term,” he said. “Sometimes we offer warehousing as an add-on when a client needs to free up extra space in their location(s), but most frequently warehousing is part of the fulfillment process. We have the items that we’re fulfilling here in our warehouse and we pick-and-pack as needed for our clients.”
Generally, inventory management makes the most sense for large clients, Taylor added. “Smaller clients typically manage inventory themselves as it’s manageable by anyone.” A typical inventory management project can involve SunDance either printing or producing the inventory. “Or the client sends us existing inventory,” he said. Once the inventory is documented and put into the inventory management system, the client can “access their inventory through a custom-built web-based storefront and order whatever they need to be picked and sent anywhere in the world,” Taylor explained.
Utilizing value-added services can give printers and postpress providers an advantage over the competition. For SunDance, it has been a boon to the bottom line, Taylor said. “There have been several months over the past few years that were made profitable by value-added services,” he said. “Typically, there is very little hard cost in these services. They generally are achieved by labor and often it’s slack labor being used vs. having to hire additional employees to handle the increased workload. In some cases, this makes the value-added service skip the P&L and go to straight to the bottom line!”
For those companies looking to get into or expand their value-added options, Taylor suggests having software that can track inventory, shipping and billing, along with competently trained personnel. “It’s also important to purchase equipment at a good price, maintain it well and cross train employees so slack labor can be utilized to allow for a streamlined manufacturing process,” he said. “Adding fulfillment and other value-added services can be a huge advantage.”