10 Tips to Save Time and Money on Printing
In difficult economic times such as these, reducing costs or saving production time can give your bottom line a much-needed boost. Following are some ways to save both time and cash on your print and production tasks.
1. Look at paper, which typically costs about 50 percent of any print job, says Christian Montini, vice president of sales and marketing for St. Joseph Corp., a Toronto-based commercial printer that produces Sears Canada catalogs. A slight downgrade in paper stock may not hurt the look and feel of your book, Montini says.
Also, a tighter trim, say, 1/8-inch all around, may translate into cost savings, he notes.
2. Have your printer help control your paper inventory. Steven Zuccarini, president of the merchandise media group for R.R. Donnelley & Sons, Chicago, suggests that catalogers who buy their own paper consider asking their printers to help them manage those purchases—thus saving on inventory carrying costs.
“Our catalog clients who use this service retain their purchasing power and allocation from their paper suppliers,” says Zuccarini. “In turn, we can maintain for them tighter inventory turns than catalogers could by themselves, which can save them a significant amount of money.”
3. Renegotiate your printing contract. Printers are very hungry right now, says Chuck Howard, a catalog consultant. “Even if your contract isn’t up yet, it might be worth renegotiating to get better long-term printing rates,” he suggests.
4. Consider a one-source solution, for example, individual vendors that offer myriad services such as computer-to-plate printing, digital archiving, binding, distribution and more. Using a one-source vendor certainly saves time, says Montini, because you’re dealing with one company—and perhaps even just one or two people within that company—instead of multiple vendors spread over a region.
In addition, he notes, “If you use all of the offerings of that one vendor, you become a valuable customer to that printer—and that can translate into better discounts, better economies of scale.” Marian Kerr, a product manager at Transcontinental Printing, Montreal, adds: “Working with one customer service rep from project start to finish helps give you peace of mind. You don’t have to worry about what might happen to your production and delivery schedule if one supplier lags behind the others.”
In short, she says, by using a one-source solution your printing project is better managed, amendments are made more quickly and easily, and you often get a faster turnaround time in the end.
5. Review your workflow to discern if any of today’s technologies can help streamline your production. Printers’ offerings such as soft proofing can significantly reduce production times, says Montini. And digital archiving can make catalog versioning much faster and easier.
Another technology to try: Content-management software. Tim McAdow, market manager at Banta, a commercial printer based in Menasha, WI, relates case studies he recently received from two catalog clients. One client producing a 1,500-page catalog using Banta’s B-media content-management software shaved two months off its production time. Another reduced its catalog editing time by 90 percent.
“Content-management solutions used to be expensive and scary to use,” says McAdow. “Not anymore. Today they’re affordable for any size cataloger.”
6. Know your printer’s “sweet spot.” Like all businesses, printers specialize in a few core offerings. Therefore, catalogers that print many books at a time, for example, may want to look for a printer that has multiple bindery lines.
St. Joseph has a press that’s one of the fastest in the world, says Montini. “If the cataloger’s press run is significant enough to warrant its use, the client can save time and money by having its books printed on that particular machine.
“Do your homework,” he continues, “so you can understand the capabilities of different printers.”
7. Don’t cut pages or the number of products pictured per page just to get your print costs down, says Howard. “That spells disaster. Some catalogers focus too much on the cost-cutting side, and not enough on the sales side. Generally speaking, catalogers can’t save enough on the cost side to make up for poor sales,” he says.
8. Look at your printer’s distribution capabilities. In light of rising postal costs, this is a big issue for mailers. A printer whose distribution offerings include services such as drop-shipping, ZIP-skipping and catalog bundling can save you a lot of money and get your books into customers’ hands faster, says McAdow.
9. Educate staffers. Studying printing technologies shouldn’t be the task of just a catalog’s IT or production personnel, says McAdow. Merchandise and marketing managers also can improve their workflow procedures using state-of-the-art tools and best practices.
Trade publications that offer informative articles on printing and production should be passed around the office, McAdow continues. In addition, print and production conferences are appropriate for more than just technology personnel.
10. Talk to other printers—even if you’re happy with your current one, says Montini. “In this economic climate, it behooves a cataloger to be more receptive to other vendors and what they have to offer,” he says.
For More Info
* Howard Consulting, (301) 718-0168
* St. Joseph Corp., printer, www.stjoseph.com, (905) 660-3111
* Banta, printer, www.banta.com, (800) 291-1171
* R.R. Donnelley, www.rrdonnelley.com, (312) 326-8000
* Transcontinental Printing, www.transcontinental-printing.com, (800) 265-3160