Puzzles are fun, but this publisher isn’t playing games with her schedule

Puzzles are fun, but this publisher isn't playing games with her schedule

We know all about printing magazines, but we wanted to take a look at it from the publisher’s point of view. We sat down with Erica Pefferman, local publisher and longtime Ovid Bell customer, Erica is the President of The Business Times Company, a publishing company in Columbia, Missouri. The Business Times company publishes Columbia Business Times- a business publication, COMO Living Magazine- a lifestyle publication, and Jefferson City Magazine- an all-inclusive business and lifestyle publication.

When asked about setting printing schedules, Erica had a lot to say; “We print monthly publications so we want the information to be out at the first of the month, then we work backwards from there when setting our schedule.” She is a publisher, but also the president of a company so her employees are always in the back of her mind.  “I don’t want my press day on a Friday or a Monday because it drives my designers crazy, it gives them a lot of weekend work and I try to avoid that at all costs. Avoiding press day near holidays is pivotal as well, it’s really like trying to put together a puzzle.”

This isn’t a monthly puzzle though, Erica explains, “We pick out our press days a year in advance and send them to Sara at Ovid Bell Press, she makes sure it all works for them.” Sara Baysinger says this is a common practice, “Most of our clients set their production schedule for a year at a time.  Some like for us to tell them the mail dates based on the day they want to upload and others want to work in the opposite direction.  There are many things to consider.  We work with distributors, co-mailers and trade show schedules.  Holiday schedules can be tricky and we know our clients’ vacation schedules better than their families do.”

As the old verbiage states ‘time is money’, publishers have to schedule their time around their money. “It’s really all based on cash flow, I have to have my invoices out by the last day of the month, so our clients (advertisers, etc.) will pay within 30 days. We work our way backwards, if I need my magazines by the 29th, or 30th, then I count back four or five days for printing and I make sure it doesn’t fall on a Friday, Monday or major holiday. It’s really just kind of putting the puzzle together” Erica explains.

Once the press dates have been confirmed with OBP, Erica runs a tight ship to ensure there are no hiccups when sending out her publications. “Once I’ve confirmed with the customer service team at Ovid Bell, I send out an Outlook calendar reminder to all of our employees so everybody knows when press day is going to be. As a company we have very clear, structured processes in place that set us up for a timely press day.” Sara says, “We appreciate Erica’s structured processes.  Erica doesn’t play games.  Her expectations are real!”

Have there been times when something happened and the press date was pushed back? Of course, like anything there are always going to be kinks to work out. “I know I have more freedom with the Ovid Bell team than I utilize. I can count in the last five years maybe two or three times that we’ve had to ask for some flexibility with our printing schedule, and every time that we’ve had to OBP has accommodated that. But I don’t like to utilize that, I don’t like my team to know they have any flexibility at all,” Erica adds jokingly. Sara explains that “communication is key.  The sooner we know about any shifts in our client’s schedules, the more likely we’ll be able to accommodate the new schedule.”

Who says you can’t mix business and fun, not Erica, that’s for sure. “I communicate throughout the press cycle with smart-a** texts to our customer service people. We’re really good friends with our team, so Facebook, text message, and obviously email if I need anything at all, they are extremely responsive.” Laughing, Sara echoes that sentiment- “I always say that life’s too short not to have fun and that means work too!  I appreciate the smart-a** texts!  A little levity goes a long way!”

Erica’s final thoughts about working with OBP? “I love the collaborative spirit with Ovid Bell. I love sending my team over for tours of the facility because when they see it happen it helps them through the rest of the creative process. I think when you’re connecting the dots it helps them understand how much goes into publishing a magazine. So, having the team at Ovid Bell take us through that has been very helpful because it helps everyone understand why structure and why timeliness are important- there are just so many moving parts.”

“Here’s the thing, they always fix the problem. They are very easy to talk to about a conflict, whether it is little or big. The most important recommendation I can give is that after printing for years with Ovid, we decided to chase some better pricing, we left for a year and we missed our customer service relationships and quality so much that we came back and will never leave again.” Pefferman added.

Sara replies- “Don’t remind me about the year that I didn’t have the Business Times crew in my world!  I’m so grateful that we’ve been reunited.  It’s only good business to step out in the market and check pricing, we do our very best to stay competitive.  Unfortunately, there are times when we aren’t the least expensive option.  But we work hard to always stay the best!” Customer service can go a long way and it has Erica Pefferman and her team coming back for more time and time again.

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