The most successful print shop owners are making the move towards a broader marketing service provider model.
In recent years, advanced technology has transformed printing, making high-end features available for the first time to print shops of all sizes. This means print shops can now handle a wider range of work than ever before, while cutting costs, increasing productivity and gaining a competitive edge.
Those who’ve upgraded to the latest technology now have a scalable solution that helps them take on the most demanding jobs and deliver quality output every time.
If you haven’t yet made the move and you’re wondering what difference it would make, read on. Our print shop may be fictional, but the benefits we’ve described are based on the real life experiences of print shop owners and operators.
It’s 8am and Mike and Sarah are opening the doors of their print shop.
It’s been in Mike’s family for generations – as an offset operation started by his grandfather in the 60s, taken over by his father and converted to digital in the 90s, it’s now under his and Sarah’s management.
They’ve recently decided to make the move to next-generation print technology. So why did they make the investment?
- For the business to survive and prosper, they need to become a full-service marketing provider.
- Print is still central, but there are lots of other high-margin possibilities around that: direct mail fulfilment, new types of media and applications, and personalisation.
- Advanced print technology gives them a head start on the competition, and lets them show customers how much value they can add.
It was a big decision, but when they considered the alternative (falling behind, doing more of the same low-value work, being overtaken by their competitors), it became a whole lot easier.
The investment future-proofs the business, so they can hand it on to their children when the time comes.
It’s 9am and the business day is in full swing. They’re working on a big job for one of their recently acquired customers, a building society with branches up and down the country. The logo is in a very distinctive shade of red — Pantone 2347 XCG.
With their old technology, getting colours exactly right was often a challenge. As it was for their competitor, who lost this account after hit-and-miss results.
But now, with advanced colour technology under the hood of their new press, it’s simple, repeatable and predictable. Mike and Sarah hit the right colour first time, every time. Which means they save time, increase throughput and get more jobs out.
Colour management wasn’t the only challenge they had faced in the past. Front-to-back registration was a recurring issue, taking up an inordinate amount of valuable time. It led to high levels of wastage with spiralling costs.
The new press makes it automated and push-button simple. The way it should be – Sarah’s got more important things to worry about.
It’s just past 11am and Mike’s taking a call from a customer with an urgent job. The tech company has a big trade fair coming up next week, and they need a data sheet for a new version of their small-business accounting software that’s being released ahead of schedule.
So timelines are tight, and there’s an added complication: they want to print on heavy, gloss stock.
With old technology, that would have meant running more slowly to avoid misfeeds and paper jams. Not so with their new press, which handles all stock and substrates with ease and consistently high speeds. Detailed stock profiles control temperature to ensure maximum, hassle-free throughput.
It’s now 2pm and Mike and Sarah have returned from separate lunches with prospective clients. Both meetings were very successful. The prospects were impressed by the range and quality of their sample output and the confidence of their pitch.
The pair can afford to be confident, thanks to the cutting-edge technology that gives them the productivity, flexibility and scalability they need. Knowing that they can rise to the occasion and tackle any job means they’re winning significantly more business.
The sheer variety they can offer means they’re quickly becoming the partner of choice, not just another printing shop business. So they start with business cards and end up printing complex brochures, reports and marketing materials for a client.
From booklets to window clings, from coil bind to flat spine and printing on plastic, they can handle it all. And increasingly they are, since more and more clients want a one-stop solution.
It’s 3pm and Mike and Sarah may be dreaming of a bright new future but their feet are firmly on the ground when it comes to the print business. They know it doesn’t matter how good the technology is – things can always go wrong.
Which is what happens when their press jams.
As we all know, every press jams, and the pair know that the most important thing is how quickly you can unjam it. Before they upgraded, jams were pretty frequent and highly disruptive. Most jams they could eventually clear themselves, but occasionally they needed to make a service call – and both scenarios meant delays, frustration and lost revenue.
Now all of that is a thing of the past. Their new press has something called auto sheet clearing, which automatically clears jams and gets them back up to speed in record time.
So in just a couple of minutes they’re up and running again, with productivity and output barely affected at all.
Mike was surprised at how the technology has evolved under the hood. The move toward customer-replaceable units has changed printing presses beyond recognition since his dad’s time. These days most things can just be popped out and replaced, without even using a screwdriver.
It’s just past 4pm, and while Geoff (the print shop’s go-to guy) is delivering the urgent data sheets, Mike is at the controls once again.
The shop is busier than ever, and he’s wondering how they would have coped with such demand using their old press. Then again, this demand has actually been created by the capability the new press has given them, so he’ll never know the answer to that one.
At the moment, he’s just finished a business card run for an estate agent. Clearly the property market is booming because it’s the third time in nine months the agent has ordered more cards.
Mike knows that a new print run is going to be pretty straightforward, thanks to the workflow the press has kept on file. Colour, alignment, front‑to-back registration: everything on this press really is push-button simple. He can be confident that the quality is consistent and reliable – if he’s done it once, his press makes it easier to do it the next time.
Already he’s seeing big cross-selling benefits. After the second business card print run, the estate agent was so pleased he asked Mike if he could run a direct mail campaign to his client base. The shop is getting more and more of this value-added work, and they frequently pitch ideas to existing clients based on the new press’s capabilities.
It’s 5:30pm and Geoff is back, now handling a complex job that came in this afternoon.
It’s a 200-page report for a local university on the viability of establishing a biomedical research department. They’re looking for private funding, and are seeking investors and donors across the UK and internationally. The finished quality of the report will have to reflect the enormous effort and painstaking research that’s gone into preparing it.
Geoff wants to be ready to roll first thing in the morning, but there’s quite a bit of set-up to do.
The report has a dozen sections, each with a tabbed divider. There are several foldout pages, and countless high-resolution graphics. Section intro pages are on gloss paper, and the rest is on uncoated; 250gsm cover stock is used for the front and back.
And there’s one last complication: Geoff’s contact at the university says one of the appendices has to be created from a hard-copy document, as they can’t locate the soft copy.
With the old press, this job would have been hugely complicated, and Geoff would have arrived home late yet again.
He programs in the page sizes, paper stock, tabs and covers. He tweaks some of the graphics that aren’t displaying clearly before using the on-board scanner to read in the hard-copy appendix. He doesn’t need to worry about colour, fonts or image quality: the press’s advanced technology will ensure the report is exactly as the designer intended. And with Ultra HD technology, it’s going to look amazing.
Just one more thing to do before he packs up for the day: save the job into a hot folder, so it’s one of the many workflow processes he’s created since they got the new press.
It’s 6pm and we’ve come to the end of another busy day at the print shop.
Geoff’s job is all lined up for tomorrow morning. He’s glad to know that when he starts, he won’t have to hand-scan a calibration chart and take 20 minutes like he used to on his old press to calibrate. The new one does it in a fraction of the time, and the job will be under way before he’s finished his first cup of tea.
Mike and Sarah’s lunches seem to have paid off: they’ve heard back from both clients who are keen to proceed with a wide variety of projects. They were impressed by the print shop’s can-do attitude, and are looking forward to working together.
As Mike locks up the shop for the night, Sarah is approached by a man asking if they can help. He’s been referred by a print shop at the other end of town who said they couldn’t produce promotional magnets with matching printed envelopes, but thought Mike and Sarah could.
And they can – but it’ll have to wait until tomorrow. They’ll be there at 8am sharp.
Just like Mike’s dad and his grandfather before him.