Why Equipment Lists Do Matter –DanaMarch 2012
Printers, it’s time to pay attention to the lowly equipment list. Admit that it’s much more than a matter-of-fact inventory of your hardware and software. Recognize it for what it is: a legitimate sales tool for key prospects.
Senior-level print buyers and production managers depend on your equipment list to help them source their work. It's safe to say that these senior pros have the biggest print budgets to spend. Since they focus on your list, so should you. If nothing else, your published list must be accurate and current.
In the past few years, during brainstorming sessions at our PBI conferences, I ask the print buyer audience about the value of equipment lists. The answers have been consistent: yes, we refer to them when considering working with a firm.
But do you know how the most senior-level print production pros are using this information? Do you know how much emphasis they give your list? Have you thought about how to make your list more useful to them?
About a month ago, I started a discussion on this topic in our PBI LinkedIn Group (it's restricted to print customers) to understand what customers look for when they scan equipment lists.
Not surprisingly, the comments were all from senior-level professionals. New print buyers and graphic designers lack the experience and knowledge to assess a printer by equipment. In time, they, too, will appreciate the nuances of presses and ancillary equipment, and start to use the list to identify prospective printers.
What I learned was that while the list is a critical pre-qualifying tool, it is in fact just the beginning of a prospect's assessment of a printer. Senior buyers put more emphasis on the quality and processes of the team members producing their work. Time and again, this is what they said:
Mike Taylor has 34 years in the business. Currently he's the print manager for the Orange County Register in California. “The equipment list is critical in my eyes, but much more important is the staff that operates it, and also how they maintain it. You can have the best equipment in the world, but if you are ignoring maintenance and running it 24/7, then the list means nothing. I try to visit all my vendors to see the job flow and meet with the team to see and learn how jobs run through their shop.