10 Questions To Ask Before Partnering With A Commercial Printing Company

By Drew Galvin on November 29, 2022

Choosing a commercial printing company shouldn’t be a last-minute decision. As the go-to partner for your printing and graphic design needs, you need a company that can take you through the process and deliver high-quality work on time. To help you make an informed decision and know exactly what to look for, this blog will cover 10 of the top questions to ask a printing company before choosing to partner with them.

Questions To Ask Yourself Before Partnering With A Commercial Printing Company

Before beginning any major endeavor, it’s a good idea to start off with a little introspection. This will help you better understand what you need and what you’re looking to accomplish before you begin the hunt for a commercial printing partner. Below are two questions to ask yourself before you begin the process of interviewing commercial printing companies.

#1 What Type Of Print And Print-Related Services Do I Need?

What you’re looking for will help you determine what you need in a commercial printing partner. Start by making a list of the types of commercial printing jobs you may need — whether it be annual reports and custom booklets for your company or brochures and direct mail campaigns, etc.

Be as extensive and descriptive as possible. Some questions to help you get started could include:

  • Do I need a company that offers design, as well as printing and mailing services?  
  • Do I need a company that provides digital, print-on-demand services and can produce annual reports?
  • Do I need a company that can handle large commercial printing projects like outdoor signs and banners?

Also on your list, include the project specifications, such as the quantity, whether the printing is in color or black & white, if personalization is needed, and if you have any fulfillment needs.

#2 Do I Want A Long-Term Business Partnership?

What are you looking for in a commercial printing company? Is your need for a printer for a one-time project? Or, are you looking for a commercial printing company with whom you can build a partnership?  If your need is for a long-term partner, be sure to ask questions that will ensure that company has the capabilities to meet both your current and projected needs.

10 Questions To Ask A Commercial Printing Company

Now that we’ve covered a couple of questions to ask yourself before looking for a commercial printing company, let’s take a look at 10 of the top questions you should ask your potential commercial printing partner.

#1 What Commercial Printing Services Do You Offer?

Perhaps the simplest question on this list is also the most fundamental. This is also why we started with the “what type of print and print-related services do I need?” question. Once you know that, you need to confirm the print and design company you’re interviewing has the capabilities your projects demand.

For instance, does the company offer the following services:

  • Offset printing (sheetfed or web) for your larger quantity projects
  • Digital printing for your smaller quantity and quick delivery need projects
  • Print-on-demand
  • Custom brochure printing services
  • Brand identity design services, proof-reading, & printing services

Basically, you want to know the commercial printing company has the resources you need for your projects — whether big or small. At Safeguard by Innovative, we offer full-service flexibility. Our knowledge, products, and services extend across the spectrum of commercial printing solutions — providing the best fit option for all of your project needs.

#2 What Are Your Backend Capabilities?

Does the commercial printing company have the equipment needed to fold, glue, saddle-stitch, or bind the project? Can they die cut for folders? Do they have a partnership with envelope converters? It’s easy enough to find out what services a printing company has to offer and what types of printing equipment they have. But it’s also important to dig deeper and go behind the scenes.

You don’t need to understand all the industry jargon to find out a company’s backend capabilities. You just want to find out if they can complete the project as designed, within budget, and within your schedule. You want to make sure the company you’re interviewing has all of the capabilities needed to make your project a success.

For instance, you wouldn’t go to your local quick print/copy store for a high-end, large-quantity brochure project that requires die cutting, embossing, and dry-trap varnishes — they just don’t have the right tools to get that sort of job done.

#3 How Long Have You Been In Business?

Simple enough, but it’s always a good idea to gain a better understanding of a company’s history. How long have they been in operation, and how many customers have they serviced — all of these are good questions to ask. Also, ask if they can share any customer testimonials or examples of projects with you.

#4 What Type Of Printing Method Is Best For My Project?

