The Ideal Relationship With Your Production Supplier
By Gayl Curtiss
It's easy to find print production vendors. It's hard, however, to find good ones. Finding compatible, competent production suppliers is an ongoing challenge. Here are some tips I use when considering potential suppliers:
Pricing: There are many exceptional production facilities with which to align yourself. The first thing I do is ask the prospective vendor to bid on some representative projects, and I compare its prices to what I have already paid. I refuse to a pay a premium for the "privilege" of working with any vendor. If its pricing seems to be in line, I plan a visit to its facility.
Visitations: I tour every facility with which The Hacker Group works. Why? I want to get a feeling for the environment—I want to see firsthand if people enjoy their work, if they're proud of what they do. If I don't get that feeling, I won't work with them. Listen to your gut; if you don't like what you see, hear or feel, walk away. If you don't feel that your staffs would be complementary, don't force the relationship.
Quality: Work with vendors who care as much about quality as you do. Two companies that do not share the same values cannot work well together. During your visit, ask the account rep to see the company's standard operating procedures to assure error-free work—can he or she readily locate these procedures. Are they up-to-date? The response will tell you legions about the company's values.
References: Call a vendor's references, but also make calls to other people within the industry to find out the vendor's reputation on "the street." Also run a financial and credit check on potential suppliers.
I won't work with a production supplier that's having tough economic times. I can't afford to have my client's programs held hostage because the vendor can't pay for raw materials and labor.