The Ideal Relationship With Your Production Supplier
Keep Great Business Partners
The best print production vendors turn into business partners who share your vision of great service, a quality product and fair pricing. These partnerships are what production managers live for—knowing that vendors will always come through when there are tough times. In a perfect world you're helping your vendor do error-free work; your vendor is double-checking your work to catch any undetected mistakes.
Part of the "partnership" is to set your vendors up for success. Remember: If they fail, you fail. The following tips will help you—and them—succeed:
Allow for differences: I don't expect each of our vendors to do all jobs well. Each has a specialization, and I try to keep that in mind when sending jobs to them.
Train them: How are your vendors going to be successful if you don't train them to produce your jobs the way you want them done? The Hacker Group has vendors come to the office and spend at least one day going over all of the processes and procedures. They leave with an operations manual that outlines every step of a job.
Define your expectations: Setting accurate expectations for your vendor is one of the most important responsibilities of a production manager. What's the easiest way to do it? Put your expectations in writing. The Hacker Group has a 10-page document that is updated each year and includes expectations regarding every single production step. Vendors must sign and return it to us. If they don't sign, they get no work from us.
Invest in education: Each year The Hacker Group invites all our vendors to our offices for a "sit down." (Yes, they're competitors.) We discuss technology changes, quality issues, color consistency, proofing methods and anything we feel is important. Bottom line: An informed, well-trained vendor will make fewer mistakes on your projects.