Many professional commercial printers use a variety of methods to complete their clients’ orders depending on the project. It’s a good idea to know the printer has a wide range of capabilities — from digital to offset sheetfed and web printing — to complete your project in the most efficient method possible. This question will also help you gauge how helpful and knowledgeable the company’s sales representatives and/or account managers are.

#5 Are Proofs Provided?

Regardless of the print quantity of your project, proofs are necessary to ensure the item is being printed correctly. Proofs ensure there are no typos, no missing logos, and no formatting errors. If a commercial printing company doesn’t include proofs as part of their standard quality processes, then you’ve just spotted a big red flag.

#6 What’s The Turnaround Time For My Printing Services?

Turnaround times will vary depending on how large your order is and what types of printing methods are required to complete the project. However, a commercial printing company can give you an estimate of the expected turnaround time for any given project.

If you think you’ll have projects that will require quick turn-around times, be sure to find a full-service commercial printing company with services like print-on-demand and shorter-run digital printing.

#7 What Long-Term Value Does The Print Company Provide?

Is your commercial printing company capable of helping you run strategic marketing campaigns like direct mail campaigns? Do they offer marketing services and solutions that can help you grow your business? Are they able to provide demographic information, reporting, or analytics to help determine the success of campaigns/printed items?

Finding a commercial printing company that can do more for you than simply print your projects is vital for long-term growth. If you want a long-term partner you can establish a relationship with and learn to trust, you want to find a company that is capable of providing you with the long-term value you need.

#8 Will I Have An Account Manager To Help Me Through The Process?

The commercial printing process can be a lot to take on when you’re unfamiliar with the process. Be sure to ask the printing company about their processes and how they can help you with your projects. Do they have a dedicated account manager who will get to know your business and answer your questions? If not — and if you’re looking for something more personal and hands-on — then you’ll likely want to keep looking.

#9 What Is The Printing Company’s Primary Access To Paper?

Supply chain disruptions have occurred on an international scale in recent years. Be sure to ask your potential commercial printing partner where and how they get their paper. Also, how do they go about dealing with supply chain issues, and what are their contingency plans should there be a shortage?

#10 What Makes The Printing Company Different From The Competition?

This is where you can really get to know a company. A lot of highly-skilled managed print services companies will have similar capabilities. But not all companies operate and take care of their customers the same.

Be sure to ask a commercial printing company what sets them apart from the competition. What’s the “why” behind what they do? Additionally, how will they work to understand what you do so they can best help you meet your goals?

Another important question is: what are your quality control procedures? Quality control is essential to building a successful business that delivers products that meet or exceeds customers’ expectations. Be sure to ask about the company’s quality control procedures. Finding out the quality control process of a commercial printing company will reveal a lot about their operation.

Qualities To Look for In A Commercial Printing Company

Now that we’ve covered some of the most important questions to ask a commercial printing company, let’s take a look at three important qualities to look for in a printing partner.

A company that can make suggestions and provide guidance. You want to know you’re in good hands. Finding a commercial printing company that has industry professionals you can bounce your ideas off of is much nicer than a faceless corporation, and much more conducive to long-term success.

A company that is candid. Finding a company that is honest about turn-around times, disruptions happening in the supply chain, and what may or may not be right for your company will save you a lot of money and headache in the long run.

A company that has up-to-date printing technology. Simple but easy to overlook, you don’t want to partner with a company that’s perpetually stuck in the 90s. Be sure you find a commercial printing company with all the most up-to-date capabilities, and one that routinely performs quality control checks — such as reviewing print projects for color consistency and mailing projects for personalization and accuracy.

Finding the commercial printing services partner best for your project and your company can seem like a large task. However, if you use the information provided in this blog, you have the roadmap you need to get started.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions, an experienced printing company will be happy to help you understand the process and talk about their capabilities.

Message Direct Service Print Brand

Our in-house team of professionals is here to help you. Contact us today and tell us what you’re looking for and we’ll be in touch with you shortly.