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Economic gurus paid by the government predicted that we would see the end of the recession in the third quarter of this year, but unfortunately this didn't occur. In fact, the gross domestic product continued to decline and one has to question where these analysts get their figures - certainly not from industry, it would seem.
Regretfully, the business bank managers of today appear to have no say or opinion when it comes to business finance. If the proposal doesn't provide complete security for their money, it will be rejected. No risk for the bank and no emergency support for business.
Why as an association is Prism saying such things? Because that is what is happening to members. This isn't just the longest period of recession since records began, this is a time when 80 per cent of companies are fighting for survival. A good month is when there is no loss and an OK month is when there are sufficient reserves to cover the shortfall. Often it seems, banks are unwilling to cover the bad months and companies have to rely on suppliers to extend additional credit and or reduce overheads to survive.
What can Prism do? The first point is to realise you are not alone. The fact that other people in the industry are suffering just as you are, means you needn't beat yourself up quite so much.
Prism can help you look at areas where you can make savings to increase profitability. That doesn't mean shedding staff, but instead addressing the prosaic but essential elements of waste reduction, such as savings on electricity, gas and telephones and lower insurance costs.
For those companies working on five percent margins, which isn't unusual in our industry, a one pound saving in cost goes straight to your profit, which is in turn equivalent to £20 in turnover.
Members are recognising the tremendous resource they have in the Prism technical help line, where real experts can provide the key that unlocks a technical problem or a sourcing issue. This service works on the principle that if we don't have the answer, we know somebody who does and it is rare that we are stumped.
What is clear is that being a 'me too' company whose output is nothing more than a commodity is a sure recipe for failure. Whenever price is the governing factor in a purchasing decision then all you have to offer are reducing margins that will inevitably result in failure.
Specialist services, niche markets, doing the unusual and being different are qualities that will set you apart from competitors. An emerging phenomena now in evidence is where companies work together on projects using each others strengths and locking out the corrosive influence of intermediaries who can demand up to 25 per cent for their services. Be your own print management company and source services from fellow members. Prism is more than willing to make the introductions, since its interest is seeing prosperity coming back into the wide format industry in the UK.
Times are difficult and the recovery will be slow but by managing the detail and working together the future is bright.