Archive for August, 2007

Here is a meeting that recently took place (summarized):

Client: “I think I like these two colors”.

Broker: ” To do those particular colors is considered Pantone Matching (PMS), which means the printer will need to mix paint in order to make those colors. That will cost about $__ per printed batch. The color you chose is very close to this stock color, and which does not cost extra. Also, the other color is very similar to paper you have chosen, so you could save yourself money by eliminating that color altogether, and allowing the color of the paper to show through”.

Client: “OK. We’ll go with the standard color. I like the sample card, where the artwork goes to the edge of the paper”.

Broker: “That is called full bleed, which is a chargeable service of $__ per side”.

Client: “OK. Let’s stay away from that. Can I have raised ink?”

Broker: “Absolutely, and there is no extra charge for that”.

Client: “Can I print on the back side?”

Broker: “Yes, there is a second side charge for that”.

It sounds like the broker is leaving money on the table, but what he/she is really doing is being a consultant, further establishing a trusting relationship. Too many brokers will be ‘order takers’, but when the client sees the bill, they look elsewhere for future orders.

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It may be simple to press a button on a machine, but not when the project is too involved (i.e. multiple sizes of paper, multiple colors of paper, different finishing, etc.). The more complicated the job is, the more time it will take to complete and the more the likelihood that errors will occur. This is why there are specialty Copy Service companies in the industry today.

One might think that a good idea would be to hire copy staff, but copy projects only happen in bursts. So what happens when a copy staffer doesn’t have any copy work to do? The answer is that the company ends up paying more in salary than they would if they would have just outsourced the work. Futhermore, and to be quite honest, copy work is redundant and boring, so it is difficult to maintain a low employee turnover rate.

How about leasing some copiers and locating them onsite? Unfortunately, end-users (public) do not get nearly the discounts in leasing like the Copy Service companys do. Arguably, end-users end up paying more on their monthly lease than they would pay a Copy Service company to do the job. That doesn’t even take into consideration the maintenance cost and maintenance time copiers require.

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Online Repository (a.k.a. Online Depository) is an outsourced, off-site place where electronic files and documents can be stored. This service is often tied to scanning, meaning clients that use scanning services also use Online Repository services on occasion. In addition to the benefits of scanning, such as the reduction of physical space and more efficient organization of documents, Online Repository allows a client to hold these documents off-site. Here are some benefits:

1) Off-site backup might be considered most important for minor and major distasters occurances. Moving locations, fried computers, stolen equipment, stolen data, fires,  and destructive weather are all issues that can be overlooked until they happen. Needless to say, having information off-site protects clients from lost data.

2) Lately, with the ever-mounting traffic problems, people are working from home. Online Repository allows clients to access information from anywhere. This saves time on the management needed to give outside users access to vital documentation.

3) Off-site backup reduces the space needed for onsite backup, allowing clients to reduce the budget needed for storage in their I.T. departments.

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A client asks, “What are benefits of scanning?”

One may think that the answer is obvious, but scanning is relatively new to the I.T. industry. Scanning is a process by which hard copy paper documents are entered into a scanning device, that device scans the images on those documents, and it makes an electronic copy that becomes stored on a computer/storage device.

The most common benefit of scanning is the reduction in physical space. There are industries that require that a business collect and maintain several years of data. In this case, as a business grows so does their storage of documents. These days, electronic storage devices such as hard drives and DVD/CD’s have become inexpensive, so converting stacks and stacks of documents to electronic files has become a common practice. Think of how much square footage is being used for the document storage in your facility, and then multiply that by your rent per square foot. You might find that the space is better utilized for something else, such as revenue growth (i.e. sales).

Another benefit is the ease of organization. Electronic images are much more manageable in terms of searching documents. The legal industry, due to their massive amount of documentation, utilizes this functionality to be more efficient when working a case. In fact, attorneys go so far as to purchase proprietary softwares (Concordance, Summation) to help sort the electronic documents. Think about the time, which equals money, that can saved by having documents at the tip of your fingers, while maintaining your sales/service price (can you say margin increase?).

The only downside is that it takes a considerable amount of time to execute this process, so it is recommended that the documents be picked up by a scan service company (hint), and let them handle the dirty work.

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Let’s face it- pushing a button on a copier is not hard to do. Other than knowing the maintenance aspects of a copier, the hardest part of copy jobs is the organization of the project. Organization goes hand in hand with efficiency, and efficiency means more quality jobs done in a shorter period of time.

The legal industry utilizes copy services quite often, because their documents tend to be mix-matched. Imagine for a moment that an investigator came to a client’s place of work and said “I am going to need to take all your files pertaining to _____.” Typically, the investigator would jam all the documents in a box without much care and run off with them. These unorganized documents then get plopped on a lawyers desk. It’s the attorney’s responsibility to get those documents sorted out, and this where a copy service company comes into the picture.

In no particular order, these documents can be different colors, different sizes, some stapled, some not stapled, some folded, some single-sided, some double-sided, etc. It is up to the copy service company to copy these documents (usually for opposing councel) exactly the way the box(es) were presented. This is why it is important to have organization skills. Otherwise, it will take days to get a job done, and unfortunately lawyers always need their projects done yesterday.

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Clients will sometimes become very impatient about having to approve artwork (proofs) before sending the project to print. This mainly because the client does not allow themselves enough time for the proofing process. With proofing included in a project, there is no such thing as 48-hour printing.

Everyone loses when there isn’t a proofing process in place. The clients are at risk of getting a product that is not to their standards, and the printer is at risk of losing money and/or losing a client.

