Given how much is spent on printed marketing materials, it never ceases to amaze us how out of control the print buying procedure tends to be within many companies. This is often because print is a founding block of a business, and can often become neglected as the business continues to grow and begins to focus on new areas.
In addition to poor practices and poor communication between the various employees placing orders, there is also a natural lack of understanding about current print industry trends and costs. Read on below and we will provide a guide on how to streamline your printing costs.
As an expert in your own sector, if required, you would be able to teach and help others who are looking in from the outside. You may be a procurement, marketing or office manager. You know your role inside out because you have developed a career gaining the required knowledge and experience that comes with it. If you work in telecommunications, for example, why would you be expected to have an up-to-date insight into the current trends of another industry? So if you are purchasing items or services from another sector, you can only go on the information provided by the person selling it to you.
It makes sense that this rule of thumb would also apply to the print industry. Print management companies are experts in their field. They use their own knowledge and experience to help businesses understand how they can improve quality and reduce costs across the board. Like any industry, there are fluctuating costs that rise and fall and these typically have an end effect on the price you will pay when ordering a new batch of leaflets or brochures. If you had a print management partner, working on your behalf to use their contacts, skills and experience to find the best prices around, just think about how much money you could be saving. And that’s before we even start to talk about streamlining internal costs!
So where will these magical cost savings appear from, you may ask? First of all, think about what it is you are buying. Print is a tangible product, produced through manual processes that starts life in a forest. We rarely stop to think about where paper comes from, given how present it always is in our lives but these endless sheets that feel so lightweight in your hand, have a huge impact on the final price you pay. The type of paper you order, its thickness (or gsm), how much of it your order and how effectively it is used by the printing house are elements of the process you will not be aware of.
Most jobs will run on a four colour press, designed to CMYK specifications. However, there are times when more colours are needed, or pantones are required instead. The price impacts here should be explained to you by your supplier but most times they are not. Most of your budget is spent in setting up the print press and after that it comes down to paper. Do you know where the best price breaks are and how you can maximise the best quantity for the best price?
Printing presses are bought at a huge cost by many printers, rarely purchased in one lump sum and so paid off over time due to the large price tag. This means that presses need to be constantly active to keep the income alive. If the presses are busy, then you are in luck. If not, then those overheads are not being paid for, will naturally be passed on to you. In an ideal world, you want your print jobs batched together and on the right presses, with paper loaded efficiently to keep the prices where they should be. These are just some of the hidden secrets not passed onto many customers, with far too who end up over paying.
Your head may be spinning trying to take in all this information, and we wouldn’t blame you. This is a specialist industry and like your own career, it takes years to accumulate and optimise this knowledge to use to your advantage. As with anything else in your business, planning is the key. If you have a print management partner already steeped in this knowledge, then you have a huge advantage for the business.
If your business was ordering the products you sell based purely on current stock levels, how would it survive if you kept reaching a point where your stock levels are close to zero? Of course you understand that analysing historical data tells you how much to order and when, which also allow you to secure a better buy price from suppliers. The exact same principle applies to ordering print. If you have a clear ordering process, where the data and associated costs are constantly reviewed, it stands to reason that you would then produce a more efficient purchasing chain.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered?
This allows you to avoid last minute orders that put the supplier in the driving seat when it comes to raising the price, not only for the product itself, but for any additional distribution or courier prices. You would be surprised how often this happens, and how quickly the smaller amounts soon escalate into a far larger outgoing when tallied up by the accounts team, sometime later. When you add in the extra time it takes to place these orders and the time spent receiving them into the business, the actual cost becomes far more significant than the price.
It follows that wastage will increase if you are not aware of the right amount that should be ordered. Naturally this adds to the manual labour involved removing and disposing of the wastage in the right manner. The knock on effect once again is valuable time lost by employees given extra duties on top of their regular responsibilities. All of these small increments add up over time to create snowball effect that creates a much large black hole of unseen costs within the business, impacting in several other areas.
You also have to take into consideration how the finished print is handled and stored once in the business. Couriers themselves can be notoriously bad in how they handle the boxes en route. They are thrown around delivery hubs and then into back of vans with a multitude of other deliveries for that day. You understand the importance of a reliable courier firm that will deliver your own goods to their destinations and you need the security of working with a supplier that will ensure the services you pay for are delivered on time and in one piece.
A Quick Reminder
As we mentioned above, there is so much to take in, that making the effort to change established routines can often seem like too large of an effort. Below is quick check list of things to remember – but don’t forget, you will always maximise your return and reduce your costs when working alongside a print management company like Evolution.
- Know your paper: Are you too specialised or general?
- Price breaks: Know where to optimise your orders.
- Presses: Find the right size press, with the technology that suits your order.
- History: Scrutinise past orders to improve future success.
- How much extra pressure is placed on the company when urgent print orders are required?
- Couriers: Do goods arrive on time and in good condition?
- Wastage: How much and how often are your materials going to waste?
- Make a record of how much time is spent dealing with unexpected issues related to print.