Managing a print project can be overwhelming for individuals or businesses. At first thought it may seem somewhat easy, you call a few print shops, they send a few quotes and you select the one you think meets your needs, right? If you’re printing 1000 flyers or a set of business cards then it may not be that difficult a task. When you’re printing a 128 pg perfect bound book, or you’re printing the latest pocket folder series and stationery options, or you’re designing a new print piece for packaging a new product, you should consider using a print management company to help.

Most of the time, a print management company will get you the best results as they go between you, the customer and the print providers. A print management company’s responsibility is to match the needs of a customer to the print provider who can offer them the best value in terms of service, quality of print, and overall pricing.

A print management company can help you in many ways. To make sure your print management company is able to provide you with the best for your print outcome here are the questions that you should ask.

1. How do you describe your print management company?

A print management company connects consumers, businesses and individuals, to print facilities. These print facilities may be local or offshore depending on the need of the project and the advantages a print facility can offer the consumer. Understanding the capabilities of the print management company is a good starting point. There are Print Management Companies and then there are Print Brokers, the difference generally is that the Print Broker has a smaller network of print shops and has usually sourced the lowest possible print pricing to improve their margins and to keep them competitive. A Print Management Company on the other hand is generally well versed across the entire industry and has many different print sources to accommodate for the variety of print requirements.

2. Who are your previous customers?

The best way to look at the credibility of a print management company is to take a look at who they have previously worked with. It is always a good sign when your print management company has a wide variety or cross section of testimonials and is willing to connect you with them to confirm their capabilities.

3. Do you have a website?

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It is the new established norm that before you discuss contracts with a company, you look them up online. One of the most convenient ways to do that is by looking over their website. Is their website professionally done? Is it easy to navigate? Does it provide valuable information to customers in the form of blogs and other media? You can gain a feel for the business, who owns it, who operates it and who they do business with, this helps you to compare your print management companies from the outset.

4. What projects do you usually work on?

One of the benefits of working with a print management company is that they are able to match you with the best print facility for your projects. There are many different types of printing projects. There are those that any printing house can accommodate such as pamphlets and brochures. There are projects however with other custom projects or details that require more than just printing, like stitching and binding, foil stamping, packaging and even the warehousing of products before you go to market. Ask your print management company if the print projects that you have matches the expertise of their print contacts. Ask for samples, it may not always be possible to get an exact sample of the work you need, but generally most experienced print management companies have a variety of samples on hand that they can share with you to demonstrate the capabilities of the print companies they work with.

5. How long have you been in business?

In the printing business there are several areas that can help you understand a print management company’s strengths. Knowledge of design for corporate branding and then the pre-press requirements to ensure your print job makes it to the print company ready to go. Material selections including paper choices so your print job looks just as you planned from the beginning and then sufficient connections both locally and offshore will determine how competitive a pricing model they can offer. You don’t get experience overnight in the print business, you earn it over time and it becomes a great asset for a company. Even those who have had experience in printing before can also benefit from the expertise of print management company who have spent years in the business.

6. Are your current print providers local or offshore?

Work with print management companies who have established relationships with their print houses. Most of these print jobs are done out of state or overseas so it is important that you and your print management company know who you are working with. Some customers like to feel that the job is printed locally so that if anything goes wrong the job can be re-run relatively quickly. Printing offshore can lengthen the time to the job by another 8-10 weeks, you should always be planning your print projects well in advance of their deadline so you can ensure the job comes in on time.

7. How long does a print job usually take ?

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It all really depends on the type of job and how many processes are involved. More complex jobs of course take longer to put together. If your job requires multiple steps then you’ll need to allow additional time for the works. When you understand each of the steps required for your print job then you’ll appreciate the time it takes to make sure your print job comes out right the first time. When printing locally you should generally allow 2-4 weeks depending on the complexity and number of steps required for your actual print job. If you’re seeking the cost advantages of an offshore printer then 8-12 weeks will be needed to deliver you the same job usually at a 20-40% discount.

8. How much does it cost to use a Print Management Company ?

Price is an important factor for print and the print market is a highly competitive game. If you have a procurement team and logistics management department then the cost savings are likely in the actual source of the product, and you would find the margins unlikely attractive enough to work with a third party company. If you were looking closely at departmental costs to find additional savings then a Print Management Company is likely to be highly suitable. An experienced Print Management Company will not only save you money in the actual process which is handling the sourcing of the job, but they will find savings in having print companies compete for the business. The cost advantages of having your print job completed on time, within budget and to spec can be hard to determine, but worth considering if you have a large project to manage.

9. What other capabilities do you have as a Print Management Company ?

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An experienced Print Management Company generally will offer you more than just the printed product itself. When it comes to offshore printing, there are distribution and freight requirements. If your company has multiple locations around the country or even internationally then understanding the warehousing and distribution capabilities of your Print Management Company can help you better service your business needs. Some Print Management Companies only specialise in the actual print of the product, while others specialise in the Print, Distribution and Warehousing of products.

10. What other questions should I ask?

Your print management company serves as a guide to help you navigate through the process of completing your printing project. They’re there to help plan all the steps ahead for you. They will be able to provide you all the necessary information that you need. Sit down with your a Print Management Company to learn how they can best service your needs and how they can help you achieve the results you’re looking for.

Do you have questions regarding a print job? Ask us through the comments below.

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