Choosing the Right Printer

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The 7 Biggest Mistakes People Make When Choosing a Printer and How to Avoid Them

  • Mistake #1: Picking a Print Shop based only on price
  • Mistake #2: You think all print shops are the same
  • Mistake #3: You always have three or more printers competing with each other for your work
  • Mistake #4: You think having the right equipment is all a printer needs to print your job
  • Mistake #5: You don’t give your print shop enough time to print your job properly
  • Mistake #6: You pick print shops that don’t guarantee their work
  • Mistake #7: You don’t ask for references

Mistake #1: Picking a Print Shop based only on price

The old adage is true. “You get what you pay for.” This is especially true in the printing business. If you want good printing, you should decide to deal with a printer because of the overall value you receive, not because they are the lowest priced.

Here’s Why: Quality + Service + Price = Value

It is impossible for any company in any industry to offer the cheapest price, have the highest quality, and provide the best service all at the same time.You can get high quality and super service, but you can’t get both and still get the lowest price.

There’s an old joke in the printing business: You can have it cheap, you can have it fast, you can have it good — pick any two!

Just like in your business, you hire the best people and buy the highest quality products — consequently, you should charge a price that reflects those aspects.

Total Value is all three: Quality, Service, and Price!

You will have problems when you pick a printer who only offers the lowest price. Dirt cheap printshops don’t usually stand behind their work if there is a mistake. Sure, other printers might do your printing for a little less money, but how will they treat you when there is a mistake with your job?

To give the cheapest price, they usually have low-wage, inexperienced employees who have not been adequately trained. They cut corners by using cheaper inks and lower quality paper to give that low price. The end result is that you get what you pay for. The little bit of money you saved ends up costing you more in the long run!

Another problem with a printer who offers the lowest price is that they also tend to offer the lowest quality. Your printed piece is your image. It directly reflects on your professionalism and the standards of work you are willing to accept.

If you hand out shoddy materials, it rubs off on your company image. Plainly said, shoddy or low-quality printing makes you look bad. No amount of savings is worth this. You’ve worked too hard and spent too much money to build your company image. Why throw it away for the few pennies you can save with a cheap printer?

With a cheap printshop, you will probably get charged extra for things reputable printers normally include in their quote. You’ll be charged extra for such things as plates, film, cutting, and artwork. Cheap printers nickel and dime you to death. What seemed like a good price actually ends up costing you more in the end. It’s the old “bait and switch” to get you in the door.

To avoid buying on price alone, we suggest you rank quality, service and price in the order that is important to you. Then have a conversation with two or three printshops about your priorities. It will probably become clear which printshop will most likely meet your needs. BACK TO TOP

Mistake #2: You think all print shops are the same

Every printer is different. No two printshops are ever the same. Each one has different equipment and different employees who know how to do certain kinds of jobs well. Every company has a different number of employees, each with different abilities, and different lead times to complete your work.

Printing is art and craftsmanship combined. Most people who buy printing don’t truly understand that despite all the technological advances, printers still use the same techniques as twenty or thirty years ago, and in some cases 150 years ago.

Contrary to what many people think, printing is not just running paper through a machine. It takes craftsmanship to turn out quality printing. Press operators have to adjust ink, water, plates and paper before they can print the first sheet.

Communication is the key to picking the best printshop for you:

  • Ask what type of work they print.
  • Ask to see samples.
  • Ask what their average turnaround time is.
  • Ask what type of jobs they do not handle themselves.
  • Ask any other questions that are unique to your needs.

This will help you decide if they are the best printer for you. After you ask your questions, it will become pretty obvious which company you should choose. The company that wants your business will prove to you they are the best printer to do your work. Conversely, a reputable printshop will also tell you when they can’t meet your needs. Communication goes both ways. Take your time to decide which printer you would like to use — but when you decide, you must be loyal to them.

Mistake #3: You always have three or more printers competing with each other for your work

You may think this is a good way to do business. And sometimes it is. But here is why it usually isn’t a good way to deal with printers.

