Danelle Sedore, Director of Print Services with GRCC took time out of her day to share how Print Shop Pro® and Design Conductor® helped her team to streamline operations, improve customer service and attract new customers.
Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) was founded as a junior college in 1914 after the University of Michigan’s faculty passed a resolution encouraging the establishment of junior colleges in Michigan. To increase participation in programs offered by the junior college, tuition for residents was set at only $40.00 for residents. GRCC has several campuses located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Throughout its 100+-year history of academic excellence, GRCC has maintained a solid reputation as a premier transfer institution and is nationally recognized for both its liberal arts and occupational training programs.
An Early Introduction to Printing
Danelle had an early introduction into the printing industry. She attended Flushing High School and became interested in a program offered through the high school’s Skill Center for photography. Danelle shared, “I found out how expensive it would be to purchase all of the photography equipment and decided to pursue other opportunities. One of my counselors suggested something artsy and the Skill Center offered a Print Communications Program that I decided to enroll in. I stayed in the program for two years and continued on into college earning my degree in Graphic Design and Business Management. I took on Business Management because I realized having a business background would give me a bit of an edge in a competitive environment.”
Danelle has been with the GRCC for 20 years and began her career as the Supervisor over the college’s Graphic Design Department. Danelle shared, “The College needed to fill the position because the graphic design department was located across campus and lacked leadership. After one year, the College developed a position for an Assistant to the Director of Printing and I was asked to move into that position. My boss later retired in 2009 and the Director position opened up and I was able to capture the position. I have been here since.”
Danelle is responsible for managing a staff of four production representatives, one mail representative and one customer service representative. Danelle also works closely with the College’s graphic design team.
The department’s customers are primarily faculty and staff members and include several of the area’s public schools. Danelle shared, “Several of the public schools have started their own copy shops, but we get all of the jobs they can’t run such as their carbonless prints and forms. We also print for 27 of the Catholic Schools throughout Michigan and several small local non-profits leveraging both Design Conductor® and Print Shop Pro®.”
Most jobs are orders from staff for course materials, course packs, marketing and work force development materials. The department also prints lots of promotional items such as postcards for workshops, brochures, signage (wideformat) and mailings. I asked Danelle her favorite jobs to produce and she shared, “Coming from a creative and graphic design background, I particularly enjoy working on projects made up of multiple pieces that form a whole marketing package. I can present customers with complementary items on different stocks to create a full experience because customers aren’t necessarily thinking about the complete package. I also like to work on wide format jobs such as our retractable banners and posters.”
GRCC Print Shop Lands Contract with Catholic Diocese of Michigan
Danelle recently landed a major contract with the Michigan Catholic Schools. I asked about how this relationship came about and Danelle shared, “With using Print Shop Pro® our estimating is easy and we felt ready to take on more work. I drafted and mailed a letter to all of the area Superintendents. The letter basically introduced our department and said we’re here to support you. If you have printing needs I’d love to estimate for you to ensure you’re getting the best price. Shortly after sending the letters out I got a phone call from the Communications Director with the Diocese. They had been using someone in Milwaukee to print for them for years and the problem was they did not like the ordering process. They could not get all of the job specs into the system and it took longer to get jobs because they were coming all the way from Milwaukee and had to ship. They wanted to use someone local and received my letter. One of their requirements was to have a template type system in place for ordering to help make the materials produced by all Diocese schools more consistent. They had people creating their own materials that were all over the board and needed help with branding. I had attended a User Group Meeting and found out about Design Conductor® and so I called Mike Strand and the rest is history. The Diocese can now submit their orders online with an easy workflow, they get their jobs sooner and with using Design Conductor® their brand is more consistent.”
The Transition to Digital Printing
The shop has moved to a digital printing environment. Danelle shared, “We made the switch because our colors consist of 294 and the ink colors don’t dry well. Customers want things yesterday so we needed to move to digital printing. Our equipment consists of two color digital printers, the Ricoh 7100 with varnish and white ink which we want to promote more. We also have a high end digital black and white printer that does booklets on high-end color stocks. We have a Plockmatic square edge book maker that takes the place of perfect binding and does everything in one pass, so we’re saving a lot of time and money there. We also have a full bindery service, an envelope printer and a wide format printer which we want to upgrade so we can print on more substrates than what we’re able to do now.”
