Six Things To Look For When Selecting A Commercial Printer
Selecting a commercial printer means prioritizing your needs. Different printing companies offer different categories of printing - packaging, large format, plastic - different levels of service - customer service, responsiveness, flexibility - and different degrees of overall performance - accuracy, certifications, adherence to deadlines and budgets. Often the better these offerings are, the more expensive the printing company will be. While price is definitely a consideration, I would argue that it is not the most important one. In fact, hiring a cheap printer can end up being significantly more expensive than hiring an expensive one. See our guide What Does A Bad Print Job Cost?
Before you gather quotes from multiple printers, let’s discuss the factors you should use in your evaluation:
Ability To Do The Job. Not all jobs require fast, state-of-the-art presses, elaborate cutting systems, and bindery equipment, but many do. The more complex the job, the more opportunities it has to fail. Make sure the printer has the specific equipment for your job. List its specifications as clearly and thoroughly as possible. Ask each printer how they would handle it. Pay attention to what the better printing companies tell you.
Ability To Do The Job On Time. This is where many printers earn a bad reputation – promising to complete your job by a due date, only to tell you halfway through that they won’t make the deadline. Ask whether they will accept penalties for missed deadlines. Hesitation to do so may indicate that the printer is not confident in their time estimate.
Quality/Color Management. You shouldn’t have to browse a company’s website very long before you find their color management systems and certifications. If you cannot find this information, it is more than likely that quality is not the company’s top priority. Instead, they are likely competing on price. The upfront cost of your job might be low, but the risk of a botched job - and its expensive fallout - is high.
If nothing else, look for printers that are GMI certified. Check out Adams’s Certifications to see credentials a quality printer should have.
Timely Communication. The key word here is “timely”. Often the speed at which a company sends you a quote indicates how they will prioritize communication as you work together. As a rule, a printing company should send you a quote within 24 hours. The sooner, the better.
Communication is important because minor delays in correspondence can become expensive problems in production. If you must a change to an order, especially after proof approval, you will need a reply and confirmation immediately. Minutes matter. Hence the phrase “Stop the presses!”
What if there’s an issue during production? You should be notified immediately. If production issues are caught quickly, delays and budget overruns can often be avoided. A day or two should not pass before you get an email beginning with “Well, we had a problem.”
Lastly, once the job is complete and delivered, invoices should be prompt and accurate, free of any surprise costs. Surprises are never good, but certainly not after a job is finished!
Personality. Personality is something we all bring to the table, and it’s important to make sure that you trust and enjoy working with your printer. Ideally, all jobs will go smoothly, but when they don’t, you want your printer to be part of the solution, not the problem.
Dedication. When you have a dedicated printing partner, your printing will become more efficient over time. Your printing partner will grow to understand your expectations and assumptions, anticipate your needs, and provide you with optimal service while controlling costs. A positive relationship with a printing partner will make production smooth and delivery flawless. It will also create cost savings, improving your bottom line.
Looking for a top-tier printing partner? Go ahead and contact me, and let’s explore whether we are a good fit. I look forward to learning more about your business.