Print MIS

You Need Better Print Management: Here’s Why

Duncan Ellis | March 3, 2023

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Traveling by air is a dicey proposition these days. And even when things go relatively smoothly, domestic air travel often feels like a case study in what not to do to create a good customer experience.

Imagine you’re an airline customer stranded at the airport due to a winter weather cancellation. 

You queue up in a long line somewhere in the airport. You eventually get to a customer service rep, who clicks and pokes around a computer and manually keys in your customer and flight information. One typo and the whole process derails—and given the noisy, high-stress environment, mistakes here are common.

Faced with a line hundreds of people long, the airline employee doesn’t give you much personal attention—they can’t afford to. After a cursory look, they tell you that there’s nothing they can do for you until tomorrow at the earliest.

To add insult to injury, some airlines are operating on painfully outdated systems. Southwest recently came under scrutiny for this. You wonder if you could do better, so you walk away from the counter, pull out your phone, and figure out a workable itinerary with available seats, which the airline eventually books you on when you show them what you found.

Sound Familiar? It’s Not Just Airlines

The problems here are obvious: The airline employee either couldn’t find what you needed in the dated software system or couldn’t take enough time to solve your problem. 

Why? Poor communication, limited bandwidth, and an inefficient system of searching for flights.

Ultimately, poor communication and inefficient manual processes nearly always lead to a negative customer experience. It’s true at airlines, and it’s true in the print industry.

In the world of printing, revenue relies on communication and efficiency. And a good print MIS provides both. 

Take these three pain points. One is common for in-plant printers, one for most commercial printers, and one is shared between both. Pain points like these can be eliminated almost instantly with the right quote management solution, like Avanti Slingshot™.

In-Plant Printers: Keep it Simple

If you’re running an in-plant operation, print quote management can be a bear. Often, you’ll have employees trying to answer internal customer questions and provide quotes when they don’t have (or have to wait for) key information. 

Often an in-plant customer sends cost information over to the accounting department and then must wait for a quote. It’s an extra step that could be eliminated with Avanti Slingshot™, which enables printers to do this in real time and speed up job completion. By leveraging templates in Slingshot, in-plant printers can create quick quotes between departments and deliver a faster response to the customer.

Providing an inaccurate print quote to internal customers, whether the wrong cost or the wrong timeline, can result in interdepartmental conflict, reputational damage for the customer, and ultimately even lost revenue, if customers cannot meet their print obligations on time or on budget.

A good print management solution will give you data from the entire pipeline, from start to finish. It will tell you what projects are currently being worked on, what inventory levels are, how many jobs need to be completed, and more. It will provide you with the information you need to set proper expectations with your customers on timelines, so that you’re able to improve efficiency and meet your customers’ expectations.

Print quote errors can be costly. You need a print management solution that provides data on costs as well as timelines.

Commercial Printers: Excel at Efficiency

While reputation and stellar customer service are important to any business, the scale of a commercial operation emphasizes the need for accuracy and efficiency.

Every time a human intervenes in a process, they introduce potential for error. If your company still uses Excel spreadsheets for estimates, each cell holds the potential for a mistyped number or a misplaced decimal point. And when working in Excel or something similar, your employees must then rekey information into print software and other systems, giving them numerous additional chances to manually enter an error.

And don’t forget about the added time people must spend checking and double-checking their work. It’s a time-consuming process, and one error could have a big impact on your business.

Your MIS software ought to streamline the order entry process. It should fully integrate with your systems and allow you to see the entire workflow from end to end. Even better, it should allow you to populate new orders with data from your estimates.

Solid MIS Software will also give clear and accurate reporting on the true cost of doing business. Once you gain visibility into which jobs and customers are most profitable, you’ll be better equipped to price your products and services well and intentionally pursue your best clients. Print quote management software should eliminate the all-too-common scenario where inexperienced team members guess numbers (and, on the in-plant side, wait for a back-office employee to give them a call back).

Both Commercial and In-Plant: Reduce Chargebacks

Both commercial and in-plant printers can relate to the frustration created by chargebacks—and even the possible lost business that can result. Chargebacks to clients happen when estimates are unreliable and inaccurate, and no matter how you slice it, they don’t look good. Printers must choose between eating the cost and asking for more money. 

One eats up your already thin margins. The other makes you look unreliable or untrustworthy. No one wants to be Michael Scott Paper Company calling up clients after the sale to ask for more money. While chargebacks are slightly more acceptable in the print industry than in straight-up sales, they still don’t do you any favors with your clients.

Avanti Slingshot™: Your Complete Print Management Solution

Avanti Slingshot MIS takes estimates into a single system and creates the order. It takes the guesswork out of estimating by pulling all your pipeline data into one location and automatically generating the reports you need for an accurate estimate. If you need time to restock inventory for a large order, Avanti Slingshot will give you a heads up. If you are closing in on being overbooked, it will identify what work needs to be outsourced. Then you can choose the company you want to work on that job for you. And it all happens from inside the MIS software. 

Avanti Slingshot is a full-scale print management solution that includes robust print quote management. It consolidates your data so you won’t have different departments yelling back and forth at each other. Input on one end, and everyone who needs it will be able to see it in real-time. By delivering clearer inputs, better data, and a unified system, Avanti Slingshot helps printers like you produce more accurate estimates, resulting in fewer chargebacks and more comfortable margins.

Best of all, Avanti Slingshot is flexible and customizable, so it can fit into your existing workflow whether you’re a commercial printer or an in-plant printer.

Interested in learning more about what Slingshot can do for you? Let us show you how it works!­­­­