By Al Bagocius
Up tp to 3 percent of corporate revenues are spent on document printing costs, but more than 90 percent of companies are unaware of those very real expenses.
During this time of continued economic uncertainty, a failure to at least recognize and attempt to manage these hard expenses seems at best wasteful, and at worst irresponsible. It is time to examine the printing structure your company has in place and see if there is room for improvement.
The production of point-of-sale marketing materials and other printing products can be a daunting responsibility. Marketing and production staffs must decide whether it is more efficient to deal directly with a manufacturer or to hire a packaging broker/consultant.
Historically, packaging brokerage has been plagued by myths and misinterpretations. When fueled by poor customer service, these myths can make even the most cost conscious manager reluctant to learn more about what is already a poorly understood industry. Yet, the need to operate businesses more efficiently is vital to keeping a company in the black without making the kinds of cuts that destroy its muscle and bone.
Researching other printing options is one area that deserves further consideration. Here are some points to consider when researching your printing options.
- MYTH 1: A direct manufacturer can provide all services needed for a project.
Actually, a manufacturer’s services are directly connected to the equipment and technology used at their facility. This significantly limits what services a manufacturer can provide. Due to these limitations, a manufacturer will farm out about 30 percent to 40 percent of their products to other printing companies, thus working as a broker themselves.
However, a manufacturer will not always combine efforts with a competitor in order to provide the best service for a client. This puts unnecessary restraint on client projects and creativity.
- MYTH 2: A printing brokerage firm will tack on unnecessary or exorbitant fees and commissions to the bottom line.
It should come as no surprise that a printing brokerage firm will expect to make commission. However, this doesn’t necessarily affect the bottom line because a brokerage firm should also be receiving a discount from the manufacturer(s) needed to execute the project. Many reputable brokerage firms will pass these discounts on to their clients.
This practice is similar to using a marketing firm to purchase media space like radio advertising. The radio group will give a discount to an agency, which often will pass this discount back to their clients, excluding it from their commission as well. Therefore, cost can actually go down with using a broker.
Additionally, what makes a stand-alone broker so unique is that he/she is directly responsible to the customer. Their financial reward and risk is on the line. If a job goes wrong because of an oversight on the part of the broker, it can be financially catastrophic. This creates a greater motivation to provide outstanding products and even better customer service.
- MYTH 3: A manufacturer knows printing and creative packaging better than a broker who is not familiar with the equipment.
A solid, talented broker will go beyond brokerage. They ask questions and maintain a consultative approach to doing business with clients and production departments.
The broker may have ideas on how best to handle creative packaging from past experiences with a variety of different products, and not just the capabilities of one’s own assembly line. Experienced, successful brokers focus on the details. This is of the utmost importance to survive and thrive in the printing arena
Also, if the project consists of multiple pieces, a broker can distribute the workload to the necessary manufacturers without causing headaches for the client. With a broker, the client will never see the work that goes into separating duties to multiple manufacturers.
Ultimately, the choice between manufacturer and broker should depend on what works best for your company. Many times, as a project evolves through the design process, the choice of materials, structure, or graphics changes.
If you are working with a manufacturer, the project can “outgrow” their expertise or equipment capabilities. A broker can adapt with the evolution of the project, and simply access the manufacturer that best suits your project. Their long standing relationships with multiple manufacturers also can give them the strength and influence to get the job done at the right price—and in the timelines you require.
Al Bagocius is the Managing Partner of Sangamon Print & Brokerage, the new print division for Client Focused Media, the leading integrated marketing firm in Northeast Florida. CFM’S capabilities and experience include strategic planning, marketing, creative, advertising, printing and packaging, public relations and crisis communications services.
Bagocius has worked in the printing and packaging industry for more than 30 years. His passion for excellent customer satisfaction is widely recognized in the length and strength of the business relationships he has developed and maintained through the decades. Gartner, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company, has worked with Bagocius for more than 33 years. Jacksonville-based Florida Blue and The Safariland Group, among others, are also long-time customers.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.