Print brokers are simply sales people or sales companies. The reason they call themselves brokers is because they will ‘broker out’ a job or jobs to the best (price and quality) printing source. But a good broker does far more than just source a job. The wholesalers view them as their sales arm (as printers tend not to like to perform their own sales), and sometimes they go out and get their own business.
So what are the signs of a good broker?
(1) They are upfront about being a broker: Good brokers understand the importance of their services, so they are not afraid to tell you they are a broker and, possibly, who their wholesalers are.
(2) They are more than willing to tell you about the print process: Some clients do not care, but a broker understands that educating clients helps clients be more efficient, and can make the broker’s job easier in the longrun.
(3) “Sorry, but this would not be worth our time”: A broker that rests on his/her service abilities won’t necessarily drop prices all the time. Sometimes it just does not make sense for a broker to take on a project if the cost is constricting, or if the project is simply too complicated for the broker to perform well.
(4) “I don’t know. Let me get back to you”: There is nothing more annoying than a broker that pops off an answer to a question, just because he/she feels like they should. Believe or not, people respect the candor of not knowing, because it actually shows you care enough to research the situation.
Conversely, we have the bad print broker, or at least the broker that needs to educate himself/herself:
(1) ”Yeah, we can do that” for EVERYTHING: If a client hears this answer A LOT, especially in one coversation, then they are probably headed down a rathole with this broker, because the broker is probably a risk taker (’shoot now, ask questions later’). The result is that, at some point, he/she is going to call the client back saying they could not do it, leaving the client with time constraints.
(2) Prices are not just competitive, they are far below the competition: This could be an indication of several issues: (a) The broker is not confident in his/her sales or operational skills, which would most likely result in the broker not performing well later on. (b) The broker simply doesn’t know how to run his/her practice on an accounting level, which could result in the broker going out of business or coming back to the client asking for more money. (c) The broker has a bad print source in terms of quality and business practices.
(3) All small talk, no information: This is fine if a broker has had a client for a long time, and have become friends over the years, but if a client specifically asks for information and the broker sidesteps the question, the client WILL have problems. Sometimes a broker will intentially do this, thinking they are keeping business secrets, which is completely ridiculous given that the broker world is hardly a secret anymore (remember, even Kinko’s and Alphagraphics are brokers). More than that, keeping secrets (like not telling a client you are a broker) typically means that a broker is not comfortable with the services they provide. Also, consider this: if people are out there trying to hide the broker portion of the business, then they are definately, although not intentially, giving the broker business a ’shady’ reputation.
All of these items above can apply to sales people or print brokers, and in case you are wondering, I learned these points from being in sales for 15 years.
ProjectCenter is a single-source service company providing marketing and document solutions to small, medium and large-sized businesses in the U.S. area. ProjectCenter is based in Phoenix, Arizona and its services include graphic design, web design, printing, copying, scanning and mailing. For more information, please call (602) 252-6655 or visit www.makepapereasy.com.