Print MIS and Web-to-Print
I asked Danelle why she decided to purchase Print Shop Pro® and how she has seen her operations change since implementing Print Shop Pro®. Danelle answered, “We were using a system for quite a few years before purchasing. When I was newly in the position, the department was on an old DOS system. Eventually the system was upgraded to Windows but it wasn’t in-plant specific and had more things than we used. Trying to get the system ready for the web was a huge challenge. Eventually the company was sold and I got a call from the new owner who let me know they revamped the system. I thought finally we will get it upgraded and asked what the cost would be. I was told the update made it a totally new system and we would have to re-purchase. I decided if we had to purchase a new system I should look at all options. I had spoken with Tammy Sloane who runs the print shop at Cedarville University and she was telling me positive things about Print Shop Pro®. After speaking with Tammy I attended a webinar I felt financially and functionality Print Shop Pro® just made since.”
Danelle is realizing the benefits of her choice. She shared, “It’s nice now that each job has a status and our customers can check and see where their job is at any given point. We didn’t have that in the old system. They can also see their order history and re-order by simply cloning a past order, which we also didn’t have. Our customers have more self service ability which helps the folks in our department a lot. My customer service rep also handles billing and it was a tremendous task to put in or look up every order with the old system. Now our workflow is set up nice and everything is more automated. Customers can order online on their own time. And, it’s web-based so they don’t have to come on campus to submit an order which is a big benefit, especially for our external customers.”
When asked a favorite feature of Print Shop Pro® Danelle responded, “Finished sizes. I call them templates. I have created many products in the system, as templates, so when a customer is ordering they don’t have to answer a bunch of questions because we know how we are going to run the job. All of the printing specifications are configured behind the scenes in the finished size defaults for each category and product they may order. All our customer needs to enter is the name of their order, how many copies they want printed, maybe some color and/or paper choices and attach their file and click submit. It really streamlines things and we don’t get calls from customer saying “I don’t know what it means by cuts”.
Our designers are also finally on board with how beneficial it is for them to use Design Conductor®. Initially they felt like it would take their job away, which really isn’t the case. After using it for a while now they see how beneficial it is to create templates for the departments and our external customers. They don’t have to touch the same files all the time for simple text edits on a poster. Now the departments can make their own simple edits and that doesn’t need to go though graphics. It can go straight to us in the print department.
I asked Danelle if she had any challenges with rolling the system out to Users. She answered, “Not really. I held a two day open house, one day for internal customers and one day for external customers. I created User Manuals and handed them out and I had folks register to use the system during the open house. I did have one older gentleman that just wanted to do paper. I approached him and said “Hey, if you have an extra minute let me show you how easy it is.” I ran through a sample order for class course materials and when I was done he said “Is that really it?” so it was a pretty successful and streamlined implementation. For our external customers like the Diocese I went to their site and did online demonstrations. And, for new Users, we have a fall start up where our Campus President does a speech. I always attend and hand out manuals for folks to order. I also have a User Manual for both Design Conductor® and Print Shop Pro® on our website Homepage.
Print Shop Pro® Annual User Group Meeting
Danelle regularly attends the annual Print Shop Pro® User Group Meeting. She is a Steering Committee member and has presented on various topics such as leveraging Design Conductor® to attract new customers and increase production. She has also led panel discussions at prior conferences.
I asked Danelle what keeps her coming back to the Annual PSP User Group Meeting. She shared, “edu’s wonderful staff. I also enjoy the interaction with other Users and the fact that you guys aren’t just trying to sell me things like some other user meetings I have attended in the past. It’s really about showing your Users things they may not know about that can help them improve operations, informing us of new things that are coming out, there are open session for feedback and you welcome our ideas for system upgrades and enhancements. It’s really more of a training/brainstorming sessions and I really enjoy that. Some meetings I’ve attended, I feel like I never go away more knowledgeable about the current product I was using and that’s not the case with edu.”
I asked Danelle about any challenges her shop faces. She is a member of the Print Shop Pro® online Forum and welcomes other Users’ feedback on selling specialty items such as t-shirts. Danelle said, “I have reached out to other User Group attendees and welcome any feedback on how to offer t-shirts through Print Shop Pro®. We’re also revamping our pricing in the system to be more in line with our volume discounts.”
Outside of printing, Danelle is happily married and is the mother of 3. Her other full time job is running two catering businesses, a family owned Subway and a second restaurant (Patatas) that is a high-end coffee shop during the day and caters and serves Mexican cuisine in the evenings and on the weekends. Danelle, along with her 3 daughters, helps her husband with catering events for graduations, weddings and parties. Danelle shared, “I am also now dabbling in jewelry making using seashells and crystals. We have a home on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina and I’ve been gathering shells along the beach and learning how to clean them properly and get them to shine. I am also learning wire wrapping and adding things to the shells that naturally bring out their beauty. It’s something I really enjoy. That may be my job in retirement.”