Training + Togetherness = Teamwork

Teamwork makes PrintingForLess.com tick. The high-quality, online printing company uses teamwork in its close-knit atmosphere to maintain productivity and customer satisfaction, believing that happy employees improve the customer experience. Andrew Field, the founder and CEO, started the company in 1996 after seeing a need for a printing company that would go above and beyond the call of duty for customers.

Employees at PrintingForLess undergo 16 weeks of training as technical service representatives. The training is rigorous and produces highly knowledgeable and capable customer contacts, who are on the front line to take and process orders. Field insists that technical service reps be as helpful as possible to every customer. “When someone has a question about ordering, it is not acceptable to point to the answer on the web site,” he says. “We make sure the customer finds what they are looking for, and we help out however we can.”

Eventually, trainees are assigned to a group of three employees who take, process, and complete orders together. Employees on these teams also cross-train to fill in for their partners. Some employees serve within the company as “floaters” or “designated fitters,” fully trained to fill in for any sick or absent employees so all orders are processed in a timely manner and employees do not have to double their efforts to make up for the absence of a teammate. “We don’t just talk about flexibility, we resource it,” Field says.

Almost every employee participates in a daily, company-wide “huddle” to update staff on goals, problems, and company events. Each team of employees has sales and production goals displayed on their personal computer dashboards, along with the overall goals of PrintingForLess. Overall revenue numbers are updated every two minutes, so the company performance is never a mystery. Field says he values transparency from top to bottom, so everyone knows what is working well and what needs improvement.

Whenever employees have ideas regarding handling complaints or bettering the company, they submit them to an online system that also appears in the personalized dashboards of employees, so everyone can see new issues and the responses from management about necessary actions to fix problems. All employees can search the intranet to see if anyone has raised specific issues in the past and how similar problems were solved. Field says he is still figuring out his HR policies, but he uses frequent communication to fine-tune everything, which he credits for much of his success as a leader.

There is a good deal of trust given to every employee: No one has a dollar limit on the size of orders, and employees can refund money if a customer is unsatisfied with the printing results. That way, orders can be processed as quickly as possible without any waiting periods or frustrating red tape.

The deep-rooted sense of teamwork at PrintingForLess adds to an already-existing family atmosphere. Family is a part of PrintingForLess: The company houses the only company-operated daycare center in Montana, and employees’ dogs are welcome at work. Becka Larkin, a technical services coach, was attracted to PrintingForLess not only because of the friendly atmosphere, but because she didn’t have to make the choice between working and being a mother. She can work all day and still put her child down for a nap, and if anyone in her family gets sick, she can take a day off without feeling guilty about a possible setback for her teammates.

Marc Lorenz, a member of the IT team, worked for a large online retailer before he came to PrintingForLess, and he appreciates the difference the family atmosphere makes. “People really care about me here, and they care about the customers.” While he looks forward to using the daycare center once he is ready to start a family, for now he appreciates the ability to bring his dog to work.

The family-like atmosphere pays off. Field measures his success in the low turnover rate, high productivity, and customer satisfaction reports. He believes the reputation of the company is responsible for attracting many of his talented employees. Patrick Sherrill, a technical service representative, wanted to work in Montana and heard very good things about PrintingForLess. After 10 months at the company, he’s glad he took the job. “You feel like you’re part of a family here. Everything is great.”

Company: PrintingForLess.com
Web site: www.printingforless.com
Industry: Online provider of full-color printing services
Location: Livingston, MT
Number of Employees: 97
Sales: $14.9 million