It’s an interesting question, and one possibly without a clear answer. Although many buyers treat print as a commodity purchase, they still have high expectations of a quality product, exceptional service and on time delivery.
So when, as a print buyer, do you choose price over quality? Although I’d love to shout NEVER, I understand this is an unrealistic expectation, so let me give you my take on the situation.
It might seem like a strange analogy, but why do you buy from a butcher instead of a supermarket? Some of the things that come to mind are better quality and service, and a greater variety of product. You also have the opportunity to deal directly with the expert, making sure you get exactly what you want and understand the best way to prepare it.
Maybe printing is a little like this. If you have no expectations on the finished product, then maybe the bottom line is the other thing to consider. But if representing your brand, matching your corporate colours and getting the right advice on paper and binding are even a small consideration, then maybe it’s time to start looking at more than just the price.
So when, as a print buyer, do you choose price over quality and service?
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A PRINTER?
MACHINERY. Old or new? It does make a difference. Newer machines print better, are more efficient, and have the ‘whistles and bells’ that ensure a consistent, quality product. Printcraft’s 18 month old, 5 colour press has automated colour control. This means the machine matches the colour densities of the proof to the the printed sheet, not just when the printer feels like it (as previous) but every 10 sheets. It’s the only way to guarantee a consistent product throughout the entire run.
EXPERTISE. Does the person you’re dealing with know what they’re doing? Many people think printing is simply pushing a green button on a printing press, but it takes a lot more skill and expertise at both the front and back end to get a good result. If it doesn’t feel right then try talking to someone else.
CULTURE & ETHOS. This may be an odd thing to to consider, but things do go wrong. You want to be confident that, if on the slim chance your job goes pear shaped, the people you’re dealing with won’t suddenly stop returning your phone calls. How a business deals with mistakes is often a strong representation of how solid the company is.
PRICE. Yes, I’m throwing this in here. I’d be kidding myself if it wasn’t an important consideration. Generally, if you’re dealing with suitable printers, prices should be relatively close. If someone is half what others are quoting, then it pays to look a little deeper. Are you comparing apples with apples on paper stock and finishing? Does the price include freight? Have they perhaps made a mistake (we are human after all)? It’s certainly not wrong to want the best value for your money, but don’t get caught out unexpectedly with hidden charges.
In conclusion, if I had to enter in on the price vs quality debate, I’d probably say choose both. In today’s market you have that luxury of being able to work with good quality printers, who also offer competitive pricing. Stick with the suppliers you know and trust and don’t be swayed by ridiculous, one off, low ball offers to win your business.
If you’re not feeling the love from your current print partner it’s time to start interviewing. Trust your instincts and go with the supplier who’ll give you the very best for your budget, as well as the quality and service you deserve.