Is Witholding Information the Same as a Lie?
I am, and have been, a self-employed print broker for twenty years. I began doing this because I believed then, and still do, that customers need to know what their options are. It all started for me when I was working as a sales representative for a small sheet-fed company. I was very good at my job and when my company announced that they were buying the best new press on the market I took that as a signal to get customers lined up to try it. The biggest advantage the press had was it was the first in our area to come equipped with a CPU (Computer Processing Unit). Until then all ink setting, plate adjusting, and other corrections were done by hand, by the lead press operator or one of the assistants. This really was the dawning of a new age in printing. If the press could get dialed in sooner, more jobs could be printed in less time. Wow.
Did it work? It sure did, and today some 30 years later, you would be hard pressed to find a multi-unit press without a CPU. Was that the only advantage of the new press? Well, no. The press had perfecting capability. Perfecting, by-the-way doesn’t mean that everything coming off the press was perfect, it is a term used in the industry that refers to the ability of the press to turn the sheet over and print on both sides in one pass through the press. Most sheet-fed offset printing still prints one side at a time.
Perfecting was not new technology, it had been around, but it was new to us and it was new to most of the customers. It has taken me awhile, but now I’m getting to the point of this story. I was asked to bid on a job for a political candidate that would print 2/2 (two colors, both sides). Almost a perfect fit for us. I say almost because the quantity was large enough that it should have printed on a web-offset press instead. I knew that we would get the order because the other two printers bidding on it didn’t have perfecting capability, and weren’t web presses. I was feeling guilty because I knew a better way to do the job that would cut costs by half, so I went to management and asked what I should do.
I was asked, “What is your job here?”
I said, “To sell printing for this company.”
“Right, so why do you want to send the job to someone else? Forget about your qualms, go get the job, and bring it in.”
What choice did I have? None, so I did as I was told and felt uncomfortable ever since. We got the job, we printed it, delivered it on time, and it was a nice piece. The customer was none the wiser, so all’s well that end’s well, right? Not really–not when it sticks in your craw.
At that time I started to look toward becoming a print broker. I never again wanted to be stuck in the position of withholding information that could make someones printing job easier, better, or less costly. I always try to provide the best of my experience and knowledge with every job I handle. Does that mean I’m always the low bidder? No, I will always be competitive, but in addition to finding good prices I manage the job for better results. Now I can hold my head high, because I know that I did my best for the customer whether they know it or not. Here’s a shout out to all my customers. I appreciate your loyalty more than you know. Thank you.