15 essential features of the perfect printing services provider

Advice on finding the perfect print partner for your business. Don't miss out on these essential top tips!

Do you currently have a printing partner, or would like one, but are unsure where to start? The team at Where The Trade Buys has compiled a list of the 15 things to look for when contracting printing services, beginning with the fundamental of price.

Do you know the difference between cost and price?
Many buyers simply choose on price. They look at the figure at the bottom of a few quotes and they choose the cheapest one.

But the price on a quote does not necessarily reflect the true cost of the job. On a simple level, it may not include extra charges. Does it include delivery? Is there a rush charge if you want the job quickly? Are there extra fees for paying by credit card?

Even understanding all these charges does not reflect the total cost of a job. It’s important to understand the cost of producing a job efficiently. For instance, how much expensive staff time is spent trying to navigate round a complicated pricing system? Do you have to start a quote again if you want a different quantity or finishing option? Do you even know if you have been offered the most economical solution?

When you add all these factors in, the lowest price can sometimes seem very expensive!

It is vital that you choose an efficient print partner
Choosing the right print partner allows you to spend as little time as possible on costly job management and inefficient administration. Instead, it allows you to concentrate on creating the right client relationships. You can focus on achieving the right results for your company.

So how do you find the right printing company to work with? Many buyers prefer the ease and convenience of online print services. They should be set up to produce all the print products that you need in one place. Online ordering can be swift and easy.

However, not all online print providers are equal! Some offer a lot more than others. So we’ve created a quick checklist to help you make sure that you have really found the right partner for you.

Here are 15 things you should check that your online print services provide:

1. Single card payment
If you have a team of people buying, setting up credit card payments can be complicated. You may have to enter the same card information multiple times. Or the system may require you to have a separate credit card for each user. Look for a provider that links a credit card with your company account. Then you can authorise different users to the same account and they can all purchase easily from the same card.

2. Unique products
A good print partner will have a range of products that only it can provide. Having a range of products that are only produced by one supplier can give you a real advantage. It means that your competitors are unlikely to be offering the same products.

3. Save your quote
There is nothing more frustrating than spending time creating a product and not being able to save the quote. This means you have to waste time by re-creating the product every time you want to check a price, change an element of the specification or even place an order.

4. Purchase multiple versions on one order
Sometimes you may want to order, for instance, ten versions of the same flyer. Some online systems will insist that you create ten separate purchase orders. Not only does this take up valuable time, it is often much less economical to specify a job in this way.

5. Swift delivery turnaround
Be sure to check job manufacturing times when comparing printing services online. Some only offer a five working day service. Others charge a hefty premium for a quicker turnaround. But there are suppliers that offer some products on a next-day delivery as standard.

6. Wide product range
Many online print services are known for providing business cards and leaflets. But when it comes to more complicated products, they suddenly can’t help you. What happens if you want to offer your customer photo books, promotional print or large-format items?

7. Instant quoting
The last thing you want to do is to upload your specification and then wait hours, or even days, for someone to manually email you a quote. Make sure your print partner can offer instant online pricing. That way you can offer the swift service that your customers demand.

8. Quick ways to create alternative options
Sometimes you will need to price a variety of options on a job. You may want to compare the cost between different sizes, number of pages or paper weights. Some systems offer a live price builder where you can change the option instantly to see the difference in price. Others make you start each price again from scratch. If you have a number of options, this can end up taking a lot of time.

9. Wide range of own production facilities
Make sure your print partner is clear about what they produce in-house. You should be able to understand this from their website. Some online print services outsource some of their work. This can result in longer lead times for products. It also risks more administrative mistakes from their end.

10. Multi-site
Occasionally, print production facilities run into problems. There may be a power outage. Or they may simply run out of capacity. A print partner with more than one site offers you much more flexibility and security.

11. Non-standard sizes
Most online print providers stick to standard sizes. The majority of their products will be A4 or A5. This means that you offer the same old solutions to your clients. In addition, these are not always as economical to produce as they may seem. If you look for a range of optimiser sizes, they can be much more cost-effective to produce. And it can also dramatically improve your profit margins.

12. White label delivery
Do make sure that any deliveries to clients will be in unbranded packaging and with an unbranded delivery note. If a customer sees the name of another print provider on their job, they will be tempted to go direct next time.

13. Clear delivery
Make sure that delivery is included in your price. A hidden delivery charge can wipe out all the profit on your job.

14. Online product guides
Print is not always as simple as it seems. Good online print partners will provide a guide to their products. This should help you ensure that you create your artwork correctly and avoid expensive production errors. In addition, these guides should give you selling tips and inspiration on how your clients can use each product to best effect.

15. Helping their community
Some providers seem only interested in taking your money and producing a job. The best print services will help you grow your business. They will send you ideas for new products to offer. They will give you information on how to sell and market more effectively. They may even send you the occasional email designed to make you laugh. Your print provider should be a resource as well as a supplier.

What happens if your print partner doesn’t have all these features?

You may not require every feature that we have listed here. However, you should take time to build a checklist of the essential printing services you require. Then you can cross check this list against your current and potential suppliers.

Does this ideal printing service actually exist?
At Where The Trade Buys, we are proud that we can tick every single element of this checklist. You can find out all about us, see our full range of product and test out our online pricing system without even having to sign up to the website.

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