One of the biggest mistakes a business can make is choosing the cheapest print supplier they come across. Most of the times these cheapest print suppliers end up costing the company a small fortune. Let’s look at what can distinguish lot of risk and red flags.

1. Know the expertise of your supplier:

In the print industry, ensuring the print supplier has expertise is a hard answer. There are many suppliers out there who offer products such as screen printing, large format printing, production printing and even 3D printing etc.. Most technicians will specialise in one particular product range so ensuring they have the correct training and skill sets to service your machine is critical.

2. Be aware of the service capacity:

This is an interesting point. There are multiple things to consider when talking about service.

Let’s start with service response times. 99% of print providers will quote you a 4 hour response time. What needs to be understood with this statement is simply this – Clarify if that means 4 hours until a technician is on site or 4 hours before you “acknowledge” my request for a service. This can make a huge difference to the quality of service you receive. On-site service in 4 hours is the industry standard so ensure you clarify this point.

Parts Availability – most suppliers stock parts locally but in recent years, consolidating parts to one national location is becoming more common as the drive to reduce costs are pouring itself over the industry with such low service rates. The obvious concern to consolidating these supplies is the time it would take to receive a particular part should your machine require would be in excess of 24 hours. The benefit? These suppliers usually offer a slightly lower service cost. What’s more important – Uptime or cost?

A key suggestion in making sure you feel comfortable with the level of service being offered is to have a meeting with the prospective service manager – these guys are not sales guys, they will talk in real numbers and facts.

3. Make sure your supplier is financially stable:

It will be better if you search out for financially stable suppliers instead of financially unstable suppliers. With so many new print providers out there, its providing consumers with super competitive pricing but what can undo that is the risk of the supplier going under. Ensure you ask about track record and years of trading to ensure the provider can support the contract for the term of the agreement.

4. Location of your supplier:

This factor is optional but it will be very effective for you if the location of your supplier is central or close by. This way the smooth transportation of parts and supplies will play an important role in maintaining the device uptime. Most dealers will have “zones” in which they are allowed to sell into and anything outside that area is classed as “out of area” and another dealer has the exclusive rights to service that area- what does this mean? It means if you sign with a new supplier and one of the machines is “out of area” the servicing will be done by the authorised service team as a third party and your print provider really has no control over when that service will happen.

5. References:

Again, this factor is optional but it can be very effective to sniff out any bad experiences clients might have had. To me, every business will have unhappy clients, this is through technology limitations, system limitations and even account management limitations.  What you need to make sure of is that the problems have been resolved or actioned. There is nothing worse than having an issue and have it ignored. Ensure the supplier takes responsibility and works with you to resolve any issues you might have as photocopier contracts can be as long as 5 years.

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