Craig Johnstone / Feature Articles


Print buying and why print management is best – Part 1.

Having been a 5 colour B1 printing press operator, estimator, sales representative and business development manager for three prestigious Leicestershire printing companies I know as well as anyone that litho printers being manufacturers are as compatible with graphic designers and their other clients as oil is with water… not very.

“printers are as compatible with their clients as oil is with water… not very.”

What I also know is that just as additives can be added to fount solutions to make the lithographic printing process work better there is a solution that could be found to make print procurement better for the client and the printer and that’s a good print management service. Not just a simple nicey nicey service but one that was borne out of a high level of training, knowledge and experience.


When I launched my print management business in 1997 I did it driven by a simple premise and here I’ll share with you the reasons why that premise still remains as relevant today as it was back then.

3 good reasons why you shouldn’t buy print direct from a printer

#1 – Cost
Don’t believe for one minute that buying print direct from your printer will provide you with best value or save you money – it won’t.

All printing companies that put ink on paper and manufacture themselves are without question limited by the equipment they choose to use, the speed those machines run at, the size of material they can print on and quite often the numbers they can print with each impression.

Printing equipment is really expensive and as most printing companies are SMEs are inherently specialists and not generalists even though many claim to be able to produce many types of printed product. They may be able to but they are unable to economical across the board – they’re only likely to be competitive on 20% of the work they say they can produce – for the rest you’ll end up paying over the odds.

#2 – Quality
It doesn’t matter which printer you speak to, they’ll all tell you how good they are. What I can assume you of is that there are those who can and those who can’t and some of those who can’t are living in denial.

They still think that they can claim to meet high standards and produce quality print but either don’t or can’t. I even had an account manager at one of our regular printers tell me the other day that my Pantone swatch book must have been printed wrong and they were happy that the work was of a commercial standard. Not in my book it wasn’t. Now I know that they’re not a bad printer, they just had an issue with the exposure or development of their printing plates which resulted in approximately 20% more dot than should have been there but their instant reaction was denial and that can be pretty hard to deal with.

There are still many printing companies around that still don’t work to international standards when it comes to colour proofing and colour management – if they don’t work to both your brand is at risk. These standards were put in place to help printers and ensure that you the client get the quality you asked for and need to maintain your reputation consistently.

The quality standards that a printer adopts are also visible in the quality of the materials they use and the skills of their people. Do you know about printing paper and ink? Or what makes a good printing machine minder or print finisher and what to look out for?

#3 – Timing
Ever been in that position where your printer gets in touch to say that your artwork has a problem with it days after handing it over and your delivery deadline is compromised?

What happens here is that your artwork gets sat on until the job is wanted on press and other jobs take priority. This familiar story is all too true where the demands of filling presses is the priority. This is yet another reason why manufacturing is incompatible with a businesses ability to provide great service. It’s all about focus and this inward looking demand often leaves you the client in a position where you are inadvertently been put under pressure and your deadline is being missed.

Another issue with dealing with a printer direct is their ability to slot your project on press, not only will they always allow for ‘a wimpy’ to allow for there being an issue with the artwork you also have to work around the projects they already have booked in. Once again you are being penalised or restricted by the capacity of the equipment they have on offer to you to produce the work.

To conclude this article and find out the benefits of sourcing your print work from a print management company please hold on and wait for part 2 to be published or click here.

Alternatively you can contact Craig using the form above or call him on 0116 237 4603 to discuss how print management can benefit you and your organisation.

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“Thanks for getting me the calenders for my customers. Very quick service from first contact to delivery. Very good quality calenders very easy read for older people. Thanks again.”

Ambrose McSparron, Independent Funeral Director


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