What’s wrong with business printers?

I’ve had a very difficult time over the past few years finding a reliable commercial printer for our modest but probably typical small business needs. This makes me wonder about the status of that entire industry.

Our first three local business printers (one in South Jersey, one in Philadelphia, one in Manayunk) just seem to be so overloaded with work that our small jobs get pushed to the side. Eventually I just stopped asking and gave up waiting. I never understood that because apparently they don’t  set their prices at a point where their work load would be more manageable. Lately I’ve been paying a Fast Signs franchise very high prices for work that is bland and anything but fast. If I don’t call every few days to remind them that I am waiting for an order, no work would actually get done.

I’ve also tried two large online firms. They are fast and cheap but I and am unhappy with the quality of the materials they use. Purchasing online does not allow you to “feel” the quality of what you are buying. Additionally, the cost of shipping significantly boosts the cost of the finished product.

This past week a customer recommended that I check out a company in Bridgeton for clothing printing. Yesterday I called to say that I was a local business owner who looked them up online and wanted to drive over to meet with them to place an order, the owner seemed indifferent and did not mention that they had moved their shop to a new location and that the online listings I found were out of date. They apparently have not updated the business web site and that seems odd for an apparel design firm. By the time I figured out that something was wrong and called back to get an explanation, I had already lost a half hour, was running late and now driving the opposite direction so I had to postpone. I can’t understand how any firm can survive in today’s business world by providing this type of service.

What’s wrong with the printing industry that they can’t match the basic level of service expected by other B2B industries? It certainly appears to be an industry that is ready for a high end entrant – perhaps a premium franchise model – to come in and do a booming business.


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