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September 2, 2009


Good, Fast and Cheap

In the Printing World, you can have your products good, fast and cheap.

Just not all three at once.

The general rule in the printing industry is that you can choose two of the three. Good and Fast? No problem. But it will not be cheap. Why you ask? If you have a need for 1,000 business cards by the end of the business day, and your files are completely wrong, you’re missing fonts, and your bleed is not set up correctly, well, we have to fix all of that, usually at the expense of jobs that did come in correctly, and on time. We have to stop everything we are doing in that given department and get your prints out perfectly, and on time. And you will pay…usually with a deposit down plus a reasonable rush fee. If a printing company is willing to do this without a rush fee, you either have sensitive information on the owner, or you are sleeping with them (or both). Either way, good and fast is expensive, and you can avoid the extra cost by going with option #2 cheap and fast.

Cheap and fast will, at times, yield unpredictable results. That grey was supposed to actually be gray and not green? Too bad. You set your files up in RGB workspace, get over it. You wanted it cheap, remember? And fast. We don’t have time to proof your card, you needed it yesterday. Transparency issue? Not my problem. Typically, printers will catch such mistakes, just because we take pride in what we do. If you look bad, so do we…But there are times when a customer wants to haggle on the price and also wants his/her/its prints in an hour. Some problems can’t be resolved in that time, we have to have time to run the prints and do post bindery, which would include cutting and boxing in this case. You can’t break the laws of physics, stop time, or make the printer run any faster by whipping it. So don’t be surprised by odd results if you go with this option. But, you can always have your last option, #3 cheap and good.

Cheap and good is a great option if you want great results. We will work hard to ensure that your prints are done perfectly, however,  you will be the first to get pushed aside when “Mr. or Mrs. Good and Fast” come along. If you choose this option, you may encounter a few “technical difficulties” processing your job in a timely manner. On the other side of the coin, if we have fewer projects in house, we’ll get your job in and out quickly. If you want to haggle on a job where profits are already slim, don’t expect us to rush it or give you a huge discount, unless you have sensitive information on us or are sleeping with someone(or both). I am not condoning such behavior, but it’s the only real alternative to these rules.

So when you approach your local print company with your next print job or request, remember these rules. Most printers follow these one way or another, and if they don’t, they usually don’t last very long. (We have to make a profit too, you know.) Usually printers are the bastard step child when it comes to the design world, by the time we get the job, the deadline has come and gone in the hands of the designers more than once, and we get the job just in time so we can miss dinner with our families, just so we can get your job out on time. (Just ask for a “Good and Fast”) So be nice to us, and in return, every so often we’ll slip you a good, fast and cheap. No strings attached.

1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Maria
    Sep 7 2009

    So very true, however most of the time as designers we try to build in 2 weeks for the printer to have ample time. It’s when the picky client holds up the process that we get pushed back and have to rush it to the printers. Most of the designers I work with really feel your pain, and we don’t want you to miss dinner with the family, it’s just the nature of our work I guess — custom work for people.


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