Printing Relationships

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Printips: June 2004

Print Sales : Building a Relationship One Job at a Time

 

We've said it before and we'll say it again-we love our customers. Nothing delights us as much as delivering a quality printed product with 4 color printing or others on time and at the agreed-upon price. In fact, we have set up an entire production management system for the purpose of being the kind of dependable printer that businesses, organizations and individuals need for all your quick printing requirements. Our successful print sales depend upon our efficient, high-quality fast printing services.

 

Did you know that you participate with us in the success of your job? Especially when you are providing critical job elements of your quick printing project to us-a digital file, copy and photographs, or art direction-you have joined the production team. In case you've never thought of your relationship to us in this way, we'd like to let you know what you can expect from us and what we need from you to make your fast printing project go smoothly. From 4 color printing methods and more, our quick printing starts and ends with you.

 

Printing Sales and Customer Service: Where It All Begins and Ends

 

Our printing sales customer service representatives (CSRs) are responsible for translating your requirements for the printing project into manufacturing specifications. To do that competently, they have been trained in the technical aspects of print products-paper and ink, prepress, offset printing and high speed copying, post press functions, binding and bookmaking and special effects, such as thermography, blind embossing, foiling and die cutting.

 

They have been taught the productions standards for our shops, the capability and capacity of each piece of equipment and the throughput standards (how long it takes to perform each operation) to ensure high-quality, fast printing services.



They have been trained in order entry. We use a computerized order entry and estimating system that incorporates a scheduling module. Using their knowledge of production standards and your stated delivery request date, we make a production plan for each job they take in. If needed, they generate a purchase order for any materials required for the job but not held in our inventory. When an order is entered, it has all the information needed to correctly produce the job and meet the requested delivery date.

Of course, CSR's have also been trained in customer service. They know our standards for how many times the phone rings before being answered and how long a customer may be kept waiting before being acknowledged and served. They know our procedures for requesting and granting credit, making charitable donations, and resolving customer complaints and disputes.

CSR's are your interface with our production staff. Unlike your sales representative, who may be temporarily unavailable to you during a part of the day, CSRs are always on duty in the office and just a phone call or e-mail away.

Project management: where you come in
In order for CSRs to discharge their responsibilities, they need your cooperation, especially for a new project. You may complete project planning with your sales representative (who will brief the assigned customer service representative) or you may conduct project planning with CSRs. Here's an example of what we mean by project planning:

1. The name of your project.
2. The dimensions and number of pages of the project.
3. The number of ink colors
4. The quantity of finished pieces that you'll want.
5. The type of paper you want the project printed on.
6. The materials that you will be supplying to us (such as computer files or print-ready documents).
7. When you need the project completed or delivered.

It also helps if we understand what you are trying to accomplish with the printed piece and whether a budget has been established.

We like to provide an estimate or quotation prior to beginning work. We want you to know the cost of what you are planning and to evaluate the cost against your budget. To do this, we need project planning to be far enough along to develop manufacturing specifications. We are also happy to provide estimates for alternatives - the cost of printing in one color versus two colors, for example, or the cost on two different kinds of paper.

Once you have accepted our quotation and provided all materials as agreed, CSRs will enter your order and production will begin. At this point, it is the job of CSRs to keep your job on schedule and on budget. Again, they will need your cooperation.

Please recognize that for us to deliver on time and on budget, all members of the production team must follow instructions given by CSRs - the project managers. They will give your due dates - the days you must provide your input - to keep the job on schedule. Expect a due date for submission of materials (copy, photographs, graphics, electronic files, print ready artwork), for return of proofs, and for release of the job to press. If you miss or need to change one of your due dates, expect of CSRs to reschedule your delivery date.

Those special circumstances: when it positively, absolutely, has to be there overnight
Does it sound like we're too rigid and the relationship is too hard on you? We don't mean it to be. In fact, by carefully managing the production of each job, we actually create more time to be responsive to your special circumstances.
For those times when our standard production times won't produce the job in time for your required delivery date, just let us know. CSRs will take your requirement to the production manager or other decision maker, who will determine whether it is physically possible to meet your request. If it is, we will let you know and also tell you whether any additional costs will be incurred. Now you can make an informed decision about proceeding. And once the production manager has committed to your due date, you can absolutely, positively count on an on-time delivery.

Building a relationship one job at a time
Our desire is to be your dependable printer - the one you can rely on to deliver a quality job on time and on budget. We're enthusiastic about building a relationship with you, one job at a time.

