According to the 2011 SGIA Market Trends & Product Specialties Benchmarking Report, post-production and finishing technologies continue to be a critical component in the print process, allowing PSPs to transform a print into a saleable product. These capabilities and services offer strong opportunity for differentiation within the industry and lamination continues to be used strongly by graphics producers. The study reported that 44.7 percent of respondents offered print finishing services and of those, 91.3 percent offered lamination services.
But what can shops do to ensure their finishing department—specifically their lamination area—brings in profits?
Key to Success: Your Educated Staff
Without a doubt, a well-trained and educated staff is the key to ensuring your well-earned profits don't dry up—especially when the job enters the post-press department.
"When it comes to finishing, the best trained shops are the most profitable," says Tim Sowinski, product manager, GBC Films. "It is one thing to have the equipment and supplies to provide lamination as part of your service offering, it’s another to know how to use properly. The best trained shops generally have less waste; they’re more efficient; and they order smarter."
"One of the biggest variables in making a finishing department profitable is the knowledge of the employees. The person specifying material should be aware of the features and benefits of the material and the operator doing the finishing should know about laminating techniques," says Jason Yard, graphics marketing specialist, MACtac.
"Wasted material and inefficient labor result in the greatest amount of lost revenue, regardless of whether you use “cold”, thermal or heat-assist laminating film. Material waste can range anywhere from five to 45 percent, depending on the operator’s experience level. Training should cover how to minimize the amount of waste, identify the best finishing process for an application and the benefits of 'ganging' jobs according to application and finishing requirements to maximize time management and labor costs," says Ronit McGuthrie, marketing communications manager, Neschen Americas. "The better you match a laminate to the appropriate application, the more profitable the job will be."
In addition, the sales staff needs to be educated as well, on the benefits of lamination—and the capabilities of the shop, says Tim J. Boxeth, business manager, 3M Commercial Graphics. By training your sales team, they then have the ability to promote all the features of the finished graphics that can be produced in the shop—and set yourself apart from the competition.
Lamination should be a profit center and not a necessary evil, asserts Luigi Cristicini, national product manager at Drytac. Avoiding re-do's—with a well trained staff and well-maintained equipment, is key. "Re-doing a job costs you three times the price. You pay for doing the job twice plus for the time lost that could have been spent on another profitable job. Keep re-do’s to a minimum by training your staff, testing product compatibility beforehand, and keeping your equipment in top shape," says Cristicini.
The Right Tool for the Job
Like any project you do, using the right tool for the job makes things go so much more smoothly. Knowing your customer's needs and what the intended final use of the graphic, lets a shop make a more educated decision when it comes to product recommendations.
"Lamination is an added value the customer will pay for, so it's important to tout the benefits and value of lamination so they understand why they're paying more," Dione Metnick, product line manager, LexJet.