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Cutting Costs to Keep More Cash

(August 2008) posted on Wed Aug 13, 2008

Trimingham describes how creatively reducing expenses can allow you to earn more in the long run and keep your valuable workforce on the payroll.

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By Thomas Trimingham

6. Five troublesome customers were given new pricing and informed that they were unable to receive multiple revisions unless approved first. Three left and two shaped up noticeably. The net result was hours saved and more developmental time that, ultimately, led to better clients and less focus on non-profitable customers.

Art production The production area at XYZ had difficulties with separations failing on press, as well as excessive time spent color matching. Ideally, the shop would have all separations tested before going to press in order to boost success rates beyond 85% and discourage unnecessary orders for color matches for customers—or charge them accordingly for Pantone simulations. The following changes made a strong impact on the art production areas:

1. Artists were retrained on separations using a digital testing method to double check all separation sets (Figure 2). Success rates on separations were logged and incentives were given for maintained rates of more than 90% over a three-month period.

2. The increased use of stock art reduced the instances of separation problems and opened up more development time.

3. Several separation aids were developed to indicate what colors would look like when printed. This allowed XYZ to make more accurate estimations on pieces with underbase/opacity variations.

4. XYZ selected 25 inks standardized them as a set ink palette with a color-swatch book produced for the sales and art departments (Figure 3). All customers were directed to choose from the stock ink book first, as a standard fee would be charged for any color matches outside of those selections.

5. XYZ integrated the new ink palette with the stock art and company sales scripts to reduce required input from the art department and place more responsibility on the client for selecting their colors on simpler jobs.


The right attitude

You can apply these practices to your own shop and, with the right attitude, carry them over into the printing and shipping departments to process everything more efficiently and start effectively staging jobs and ganging orders. Within every thought of reducing costs and spending is a seed of growth. The goal of systemizing and efficient processing is really about the ability to handle higher volumes with less stress while creating room for profitable growth in each area that you change. Cutting costs is more about creating room for more cash flow than saving nickels.


Thomas Trimingham has worked the screen-printing industry for more than 15 years as an artist, art director, industry consultant, and head of R&D for some of the nation's largest screen printers. He is an award-winning illustrator, designer, and author of more than 45 articles on graphics for screen printing. Trimingham can be reached through his Website,









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