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Friday, October 31, 2008

PEiR Group Takes It “On The Road,” Holds Its Own “Town Hall” Meetings




By Shaun Meany
President, The PEiR Group


Last week I traveled to Atlanta and Dallas to host a couple of best practices workshops and to learn first-hand about the challenges – and opportunities – that the reprographics community is facing in the South and Southeastern parts of the United States.

We’ve built these workshops around the “Town Hall Meeting” format we’re seeing so much of during this election year, and bring in competing reprographers to discuss business issues and concerns about the future of their reprographics marketplace and their part in it.

It was surprising to learn how seldom (if ever) competing reprographers come together to exchange ideas. While I understand that organizing meetings of die-hard competitors may appear counterintuitive to some – I believe many attendees who met in Atlanta and Dallas saw the light.

Feedback from the 20 or so reprographers who attended our two workshop sessions indicated that the Economic Slowdown is beginning to take its toll in both design and construction sectors of the AEC marketplace.

Subsequent open-forum discussions pinpointed a common theme among reprographers today: the realization that they need to be charging for digital services and that everyone needs to be prepared to explain the value of these services to customers wary of the offering.

Can this be done? You bet it can… and it is being done, by shops who understand the power behind the offering and the needs of potential clients who stand to benefit from its use.

Our “Town Hall” discussions also determined that many reprographers are still not offering FM services. I’ll confess to being both amazed and a little perplexed by this. It is imperative that on-site services become an integral part of our offering. Why? Because if we don’t someone else will, to their benefit and to the ultimate regret of the reprographer.

And for a uniformly smart and I think tough group of business people, I was a little taken back when one of our attendees commented that he really does not like to look at the economic indicators getting so much press today because there is little that he can do to influence their impact on his business.

Sorry, but this struck me as a sort of “head in the sand” approach to the world around us, which is unforgiving at present, to be sure, but which needs to be analyzed and understood in order for us to survive.

Rather than ignore current market conditions, we need to understand why they are happening and look for the opportunities that – while few and far between – do exist out there.

This point was driven home to me recently by one of our colleagues, a man whose business has been drastically impacted by the current downturn in the AEC market. This individual realized that he needed to make up that lost revenue and set out to find markets that were underserved – finding a need in the Legal Documents sector in his area and marketing directly to local law firms.

After awhile his persistence was rewarded by a contract with a firm busy with litigation overseas, and he was engaged to support those efforts.

That’s the approach we all need to take to carry us through difficult times.

If The PEiR Group can help you with this, please let us know.


Best regards,

Shaun

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