Print Management Companies UK – what do they do?
There are a number of different types of businesses who call themselves Print Managers. But from many customer’s perspectives (i.e. anyone print buying on a project by project basis) a print management company will seem pretty much like talking to a printer. You talk to them about the print you require, they will advise you, take your order and payment and produce your print, delivering it when and where you want it.
For businesses who buy larger amounts of print, some print management companies can provide many more services – see Adding Value below.
However, while some print managers do own printing presses, others do not – leading to quite a few people who are print buying to get confused. So, let’s take a look at what print managers are and what they’re not and how they can add value to your business – as an alternative to going straight to your local printer.
What is Print Management?
At its most basic level, print management refers to the management of a printing project from start to final delivery. Usually, this involves print procurement, specifying, print project management and delivery, though the titles of those involved in the entire process may differ depending on the type of print management company involved (read on dear reader and all will become clear!).
Who calls themselves a Print Management company?
This is the crux of the issue and often leads to confusion. Companies who call themselves print managers include 3 types of businesses:
1. At one end of the spectrum, printers often describe themselves as being print managers or offering a print management service because they do, indeed, manage print projects through their presses. Printers may outsource products they can’t print themselves – or turn your project away if it doesn’t suit their press.
2. In the middle, print management companies with presses will offer to print and manage any sort of project. They own their own presses so their first port of call will be to print using these presses because empty presses cost money. However, they generally have procurement and project management specialists to manage externally-sourced print on behalf of clients, so can offer to print a full range of products.
3. At the other end of the spectrum are independent print management companies without presses. These businesses aren’t tied to particular presses but aim to add value to clients offering independent consultancy, advice, purchasing, project management, software and an extensive range of other value adding services. Webmart is an example of this sort of print management business.
Own presses or not?
Print management companies with their own presses highlight the benefit of going straight to the press owner to get the lowest prices. However print managers without presses highlight the fact that they can match up each project to the right press and this is what reduces prices for clients – that press owners need to fill presses almost to capacity to achieve break even so cannot ensure they keep costs down by putting the project on the right sort of press.
Print management companies of all shades, like any modern businesses, focus to a great extent on giving customer satisfaction. However, the best ones formally monitor customer satisfaction through feedback mechanisms. Indeed if you choose a print management company who has achieved ISO9001 accreditation, any learning or improvements made throughout the year should be formally documented and process improvements made to improve customer satisfaction.
The best print management businesses take customer satisfaction further though, aiming to add value to their customers’ businesses in as many ways as possible. They offer free consulting to understand their client’s business objectives and bring the expertise and tools found within the print management business to bear on behalf of the client. This can include anything from bringing experience and advice aimed at anything from increasing marketing ROI to internal process improvements all the way through to practical software and business productivity improvements.
We’ll be looking at examples of how print management companies add value to their customers in a future article.
A key benefit of using a print management company is that the best ones will be able to print anything and everything your business requires. They have dedicated procurement teams who ensure they’re competitive in a wide range of printed products, and can fulfil orders for promotional or point of sale items just as easily as they can for items like leaflets and brochures. This can be a core benefit for busy marketers and business owners.
The best performing print managers also make it their business to monitor the price fluctuations in the print industry to ensure the prices they give to market are always competitive. While many older-style print management businesses do this at the expense of their suppliers, a more enlightened breed of print managers recognise the value of a strong and broad supply base and can deliver competitive prices to market that are sustainable in the long term.
This collaborative approach is a key way to ensure the long-term health of the UK printing industry (and print management companies UK).
Access to redundant capacity
The data which allows monitoring of print price fluctuations can also be used by print managers and their suppliers to fill redundant capacity. Redundant capacity is seriously damaging for a printer’s bottom line so it’s in the printers’, print managers’ and print buyers’ best interests to use that capacity. The print manager’s position as intermediary in this process can help anyone print buying to locate capacity at a reduced cost and offering a win/win/win for everyone in the supply chain.
What to do next?
If you’re looking to buy print in the UK, we’d recommend giving us a call. Webmart is the UK’s No.1 low-cost independent print management company. Check out our FAQ where we answer most of the questions that commonly puzzle print buyers not familiar with print management companies. Or drop us a note with any queries or for the UKs quickest price.