When it comes to developing a relationship with a vendor, Caruso states the importance of working with someone with knowledge of the products and processes. Unlike catalog companies, AGL is able to offer expert advice.
Caruso says, “This is where AGL stands out. We are not a catalog. We’re much more hands on as a company. It’s where we excel.”
Caruso continues, “There are many systems out there. They are so diverse. It’s not about just choosing colors, profiles, etc. Now it’s about understanding the process.
Pricing overlaminates poses the same problem for PSPs as pricing any other finishing job. It is even more difficult if the PSP is not accustomed to using overlaminates or is somewhat uneducated regarding the process. Clearly, pricing is an important part of any job and a PSP has a large number of factors to consider before creating that final invoice.
Nerenhausen said, “Pricing is tricky, because it’s dependent on the local market and what that market will bear as well as your business model and whether it’s more custom or more production oriented. Still, some basic concepts hold true. Calculate all the items you use to get the job done—ink, material, time, overhead, and anything else that goes into production. With that as a baseline, you can determine what profit margin you can add to fit your market and the value of your product. The profit margin for someone mass-producing billboards will be different than a custom, color-critical print shop, and pricing will vary considerably coast-to-coast.”
Roba also pointed out that PSPs must be aware of their own processes. “They have to take into account the limitations and capabilities that they have. And then they have to take into account the time that goes in for set up, the time it takes to actually run the job, scrap, and then additional finishing of that and how long it’s going to take, based on the size... It’s taking into account all of the variables and factors you have in your printing process.”
PSPs must also consider amortization on equipment, overhead, and other factors that should go into the pricing of any job.
Caruso said pricing can be difficult for some because of the cost of materials which is not a fixed price. PSPs must also ensure that they are buying the right materials, not just focusing on cost.
“The market is regionalized and there are price fluctuations so it’s hard to put numbers down,” stated Caruso. “It’s important to find the right company to partner with. Buying the right tool for the right job is paramount to the process.”
“Finishing should be viewed as an essential value added service. It’s something that gives you a leg up against your competitors,” said Stadelman. “Laminating and finishing should be a value add, it should be an upsell for them. It should be a way for them to add to their bottom line for a quality product. Again, it’s how they separate themselves from their competitors.”
Stadelman adds: “Pick the right product for the job and price it that way. You get what you pay for. It goes along that way.”
As with any material or service, there are noticeable trends. “It seems with laminates it’s kind of come to a plateau in that there are some specialty laminates, but the drawback with laminates that create special effects is that the special effects are created over the entire graphic as opposed to localized special effects which most people would want. That’s more of a limiting factor. So those, I don’t think, have gotten the wide acceptance in the market as many people would have thought.
Roba continued: “There is a trend as far as laminates for paint replacement films. The laminate is actually incorporated into the manufacture of the film eliminating a step for labor and time at the converter and/or the applicator. It’s not actually a lamination; it’s an incorporation of the two products being fused together.”
According to Stadelman, “Architectural finishes are really big right now. There’s a lot of unique product, again it goes to that unique media thing, but also in the look of the finished product I think there’s a lot of exciting laminate opportunities showing up on the market with more to come.