I was recently chatting with a business colleague of mine who was going bush in his Landrover.
What’s this got to do with printing?
Well, prior to the trip he took his vehicle to the local mechanic to check it over. The mechanic had a quick look at it, made a few recommendations but refused to fix the car.
Because he didn’t believe he had the expertise to do so.
In a nutshell, he had integrity. And the uncommon ability to admit he wasn’t qualified to do the job… even if it meant he’ll lose a few bucks in the short term.
In the printing industry however, YOU need to be sure that the printer who’s doing your work is actually equipped to do it in terms of equipment & experience.
Find out how to choose the The Right Printing Company for you.
Here’s a few issues that I’ve come across over the years:
A brochure printed full colour (or 4 colour process printing as it’s technically referred to) that had obviously been produced on a press capable of printing 2 colours only per pass and lacking the extremely tight tolerances required for 4 colour process printing.
The result was the coloured photos looked ‘blurry’ with light yellow/red tinged halo around some of the images – unacceptable quality with negative impact on the customer’s market presence.
Preprinted specialist medical report forms that required personalising with the recipient’s name and address, through a high-speed laser printer, at a later date.
The printer did not use the specially formulated ink that’s required to withstand the intense heat of a laser printer and as a consequence, the ink ‘stripped’ off the sheets and adhered to the printing drum inside the laser printer as they ran through.
The result was an extremely expensive repair job to the laser printer and the documents missed the ‘due by’ date and had to be reprinted.
An A5 promotional folder, with both the front and back covers printed with a solid 100% coverage of dark blue, was printed then sent to another supplier for laminating. The ink coverage was uneven and thin resulting in varying shades of the original colour and was left with a ‘transparent’ appearance with the grain of the stock showing through.
This exercise resulted in a wrestling match between the customer and the printer with the latter shedding all responsibility for the error onto the laminating company.
The printer agreed to reprint the document but not cover the cost of a second laminating run. The laminating company, understandably, would not cover any cost for laminating the reprint.
In the end, the customer was the loser, accepting the discount. But ending up with a second rate marketing document where their corporate colour varied considerably over the entire run.
A shareholder’s 24 Page quarterly report had a tight delivery time and they especially requested that the pages were not to be numbered.
The printer they chose to produce the job did not have in-house binding or finishing equipment, so they outsourced it.
A breakdown in communication between the sales rep, the order entry clerk, the printing production manager and the purchasing officer who wrote the order to the finishing house, resulted in the report being collated and bound with the pages in the wrong sequence.
The error was noticed by a shareholder after the total quantity had been mailed and as a consequence the report had to be reprinted and it that all important missed the delivery date.
A direct result of ‘chinese whispers” and mismanagement.
In a manufacturing situation, such as printing, the chance of error increases dramatically when two or more people, or production units share responsibility for the one job.
So how do you avoid all of these problems?
Well, here’s a list of points to check and questions to ask any printer to see if they are REALLY qualified to take on your job, or not.
Ask the sales rep if they have a 4 colour press – ask to see it as well as printed samples of previous jobs.
Ask the sales rep if the press or presses his company has can print a dark, solid colour with 100% coverage over an A4 sheet – ask to see printed samples of previous jobs that are similar to yours.
Does your printer ask you specifically ‘what happens to the document after we print it’ or does he wait until you tell him?
You need to know this because many documents are used in specific situations that need to be taken into account prior to or following production.
Situations such as specially formulated ink for laser overprinting, light fast inks for documents with high exposure to daylight, what is the life of the document and will it be constantly handled and/or abused, is heavyweight binding, varnishing or laminating required to help withstand this abuse, the list is endless.
If your order requires any finishing, scoring, die-cutting, laminating, binding or embellishment (embossing, foiling, etc) – ask your sales rep the question ‘does your company do all the required finishing for my job, in-house’
Beware of the pitfalls if they don’t.
And the most important one – ask the sales rep for the quality and service guarantees that his company offers and request them in writing.
So there you have it.
Next time you deal with a printer, they’ll treat you with a lot more respect because you know what they don’t want you to know.
And that knowledge, my friend, gives you the upper hand.
Obviously, nothing beats experience. And the more you do it, the better you’ll get.