Avoid getting the wrong print prices: why buyers need to use signposting

Can you imagine trying to drive somewhere without proper directions?

Most print sales people need to visit a lot of new places every month.  Imagine doing this without satnav.  Imagine doing this without maps.  Or road signs.

Chances are you’d end up very lost.  You’d probably be late for your appointment.

But many buyers make their suppliers feel just as lost

Print buyer signpost

Print buyers need to use signposting to get the right results from their suppliers

That’s because they don’t give them clear enough instructions.  Every time they ask for a print price they need to make sure that they give their printers clear signposts.

Buyers who signpost their price requests correctly will achieve what they want first time.  This is because they will control of the results they receive.  There will also be less frustration between buyer and supplier because everything will be understood.  So there is a much higher chance of achieving the right relationship with bidders.

Buyers who do not signpost their price requests correctly will not achieve the same level of relationship with bidders.  There will be frustration from the printers because they may not understand what is required.  There will be frustration from the buyer because they will often not receive the information that they wanted.  So they won’t feel in control of the price request.  They won’t achieve the results that they hoped for.

To get the best results you need to think about roads.  You need to give your suppliers signposts and a map.  Here are three ways you can do this.

1)  Ring suppliers up before you send the price request

Print companies are often, correctly, suspicious of price request s that land with them out of the blue.  How many other companies are receiving this price request?  Why have they been selected?  Is it really worth their while putting all this effort in?

A phone call before sending the full request engages the supplier.  It shows them that you are genuinely interested in them.  It also gives you an opportunity to make sure that the supplier is truly interested in bidding.

Sometimes suppliers can ask questions at this point which allow you to improve your price request.  As you write the price request you should always remember one vital item.

2)   Explain the bid timetable to the supplier

Including this information has saved me a huge amount of time over the years that I have been print buying.  If a supplier knows exactly what is happening when you will receive far less phone calls and e-mails.  They will know that you won’t be able to tell them the results before a certain date.  They will understand if you will be asking them to a meeting or informing them by e-mail.

There another thing that you can do to reduce un-necessary communication between you and the supplier.

3)   Give the supplier a bidding spreadsheet

This means that everyone will send their prices in exactly the same format.  It means that the supplier is completely clear about how to submit their prices.  And it makes the job of comparing bids a LOT easier.

That’s a key point for any print buyer.

Here’s how using these strategies made my life easier

I used to run a lot of tenders for magazine work.  The first ones that I ran involved me in a lot of work.  I had to chase up bids. I had to field phone calls from printers asking how they had done.  These phone calls always came when I was in the middle of complicated price comparisons!  I had to make these comparisons because I didn’t send out price spreadsheets.

Once I started using these three strategies my life became a lot easier.  On a big tender I could often reduce my workload by two or three full days.

So are these strategies just for big tenders?

Not at all.  They are just as useful for small purchasing exercises.  They may not save you two or three days.  But they will still save you a fair amount of time.  And your suppliers will be happier too.

Whatever the size of purchase you make, there is one more important point.

Always use simple language

Some purchasers use very complicated words.  It’s easier for everyone if jargon is avoided.  Then there is a much lesser chance of a misunderstanding.

So now you are ready to run even better price requests.

Here are three action points to get you started

  1. Ensure you make time to ring up suppliers before sending them an price request
  2. Make sure you set out exactly what you want to say to them before you ring them up
  3. Create a draft document that outlines your standard purchasing process that you can adapt for every price request

That way the road will be clearly signposted for the print company

They’ll be sure to end up exactly where you wanted them to.
P.S.  If you want to improve your print buying skills you should also sign up to the Profitable Print Rleationships newsletter.  Sign up right now to receive “Ten Common Print Buying Errors and What To Do About Them” and to make sure you receive similar articles to this.


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