Posted by: AG | March 30, 2010

Working with Printing Brokers

By Steve Laker

In much the same way that other commodities can be brokered (insurance, mortgages, pensions etc.), so too can print: that’s what print brokers or managers do.

They act as an out-sourced sales solution to their trade-only suppliers. Those suppliers maintain low overheads by – among other means – not employing dedicated sales staff of their own: they out-source sales on a part-time basis to print management companies. Those companies then represent a “collective” of printers, who together offer a complete printing solution. During the 1980s, my company Allen Glazer Associates, acted as a printing broker for a number of larger companies which needed our all-in-one service, including graphic design, printing, and direct mail.  We later became Corporate Printing and Mailing where much of our work was handled in-house.

Traditionally, you’d buy business cards from one supplier, brochures from another and large-format graphics from yet another. To free up their resources and save them having to shop around, many customers employ companies do it for them: all in one place.

For example?

As well as providing a one-stop solution, management companies are used for many other things:

A complex project, which would normally involve several suppliers with different areas of expertise? Free up your resources to concentrate on that project and out-source the printing to a service provider.

Exhibiting at a show or fair? Similarly, concentrate on the logistics and leave the printing of business cards, exhibition graphics and stands, leaflets and flyers to a Brokerage.

Print brokers don’t have any printing presses?

No. They are management companies, utilising the varied and diverse equipment of their equally varied and diverse supplier base. they’re just like a huge print company which can produce anything that their customers require: they represent the entire industry.

The industry is so varied and diverse that no individual printer could hope to serve the entire market competitively. They’d have down time on their presses and so on. Print brokers take a number of trade-only suppliers, with diverse equipment able to serve the whole market, package it up and bring it to the market as a complete solution.

Is this a new market niche?

Print brokers and managers have been around for a while. In fact, some of the most successful companies in the industry don’t have any presses of their own.

How can a print manager or broker be the cheapest, quickest and most environmentally friendly, as they often claim?

They scour the market for their customers to get the best deal. They make sure that each project is produced on the most appropriate equipment and because they have a wide ranging supplier base, they have access to just about any printing press you’d care to think of. No individual printing company would be able to address every printing need but brokers can, through their diverse supply chain. They keep prices down by using trade-only suppliers and maintaining low overheads of their own. Their extensive supply base means that they can always find the right supplier for the job: this benefits their suppliers by making a contribution to their overhead and it benefits their customers because of the reduced rates which they are able to acquire printing for.

Often though, a customer requirement will be very specialised or time-sensitive. In these instances, price is not necessarily the primary concern.

In these instances, a print broker’s customers will approach them because they don’t know where else to go. They could undertake a lengthy search for the most appropriate suppliers but to free up their resources, they employ a management firm. As well as a general print management service, these companies are able to offer a service wherein their supply base allows them to provide pretty much anything, any time. They’re print managers and exist as an out-sourced procurement service to their customers.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Steve_Laker

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