6-12 Blog – Importance of Trust

There are myriad business books in the market providing advice on every element of running a successful business. I have read a few of them, and only a handful has had the impact on my thinking more than The Speed of Trust. I had to read that book as part of a training for my former corporate employer. It was an easy read, and I fully bought into its overarching message:

“There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy, and civilization throughout the world – one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love.

“On the other hand, if developed and leveraged, that one thing has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in every dimension of life.  Yet, it is the least understood, most neglected, and most underestimated possibility of our time.

“That one thing is trust.”

Our Clients, employees, and vendors at AlphaGraphics Tri-Cities – Atlanta Airport all make choices every day to trust and engage with my businesses. I want them to feel that making such a choice is the right thing to do for their own self-interests. To do so, here is what I strive to do:

Clients:

  • Follow up and follow through
  • Be transparent on pricing
  • Demonstrate expertise on products and services
  • Deliver what we agreed to produce by when we agreed to do so
  • Do the right thing when we fumble

Employees:

  • Understand where they are personally and professionally
  • Empower them to make decisions and take risks
  • Enable them to learn and grow
  • Help them achieve their goals

Vendors:

  • Be crystal on what we need from them
  • Respect their perspective and listen to their suggestions
  • Pay their invoices in a timely fashion

I believe that being consistent in these actions will help build trust in my leadership within these critical stakeholders to my businesses’ success. I also know that slipping on one of these items could create problems that would have a direct impact on my bottom line.

So how do I know I am doing all the right things? Trust will manifest itself in repeat business from satisfied Clients, buy-in from my amazing teams, and responsiveness from vendor partners. I plan to track each of these markers to see how I am doing against my own driving principles.

6-12 Blog – You Will Begin To Notice

One of the most memorable experiences from my initial training as a new AlphaGraphics owner involved the discussion of “substrates.” My trainer had prop to demonstrate at a high level the variety of papers my business would be handling. He also talked about the types of materials we would use to print signs while sharing that there would be additional education regarding that side of my new AlphaGraphics business.

During this discussion, I realized silently that I had just entered a new industry with new vernacular I would have to learn quickly. It was both a little daunting and exciting, as I really like to learn. I chuckled when the trainer said that there would come a time when I would begin to notice in as I went about every day what substrate and printing technique had been used to produce a printed piece of paper or sign.

That seemed so far away from reality given the number of choices of materials and techniques we would make available to our Clients. I admit today that the trainer was right, as I have begun assessing the quality of printed items I run across in real life, such as restaurant menus or yard signs!

My experience along the steep learning curve showed me that one of the most critical functions we perform is to help our Clients by understanding what they are want to accomplish and using that knowledge to narrow the options available and help them arrive at the most efficient, economical decision. Yes, some of our Clients know exactly what they need, but most look to us to provide the best solution.

I have a long way to catch up with the expertise of the great people who work in my Centers. Just a couple of days ago, I showed Ella, the Production Coordinator at our Dunwoody – Sandy Springs Center a tri-fold pamphlet we had received from a vendor. I had been impressed by the nice, heavy paper stock; she looked it over and told me that the pamphlet had an “obvious” flaw from when it has been produced. I looked at the item again closely, trying to figure out to what she was referring and could not see anything. Ella then pointed to the very edge of the item (think the width of a strand of hair), where a different color could be seen, betraying a mistake when the pieces were cut after being printed. This incident emphasized the need for quality control and pointed to how much remains for me to learn about this industry. But I have begun to notice!

6-12 Blog – The Start

I decided in October 2018 that I wanted to open my own business. Having worked for large organizations my entire professional career (State of California, AT&T, Cox Communications and Cox Enterprises), I felt ready to tackle the challenges of running a small operation of my own. My husband was hesitant, so we discussed what this journey might be like and acknowledged the conceptual challenges ahead before I began to do down this road further.

On advice from a placement company with which I was working at the time, I determined that franchising would be the best path to business ownership for us. Franchising was foreign to me, with federal rules governing elements of the relationship between franchisor and franchisee, and thousands of business models, products, and services. Fortunately, I found three great franchise consultants who helped guide me through the maze of choices.

I looked at a few franchise options closely, including a restaurant concept and a home healthcare model. Eventually, I landed on AlphaGraphics. There were several elements of the brand’s promise and operations that appealed to me:

  • Emphasis on small- and medium-sized businesses/organizations as clients
  • Focus on interesting verticals, including non-profits (important to me)
  • Ability to meet just about any visual communications need, from print to signs, from marketing consulting to promotional items
  • Technology-driven, including on-line ordering
  • Business-to-business, Monday-Friday operations
  • Full-time, skilled team
  • Support from the franchiser

So, I jumped in and started a new professional journey. It has been full or surprises, wonderful highs, and some obstacles. Today, I own two AlphaGraphics Centers, Tri-Cities – Atlanta Airport and Dunwoody – Sandy Springs, each unique in status and market. I am looking forward to our teams helping our Clients reach the audience they want, be they customers, donors, constituents, etc. I will share more in future blogs about our stories, our Clients, our teams, and our services and products.