Stay on top of your print providers

In any economy, it’s important for direct marketers to constantly re-evaluate existing relationships with their supplier base. Now is a critical time to assess your current print supplier by asking some questions:

Let’s start with one of the most overlooked questions: “What pieces are optimally produced on your equipment?” Printing equipment, though similar, is also very specialized. It’s important to know that a job is being assigned to the right partner based on how efficiently it can produce the work on its equipment. While two suppliers may have identical presses, their finishing equipment may be com­pletely different, therefore changing their specialization. Sometimes a sales pitch doesn’t always provide the exact specifications, so we encourage you to ask.

“What types of services do you outsource?” While it is not likely that your current printer is outsourcing your work overseas without your knowledge, it is likely that they are outsourcing certain jobs to another supplier. In fact, this is a common practice with smaller printers who do not have the capabilities of larger printers. Every time your project touches the hands of another supplier, the chance for error dramatically increases. In addition, if your supplier outsources part of your work, chances are they are adding a mark-up to the cost.

Finally, ask, “What can we do to help with the production of our pieces and lower our costs?” Some suppliers are great at communicating production ideas to their clients. Suppliers can offer ways to construct files to get better quality or propose a different manufacturing method to save costs. For example, in just the pre-press area alone, you can save money by supplying certain types of files. Perhaps a slightly different size will save on press and postage costs. As part of your periodic review, be sure to consult with your partner on ways of lowering the cost of the job. Now, more than ever, adding value in the form of cost savings and increased quality and output is the name of the game. And if you don’t continually or routinely evaluate your suppliers, then you may be missing out on opportunities to extend your budgets and enhance your service levels in ways you never thought possible.

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