Accurately estimating large format printing jobs can be complicated. Jobs often involve much more than the cost of ink, printing time, and materials.
As your business grows, you won’t just quote on a few banners here and a few posters there. More likely, each customer may ask how much it will cost to produce, deliver, and install a mix of products, ranging from window and floor graphics to posters, backdrops, banner-stand displays, and hanging signs.
Some of the value you offer customers is the convenience of ordering many different types and sizes of graphics from a single source. The flexibility gives project designers extensive creative freedom. Some revenue will come from selling different types of hardware used to frame, mount, or display the graphics. Many customers will rely on you for on-time delivery of graphics to multiple sites for special events or promotions. These factors can all be considered when setting prices.
A standard Print MIS program might not give you the flexibility or level of customization you need for estimating large format printing jobs.
Consider asking these questions when evaluating a Print MIS program for estimating large format printing work:
Can it be easily customized?
Few off-the- shelf systems can take into account the unique combination of products and services that set your company apart from competitors.
Estimating large format printing must take into account the ever-changing variety of digital printing and finishing equipment in your printroom. Your production equipment may include a mix of grand-format, large-format, flatbed, and dye-sublimation printers along with automated cutters, laminators, heat transfer presses, and welding and sewing equipment.
If you become a “one-stop- shop” for printed communications, you may need to expand your estimating program to quote additional services such as printing on digital toner presses, screen printing, or label printing.
Ordant software can be easily customized for whatever mix of graphics-related products and services you choose to offer. You can even set up custom pricing formulas, including special pricing for contract customers and input from outsourced service providers.
Can your employees use it?
Multiple screens that are useful only to your accounting team can look intimidating or confusing to printroom employees. Your Print MIS program should be easy enough for employees from every department in the company to use.
Your employees should be able to quickly see their assignments each day, input job-related data, and answer whatever questions customers might ask about the status of jobs in progress. Training shouldn’t require employees to leave the shop for days.
Is it fast?
Navigating from screen to screen and load table after table can be time consuming. Choose a system in which all of the navigation functions have been streamlined for the delivery of fast, complete quotes.
Can you add web-to-print storefronts for you best customers?
If you have contracts with certain customers, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to replenish graphics as needed. A web-to-print storefront for each of your big customers allows them to calculate how much it will cost to re-order banners, posters, or window signs and submit orders. These orders should flow directly into your order management system without requiring your staff to re-enter customer or job data.
How easy it is to add new products and services?
Large-format graphics companies expand by continually offering their customers something new. When you introduce new products on different types of materials, it should be easy to add the new products to your large-format estimating and order management system.
Can clients easily submit and approve jobs?
If clients must use a separate system to submit their job files and approve proofs, critical instructions or job data may fall through the cracks. A cloud-based system such as Ordant makes it easy for clients to upload job files as large as 300 MB and get proof approvals from project stakeholders.
Can you generate quotes when you’re away from the office?
With a cloud-based system such as Ordant, you can create estimates or manage jobs from home or at a client’s site. The information you need can be accessed on your smartphone or tablet.
The Bottom Line
Some time-starved marketing managers will pay a premium to large-format print companies that can make their lives easier by managing complex graphics-related logistics for big events, product launches, or marketing campaigns.
When clients see how quickly they can get multi-product estimates, submit jobs, approve proofs, and track job status, they gain confidence in your firm’s ability to manage details. A professional approach to job estimating and order management demonstrates your readiness to handle multi-faceted large-format graphics jobs, including contracted programs in which you will become your client’s sole supplier.
If you need fast estimating software for your large-format graphics business, check out Ordant sign estimating and order management software. Our cloud-based software is easy-to- use, flexible, and customizable. Plus, it connects seamlessly with our own web-to- print software module. During your demo, see how Ordant can streamline order tracking, online proofing, purchase orders, vehicle wrap projects, customer relationship management, and invoicing. Visit http://ordant.com/wide-format-estimating/ to learn more and request a demo.