More haste, less speed

 Image supplied by Hester Durkan

Image supplied by Hester Durkan

Have you noticed how much of a hurry we do things in these days? To say that modern life is ‘fast-paced’ is an understatement. 

At school one of my favourite stories was the Aesop fable of the Hare and the Tortoise where the moral of the story was said to have inspired the phrase “the more haste, the worse speed”. This also warned us of the dangers of being too cocky and promising more than we could hope to achieve, like the over-confident hare who bragged so much and goaded the tortoise into action. Certainly, the message was received that if you show off you could come a cropper but if you stay calm and take slow measured steps you will still reach your goal. We seem to associate haste with rabbits, Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit - always late and being known as ‘as mad as a March hare”

I wonder if, in their 80s and 90s ads, Cadbury’s deliberately restored some self-respect for the Lepus genus as a whole, when they created the “Caramel Bunny” – do you remember the languid and lovely rabbit who urged all the other woodlands creatures to “take it easy”? I do, she was my  role model, long before that hussy Jessica Rabbit came on the scene!

What has all this to do with print I hear you ask (foot tapping impatiently)? Well we are constantly asked “how quick can you…?” and “when can I get …?” 

So, I have learned from some mistakes of my own not to act in haste and thought I might share them to save you some time too:

  • Never say 3-5 days – a client only ever hears the “3”
  • Don’t over promise to win an order by offering a delivery date you can’t achieve. 
  • Choose phrases like “next day” carefully and always explain if you have a cut off time. (We offer a 24-hour turnaround on posters, but we still have people who think that means the same day or within the hour!)
  • Always make it clear at what point the clock starts ticking – we use an expression “… from proof approval” which does not mean from the day you ask me for a quote!
  • Try and leave a little bit of extra time for proper proofing and spell-checking– it can save you the cost and time associated with a re-print.
  • If someone tells you “but I can order this online and get it next day” ask yourself why they are ringing you in the first place? If it was so easy and available online then they would have bought it; they are coming to you because they want extra service, a local supplier or whatever and that might only be available on a slightly longer lead-time.
  • If you can make time to send a written quotation or order acknowledgment that details what you are producing and when by it saves your clients from having to ring and ask you if it is ready. 
  • If you are not a manufacturer then be sure to have systems in place to chase your suppliers for progress - never assume they got your email or understood your instructions in the first place.
  • Make sure you have reliable couriers who can deliver on time, especially if you are delivering to an event or exhibition.
  • If you are delivering to home addresses and need a signature make sure you let your client know to expect it. If they get a card because the delivery was made when they were out it can cause delays and frustration.
  • Many couriers now offer a service where they tell your client when they can expect the delivery driver to arrive – we’re trying to get more automated about this ourselves but hey, one thing at a time!

For reading on the subject of setting achievable goals and other benefits of the aggregation of marginal gains I recommend Prof Steve Peters The Chimp Paradox