Can You Evaluate Printers Like a Pro?

I’m not just talking through my hat. I have to evaluate printers on a daily basis. Part of the job of being a printing broker is to access the capabilities, the pricing, and the attitudes of printers. Because of the differences from shop to shop, the task can be daunting to someone outside of mainstream printing. Many people suspect that there are differences between printers, but even if you take them to the shop and show them around they won’t fully understand what those differences are. Unfortunately there is no pat answer. The honest truth is, choosing the right printer for your job isn’t easy. The honest answer to the question, “Which printer is best for my job? Is–it depends.”

What does it depend on? Well, it depends on what you are trying to do. It’s a little like asking which screwdriver in a box of tools is best. It depends on whether the screw is a Phillips head or slot. It depends on how much maneuvering space you have. If you have six inches of space, a twelve inch screw driver won’t do the job, so if you are printing a 25 1/2″ long brochure it won’t fit on a press with a maximum image size of 17″. That’s a no-brainer isn’t it? What if you have a full-color (cymk) postcard and your regular printer that does your office forms only has one or two color presses? What do you do? In my experience most people will follow the line of least resistance. If you have a relationship with a particular printer and they are not equipped to efficiently produce your job, you might find yourself giving it to them anyway and unbeknownst to you, they do what I do, and broker the job to another company.

If they do what you do, is that a problem? It could be. First of all, most printers have much higher markups on buy-outs than I do. Thirty-five to forty percent is normal. I get between ten to fifteen percent. Second, if you don’t know that they are sending the job out, you probably won’t have an opportunity to do a press check. Press checks are rarely necessary on one or two color work, but on four-color that’s a different story. Most full-color printing is used on sales materials. It is the stuff your customers see. Don’t you want to make sure you are putting your best foot forward if that printed piece is representing you? Of course you do. When you go to a press check you get one last chance to see the job before it is finished. I can’t tell you how many times a customer found a deadly flaw that had passed through all the proofs and wasn’t spotted until the press check. One example comes to mind where the company’s phone number was wrong. This was a ten-thousand dollar printing job and without a press check the customer wouldn’t have seen their error until it was finished. Yikes!

If you liked this information please let me know and I’ll give you other tips on choosing the right printer in future blogs.

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© Bill Ruesch, Talking Through My Hat, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bill Ruesch, Talking Through My Hat with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.