If you’re new to working with commercial printers, here’s some advice for developing these relationships in ways that will benefit you and your printers. Finding a printer you can count on and work with for the long term should be your objective, whether you’re a professional working on behalf of an employer or a consumer needing stuff printed occasionally.
- Be open-minded. Sure, you have a good idea of what you want printed, but most printers are experienced. They have alternatives you should at least listen to. This could mean a different format, different run length, different paper stock, different use of inks, or different finishing technique. Don’t be pig headed about your project. Listen to a printer’s suggestions.
- Be honest about your priorities. For some customers, a speedy delivery is what really matters. For you, it may be the highest print quality you can afford, or creative input, or cost-saving suggestions, or pleasing your very picky boss. Tell your printer what you care about the most.
- Don’t play cat-and-mouse games. Be as forthcoming as you can about your budget and your schedule requirements. Negotiating with printers isn’t a game of Go Fish, so while I urge you to be prudent about how much you share, neither should you be so coy as to create a relationship based on mistrust and secrecy.
- Give good and complete specs for every job. Each print job is customized manufacturing. This means every detail affects the price and could impact the success of your job. Ask printers for a sample spec sheet to guide you if you’re new at writing specs.
- Find out what your responsibilities are. Once you award a print job to a provider, make sure you know what you do vs. what the printer does. Here’s one tip: proofreading is your job.
- Treat your printer with respect. You want to be respected – who doesn’t? As you work with a printer over time, you may experience challenging situations that test your patience and threaten to blow up the partnership. Develop some sensitivity towards your service professionals, and you’ll be treated in kind. Should someone not be worthy, you’ll find out quickly, and you’ll move on.
- Say thanks. Make it a part of your business transactions. Do it in person, on the phone, in an email or even a letter (remember these?). You like it when people appreciate your efforts, so reciprocate with your print partners.
- Communicate well. Don’t miss deadlines you’ve set up without giving your printer a heads up, for example. Share spec changes promptly and in writing. Of course your printer should do the same.
- Pay your bills promptly. If this is out of your hands, try and connect with your accounting or purchasing department, when possible, to encourage swift payment. As an independent businesswoman, I can tell you that clients who pay me promptly are my “A Team.” I jump through hoops faster and higher for them.
- Share the love. When you find yourself working with a worthy and valuable print provider who makes you look like a genius and delivers beyond your wildest dreams, tell colleagues and peers. Go to LinkedIn and write a recommendation. And of course, tell your superiors.
That, my friends, is a recipe for earning the highest regard from your print providers. Let these tips guide your relationships with printers in the New Year. Enter each new relationship expecting the best outcome. Just remember to do your fair share of making that happen.
© 2014 Margie Dana. All rights reserved.