Why beating printing companies down on price is not the best way to reduce costs

For me, few things are better than standing on the summit of a mountain

The route up a mountain is hard.  There’s a lot of work in getting to the top.  A summit has to be earned.

That is one of the things that gives me immense satisfaction when I reach my goal.  I could go for a nice walk below the mountains.  But taking the easy route would not give me the same satisfaction.

Just like mountain climbers, there are two routes for print buyers

Taking the challenging route is a good for mountain trekkers and print buyers

Taking the challenging route is a good for mountain trekkers and print buyers

They can take the easy route and just focus on buying on price. Or they can take the harder but more rewarding route.  They can challenge.

Print buyers who challenge will achieve more in their job roles.  They will also achieve more personal satisfaction.  It may seem hard to begin with, but they will also create better relationships through these challenges.  They will be accepted as valuable members of a team.

Print buyers who take the easy route and focus on price will simply be regarded as commodity buyers.  They will find it much harder to create the same level of relationship.  They won’t have the same level of personal satisfaction.  They won’t achieve as much in their job role.

Let’s remind ourselves of three key ways to challenge.

Challenge process

There are many ways to challenge process. Three ways to start are by challenging the order process, how files are delivered and challenging the reporting process.

You can find out more about this here.  However, process is not the only thing that should be challenged.

Challenge specification

This is an area full of possibilities for challenge.  I wrote recently about three ways in which buyers can challenge.

The first focused on challenging a specification with a view to reducing costs.  You can find out more about this here.

Next I talked about challenging a specification to make an item more effective.  The buyer would be focusing on improving return on investment.  You can find out more about this here.

Finally, I discussed the non-print areas of a specification that should be challenged. You can find out more about this here.

If you are challenging specification, it should lead naturally on to the next area of challenge.

Challenge supplier choice

Challenging a supplier base keeps your existing suppliers on their toes.  It is also a good way to get new ideas. It can also help buyers make sure they are choosing the right way to print a job.

You can find out more about this here.

Sometimes these challenges should be made by someone outside the organisation

I was recently asked to review print buying at a charity.  They had an experienced print buyer.  However, they were used to doing things their way.

I was able to challenge processes, specifications and suppliers.  The charity was able to save 16% on some of their key spends.  They also freed up valuable staff time.

Best of all, the buyer enjoyed the process.  They were able to return to their job with renewed enthusiasm.  They appreciated input as they had felt lonely in their job.

Some buyers will be concerned that I have made a big omission in this series of articles.

Surely price should be challenged?

Price is always an important part of the equation. It should always be reviewed. However, you may be impressed that the results you get without talking about price.

Remember the three ways in which you should take action

  • Challenge process
  • Challenge specification
  • Challenge supply base

It may seem like hard work, but you will find it enjoyable.  You’ll get satisfaction from the effort that you put in. That’s what I always find when I am heading for the next mountain summit.
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4 Responses to Why beating printing companies down on price is not the best way to reduce costs

  • Great blog with some interesting articles.

  • Alex says:

    A good print is so vital! There is nothing worse than saving a little bit of money only to find out that your posters/flyers/business cards are of a subprime quality and finish. A good supplier should take you through what is available and give you the best advice on what to go for. Like with many things in life the cheapest is not necessarily the best.

  • True; I like how you mention how some buyers see print as a “commodity.” If you were buying sugar packets for your office kitchen, THAT is a commodity, but print buying requires skill.

    If you were a sommelier, would your job be to simply buy and serve the cheapest wine?

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