A good printer has enough loyal customers that they don’t have to deal with price shoppers. Once you find a good printer, you must be loyal to them. If you flip-flop from printer to printer, a good shop won’t be too motivated to keep you as a customer.

Price is a consideration. But price should never be more important than good quality and good service. This is what print buyers typically like to do. They try to get everyone fighting for the same piece of pie. This might be an OK short term strategy because you save a few bucks. But, when you need a favor, or superfast turnaround — not one of these companies will bend over backwards to help you. (And if you have been a price shopper in the past, they will probably charge you more!)

Every print shop expects to go beyond the call of duty for their loyal customers now and again. They might have to work all night, print an extreme rush job, or pull off a miracle. Provided you are a loyal customer, the printshop will do all they can to help you meet your deadline.

All good printers will be loyal to you if you are loyal to them. Keep loyalty in mind when you choose your printer.

Mistake #4: You think having the right equipment is all a printer needs to print your job

Many printers own great equipment, but that doesn’t mean they know how to run it. You can have the latest, greatest technological-wonder gizmo, but if you don’t know how to operate it properly, you are better off not even turning the darn thing on.

Compare this to using all of the complicated controls on your VCR or your computer keyboard. Studies show that half the people who own a VCR don’t even know how to set the clock, let alone use it’s advanced features. The same thing happens in the printing industry.

Many printing presses have lots of bells and whistles, but if the printshop has a press operator who doesn’t know how to use the new features, you might as well go to a company that has old equipment. BACK TO TOP

Mistake #5: You don’t give your print shop enough time to print your job properly

Mistakes happen when you rush! When you’re in a hurry, you may forget to tell your printer certain instructions. Or you might make a mistake on your original artwork because you were concentrating on getting it done, instead of getting it done right.

Schedule. Schedule. Schedule.

Before you work on your printing project, talk with your printer. Get your printer involved from the beginning. There might be a more efficient way to complete your project that you don’t know about.

You can save time, money and headaches from the very beginning by communicating with your printer!

Why do most people do the opposite of this and wait until the last minute to talk to the printer? Because everyone takes the printshop for granted. Everyone thinks the printshop can easily take care of their work. Most everyone thinks the printer is sitting around waiting for their job to come through the door. This isn’t the case.

You should think of your printer as your “project partner.” Consult with your printshop. Let them know in advance what you want printed. Ask them if there are any tips they can give you to make your project go smoother.

You are not the only customer your printer has. (And if you are, your printshop will soon be out of business!) When you walk in the door saying you need it now, a printer can’t always help you. You need to work together. BACK TO TOP

Mistake #6: You pick print shops that don’t guarantee their work

All reputable printers guarantee their work automatically.

This means if they make a mistake on your printing, they will re-run your job at no charge. Unfortunately, there are unethical printers who won’t do this. Instead, they won’t make good on your printing and may not take any responsibility for their mistakes.

An unethical printer may hold your artwork hostage. Or may say they will fix your printing, but pin the problem on you and tack on an extra charge. There are about a hundred other things a not-so-good printshop may do to you.

A reputable printshop will, however, take good care of you. They will always insist you carefully proofread and sign off on your job before it gets on the press. That way if any mistakes are made, it is clear who is responsible. And if it’s your mistake, if you’ve been a loyal customer, more often than not the printshop will give you a pretty good deal to fix your mistake.

The best thing you can do is pick a printer who unconditionally guarantees their work. If it’s not printed right and it’s their mistake, they will run it again for free. BACK TO TOP

Mistake #7: You don’t ask for references

This is probably the easiest way you can avoid any problems with a printer. All good, reputable printshops will eagerly give you references.

Ask your printer to give you at least three names of people they have done business with. Ask them how long they have worked with this customer and what type of printing they normally do for them. Get names of customers who print things similar to what you need to print.

People are happy to tell about good experiences they’ve had with printshops. (Almost as happy as they are to tell of bad experiences!) Most successful printshops, in fact, can run quite profitably simply on the strength of their referrals and their repeat business.

Talking to other customers is the easiest way you can pick the right printer for you! BACK TO TOP

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