Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Reprographers, how about offering (and pursuing opportunities) for Utility Bill Printing Services? (It ain't rocket science!)

Given the dramatic downturn in Reprographer revenues from the A/E/C Industry from 2006 to the present time, I find myself wondering, “why are Reprographers not looking at / considering / competing for business from “other” industries?

Well, perhaps, many are. For example, most of us, if not all of us, are aware that most Reprographers are pursuing revenues from industries whose participants have the need for large-format color display-graphics services. Most Reprographers have large-format color ink-jet printers and large-format finishing equipment for mounting and laminating. Some Reprographers have “grand-format” ink-jet printers and some even have routers. But, like most business segments, there’s a lot of competition for large-format color display graphics work.

There are other business segments that Reprographers might want to consider figuring out how to get involved in. Among those, Utility Bill Printing Services. Why not? What’s the big deal? Utility Bill Printing Services are required by government agencies who run utility businesses, and there are also private-sector utility businesses who require those same services. Frankly speaking, the “trend” is for government agencies to “downsize and outsource”. To be in the Utility Bill Printing Service requires several things that Reprographers are capable of and good at, already, …. including “on-demand-printing” from data files and fulfillment. Reprographers, do your homework. The business of offering Utility Bill Printing Services is not rocket science; it simply requires homework to understand the business, soup to nuts, and perhaps some investment in equipment you may not already have. I’ve observed Reprographers in Europe who already offer Utility Bill Printing Services.

So, why did I bring up this subject today? Well, because I visited a government agency procurement department’s web-site this morning and noticed that, on August 31, 2011, Hillsborough County (FL) Procurement “opened bids” submitted in response to an RFP for “Utility Bill Printing Services.” Not a single Reprographer participated in this RFP opportunity. And, simply judging by the names of the companies who did submit bids, not even one digital printing company participated in this RFP opportunity. Why? If Reprographers in Europe are able to compete for this type of business, why not U.S. Reprographers?

Okay, here are the RFP documents I found and have posted in my Google-Docs library:

The RFP document is posted at this link:

The RFP document (addendum #1) is posted at this link (there was only one addendum for this RFP):

The Final Bid Tabulation – is posted at this link:

For Reprographers who are interested in exploring the opportunity to offer and compete for Utility Bill Printing Services, here’s my recommended course of action:

1) Read the RFP documents that I’ve mentioned above.

2) Do a bit of research on the Internet and see if you can find similar RFP deals that have already been completed. Read the documents associated with those RFP’s. (If not posted on the web, then request them from the government agencies who have them.)

3) Contact Utilities in your market and see if they are outsourcing this requirement, and, if so, find out when their next RFP’s will be issued.

4) Figure out what new equipment, if any, you would need to have at your production center so as to be able to print, fold, insert and mail.

Obtain cost information for that equipment (cost of equipment, maintenance costs as well.) Talk to someone at Mal Baboyian’s OCE division in Boca Raton – they offer high-speed, small-format equipment that does this sort of stuff.)

5) Figure out what new software, if any, you’d need to have.

6) Figure out how Utility Bill Printing Services would fit into your production scheme.

Although I do know that Pinnacle Data Systems was the “low bidder” on the Hillsborough County deal, I don’t know, for sure, if they were awarded the Hillsborough County deal, simply because the name of the “awardee” is not posted on the County’s web-site.

Happy homework!

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