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The Soap Box

Key Industry Challenges

Brendan Perring listens to print’s most influential trade associations and bodies as they consider key industry challenges and the steps print companies can take to secure a successful future

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48 percent of respondents to the BPIF’s Printing Outlook survey said they had been obliged to accept longer payment terms from customers in 2017 in order to help retain or secure business

Admitting fault and Spring Statement
Accepting responsibility
Sidney Bobb,
chairman,
BAPC

Frequently the BAPC is called in to help a company when something has gone wrong. It could be to help with a complaint from a customer, dispute with a supplier, or problems with staff. The list goes on. However, on some rare occasions we are invited to join in a celebration, but usually requests are based on negative issues.

When these situations arise those asking for help or advice fall back on human nature and try to pass the blame. All sorts of reasons are provided to justify the company’s stance, but very rarely is there an admittance of failure or shortcomings. Unfortunately, there is a trait where some people seem to do everything they can to protect their self-image.

But the stone-cold fact is that a lack of accountability can be deadly in the efforts to run an efficient, admired, and respected business. Certainly, when the shifting of blame becomes the ‘norm’ in an organisation, it can become toxic. It erodes confidence, collaboration, and trust, and everyone wastes energy in trying to avoid responsibility. This does bring to mind a story about accountability.





This is tale about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.

Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realised that Everybody would not do it.

In the end, Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

There is a hesitancy to admit mistakes and often there are attempts to cover them up rather than fix them. How often we hear, “the customer just didn’t give us enough time” or “they didn’t brief us properly on what they wanted”. Unfortunately, we all make mistakes and the effort to cover up errors probably causes more heartbreak and grief than being simply upfront open and honest.

It is easier and certainly less painful if responsibility is accepted and real effort is made to right any wrongs quickly and efficiently. Handling issues in this way attracts more respect, which often results in turning the complainant into a loyal customer.

It is easier and certainly less painful if responsibility is accepted and real effort is made to right any wrongs quickly and efficiently


We all criticise politicians in the way they try to extricate themselves from ‘sticky situations’, but we should probably look in the mirror and see how we react and if, on reflection, it is not open and straightforward we should do something about it.

Opportunities for industry
Charles Jarrold,
chief executive,
BPIF

Here at the BPIF, our Government and Industry Committee exists to represent the interests of the industry to government and other external decision makers, with the aim of raising the profitability and profile of print and ensuring that future legislation is meaningful and does not overburden. Therefore, earlier in March we tuned in to hear Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s upbeat Spring Statement and have outlined the announcements likely to interest you, as well as giving our early views with regard to the federation?s opportunities to lobby the Government over the coming months.

Referring to the Government as ‘the champions of small businesses and the entrepreneur’ for our small and medium-sized businesses, two key consultations were announced: a call for evidence on late payments and a call for evidence on productivity.

Call for evidence on late payments
Late payments were our members’ number one business concern when asked for their ‘Priorities for Print’ last year. In fact, almost half (48 percent) of respondents to our Printing Outlook survey reported that they had been obliged to accept longer payment terms from customers in 2017 in order to help retain or secure business.

Although the Government has introduced the role of the Small Business Commissioner, and a new complaints process, it seems keen to do more. Responding to this consultation will be a significant lobbying project for us in 2018, reflecting how important it is to our members. If you have any information that would be useful, for example how late payments affect you and what should be done about it, please contact BPIF public affairs adviser, Carys Davis, at carys.davis@bpif.org.uk.
 
Call for evidence on productivity
Recognising the UK lags behind many European countries when it comes to how productive we are, the Government has launched a practical-sounding Call for Evidence. The aim is to understand how best to support the UK's least productive businesses to enable them to learn from, and catch up with, the most productive. Again, we will be coming to the industry for your experiences on increasing productivity, and obstacles to doing so, which we can feed into government.

Business rates revaluation
The Spring Statement also announced that the next business rates revaluation will take place in 2021, rather than 2022 as planned. This will mean that, now that revaluations will take place every three rather than five years, the three-year cycle will kick in a year earlier. The Government hopes that more frequent revaluations will alleviate pressure on business owners faced with rising rental costs and will help stop sharp increases in business rates bills, suffered by many in the industry last year, especially in the London area.

The Government hopes that more frequent revaluations will alleviate pressure on business owners faced with rising rental costs and will help stop sharp increases in business rates bills


Support to attract apprentices
There was also £80m funding released to support small businesses to attract apprentices. This looks to be an increase in the funds available to support apprenticeship training at ‘non-levy’ companies, where the Government pay 90 percent of the training costs, but the finer details have not been confirmed yet. As attracting apprentices, especially those of calibre, is an issue for many in the industry we remain keen to hear from those in the industry on what kind of practical support would encourage new apprentices through the doors and to stay the course, and the challenges that you face in doing this.

We are constantly striving to develop and improve the learning experience of our apprentices. That is why, during National Apprenticeship Week 2018 at the beginning of March, we launched a Peer Mentoring system to assist with supporting learners with a direct link to someone who has been in their shoes and understands their struggles. If you would like to find out more about either setting up a learner with a mentor, or becoming a mentor, please contact BPIF senior administrator, Ceri Priddle, at ceri.priddle@bpif.org.uk.
 
To share your views on any of the issues raised, please contact BPIF public affairs adviser, Carys Davis, at carys.davis@bpif.org.uk or call her on 07854 950 316.


Bridging the generations
Neil Lovell,
chief executive,
The Printing Charity

The Printing Charity is uniquely placed and proud to have a dual role supporting people of all ages from those who have worked in the sector to those who are just starting out in it. 
 
This was highlighted by a recent visit to BCQ Group to gain an insight into print today by four retired printers living at Beaverbrook House, one of our two sheltered homes for people who have retired from the industry.

This was a terrific event bringing different generations together to learn from each other. As one of the retired printers commented: “To speak to the apprentices and staff about the print trade and exchange experiences that still link an older generation to the latest generation was very uplifting, a good day all round.”

To speak to the apprentices and staff about the print trade and exchange experiences that still link an older generation to the latest generation was very uplifting


Through our welfare and wellbeing work, we help people experiencing financial hardship due to changes in their personal circumstances, such as ill health, redundancy or changes at work. We do this through one-off grants, regular financial assistance, and signposting to specialist services.


Retired printers with apprentice, Jack Carter, at BCQ Group

At the other extreme, as the sector continues to change and innovate, so do we as the industry’s only dedicated charity. A growing part of our work is supporting new talent entering the industry, championing it as a vibrant place to work with a fantastic range of opportunities for young people from the highly technical to the creative.

We now reach almost 500 people a year through training initiatives with industry partners, including The Queen’s Bindery Apprenticeship Scheme, the Papermaking Apprenticeship Programme, a City and Guilds bookbinding qualification with Bound by Veterans, NCTJ’s Journalism Diversity Fund, and the Stationers’ Foundation Post Graduate Bursary Scheme.

Last but not least, our own flagship Print Futures Awards help UK residents aged 18 to 30 years pay for training, helping them to identify clear pathways into employment or progress their careers in the sector.
 
Employers, particularly in SMEs, please encourage your apprentices and rising stars to apply by completing the online application form at www.theprintingcharity.org.uk/print-futures-awards/ by the closing date of April 29th 2018.


Public Notice:
  • You should not hesitate to admit mistakes and try to fix them
  • Late payments were our members’ number one business concern last year
  • The Printing Charity can provide one-off grants or regular financial assistance


To find out more about the issues discussed in this article please contact the relevant organisation via their
website: www.bapc.co.uk, www.britishprint.com, www.ipia.org.uk

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