Points North
on Apr 06, 2010 in Business

10 Characteristics to Look For in a Commercial Printer

When Points North approached me about writing for her blog she suggested a few topics regarding my chosen field, Printing. Pondering and scratching my head on which topics to write about I decided on 10 characteristics to look for in a printer.

As I outlined what I thought would be 10 things I would look for in a printer I had to ask myself, if I was a person who is responsible for print in my company what is my current print situation? Am I a new business owner looking to market my company and how do I use printed material to do that? I am an established company ready to make that leap to the next level and have that reflect in my printed materials. My printing needs have increased and can my current printer handle my needs.

So below is what I think are 10 good starting points in looking for or looking at your current print needs. As you research what your business requires, I hope you find this list as a foundation in finding that printer or printers that best suites your needs.

Capabilities: Does the printer have what it takes to meet my demands? Ask for an equipment list. See what kind of equipment they have on their floor. Is that equipment capable of producing my material in a timely and cost effective manner? If you’re not sure ASK! Your sales representative should be able to answer any questions you may have.

Quality: Ask for samples! This will be the best way to judge what they can do for you. This will also show you their capabilities as well. Don’t be afraid to ask your peers who have done business with the prospective printer. This may prove to be your most valuable barometer in choosing the perfect fit for you.

Reputation: Printing is a small industry! ASK, ASK, ASK! Talk to people who have done business with them in the past. If they have had a bad experience with a printer they will let you know. Find out who their clients are. Don’t be afraid to contact the print buyers and ask them what has been their experience with the prospective printer. It doesn’t cost you anything to ask questions as the old saying goes.

Facility: Ask for a tour of their facility. See first hand what the company is about. I think you will be able to judge the quality you will get when you walk through the front door. Talk to everyone you can! Get a feel for the vibe of the company. This will also let you know how much the employees value what they do and their dedication to producing a quality product.

Staff: This kind of goes hand in hand with the above. Do they have the staff to meet my needs and how knowledgeable are they about their job? Are they nice people? A smile goes a long way!

Customer Service: This one is kind of goes together with Quality, Reputation and Staff. If all these are in sync this should be a no brainer.

Environmental Stance: Are they environmentally aware? FSC, SFI, Green? Ask them about their certifications. Do they use paper from sustainable sources and do they recycle waste paper? Inks, are they environmentally safe and do they dispose of them properly? Do they recycle their plates? This can be a whole topic in itself.

Partnership and Relationships: This is a great way to find out a lot about a printer. Associations such as Printing Industries of America and local printing industry associations can be a wealth of information when researching a printer. How involved are they in your industry or associations? A presence in the community tells you a lot about the company.

Resource: Many times we call on others to help us with our needs. You should be able to do this with your printer. Your printer should keep you informed of new technology and industry developments that may help you grow your business. New printing processes, New papers, what are others in your business doing to get their message out in print? These are the things you want to know.

Price: I purposely saved this for last. In an economy such as ours price can be everything but remember this, you get what you pay for. I don’t know how many times people have asked me “Why is my print quality so bad?” My first question is what did you pay for it? In a world of Internet, get it done as quickly as possible and as cheap as possible we seem to put quality second. Remember your image gets you noticed. Got a poorly printed piece? Most times your business card or brochure this is the first impression people have of you. Sometimes it takes money to make money.

You may or may not agree with these ten things but I just wanted to give you a foundation to build on. Printing can be a scary thing but with the right printer it can be a seamless process. You have too many other things you need to worry about in your business and printing shouldn’t be one of them. Let the experts worry about that. A good printer will understand your business and understand your message you are sending to your customers.

Dave Stock is an account executive at Friendship Creative Printers. He can be reached at 410.382.9661, or at dstock@friendshipcreativeprinters.com. Visit http://www.friendshipcreativeprinters.com to learn more about Friendship Creative Printers.

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