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Regaining Control of Prepress

(November 2002) posted on Mon Dec 16, 2002

Learn how to avoid substandard artwork so that your customers stay satisfied and your reputation and profitability remain intact.

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By Mark A. Coudray

Your ultimate goal should be to use prepress as a filter for profit. Production will be a snap if you do your job right in prepress. But if you blow it by allowing the customer to provide unknown or suspect art, files, or separations, you effectively condemn the profit on the job. In fact, you may be hurting yourself much worse than you even suspect. Any money you lose as a result of poor prepress must be made up by skimming from future profits. Not only does this practice snatch away earnings from the rest of the month, it eats into production time that could be spent generating much greater returns. You simply cannot allow this to happen.Mark Coudray


I've heard just about every excuse there is for accepting client-supplied art. But the bottom line is that you must take responsibility for the jobs you choose to run. If you take a job knowing that the original materials are suspect, you must also take the responsibility for any problems that these materials cause. Are you willing to be held accountable?


These situations only exist when you allow them to. If you do let them occur, it's likely because you fear losing the work. If you lose the job, it costs you money and robs your profits. Then your competitor gets the job. That's the nagging zero-sum irony of this scenario. You lose either way. But it doesn't have to be like that.


Making the rules


The client is more than happy to provide art because of two key factors: cost savings and control. The savings are relative and can be easily supplanted by savings in production. The control issue is more difficult to address.


To regain more control over prepress, you must first determine the client's definition of control. You can probe this during the course of a normal conversation, saying something like, "We're always concerned about delivering the very best quality at the most competitive price. We realize that our customers are motivated to save money and retain as much control of the process as possible. We agree with this but need to understand more about what is important to you in order to tailor our services to match your needs."



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