In-Plant Printers Should Act More Like Commercial Printers

By Howie Fenton

As you review last year and look forward to this year, are you looking for ideas that can help you drive more business? If the answer is yes, consider viewing a replay of this webinar entitled “Seven Results Generating Ideas that Printers can Implement Today.”  I was one of three panelists on this webinar and each of us offered two ideas. One of my ideas: A trend in which leading in-plants are evolving from legacy in-plant strategies and acting more like commercial printers.

Watch this webinar replay that features Gina Testa, Jeanette McMurty, Joe Rickard and Howie Fenton.

Arguably, the most overused management term for business basics is the “blocking and tackling” metaphor. Any time a person or business fails, it is said they didn’t perform the basics which in football is known as blocking and tackling the opponent. For years the “blocking and tackling” basics for in-plants focused on selling and satisfying the internal customers, offering traditional services such as design, printing, and mailing, cost-based pricing models, and trying to achieve a financial break-even.

This, along with good customer service and efficient production is what I am starting to refer to a legacy in-plant strategy.

One of the greatest threats to in-plants are companies offering to outsource their products and services or to take over the management by offering a facilities management contract. To counter that threat, leading in-plants are innovative like their commercial printing cousins.

According to a survey (June 2016) published in In-Plant Graphics Magazine, 63.4 percent of in-plants accept work from outside their organization, a strategy known with the in-plant community insourcing. The successful use of an insourcing is also motivating some in-plants to hire sales people to help sell to both internal and external customers.

Legacy In-Plant strategies New & Innovative In-Plant Strategies
Customers Internal customers Internal and external customers
Sales Staff None Sales staff
Services Design, printing, and mailing Large format, manage the fleet, scanning, printer procurement
Pricing Cost based Value or market based pricing
Financial model Fully funded or charge back / financial break even Profit center


According to the PRIMIR 2016 study, “Digital Printing Technology’s Influence on the U.S. In-Plant Printing Market,” while design and printing remain the most important services offered today, many non-print services are growing:

  • 55 percent offer scanning services for digital access,
  • 54 percent provide external printer procurement, and
  • 51 percent are managing the fleet of printers and copiers.

Two other important in-plant trends are changes from cost-based pricing to value or market-based pricing for products such as large format signage and a shift from fully-funded models to break-even and money making. If you’re interested in hearing more, watch this webinar replay that features Gina Testa, Jeanette McMurty, Joe Rickard and me:

From the editor: This article was originally published on the Digital Printing Hot Spot, a Xerox blog that helps printers succeed, grow, and get the most out of their production digital print technology. Xerox subject matter experts, industry consultants, partners and customers from all over the world share ideas, insights and trends to help printing professionals stay ahead of the curve in meeting the growing demands of their customers. 

Howard “Howie” Fenton is a consultant and analyst in the printing and digital industry with more than 25 years experience. He focuses on strategic, operational and financial benchmarks and new technology. A noted author of books, original research, articles, and blogs, Fenton is a sought-after consultant called upon to analyze and benchmark productivity and competitiveness. He is a subject matter expert on the best practices used by leading companies to streamline operations. His knowledge of hardware, software, process improvement tools allows him to identify and repair inefficient workflow processes, and improve performance. His knowledge of the print industry is deeply rooted in theoretical, research as well as practical experience. He has taught at the Rochester Institute of Technology School of Printing as well as managing both a quick printing company and the department of a commercial printing firm. You may follow Howie Fenton on LinkedIn.

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