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What Print Buyers Want : No Surprises, No Excuses

October 2009
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JOE STOECKLE, senior buyer at R.L. Polk & Co., will go out of his way to maintain good working relationships with his print providers. The products and services that he purchases are important to his employer's business—and the job he does at purchasing them is critical in his position as a buyer. Having a good working relationship with printers is part of his job requirement.

R.L. Polk, headquartered in Southfield, MI, is a global provider of automotive information and data-driven marketing solutions. Stoeckle purchases a wide range of printed products and services, which include direct mail, corporate/marketing materials, business and stationery products, creative/marketing solutions and media calendar advertisements.

While Stoeckle values the relationships with his print providers, those partnerships must be two-way streets. He expects a lot from his vendors, and rewards those who perform to his expectations with continued business. However, print providers that are problematic and/or don't meet his standards are inevitably shown the door.

Below, R.L. Polk's senior buyer offers advice on how to obtain and keep his (or any print buyer's) business—as well as tips on how not to lose it.

What do you look for when considering a new print provider?

The most important things I look for are printers that will ensure my employer's expectations, as well as my credibility, for obtaining a true vendor partner. First, I need a competent salesperson with the support to communicate and process requests in a timely manner. Next, there must be good D&B report results to ensure stability for a long-term, loyal relationship.

I also view the printer's equipment list, and conduct a site visit to verify that the significant portions of what I'm procuring are being produced in-house and not outsourced.

What are the top three things you expect from a print provider?

1) They say what they do, and do what they say. 2) They understand and communicate with me on all levels. 3) No surprises allowed after the fact. These expectations assist me with surviving my role in a just-in-time world.

When meeting potential print providers, what determines whether they get your business?

The most critical consideration is that the print provider can produce the majority of my products and services in-house.

 

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