Set Your Company up for Success

Making moves for your worth.

Over the past few decades most companies, no matter the size, have focused on being the cheapest, no matter what products they sell. We saw during both the Great Recession and COVID-19 that did not fare well for several companies. As we can see in today’s markets, being cheapest did not help with many companies’ growth or longevity.

Over the past 21 years in business, my wife and I have always focused on customer service, quality, and turnaround time. Price always comes last since the first three are what ensure that a customer will return. The other part of what we focus on is making sure our staff is taken care of at all times. Without a great customer base and great team, you cannot maintain or grow your company.

It is very important to focus on what you and your company stand for, as well as to study those around you. If those around you are simply focused on being the cheapest, that opens up a lot of room for growth for your company. Typically, when a company is focused on being the cheapest, that can mean they are using cheaper supplies, they do not focus on customer service, have a higher defect rate, slower turnaround times, or cannot afford to invest into their team.

Customer service

(Images courtesy of Howard Potter)

Customer service includes the first and last person your customer will encounter, so make sure they are the very best. They can help change the course of any situation that arises based on how well they work with the customers. Top-notch customer service also helps you lower your cost of advertising. Make working with your customer service team an experience and not a chore. With our company, you can request quotes from our website and within one to three hours (on average) a quote is sent. Even if a customer is from out of town, we treat them just like they walked into our showroom to order. If the customer does come into our showroom, customer service will sit down with them and help them as needed. When they come into our company, we also give them a tour and always have several items with our logo on them that they can have for free to take with them. This helps keep our brand in front of our customers and will remind them of how well they were taken care of, even if all they got was a quote and they didn’t order anything that day. Having top-notch customer service also creates added value to your customer which in many cases will speed up orders and increase sales volume.


Quality is another key topic to focus on within your company, from the quality of your artwork, supplies used, and equipment to produce your orders. Never skimp on any of these areas. Anyone can use clip art to create basic designs and, in most cases, the customer will notice and this will diminish the value of your brand. We have six in-house designers and three designers who work in production. Being able to control the design quality adds value and can improve the quality of the order, and, if the design sells well enough, can create more reorders faster. The real key is using the artwork as many times as possible to maximize the value for you and your customers. The type of supplies and equipment you use can make or break the artwork your company has created for the customer. If you use quality supplies, it will show in your work. If you use quality equipment and maximize the equipment’s capabilities, it can take the artwork your company produced to a new level. All of this creates more added value to your customers. You want to produce top-quality products that are designed to reflect the quality of your client to their customers.

Turnaround time is your third major concern. Our normal production time is 10 to 12 business days, but we work hard to produce the orders three days, at minimum, ahead of the due date. It is very important to underpromise and overdeliver. A customer will respect that far more than you missing a deadline you could not have made to begin with. We also offer rush services which are helpful in landing new customers and helping out existing ones. Make sure when taking rush orders, you always leave yourself wiggle room for something to go wrong. It is better to be proactive from the start instead of just assuming all will go well. Make sure you have all the supplies, assume shipments will be at least a day late, and order extra blanks ahead of time.

Team care

0AA7D4A3 8091 4AA1 B218 CF6F506287CCVery few in our line of work pay a fair wage or even offer a full benefit package to their team. Yes, this can and will increase your cost of doing business. If your pricing is questioned, be sure to explain that taking care of your team is very important to you and if their family member was working for you, they would be taken care of since their job is a skilled labor position that has a ton of value. Taking care of your team is a huge priority from the jump and not always easy to do, but a must if you want to last long term. It can help your turnover rate and helps to create more of a long term, dedicated team. At our company we offer paid personal time off, vacation time, health care, and a retirement plan match dollar-for-dollar up to 3%.

As I stated from the beginning, most of us are in business to last. Over the next five years there will be fewer and fewer companies in our line of work, so now is the time to focus less on price and more on what our companies will stand for. Take care of your customer, but more importantly take care of your team. With so many people retiring over the next five years, you will need to be more focused on the type of customer you want to work with along with the volume of work you can handle.

At our company, we have been working on building out more of our infrastructure, investing in more equipment, and hiring more staff now while working to get everyone trained. During this time period, our pricing has gone up across the board for all processes, but we know 95% of companies cannot match our customer service, quality, or turnaround time. This puts us in full control to not only service our customers, but also take care of our team.

Remember, you are in business to make a profit. You are not in business to work harder to earn less, and you do not need every customer to be your customer. You need and want the customers who will respect your craft, time, and your team. Build that type of company and team and the sky is the limit! Here’s to making moves for your worth!

Howard Potter

Howard Potter

A&P Master Images

Howard Potter is the author of the Making Shop Moves column for GRAPHICS PRO. He has 17+ years of experience in the promotional products industry, from designing to building brands and a family-owned business. He's the co-owner and CEO of A&P Master Images, along with his wife, Amanda Potter. Their company offers graphic design, screen printing, embroidery, sublimation, vinyl graphics, and promotional items. www.masteryourimage.com www.facebook.com/MasterYourImage

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