Okay, here's our latest confession:
Finding. A. Good. Printer. Is. The. Hardest. Thing.
When you finally find a printer that has the quality you like, they end up being too expensive. And when you find a printer with good pricing, they turn out to be crap quality. The round and round battle is FREAKING EXHAUSTING. If you're dealing with this, too, you are not alone. So, it's time to take a walk down memory lane with our printing struggles, both local and online.
Our first battle: local printers. I kid you not, we spent MONTHS trying to find one—just ONE—decent local printer to work with. We got so many recommendations and all of them were much more expensive than we were looking for. At that point, having just started a company and with limited clients, we didn't have a ton of projects to give as reference, so we were asking most of the print companies for random pricing estimates...and they were not helpful in. the. least. How hard is it to provide an estimate, people? Help us out, here! Work with us! Early on, we were also printing a lot smaller runs for prints and one-off jobs, and none of them were willing to accommodate these smaller orders - as in, "this will be $100 for 10 8x10s." Um, no. We don't even charge that much for one so that's absurd. And while I totally get it that they need to make the print job worth it, it felt like we just couldn't catch a break.
After searching high and low, we realized the local companies were best used solely for larger invitation suite runs, and in doing this, we found the pricing to be much more reasonable. We settled in on two local printers in particular that worked well for our needs: Integrity and Christian Printers (both in the Des Moines area). All was smooth sailing for awhile...we got into a groove with our preferred paper needs and turnaround times and it seemed like we'd FINALLY figured it out. Until the issues started arising. Little things, like a few missing escort cards or inconsistency in the pricing or the wrong amount being printed (which, holy S&$#, we had some orders where we had seriously over 80+ extras...WHY?). And while they were quick to fix the issues and reprint, it still was a huge time-suck to have to correct this on our end while we were on a tight deadline. So, we decided, ya know what? We're going to get firm with them and demand to not have to pay for certain things when the issue was caused by them. And you know what? INTEGRITY DECIDED TO NO LONGER OFFER WEDDING PRINTING. JUST LIKE THAT! So, awesome. That's fantastic. And now we're back to square one finding a quick-turnaround local printer that can learn our nuances and work with us on our projects. We still work with Christian, and they've been great, but their turnaround times don't always work with some of our clients' needs. Super. Duper. So, the fight is still on.
Second battle: the online printers. To combat our previously mentioned issue of smaller-run projects, we turned to a few online sources.
- District White Label - for smaller projects, folded cards, and other misc. print jobs
- Fast Printing and Stationery HQ - for foil printing projects
- CatPrint - for select foil projects
The reviews of them are as follows:
District White Label - easy interface for uploading, super affordable for small runs, shipping is free, AND they include envelopes. Downfalls - free shipping takes awhile...sometimes up to a week, which isn't great for quick turnarounds. We've had A LOT of issues with quantity and most recently, the scored cards were overscored (twice) and ripped when the bride folded them. So, that was fun.
Fast Printing - AMAZING quality, especially for foil. Pricing is $$$ and takes quite awhile to ship
Stationery HQ - Also pretty good quality, and depending on the project, can be cheaper than Fast Printing, as they have standard sizes to choose from
CatPrint - not great quality, and can't print foil onto a color - only white. Good for smaller runs, though!
So...as you can see, our printer issues are far from over. Finding a company you can rely on is HARD, and the hardest part is, all of the final results are completely reflective of your company. The bride doesn't care about who you use to print, they just want their goods delivered efficiently and looking the same as how they ordered them in the first place (which really, shouldn't be so hard to do!). Any issues with the final delivery falls back on you as the company.
So, our newest endeavor - purchasing our own printer so we can be 100% responsible for the finished product. And this is FINALLY a reality after getting second place at the REV competition, put on by TS Bank - recap to come later this week! Onto the next battle - finding a great printer to purchase. Any suggestions? We're all ears!
What have been your greatest printing struggles to date? Have you guys found workarounds that have helped out your process?