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Issue Twenty-two, Winter 1999

How to Create Peace Between Sales & Production
By Randy Rasch, President

The excitement was overpowering as I madly drove back to the office from my new customer. I had been trying to secure a job-any job-from this company for over six months and finally we were awarded a large, profitable, and simple binding job! We won all three of the most desirable attributes found in one job, and from a new customer!

When I arrived at the office, everyone was rather cold about my good news and I was baffled. Why didn't they share in the excitement? I began to investigate. In a matter of minutes, the reason became all too clear.

I had promised a machine and its crew for my new customer, in direct conflict with another sales person and his commitment to another, long time customer!

This was not the first time similar circumstances created an internal conflict, and the path to satisfaction was clear. Rasch Graphic Services Corporation worked overtime, at its expense, and completed both jobs.

Customer service is our primary goal. To insure repeat business and remain successful in the highly competitive graphics arts field.

"Before you can defeat the competition, first you must defeat your own company."

It sounds a little negative, but the sales department in any company can relate. In spite of being on the "same team," often times "sales vs. production" seems more correct. Here are some of the motivating factors:

Sales: I don't want to turn down a customer and allow them to experience the competition. I could lose them forever.

Production: My personnel have not had a weekend off in four weeks. They are tired!

Sales: I will lose my commission.

Production: Under these circumstances, the plant cannot show a profit on that job and it will reflect on me.

Sales: We simply cannot turn down this new customer's request.

Production: Sales said we would be slow this week, and I allowed half of the plant personnel time off and therefore we are short handed.

The list is endless and can go on and on proving one point--we do have many varied motives and problems, all contributing to the ongoing "Cold War" between sales and production. Somehow we must resolve internal issues in order to attain company goals.

Five Suggestions for Fewer Internal Conflicts:

1. Have at least one production meeting per day. Be brief, be willing to listen to other departments' needs, and be sympathetic to each other. Otherwise, company goals will be lost.

2. Assign an impartial, responsible person the task of workflow--a "traffic cop" with no commissions at stake and the good of the customer foremost in mind. Give him/her both the freedom and authority to produce at a profit with customer service always present.

3. Publish a production schedule. Demand that real due dates and all pertinent production information be accurate and updated as needed. Sales and production alike will then be able to forecast available machine time well in advance and with more certainty.

4. Do not be afraid to ask the customer for additional time when an emergency occurs. It is amazing how cooperative a customer can be.

5.Keep your plant personnel well informed. Meetings with the general population of the plant can help, and often times increase production with gentle pressures of incoming work.

We all must realize that we are on the same team, with the same goals in mind--to create a quality product, on time and at a profit.


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