A Wake-up Call to Senior Management
Don't let mistakes eat up profits
By Gayl Curtiss
Here is a secret to increase your profits during tough times: Make the elimination of errors your No. 1 priority. With agencies barely making enough profits to survive, senior management has a choice to make: Ignore procedures and spend big bucks fixing screw-ups, or embrace procedures and drop much larger profits to the bottom line.
Look at it this way: If you reduce errors, you'll increase the profitability of current clients, and in turn, cut down your dependence on new business development.
In every agency there are two priority efforts going on at all times: 1) generating new clients; and 2) trying to sell deeper to current clients. I propose a third: increasing the agency's profits by reducing errors. This third initiative should have the same top-down support as the other two do. Unfortunately in most agencies, it doesn't, and profits leak out the back door because senior management doesn't get involved with such "mundane" problems. Hogwash. If you want bigger profits, roll up your sleeves and take an honest look at the back-shop of your agency.
By the way, this advice isn't just for agencies—it's for in-house groups, too. In-house production staffs face the same demons.
Gazing at Your Errors From 20,000 Feet
Eventually, anything that can go wrong will during the production of a direct mail piece.
Direct mail is the combination of disparate and conflicting technologies forced together to produce a mail piece. Production managers are taught to watch the details. It's their job to make sure the problem-riddled processes don't get in the way of the program objective: on-time delivery that's error-free and within budget.
This year The Hacker Group, the agency where I work, will mail about 400 million pieces of mail. If we stay true to form, the value of our errors for the year will be less than $25,000. How do we keep our errors to a minimum? It's simple: We pay attention to details and we follow procedures.