All Things ISO

DATS Print Services of Wellingborough recently passed its ISO 9001 accreditation, the international standard that demonstrates ‘the ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements’. The team spoke to All Things Business about this achievement...

There are a lot of hoops to jump through and a good few hours work throughout the year, it does make you wonder sometimes if it is worth the time, effort and costs.

Incidentally, for anyone who doesn’t know, ISO stands for the International Organisation for Standardisation.

Officially it is...

- Principle 1 – Customer focus

- Principle 2 – Leadership

- Principle 3 – Engagement of people

- Principle 4 – Processes approach

- Principle 5 – Improvement

- Principle 6 – Evidence-based decision making

- Principle 7 – Relationship management

What made you gain the accreditation?

I wouldn’t say we were bullied into it but a number of our customer intimated we wouldn’t obtain certain orders/enquiries without it!

We are a family business (and not a phoenix/rebadged one) and every customer is important, large or small. We have been in the printing industry for many years (coming up for 50 years next year!) and know you can’t get by without listening to your customers or the market place. When a customer says we can’t give you this order because you don’t have the right certificate on the wall we listen!

Have you found your volume of orders has increased since being ISO accredited?

We produce a lot of work for the trade including print management companies, designers, brokers, other printers and many local businesses.

For some it’s simply peace of mind. They can place an order with us, request a delivery date and know it will get delivered on time. We have one, two, four and five colour presses, all of which use the same plate system. If a press goes down, we can simply swap to an alternative one. If a print minder goes on holiday, all the minders are trained on every press, so jump on whichever press is suitable for that job.

Compare this to a printer working out of their garage! They may have a fantastic website and externally look amazing, but have no risk assessments, staff welfare or quality policies. When they go on holiday or are off sick, it’s amazing how important a delivery note or an invoice is when you don’t have any! Some companies can grind to a halt.Imagine not being able to invoice at the end of the month because your supplier is ill.

Surly you can charge more for having a certification and giving extra peace of mind?

Far from it! We’ve had customers tell us they can buy online cheaper. They see one price, not the hidden ones of artwork, set ups, extra for delivery etc. Plus, you don’t know the quality! Again, this could be a small company working out of a garage with little or no overheads (or returns policy). Yet we are still expected to match their prices.

Some of the print management companies are very good though, I’ve heard one say I’d rather lose the customer than the supplier! That’s a great endorsement for us. They know they can find another customer but not a reliable supplier (pity they won’t let me put their name and details on our social media) but they do have a pool of suppliers to tap into and on certain jobs the cheapest wins. Good service, quality and quick delivery are expected now, accredited or not.

Do you have any other accreditations and have they helped?

We are FSC certified (FSC certification ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits) and this costs us over £2,500 a year, plus a lot of time. We only produce a small number of FSC jobs however though, no one wants to pay the extra to have it certified.

Would you recommend ISO accreditation to other businesses?

We’ve been producing business stationery, from business cards, letterheads and No Carbon Required (NCR) pads, right through to leaflets, labels, booklets, price lists, folders and brochures for many years with tight deadlines, good quality and high service levels taken for granted. You can’t succeed and move forward these days without good processes and efficient systems. Through the ISO auditing process you have to regularly assess and monitor these process. We are still finding efficiencies that help towards the costs and implementation.

We’ve continued to invest in new equipment plus diversifying over the years into digital print, large format, clothing and workwear etc, but systems do have a place and need to be considered and budgeted for.

If you want to have a future, buyers from blue chip companies down to one man bands are looking for reliability, quality and service. They can only confidently get this from a supplier with a certificate or two on their wall!

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