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Case Study: Why Specifications Are So Important
We had a customer recently with a rush project: A fundraising solicitation with a tight turn-around. Unfortunately, they could have easily shaved one to two days off the turn-around had they followed some simple best practices.
With the customer's permission, we've detailed how the project came in, and what could have been done to speed things up.
1. There was no quote requested in advance.
By requesting a quote, the customer's project could have been ready to hit the ground running in the plant. The customer did not request a quotation, however, and the job files simply arrived. We lost approximately half a shift as a project estimate was completed by the HLPS estimating squad after taking the time to get the specifications. We need to create a quote for every project, as the information on the quote flows into our project ticket that travels through our plant.
2. The job files were accompanied by incomplete specifications.
The mailer, a total of approximately 2,000 pieces in two versions, one personalized, came in with a write-up that included neither the paper selection nor the size of the sending or the reply envelope, or the colors to print for the letter or the envelopes. We lost some time in emailing back-and-forth completing the specifications.
3. The list had been ready for a few weeks yet it was not supplied in advance.
The customer's list included duplicates, non-standard address formatting and other issues. It also had not been processed through the NCOA database. Had the customer sent the list in with the quote request while they completed the InDesign files for print, we could have had the list ready to run when the job came in. This cost us more time as our mailing team processed the list and prepared it for mailing. Normally we can process the list while working on the production files but this project was on such a fast track that it would have saved time to get the list in advance.
4. The customer's credit card wasn't available for the postage.
The USPS requires HLPS to pay for postage at the time we drop the mail, and we expect customers to cover this cost before their project mails (which is an industry standard). We lost another few hours as the customer and their CSR traded emails to pay for the postage. Once we have an accurate list count, we expect the customer to be available to take care of this expense, whether by check or credit card. If you know you won't be available, you can make arrangements in advance; just ask and we will give you an approximate cost. Without postage prepayment or prior approval to have HLPS cover the postage cost at an additional fee, we cannot proceed with the mailing.
In Conclusion...HLPS worked hard to make up time wherever we could and still was able to deliver a turn-around that met the customer's needs. However, these are just examples of how the little things can add precious additional hours to a project's turn-around and ultimately impact how quickly we can deliver your project.
You can find our RFQ form right here. It's an indispensable part of a faster turn-around. A production file is not needed to prepare a quote, only job specs are needed. In fact, Estimating doesn't have production software such as InDesign, so it takes additional time to get hard copy from production. For example, a production file may contain 4cp + a PMS color and you may intend to have it printed in 4cp only. When your project is time sensitive, consider getting a quote done in advance to keep the project moving along. Often we are sent a file and told, here it is, can we have it printed by Friday? We need to know how many? What trim size? What paper? What colors are printing? Do multiple pieces go together? Are the items 1 sided or two? Any special finishing? Does it mail? Where does it deliver to? etc., etc. — see the link to the form at the top of this paragraph.