We have spoken about how print management can help reduce the invoice price and where reductions on internal costs can also be made. These are easy promises to make of course, so the key question that has to be answered is, where and how can I calculate the return on my print spend?
Above the Bottom Line
The bottom line figure often dictates many of the decisions that occur within a business and with good reason. But how you arrive at that figure isn’t always merely a case of what has been purchased and paid out in literal terms. The hardest thing to place value on in a meaningful way is the service you receive and the everyday impact a good print management company can have on your internal processes. Every business owner wants to ensure they are getting the best deal possible from their service providers, so negotiating the best monetary deal makes complete sense.
Paying the Price
Working with a print management company offers the opportunity to strike an even better deal, both externally and internally. Offering all of your printed collateral to one printer may appear to offer good leverage to negotiate future discounts but the likelihood is the printer does not have all of the right equipment in-house to cover the full range. This means you are probably already paying too much, even if the figure does look good.
What can often happen is, a supplier will outsource the work to companies that own the correct machines, which means not only will you be paying for your suppliers mark-up, but of course, the original mark-up from the third party in the chain. This is not information you will be privy to, so while it may appear to be a good deal on the surface, the hidden costs aren’t truly justified. Introducing a third party into the supply chain also means quality control moves further out of your reach, distancing itself from the agreement you made with your supplier.
These are the type of unnecessary costs you need to remove from your buying chain to understand the visible financial value of working with a print management team. No one printing company is the same, which is why even if you send out the same specification to a number of printers, you may get a wide variance in price in return. You request one particular stock or finish, and a supplier replies with something completely different.
This isn’t always a bad thing, as a good print supplier should always be thinking of other methods to help or improve your quality but there are occasions where you may not be told at all, and what you receive back does not provide consistency against existing material. The question then becomes, can you afford to take these sort of risks? These are the type of variants you cannot afford to accept for important marketing material, especially those that support key campaigns and promotions.
Cheaper but Better?
This is the main function of a print management company, using their network of trusted printers to find the right printer with the relevant equipment that will offer strong market prices and the highest quality. Another example of unneeded risk would be the use of online print companies, whose presence have increased significantly in recent years with the growth of the internet. The trade-off for working with these firms is the offer of very low prices, in return for you losing complete control over the process. They work using automated systems, which is how they are able to keep the prices low, due to the removal of manual overheads. However, as you will know, last minute changes and alterations often have to be implemented, or changes to delivery schedules and details.
But once you click ‘go’ on an automated website, there is no going back. You will also not be informed of any issues related to the set-up of the artwork, so if delivered back to you in poor quality, you will merely be pointed across to their terms and conditions. Precious time and money can be lost here, and the damage to a time sensitive marketing promotion irreparable. Quite simply, you cannot place enough emphasis on the service you receive from working with dedicated and experienced professionals in the industry. Removing the above issues is how you can first visualise the return on your investment and the true value of working with a print management team.
Once you start to look internally, the full scale of your return will start to form a complete picture. We have already spoken at length about the benefits of a print audit and how this analysis will reveal areas of improvement in the process of print ordering, purchasing and distribution. Beyond how a print management company reduces the invoice value and provides a bespoke service attached to the actual physical element of print, the after effects of a print audit will quickly produce a positive effect.
If all of the relevant departments; from management, to accounts, procurement, marketing and distribution, have clear channels of communication for every item that is printed, then tasks become easier and faster to complete, jobs become streamlined and morale naturally lifts. This isn’t to suggest that print management is the cure all for any internal issues that may exist but given your print expenditure, it helps to improve a key element and its associated costs.
Management will have a clear line on not only where money is being saved through purchasing but through streamlined departments that are working more efficiently. The knock on effect to other job duties can be truly significant, which increases overall productivity across the company. Buying teams follow clear guidelines that offers transparency on the print service they are buying through the print management team. No more time is wasted dealing with several suppliers directly. Accounts teams can create structured payment systems based around the purchases made by procurement. This instantly improves the processing of payments, helping strengthen cash flow. Marketing teams can concentrate on developing campaigns and working to set parameters that will enhance the quality of print and the quality of the branding. Distribution and storage are able to understand the best conditions, methods and turnaround times that will ensure printed products do not deteriorate and are able to reach their destinations without missing key deadlines.
A Print Management Team
An investment of trust, time and finances
Working with a print management team is an investment. It is an investment of trust, time and of course finances. What you receive in return are improvements across the board, reducing outgoing costs and increasing productivity with the people or departments associated with purchasing print.
Not every return will be instantly noticeable, as good service from your supplier slowly spreads into the company and develops over time. When you place value above and beyond your outgoing costs, then you will clearly begin to see how you can calculate the return on your print spend.