What Are We Going to Do About It?
The August numbers are coming in for the NAPL Printing Business Panel—and they are not encouraging:
• Just 19.2% now expect business to improve during the six months ahead, down from 30.6% in April and 36.2% in January.
• More than twice as many report quote activity is slowing down, 48.3%, as report quote activity is picking up, 22.5%.
• Over 40.0% report pre-tax profitability is falling—the highest percentage since early 2010—while less than one-third report profitability is rising.
It isn’t the time of the year; it’s the state of our industry. We put it this way in theNAPL State of the Industry Report that we will be publishing next week: “Our industry still isn’t gaining traction. We aren’t sliding back into recession. But we aren’t advancing into meaningful recovery, either. Business picks up only to fall off again, leaving us uncertain about whether to hire and invest or to sit tight. And with costs rising faster than prices—healthcare, in particular, ‘is eating us alive’—margins are under great pressure.”
The good news is that many of owners and executives who participate in our research are doing something about it. Among their plans:
• New approaches to marketing, because “we can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results.”
• Comprehensive, function-by-function evaluations of their organizations, because we can’t count on strength in one area to offset weakness in others anymore.
• Deep dives into their clients’ businesses, because there is profit in understanding the client’s world better than the competition does.
Next time we’ll talk more about what our research group has in mind. For now, know that plans vary widely from company to company because there is no single, best-for-all path to prosperity in our increasingly competitive, complex industry. Also know that there is one thing they don’t plan to do—that’s wait for the economy to turn up or the competition to shake out.
Andy Paparozzi Joe Vincenzino