Many print service providers have learned that, given the right situation, outsourcing work to trade printers makes a great deal of business sense. Tight deadlines, a desire to expand offerings, a need to handle seasonal bumps in demand or a yearning to spend more time building business rather than producing work can all lead to the use of a trusted outsource partner.
Trouble is, how do you find a partner you can trust? How do you locate an outsourcing resource who communicates well, produces quality work, meets demanding deadlines, provides one-stop convenience and does it all affordably?
Many PSPs have been left stymied by the hurdle of finding a dependable partner to provide outsourcing services. This month we seek guidance from experts who’ve mastered the tricks of the trade printing world.
Advantages of Outsourcing
When PSPs are focusing on their core competencies, it’s beneficial to have partners with competencies that lay outside their range. So says Ed Dignam, senior vice president of Salt Lake City’s ASAP Printing Corporation, a trade-only commercial printer to which other PSPs outsource projects, and whose philosophy is “amaze everyone,” according to Dignam.
“When you outsource, you immediately expand your product range and your sales volume, without the overhead typically associated with that goal,” Dignam says.
Another reason to outsource is that many printers’ time is best spent not in the production area, but making sales calls, developing relationships, marketing, and gaining new clients, Dignam says. Still another is the desire to better handle seasonal demands, such as the typical bump in business in the fourth quarter.
Critical deadlines can also provide a good rationale for outsourcing. Say a PSP is awarded a 50,000-booklet order that will require two weeks on its digital machine. Outsourcing to a firm capable of doing the job in half the time can be a wise business move. “We could do that in three to five days,” Dignam says.
Ali Westcott, senior director of marketing at 48HourPrint.com, a Massachusetts e-commerce print provider well known for a fast turnaround guarantee and award-winning print quality, offers up three additional benefits of outsourcing to her company. The first is the chance to make up for lost time. “Our 48 Hour Turnaround Guarantee can get you out of tough spots when it comes to deadlines,” she says. “Many of our products and lower quantities have an even faster 24-hour turn.”
She adds 48HourPrint.com has both sheet-fed and digital presses, with offset quantities typically starting at 500 pieces, as well as an in-house bindery, VDP, mailing services, and additional offerings.
Another advantage of 48Hour Print’s capability is an array of more than 40 products. “Partner with us and…we’ve got 40 core products, ranging from magnets, Post-It notes, and plastic gift cards to table tents, vinyl banners, calendars, and pocket folders,” Westcott reports.
A final upside is the convenience of online proofing, re-orders, blind shipping, and split shipping, “all with worry-free 24-7 convenience,” she notes.
Finding a Trustworthy Partner
Many PSPs have experienced a raft of problems in dealing with less-than-reputable trade printers. The issues have ranged from failure to meet deadlines to inferior quality to a simple inability to communicate clearly and honestly. All of which begs the question: How can PSPs find partners they can trust?
In the online world, there are no substitutes for relationships, Westcott advises. Unlike many online printing companies, 48HourPrint.com has in-house sales and customer care representatives available by phone, email or chat. “Our inside sales guys even make house or office visits,” she points out.
For his part, Dignam says communication is key when seeking a trusted partner. “Do they answer the phone? Do you have ease of access to an account manager, or a customer service rep who will provide the answers you need?” he asks. “That’s number one, and the absolute most important consideration.”