A soldier working in the MOD stores recently highlighted the unnecessary expense that results from not having full control of where everyday business supplies come from. £22.51 for a 65p light bulb or £103.00 for a £2.60 screw is a bit extreme, but all companies would do well to review their procedures and suppliers as savings can be significant.
Simon King has over 30 years experience in the printing and reprographics business. His company, Blackfriars Contracts, has operated in Stonehouse, Plymouth, for the last 7 years. There's more to Simon's business than just printing though, and there's nothing he likes more than solving his customers problems, especially those that relate to the efficient sourcing of print and reprographic requirements. For this reason he set up a service called Streamline.
Simon explains: "Streamline looks at all your print or reprographic requirements, from business cards and letterheads to forms, sales leaflets and photocopying, to see if it can be sourced more efficiently and for less money."
"We look at all of your invoices and suppliers over the last year, and then give you a free quote which shows how much money you can save. If you proceed, you receive a manual which shows you and your staff how and where to source everything at the best price and most efficiently. The fee for this service is based on a percentage of the savings you'll make."
Simon points out that Streamline is not about driving work towards his company.
He says: "If Streamline identifies a more suitable supplier than Blackfriars Contracts, then that is who we will recommend in your print 'bible'. Often up to four suppliers are recommended per consultation."
Simon offered a simple solution to Plymouth's Mountbatten Centre which produced a lot of its own leaflets in-house using a photocopier, but was wasting a lot of them because they curled up and didn't display properly. Simon suggested spending a little more money on heavier paper which prevented this problem, saving more money in the long term as the leaflets produced on the new paper stock didn't have to be thrown away.
The watersports and activities centre is now using the Streamline service to rationalise its supply of business forms, with the expectation of significant savings.
The seeds for Simon's love of problem solving were sewn following the Gulf War in 1991. Retreating Iraqi troops looted as they went, even taking all of the musical instruments belonging to the Kuwaiti armed forces. This left the Kuwaiti government with a diplomatic problem. As the heads of state and trade envoys of the world arrived to offer assistance to rebuild Kuwait's shattered economy, there were no military bands to welcome them with due ceremony.
Emissaries were dispatched to London from Kuwait to buy up every brass instrument they could lay their hands on. However, it would cost millions and take 30 years to hand paint the logos of all the various regiments on to the instruments.
Simon knew a supplier that could take artwork from enamel cap badges and letterheads scale it up and make detailed non removable labels that could be applied to the instruments. He brokered the deal, and made the Kuwaitis very happy indeed.
No problem too big, no problem too small, for the team at Streamline it seems.
For more information about Streamline call Simon King on 01752 202005 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
More information about printing and other services available from Blackfriars Contracts can be found at www.netprinter.co.uk