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  • Cutting through the jargon which drives us all mad

I’d like to address a question which is nearly always top of mind when a customer places an order and that is: 

Can you guarantee I’ll get my job on time?

Even if it isn’t expressed, it’s always there – bubbling away just below the surface just willing to be answered.

So, let’s take a few moments to meet this question head-on and look at some of the easy fixes which can be put in place to guarantee delivery dates.

And … find out the one thing 70% of customers don’t do to help make it happen.

 

 

What I’d like to talk to you about here is what goes on behind the scenes so that when you’re planning your next print project you’ve got plenty of time in hand to get everything done and delivered on time.

In truth, there are a multitude of factors which will affect lead times but it would be really helpful for you to know what the key factors are and the impact they have.

And here they are …

 

1:  Whether you are submitting a Print Ready PDF? Or …

2: Getting your print provider to design your job for you.

3: The run length of the job you are about to order.

4: Any special finished like varnishing or die-cutting.

5: Are you collecting your job or is it to be couriered to you.

 

 

1:  Are You submitting a Print Ready PDF?

If you are, this will shorten lead times significantly. Sometimes by as much as half or two thirds!

And there’s a very good reason for this. Printing a job, packing it all up and sending it out are all known quantities and your print provider will know with a high degree of certainty how long it will take to complete.

To give a for instance: a typical lead time for 1,000 folded flyers could be around 2 to 5 working days.

 

 

2: Getting your job designed for you.

Instead of a lead time of 2 to 5 working days you could be looking at 5 to 10 if you wanted design rolled in too.

Content has to be collected together. New copy might have to be written and … checked! Images may have to be sourced and this is all before you’ve briefed your designer.

In a perfect world you’d have everything assembled at the start so your designer can set to work immediately for you. 

But is rarely happens like that. Stuff comes in in dribs and drabs. You may be kept waiting for things like trade logos and the like to come … and it goes on.

So, you drip feed stuff through to the studio as it becomes available and you zig zag slowly but surely towards the finishing line.

 

 

 

3. The run length of the job you are about to order

It’s probably self-evident but worth bearing in mind how run length can affect lead times – and … not for the reason you’d think.

Lead time for 100 digitally printed booklets could be in the region of 1 to 3 working days. Whereas a quantity of 1,000 booklets might take anything from 4 to 7 days.

However, this is more to do with the production process than the numbers required.

Short run jobs will often be printed locally on a digital press whereas long runs could be centrally printed in batches which means they’ll have to fit in to a much more rigid timetable.

 

 

4.Special finishing processes

Just like the question of run lengths which we’ve talked about a moment ago – special finishing tasks such as varnishing or die-cutting will have a profound effect on lead times.

And, again, not necessarily for the reason you’d think.

Yes, these extra tasks do take time to complete but because they require very specialist machinery they are not always carried out on-site and may need to be sent out to a print finisher before your job can be completed. 

It really does depend on the task in hand but a rough rule of thumb would be to add an extra five to eight working days for these sorts of tasks to be completed.

 

 

 

5. Are you collecting your job or is it to be couriered to you?

As mundane as it might seem this exercise wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t at least touch on it because there are factors which can have a significant impact on lead times and they are worth a closer look.

If you live or work close by you’re probably used to popping in to collect stuff so delivery time is unlikely to be a factor. 

But whilst it’s no effort to pop in and collect a small box of leaflets or brochures, if you’ve just ordered several thousand new programmes for a big event the consignment weight is likely to be significant.

Trying to man-handle 20 or 30 10kg boxes into the back of your car is not quite so attractive and you might want them delivered instead.

Regular courier deliveries should arrive the day after despatch, but it’s worth checking with your regular print provider just in case they use a 2 to 3-day service as standard.

Paper is heavy stuff and a delivery of 500 multi-page booklets, for example, is more than likely going to go out on a pallet delivery which, again, can add 2 to 3 days to the overall lead time. So definitely worth factoring in along with the other elements as you calculate the overall lead time.

 

 

 

 

6.And, finally, what more than 70% of customers don’t talk about?

This might stun you but, you know, over 70% of customers don’t tell their printer when they actually need their job!

Well, not at the start anyway. It’s often part way through the production cycle when that little rabbit pops out of the hat. And, guess what, all hell breaks loose!

So, here’s what the really smart guys do. 

Well in advance of when they need a time-critical job, print savvy customers like you will be talking to your printer about the project and any mission critical elements which might come in to play.

It might only be in outline terms but fill them in on the details of your job as best you can and request a likely lead time from proof approval.

Once you’ve got that figure, factor in a little extra time to avoid squeaky bum time and you’ll know pretty much to the day how much time you need.

Then, it’s time to go back to your printer and tell him that you’ve fulfilled your part of the bargain: here’s the order, now I want a cast iron guarantee that my job will be delivered on time!

 

 

So, there we have it. 

I hope I’ve helped give you a sneak-peek about what goes on behind the scenes in the print room and … some of the factors which affect lead times.

 

I hope this quick skim through has been helpful and thanks for dropping in,

 

But before you go …

I’m on a mission this year to help You make Your Print more Profitable.

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It’s what we’re here for!

 

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