If you are a fan of Broadway musicals like me, you might remember Rodgers and Hammerstein’s song “Getting to know you” from The King and I.

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you.
Getting to like you, getting to hope you like me.

Getting to know you, putting it my way,
But nicely,
You are precisely,
My cup of tea.

Getting to know you,
Getting to feel free and easy
When I am with you,
Getting to know what to say

Haven’t you noticed?
Suddenly I’m bright and breezy
Because of all the beautiful and new
Things I’m learning about you
Day … by … day.

When developing a relationship with a printer, “getting to know you” is precisely the mindset you should adopt.

Because It Pays to Know Before You Go

There are two strategies I use in developing a relationship with a printer. I pose them here to you as questions.

  • Is this someone I can work with?
  • What are their services/products?

I believe you save time and money if you share your plans or voice your concerns ahead of time. In this way the printer can make recommendations up front so you can plan appropriately. Therefore it’s important to know if you can work with the printing staff. If the printing company will not take time to help you resolve issues, they may not be a company you should work with.

I remember the first time; I had to prepare art that would be printed on a t-shirt. I knew very little about the process. Therefore, I called and set up a meeting with the owner of the local t-shirt printing company. After talking through the design with him, I understood the things I could and could not accomplish given the budget for the job. The printer took the time to explain the t-shirt printing process and a result he gained a long-term customer.

So, if you have the opportunity, make an effort to talk to the printer about how to prepare your files prior to designing the job. After all, one way to establish a level of comfort is to ask questions. And, you may find that they do not offer a specific service, thus sending you scrambling at the last minute.

Not all printing companies are created equally as I pointed out in Part I of this blog. If you know the capacity of the printing company you’ve chosen to work with, you’ll save time and money. For example, I recently ran across a printing company that has a sixteenth of an inch variance on each side, which meant that thin line borders looked thinner on one side than the other. This caught me off guard. Luckily, this particular printing company has great customer service. They offered to reprint the job for free. I was fortunate; not every company will take full responsibility and reprint a job. Many times it’s the designer or the client who suffers the consequences.

Visit in Person or Online

If the printer or sales representative offers you the opportunity to tour the company, take it. Most printers that I know love to show off their presses, bindery and imaging systems. This is your chance to find out how you can save money on your jobs.

If you can’t visit the company or they don’t offer tours, take the time to do the research online. Some companies have made an effort to give you as much information as possible online.

Thus, online you can:

  • Order paper samples,
  • Learn how to prepare your files for print
  • Find a list of services and products
  • Get free templates
  • Get help via email

Make an effort to get to know your local printing companies to determine if you can work with them, and take the time to discover their services, you’ll save time and money as a result. A word of caution, I am not saying the strategy I outlined in Parts 1 & 2 of this blog will resolve every problem you come across, but it can help smooth out your process.