Top 7 Ways To Build A Good Relationship With Your Printer
By Margie Gallo Dana
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An angry client goes off about commercial printers: "Theyíre medieval!" he rants. "Printing is like alchemy -- the printer disappears with your job behind the pressroom doors, and you have no idea whatís going on back there! They communicate nothing."
He had reason to complain, for his printer had indeed botched his brochure. Now he mistrusted all printers.
Printers want your experiences with them to be successful. You can help guarantee such an outcome by working with them in deliberate ways. Here are 7 tips:
- Make it personal. Find yourself a salesperson you can relate to. Since your goal is to develop a long-term business relationship, ask yourself, "Do I like talking to this person?" Respect and trust are mandatory. And the less you know about printing, the more you need to depend on your printer to educate you. Find out early on if your printer can offer customized solutions to your companyís needs. A good print salesperson is flexible and accommodating. Pick a printer whoíll go the extra mile.
- Keep your printer in the loop. The earlier the better. The single biggest mistake that consumers make with their print jobs is failure to involve the printer soon enough. Every print job is unique. Printing is customized manufacturing -- absolutely nothing is "off the shelf." The success of your print jobs depends in large part on your communicating early and often with your printer. Think of your printer as a creative partner, not just a go-between.
- Play fair. Since every job is a custom job, respect that it can take time to print something well. Donít cry wolf and impose artificial deadlines when in reality you could wait another day or two. If you want to develop a good relationship with your printers, be honest and straightforward with them.
- Be specific. Every detail about a print job affects its price: the format, number of pages, quantity, inks, paper, folds, and so on. Put someone who is detail-conscious in charge of your printing. As a client, itís your responsibility to compile these details, called specs (for specifications), for the printer. Get your designer or the printer to help, then use these specs to request an estimate before you send a job to print.
- Get desktop publishing advice. How you prepare your files is very, very important to a printer. The platform of choice among printers is still the Mac computer. Programs like Word, PowerPoint, and Publisher were not created for output on a commercial press. Digital file preparation is complex, and no two designers "build" a job alike. Some printers have their own digital prepress specialists to clean up your files. This stage, called preflighting, costs you time and money. Plan ahead and call first to discuss it.
- Parlez-vous "printing?" If not, ask lots of questions. Donít be intimidated by "printer-speak." Printing is highly technical. Unless youíre used to dealing with printers, chances are youíll find it all a bit intimidating. If you donít understand something, ask for clarification in English. Printers are used to educate consumers. Some are better at it than others.
- Be clear about responsibilities. Clarify what your role is vs. the printerís. A businessman I know had his printer do some minor typesetting on a job. The proof was sent to the client for approval. The client failed to notice a typo that the printer had typeset, and he gave his "OK to print." When the job delivered, he noticed the typo. But he was responsible -- not the printer. His signature on the proof gave the printer a green light to proceed. So, be clear about who is responsible for what. Proofreading ranks way up there among a clientís responsibilities.
Margie Gallo Dana is president of Dana Consulting in Chestnut Hill, MA. Her firm helps printers market themselves better to customers and helps business people make smart decisions about printing. Margie sends out a free PRINT TIP OF THE WEEK via email. To subscribe, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her new web site at www.printconsulting.com. Or she can be reached at (617) 730-5951. A public speaker and an author, Margie's mission is to break down the barriers between consumers and the printing industry.
Article Submitted On: October 04, 2000