Vocabulary
Bleed: an image area (usually 1/8") that extends beyond the trim area of sheet or page. When trimmed, the image bleeds off the page or sheet.
Contract proof: A proof made from film negatives or from the electronic file from which press plates will be made.
House sheets: selected grades and sizes of paper that we carry in inventory.
Makeready: activities that prepare a press to print.
Preflight: evaluation and analysis of a digital file to ascertain whether it has all the elements necessary for accurate output and conformance to printing requirements.
Rule: a line used for borders, boxes and other typographic effects. May be specified in a range of thickness (measured in points) called weight.
Tint: a screened, even tone area of a solid color.
Screen: originally, a grid of inked lines on two sheets of optically flat glass cemented together at right angles. The lines were approximately the same width as the spaces and named by the number of lines per inch (lpi). Used to transform continuous tone photographs into a dot pattern from which a press plate could be made. Today screens can be generated electronically with pixels.
Set-off or Offset: ink or marks on a sheet that have come from the previously-printed sheet by rubbing or touching.
Signature: a printed sheet after it has been folded.

Q&A
Q. Do I have to completely run out of something before I reorder it?
A. No.
We hope you're smiling because we meant our answer to be tongue-in-cheek. We know you know that reorders are best handled routinely - when your remaining supply will last long enough for us to reprint the job in our normal turnaround time. But do you know what normal turnaround is? It varies with each job, but we can give you an easy-to-remember rule of thumb. Allow one working day for us to complete each step in the order entry, printing and delivery process.

Here are the typical steps to filling an order:
1. Order entry - we receive your order, enter it into our production management system and order any exceptional materials that may be required (such as paper we do not stock).
2. Prepress - the job goes to our prepress department to retrieve electronic files or film negatives from which we make press plates.
3. Platemaking - the prepress makes the press plates.
4. Press - the job is printed or copied.
5. Bindery - post press work such as trimming, folding, numbering, perforating, padding, stitching or booklet making is completed.
6. Packaging - the finished job is shrink wrapped, boxed or packed in cartons.
7. Delivery - the job is put on the shelf if you are picking it up, or scheduled for delivery via our vehicle or a delivery service.
8. Invoicing - for us, the job isn't complete until we have completed the invoice.

Of course, not every job requires all steps, and we may finish more than one step in a single day (such as packaging, delivery and invoicing). But if you really want to pamper us, give us one day for each process. If you do, we'll deliver on time with a perfect job.

Tricks & Tips
The Pantone Matching system (PMS) is, according to the company, "the definitive international reference for selecting, specifying, matching and controlling ink colors." The reference material consists of the formula guide (a three-guide set consisting of 1,114 solid colors on coated, uncoated, and matte stock), which shows corresponding printing ink formulas for each color; and a three-book set of solid chips that are perforated and can be torn out to use for quality control. You may be familiar with fan deck or chips.

You may not know that in 2000, Pantone reformulated its colors and changed the reproduction process for its books, chips and fan decks. As a result, chip colors as well as the CMYK and RGB formulations in books produced in 2000 and later may be a slightly different tint than books printed prior to 2000.

Page layout software programs further complicate the issue. Illustrator v. 8 uses pre-2000 colors while Illustrator v. 9 and 10 and Quark 4 and 5/6 use 2000 colors.

If color match is critical to your printing project, you may want to specify the Pantone colors using our reference books. We update our fan decks regularly and store them out of direct sunlight to keep the colors faithful. Call your CSR and sales person if you would like to bring in your book to compare to ours.

Idea Corner
When you submit electronic artwork to us, particularly if you are using the file transfer function on our web site www.printlocal.com, we prefer that you first compress the files to make them smaller. File compression eliminates or minimizes redundancy in a file, making your files smaller without losing any information. A simple example of compression is a set of characters "AAAADDDDDDD" (which represents a letter) being rewritten as "4A7D", saving seven spaces and making that line 64% smaller.

File compression software (sometimes called a file compression utility) is available for both PC and Macintosh platforms. WinZip is popular with PC users. It compresses and decompresses files, folders, and entire folder trees and has two separate interfaces. For those who are infrequent users of Zip files or just need to accomplish basic tasks, the Wizard interface provides simple, step-by-step guidance to make working with Zip files a breeze. For those who are comfortable with Zip files and need greater power and flexibility, the WinZip Classic interface has more features.

StuffIt has been written for both Macintosh and PC platforms. Each platform offers two versions: Deluxe and Standard. The Standard Edition will access a download or attachment and to send files that transfer quickly and securely. The Deluxe version also can organize, search, browse, and use Zip and StuffIt archives just like folders. For more information on these file compression utilities, go to http://www.winzip.com or http://www.stuffit.com.

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