Damn you, drones. Even though you’re not yet legal for delivering packages, people will get ideas – and expect all kinds of deliveries overnight. Or same day.
What’s a print manufacturer to do? Fortunately, there are steps that customers can take to get print projects delivered faster. The one-word answer is efficiency. Here’s what we mean.
- Design in standard sizes. Take advantage of common sheet sizes, which will also save you money and reduce waste. Ask your print rep what’s standard for the paper you’re considering. Rule of thumb is anything that’s a multiple of 8 ½ x 11 inches.
- Use a house sheet. Printers stock certain paper (text weight and cover), so it’s there when customers need it. This is paper that a printer’s already tested on their presses and bindery equipment, so they know the job will run smoothly on the sheet. (Besides, sometimes specialty paper can take weeks to locate and get shipped to your printer.)
- Don’t reinvent the wheel. Use formats and designs you’ve used before if it’s appropriate for your print job. Standards save time all the way around.
- Print digitally. Printing something digitally as opposed to printing it on an offset press is faster. Digital runs are typically shorter, although there are exceptions. In a time crunch, you can also print a small, partial run of your job digitally, so you’ll get it much quicker. Then the printer can finish the balance of the job after the crisis has passed. Here’s a plus to this strategy: maybe you’ll want to make changes to the job once the initial short run is done digitally and distributed. It’s easier to make these edits and incorporate them on the balance of the press run.
- Use a web-to-print interface. Are you familiar with this term, aka “Web2Print”? It describes an ecommerce platform whereby you place your print orders directly from your computer, using a web interface. There are huge benefits to web2print. You and your team work off of stored design templates. You can customize each order easily – and place orders 24/7. It’s an ideal solution if you do a lot of repeat marketing collateral, and also if your company needs a lot of stationery items. Plus, your colleagues (peers, marketing staff, sales team) can be taught quickly and easily how to use the web2print interface and order jobs themselves. It’s fast and efficient.
- Avoid alterations once the files go to your printer. Proof every job carefully before you send a file to your printer. In fact, do it multiple times. This way, there should be no corrections or edits when you get the proof.
- Review proofs quickly. The longer you hold onto a proof and the more people you involve in the approval process, the longer it will take to print and deliver the job. Streamline this step internally and turn proofs around fast.
- Choose a printing company that can do what you need in-house. If your job requires mailing and fulfillment, it will save you time if you work with a printer who has this capability in-house. Plus, you’ll have one contact in charge of your job, not several. Keeping all of the work in-house is a big time saver.
- Design something that can be printed in a reasonable amount of time. Not every job requires perfect prose and an exquisite, over-the-top design. Don’t lose sight of a critical delivery date when a job is in the design stage. Move it along.
- Communicate early and well with your printer. A heads up does wonders when it comes to saving time and working efficiently. Get your printer’s input as soon as you can. Find out what might speed up your job and improve delivery time. Get a working schedule, share it with key colleagues, stick to it, and always keep your printer in the loop.
All 10 steps will improve a print job’s efficiency and help improve your delivery time. If we had to pick just one, of course we’d pick #10. Keep communications open with your printer, especially if you need a fast turnaround.
Even if delivery-by-drone isn’t in the near future, you can still shave time off your print job by being super efficient. What steps are you taking to speed up your print projects? Share your thoughts below.