Your sales piece, going out into thousands of homes, represents you and your business. So, you want it to look its best. You’re depending on your printer to provide an attractive, quality product. So choosing the right printer is critical.
You need to go through a certain procedure to make sure you select a printer worthy of your job. Here are the five things I recommend my clients always look for:
Make sure the vendor is experienced.
The more experienced your vendor, the less likely there will be nasty surprises, and the more likely that they will be able to catch any possible errors early on. They may also be able to give you information that can help you run your job more efficiently. For example, they could advise you on a design issue that could save you money. Look at samples of their work. See who their clients are. Make sure the vendor knows what they’re doing, has the best equipment, and can help you get the best job possible.
Make sure the job is in the printer’s niche market.
A boutique-type printer who specializes in low volume, high quality 4-color printing would not be your best bet for a quick, high volume, 2-color job of hundreds of thousands of pieces. Sure, they probably could do the job, but they wouldn’t be as efficient or cost-effective as the printer who specializes in high volume work. It would be like taking your Dell computer to someone who specializes in Apple products. The Apple technician could probably fix your computer, but he would not be as efficient as someone who fixes Dells every day. And he’d probably charge you more, too.
Always do a price comparison.
I always like to get a quote from 3 different vendors so I know I’m getting the best price for the quality of work.
Make sure the vendors are in the same niche. If you want to print 5,000 postcards, you know you’ll get wildly different quotes between a vendor who specializes in printing postcards and a printer specializing in wedding invitations. Compare prices of three vendors who do the same thing, where each of them has a good chance of being selected by you based on their niche.
If one vendor’s price is MUCH lower than the other printers, be careful and double check everything to make sure they are not missing any important details and that you’re getting the quality you want. Also ask lots of questions to make sure there are no hidden costs.
Finally, I’m very frugal with my own money and my clients’ money. But the cheapest price is not always the best deal. A good printer who charges a little more could save you money by avoiding problems that could cost you a lot more in the long run. So consider this when looking at bids.
Make sure the vendor is detail-oriented.
Look for signs that your vendor is detail-oriented – or not. Does the vendor fail to address some of the specifics you quote (like forgetting to include the cost for folding)? That’s not a good sign. But if the vendor asks you about details you forgot to mention (like whether the job has a full bleed), that’s a very good sign!
Make sure the vendor is easy to contact.
It’s very important that you have a vendor who is always easy to reach. You want to be able to check up on the progress of your job. Or get through to make last-minute changes. Nothing is as frustrating as leaving voice mail after voice mail, and getting no response. It’s a good idea to try to contact your prospective vendor two or three times to see if they are available and if not, how quickly they get back to you.
Ask for references.
The best way to really find out about what a printer can do for you is to talk to his references. Make sure to ask for references and actually call them! Many companies will ask for references, but never make the calls. If they had, they may have prevented a disaster from happening. Be sure to ask about the quality of the job, if deadlines were met, if the price was comparable to other printers, and were there any last-minute costs or surprises.