I personally wouldn’t set up a printing company today. The investment would have to be massive if I was to compete in the marketplace and, like many areas of business, success has as much to do with skills in marketing than it does with skills in printing. In fact I would go so far as to say that marketing skills are probably more important than printing skills. How so? Well, in days past you probably had a good idea of the area from which your business was going to come and you would probably have a salesman who would cover that area calling on existing customers and new prospects and you would have a good idea of the sort of work you would be asked to do and any specialised work you couldn’t do yourself would be farmed out to a trade printer.
Nowadays however customers have become much more knowledgeable about marketing and printing and as a result are far more demanding in their needs. These days four colour is the norm and any printing company who haven’t invested in four colour machinery are probably looking at a very bleak future as print buyers look far and wide for the best deals on quality printing. The internet has revolutionised the way in which print is bought and sold and whilst companies still employ sales reps the new and modern way of doing business is online. One such company who forms the basis of our discussion here is Circle Services, having been established for over 60 years and going through many industry changes.
I imagine that as a buyer it is tempting to think that online companies are run on grim industrial estates far from anywhere in dilapidated buildings with leaky roofs in order to keep the costs down in order to offer the great prices which can be found online. In some cases that may be true but there are companies out there who have been established many many years who have bought into the modern way of doing things and have invested not only in the plant and machinery needed to compete but also in the websites and ordering systems which are the modern equivalents of the shop front of yesteryear.
The main reason online printers can compete on price is in the volume of work that they do and how efficiently they do it. The more organised the company the are the more efficient they are and so the more competitive they can be on price. It is not uncommon now for printing presses to use paper in sizes up to SRA1, which enables the equivalent of 8 A4 pages to be printed in one pass. This means that up to 8 different A4 jobs can be printed at once using one printing press, one set of printing plates and one machine set up. Alternatively it could be 16 A5 jobs or even a mix of both sizes. This is one reason why certain quantities will offer very affordable prices. 20,000 A4 leaflets for example can be bought for not that much more than 10,000. If a printer can run 8 or 16 jobs of 20,000 at the same time it means there are benefits for both printer and buyer in price and time savings.
Doing this volume of work also enables print companies to buy their paper in much larger quantities which also offers price benefits. When buying paper in large volumes is it not always necessary to carry large stocks as paper companies are willing and able to deliver at short notice and using bulk packing. This is where the paper is wrapped in pallettes of large quantities and the pallette is wrapped in heat shrink plastic wrappers so avoiding the need for ream wrapping which costs both in time and materials.
It is unlikely that a high street or a small local printer would be able to produce such volumes at the price and speed modern print buyers have come to expect and so online ordering is becoming not only the best option pricewise but also for ease of ordering and quick turnaround.