It can be tough finding a good commercial printer. For starters, you probably don’t know much about the print game and that lack of knowledge may lead to a quick, impetuous decision that could come back to haunt you. Now, I’m not saying you need to spend hours and hours vetting a potential printer but, at the very least, read below for some helpful tips.
1. A good (long) track record – A good, and long, track record says a lot. Over time, all companies go through good times, bad times, learning curves, turnover, etc… The ones with good ownership, a good core of employees, and a passion to provide their customers with a great customer experience generally manage to survive. Not only do they survive but they learn how to adjust in order to meet the demands of changing environments. Ask how long they’ve been in business and look for reviews of the company both on and off of their site. Be sure to look for multiple reviews by different customers. Don’t fall for the old “one customer writing multiple reviews” trick.
2. Slow and careful analysis of your project leading to a full understanding of all specs and timelines – Now, you may or may not know much about printing but you better make sure your printer does. Some printers will look at your job and say “OK! We can do that” without asking any follow up questions. This is not the greatest approach and, more times than not, it shows that the printer is only interested in getting your business not achieving your goals for the project. Take some time to sit down with a printer and discuss your ideal results. Budget, paper, look, feel, etc… Ask them if they recommend any changes or alterations. You want to walk away from there confident that this printer has your best interests in mind and the knowledge and skill to execute.
3. Capability to do what they promise – Besides budget, the other 2 key factors customers generally want is for their project to be done right and on time. Before pulling the trigger, ask if any part of the project needs to be outsourced. If so, will that delay production? Will it impact final look? If not, do they have a press time for your job and an estimated completion date? Will they proactively follow up with you with status updates to give you piece of mind? Make sure to understand their process and ask questions if you don’t fully understand.
These recommendations are meant to be utilized when looking for a new printer. If you’ve been using a printer for a while and are happy with the results these may not apply to you, although, it couldn’t hurt to break these out with your existing printer. Who knows? Maybe what you think is good is really just mediocre. The bottom line is to be comfortable and confident when working with a printer. Commercial printing is an expensive investment for your company and printed items reflect your company. Be sure to make the right pick!