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CERTAINLY NOT! Believing that the cheapest bid is always the best one, is like believing in the tooth fairy.  The problem with this thinking is that it is extremely anal, and like adding blinders to your powers of reckoning. Cheap is not always best as if you wanted a new pair of shoes would you simply buy the cheapest pair you could find? What if in order to get the shoes for the lowest price you had to cram your size 12 footsies into a size 11 shoe? Did you then get the best deal and is that deal worth living with when it causes you pain? CERTAINLY NOT!

What are the factors that help make the printing company with the bid that was not the cheapest more “cost effective” in the long run?

What is your time worth? How often must you remind the printing company about the same thing or worse, the same mistakes? Was your job delivered in a timely fashion or not? Did the printing company do everything in its power in order to keep your job on track? Did you get the feeling that someone was there who understood your requirements and, assuming they were realistic of course, leave you with a feeling that all was being done that was possible in order to meet them?

Did the printing company have the correct equipment? If they did not, here is where you get that analogy about “tight shoes” again. The “wrong” printing press can create a longer completion time for your job, mess up the registration of it and can cost you more due to the fact that it was not a very economical press to be running on. An example would be that if a very long run 8 page document were run on a half web vs. a full web, many times the half web, while a bit slower on the run time, would save you money as it is a much less costly press, with start ups and all, to run than a full web printing press. Commercial printing presses come in many “shapes and sizes”. The printing company should educate you about your choices and which is the better printing press to run your job on.

Did the printing company provide “value added service”? These are the little things that when printing companies can spend time with you in trying to understand your business model that can be offered to you to help you grow your business. What sets these printing services apart from the standard “quote it, print it, get it out the door” policies of some commercial printing companies, are the little extras that come from taking the time to look at your business model and understand what you are trying to accomplish with your commercial printing materials. Because a printing company has been dealing with these types of printed materials for a long time, those insightful suggestions can be extremely helpful to the print buyer.  Many times there are little extras that can be given the customer along the way and at no cost, which also can add value to the printing job.

Did the printing company explain running costs?Web printing presses can have as much as a third of the cost of a job being the “start-up” of the press. Therefore once running, the “impressions” cost less than those at the beginning of the job where the costs to crank up the web printing press are first factored in. Were these factors explained to you, whether on a web printing press or sheet fed press and how you could benefit by changing your run quantity? Many people go on and off press several times a year? It is in your best interests to not do this but to print for the longest period possible without the materials you print becoming dated.

Are the bids “apples to apples”? Did all of the bids you received cover all of the work you require? Does each quote provide a favorable timeline for you? Is the paper the same in all quotes, not just by brand, but by weight and grade? Are there things excluded which could cost you more later on? Have you seen the work of the other printing companies quoting your job? Many printing presses simply do not maintain their equipment properly and may go well beyond the recommended commercial printing maintenance schedules in order to save money. This does not lend itself to quality work anymore than a less experienced pressman will.

In the final analysis, price is determined by many factors and at the end of the day or year, your overall commercial printing costs are many times with the best printing company and not necessarily with the cheapest printing companies.

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