If only your print business could thrive without customers, right? We hear you. Most printers’ customers don’t know a thing about printing, yet they do know they want to receive that picture-perfect job no later than yesterday. In fact, we believe the printing industry as a whole would be much happier with just a little customer education. Don’t mind the man-hours it takes to create some documentation and present it to your customers, because it will save you from repeatedly explaining the same things over the phone and via email. Don’t know where to start? Just scroll on down!
"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure," Colin Powell once said. Indeed, nothing slows down a prepress workflow more than getting off to a bad start. Wouldn’t it be grand if customers always sent you their files with all the right settings already in place? Here’s how to make that happen!
- Provide online templates for common applications and common job types, showing (for instance) where the small panel on a trifold belongs.
- Offer how-to documents that are specific to your shop – perhaps you can even indicate which panels get rotated for envelopes.
- An image says more than a thousand words, so be sure to use screen shots for settings such as
- How to make sure there is bleed and how much.
- Where the gutters are for even and odd pages.
- Explain how creating a PDF or collection for output works.
Submitting files correctly, too, is not a given for most customers. That’s why it never hurts to:
- Give explicit FTP instructions.
- Offer options for file sharing services.
- Explain email caveats like file size restrictions or file extension drawbacks. Do the files go to a certain address or do they require a specific subject line?
- Create a web interface walkthrough with simple ‘1-2-3’ screenshots.
Nobody likes to play the waiting game. Not having an expected delivery time is not only frustrating for customers but also means your prepress department – which is likely already plagued by quick turns as it is – will regularly experience unnecessary stress. So, while you’re explaining file preparation and submission, you may as well include an optimal lead time to produce a quality job.
Remember to keep it simple
Surely there is value in having preflight profiles and templates for InDesign. But there is also value in simply having instructional PDF files available to email. Another vital tip we can give you is to standardize what your prepress, customer service and sales people are telling customers. Also, be aware that too much information can lead to confusion and documentation clutter. When you’re writing out all the steps, assume that the customer has never done this before and will never do it again. Keep your instructions simple and avoid explaining why something is done unless it’s really necessary.