It is highly suggested that if a client does not want to go through a proofing process, a printer should create a waiver form for clients to sign.

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Most people start off in the design world using Microsoft Publisher, but they soon find out the limitations of the product. One of the most prevalent limitations is the fact that Publisher cannot support full-bleed artwork.

Full-bleed is a term used when the artwork goes all the way to the edge of the page (no border). Publisher is incapable of supporting this function, because it only designs within certain sizes, and a designer needs oversize artwork slightly in order for printer to cut it back down, to give the product the full bleed effect.

Furthermore, virtually no one in the print industry uses Publisher anymore. Adobe products are the norm. If a printer has Publisher, it will typically be for the use of converting the file to an Adobe format.

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A Vector file is an Adobe product file format, such as .pdf (Acrobat), .ai (Illustrator), psd (Photoshop), .eps (works across all Adobe products), etc.

 A Bitmap file is normally what you would see in Microsoft products such as Word and Publisher, such as .bmp, .png, .jpg and so on.

Often, a client will be their own designer, but creates art in a Bitmap format. Unfortunately, that can be compared to a professional baseball player showing up with an aluminum softball bat. In this baseball scenario, the result is obvious, but how does that relate to graphic art? Well, an aluminum bat might hit the ball but it is just not the right tool for the job, and the same applies to graphic software products.

The big deal is this: you cannot enlarge Bitmap files without ruining the graphic quality of the work, whereas you can enlarge Vector files as large you need them to be with absolutely no negative impact.

That said, a printer should not be expected to print quality product if Bitmap artwork has been provided, especially if the artwork needs to be altered in any way.

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“My business only has two colors. Why does it cost so much?”

When this situation comes up, it is usually due to Spot Color charges. Spot Color is when a printer runs a project through a press for one color and then runs it through the press for another color, and so on.

Clients use the Spot Color format if they have specific colors they need, otherwise known as PMS (Pantone Matching System) colors. There is an extra charge for doing this.

If colors butt up against each other in the artwork, this is what is known as Close Registration. The printer has to line up the project perfectly for each run, and this is a chargeable service.

If the artwork goes all the way to the edge of the cardstock, this is what is known as Full Bleed. The printer has to make sure ink goes outside the size of the artwork, and then they cut the piece down to size later. Printers charge per side for this service.

What is the alternative? Take your project to digital press, which prints the artwork digitally in one pass. The only drawback is that a client cannot be picky about having an exact color. The color that is selected on the digital artwork is what will be printed, and of course, digital can be different when combined what physical product.



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

“Can you get this done by…….?”

Time is always of the essence, of course, and probably always will be. It is not uncommon for clients to be behind their own schedule, forcing them to push for better times. Clients also forget about the time needed for the proofing portion of the project, and any good print broker will require approval of proofs before taking the job to print. Proofs are created for EVERYONE’S protection- saving the printer from wasting their efforts, and saving the client from lost time and the embarrassment of shoddy product delivered.

In desparation, clients will try to order from a company like As the name would suggest, clients believe that they can get a print job done in 48 hours. Unfortunately, even a company like this has stipulations, such as the 48 hour mark starts AFTER a proof has been completely approved.

Here are a couple of common examples of pushed due date scenarios:

Customer A: “We need this done asap.”

ProjectCenter: “Ok, let us get you a proof.”

Customer A: “Just go ahead and print it.”

ProjectCenter: “Well, given what you supplied, it is not going to look good.”

Customer A: “Just go ahead and print it.”

What happened? The product was shoddy, the client was upset about the quality of work and they threatened to not pay for the job.

Customer B: “Hey, what’s going on with my print job?”

ProjectCenter: “We are still awaiting your approval on the proof we sent.”

Customer B: “Oh, ok. We approve it”

What happened? The client called and said they didn’t approve it, because the client did not want to admit that they never really reviewed the proof.

The reality is that in a typically 3-5 day turn-around business, anything shorter in time is usually considered a “rush job”, and with that comes a cost. This is due to the fact that a printer has to break their workflow to put rush jobs ahead of others, creating more time and management.

In conclusion, if you are willing to pay the price, meeting a close due date is possible. If you are not willing to pay price, then close due dates are nonsense.

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“Are you a broker?”

How many times has this been heard, with the prospect’s obvious attempt to call out a broker for being a ‘phony’? The most amusing part of this is that a prospect would not even consider asking Kinko’s, Alphagraphics, Sir Speedy, Quick Copy and others if they are brokers, and almost everyone in the print business is a broker, including the big names mentioned. For the most part, the printers I have seen go direct, and do not wholesale, are commercial printers that focus on Fortune 1000 clients.

The reality is that printing press equipment is incredibly expensive, so printers need volume in order to stay alive. Unfortunately, printing press equipment also takes a lot time and effort to set up for each job, so they tend to not have time to ‘hit the pavement’ to sell their services. So printers encourage relationships with brokers in order to increase their revenue. On the other hand, brokers choose to keep their costs low by not buying printing equipment, and understand that it is better to leave the printing with the printers, who are experts in their field. This is not an uncommon approach in any business, and it works very well in the printing industry.

Furthermore, printers are kind of like computer people – they tend to like their own personal space. Conversely, brokers are like sales people- they tend to like OTHER peoples’ personal space. 🙂 Needless to say, printers would rather work on projects and have someone else sell for them, and brokers would rather sell/service and have someone else do the projects. A beautiful matching of abilities.

So when someone asks me if I am a broker, I sometimes like to reply with, “You mean like Kinko’s and Alphagraphics?”. That usually takes the ‘wise’ out of the ‘wise guy’.

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