Let’s say you are in charge of managing the flow of printed and related marketing materials for a restaurant group, franchise, dealer network, or other multi-location business. You have several options to get this work done.
Some companies handle the printing and distribution process internally. Other companies employ local print fulfillment services with varying degrees of success. Still, others use a more regional or national printing fulfillment provider. Deciding how to best handle the printing and distribution of materials on an ongoing basis is exhausting.
Outsourcing the printing and distribution process to a specialist has many benefits. For example, it typically provides companies with a better focus and more time to work on their core business function. However, outsourcing will only succeed if the web to print orders are handled seamlessly. For instance, end-users must receive the right materials produced correctly and on time.
So, what should you look for in a printing fulfillment company? And what are the best practices of top printing fulfillment providers?
The Print Authority has been in business for 29 years, with successful printing fulfillment relationships lasting for decades. Based on this experience, here are some ideas of what characteristics to look for with print fulfillment services.
The 9 Things You Should Look for in Printing Fulfillment Services
1. Customized Service
Every customer is different!
Some customers need advice on the best way to get jobs done quickly. For others, the brand is paramount, and companies need help making sure brand standards are maintained. Still other customers view making franchisees truly happy with each order as the most important factor.
It sounds basic, but outstanding printing fulfillment providers get to know you and your needs. If you feel like your customer service contact at a printing fulfillment company is detached or doesn’t care that much about the orders coming in, something is definitely wrong!
2. Quality Standards
The most successful printing fulfillment companies understand each customer’s unique expectations and quality standards. While quality control seems simple, understanding customer expectations from the beginning is one of the keys to a successful relationship.
Furthermore, the best printing fulfillment companies will fix problems proactively and find solutions, rather than arguing about cause or blame. Above all else, the tenure of a printing fulfillment provider’s team can tell you a lot about quality. Constant turnover makes it much harder to provide top-notch quality.
So look for a printing company who is accountable for their actions, strives for quality, and has low turnover.
Understanding customer turnaround needs for both routine jobs and special projects is paramount. There are a huge variety of printing processes available, and production times for these processes vary.
In addition, the attitude of the printing fulfillment provider and the team has a huge impact. It may be worth testing a provider with a rush job at the beginning of the relationship. Is the rush job viewed as a challenge to meet or as a burden?
4. Easy to Use Technology
The internet is a big part of web to print ordering, but the level of sophistication of printing portals can vary greatly. The quality may be determined by the underlying software, but the experience level of the person building and maintaining the site also matters.
A successful provider should feel comfortable with your project and know the features and limitations of their software. Ideally, use someone with experience who can show you how your site will work.
5. Competitive Pricing Without Being Bottom of the Barrel
If a printing fulfillment provider pushes low costs above all else, beware! There is always an element of getting what you pay for. Extreme low pricing frequently comes with low service or quality.
If printing is important to your image, choose someone who will represent your brand well. In addition, redos and mistakes are costly and time-consuming. The best providers have low redo rates…ask!
6. Appropriate Suggestions
Experienced printing fulfillment providers have knowledge to share. This is a huge resource that can work in your favor.
For instance, is there a paper size that is slightly different than your requested size that will be more efficient and save you money? Are there issues with a particular type of stock? These are the sorts of issues that a great partner should raise when you have a new project or need help. Your print fulfillment company should have your best interests in mind.
Successful printing fulfillment companies look at challenges from different angles and put forth multiple ideas to solve problems. If a company seems rigid or only interested in “standard” jobs, beware. You may encounter trouble down the road when your job is not standard.
8. Easy to Understand Contracts
Printing fulfillment companies come in many flavors and sizes. Some of them have no contracts at all, while others have documents that seem to be prepared by a district attorney.
Look for providers with simple and understandable contracts that help set the parameters of the relationship from the beginning. Long and onerous contracts may indicate that the provider is more concerned with risk management than providing outstanding service.
At the same time, companies operating without contracts may lack experience or understanding of the issues involved in providing print fulfillment services.
Above all else, work with an honest company that reflects your values. This will help ensure a healthy, long-term partnership.
Partner with the Right Printing Company!
Hopefully, you now have a good idea of the best traits a successful printing fulfillment provider brings to the table. If you are looking for an experienced provider who will put customer service, quality, and your success first, give the professionals at The Print Authority a try. Contact us today for more information! We promise to uphold all nine of these nine standards!