How understanding the fluff factor helps you reduce print costs by up to 30%

I hate doing the vacuuming.  But these days I have to vacuum more and more.  And the reason for this vacuuming is our cat.  Our cat drops fluff everywhere!

The fluff factor of our cat costs me lots and lots of time in vacuuming.  The fluff factor also costs me a lack of satisfaction in our environment.  This is because our carpets are always covered in fluff.

But, whether you have a cat or not, there is a similar costly fluff factor in all of our lives.  How often have you been a bit fluffy when you have spoken to someone?  And how often has that fluff factor resulted in extra costs?

The fluff factor is also a costly issue when buying print

Printing Cat

Fluff: annoying in cats and in print buying

The fluff factor in print buying is based around poor product specification.  Poor print specification for a product can include:

  • Not being clear about the schedule for producing the product
  • Being unsure about the print run for the product (the number of items you need)
  • Being unsure about the final size or number of pages for the product
  • Not specifying what type of paper you want for a product
  • This fluff factor with product specification causes a number of problems for print buyers.  These problems include:
  • Wasted time because the product needs to be quoted again and again
  • Ending up with the wrong printer for a product, because the specification changed at the last minute
  • Using the wrong printer and ending up with extra costs.  Extra costs can also be encountered because the specification is not as clear or economical as it might be.
  • Being dissatisfied with the end product

All these problems with products occur because of the fluff factor

If your print buying has the fluff factor you will lose control of your job.  Your printer will be fed up with you.  And you will also not achieve as much as you should from your print budget.

If you avoid the fluff factor you will achieve more from your budget.  You will have a better relationship with your printer.  And you will be in control of your print budget and your print job.

Here’s an example of how the fluff factor really messed up a print job

Some years ago I worked with a designer on a print job.  I produced them a specification and price for the job.  Then they changed their mind about the specification.  I produced them a new specification and price for the job.  Then they decided that the price was too expensive.  I revised the specification again.

This changing of the specification went on for quite a while, and wasted an awful lot of time.  But finally a decision was made and the designer was happy with the specification.    Now that the designer was happy, I booked the job in with a printer.  Then the designer changed the specification again.

The new specification would have been more economical at a different printer.  However, by now the original printer had bought paper so we were committed to using them.

The job went to the printer.  When the job came back, I thought it looked good.  (Although I was annoyed that the job could have been produced elsewhere for a lower price.)  But the designer wasn’t happy with the job.

The designer felt that the colour didn’t look right on the job.  I explained that the uncoated paper that they had specifically requested always produced dull colour.  “But I didn’t think the colour would look like this” said the designer.

At the end of the day the designer was unhappy because their thoughts and communication were really fluffy.

But printers are here to de-fluff your thoughts

A good printer will indeed guide you through uncertainties that you have.  But a printer is not a mind reader.  The printer can’t see that at the last minute you might change your mind.  The printer can’t see that the number of pages or the number of copies required will be different.

And the printer is unlikely to recommend that you stop using them and go to a competitor.  But with a different specification, a competitor might be a better choice for the print buyer.

One mistake that some print buyers make is not to clarify anything that they don’t understand.  Sometimes a printer uses an unfamiliar term or you are unsure about how to approach something.  It is far better to ask the printer upfront.  Uncertainties like this are a key cause of the fluff factor.

Here are three ways to reduce the fluff factor for a print job

  1. Think early on about how you want your print job to look.  Be really precise about the details
  2. Get a blank dummy of the print job on the paper you intend to produce it on
  3. Have a clear idea of the budget for your print job.  Then the print buyer or the printer can try and engineer your job to fit the required cost

Remember:  fluff is costly

Every time you add some fluff to a job, it costs more.  The cost may be in money, time spent or in satisfaction with the job.  Fluff in a job is to be avoided at all costs.

But I haven’t yet managed to avoid cat fluff on my carpets, so I better get back to the vacuuming…

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P.S.  If you have found this article useful, you may also be interested in Print & Procurement’s practical purchasing workshops.  Click here to find out more about our practical purchasing workshop.

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