I read an interesting article in the Boston Globe recently, about how high school seniors reject prospective colleges and universities for the most random of reasons. It often happens when they’re taking a tour of a place they’re considering.
It told the story of a student visiting Oberlin College in Ohio. He found out on his tour of Oberlin that the college was committed to locally sourced food – which meant no bananas in the dining halls. Said the senior to his mother, “That could be a deal breaker. I mean, four years without bananas? That’s a lot.” (Oberlin does offer a limited number of fair-trade bananas, BTW.)
Another student, mid-air on a flight from the East coast to the West to see a California university, decided then and up there that it was too far from home.
Teens aren’t the only picky people. We’re all persnickety about certain things, and it shows up with print buyers, too. I’m thinking of one circumstance in particular: the new plant tour.
Every buyer is on the lookout for something specific when she or he tours a facility to check out a potential print partner. As the printer, you don’t really know what someone’s looking for, or what might cause a prospect to give you a “thumbs down.”
At one point I asked my buyer community to share what they look for on plant tours. A few unusual things stood out, which printers might not necessarily be aware of: clean bathrooms, no offensive (i.e., girlie) posters or calendars, and an indication that there’s real camaraderie between production and sales.
I also recall a buyer telling me that one time she traveled out of state to check out a potential printer. When she saw that there was barbed wire fence surrounding the plant, she knew she wouldn’t work with that company. That wasn’t a case of being fussy; she said she wouldn’t feel safe if she had to do evening press OKs there. If I were that printer, I’d make a point of telling prospects how much personal attention they get when on press checks, in ways that would reassure people who might hesitate at working in major cities.
Who knows why someone decides they can’t work with you? There might be some reasons that you have to chalk up to personal quirkiness, but there are others that you can deal with now, before the next potential buyer comes to call. Like making sure the ladies’ room is clean, and asking someone from management to stop by to greet your guest. Dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s will present your company in its best light.
Try looking at your facility through the eyes of a potential customer. What’s in plain view that might give someone pause? What’s missing – like those bananas at Oberlin – that a top prospect is keenly searching for?
© 2015 Margie Dana