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"Why Should Printers Love Their Trade Binderies?"

[Column #27, 3/97]

This is a follow-up to the article in last month's issue that dealt with "Why printers hate trade binderies and finishers." Fortunately, there is another side to the story or my company would not exist today.

In our anonymous survey (described in last month's article), we questioned printers about the role trade binderies and finishers play in their jobs. The sample was a cross-section of printers based on size, capability, and types of jobs they handle. When we asked, "What do you love about dealing with trade binderies and finishers?" several themes emerged.

Primarily, printers love trade binderies because they provide them with capacity-both in size and depth of service-that is largely unmatched by the printing community. As one respondent put it, "They have all the equipment under one roof." Because it is not economically feasible for printers to provide complete binding and finishing services to their customers, they must rely on binderies and finishers to handle certain aspects of their jobs. If we did not exist, printers would need to spend enormous amounts of money to handle binding and finishing or they would have to turn down work; thus reducing their existing thin margins.

Postpress businesses provide even the smallest of printers with the ability to sell huge varieties of services to their customers (many if which are not even available in certain markets). Knowledgeable salespeople can add value to their jobs by offering those services to customers who are unaware of all their options or do not realize that their printer can provide those services. For example, at Bindagraphics we offer complete inline ink jet imaging and mailing services. For anyone needing printing, binding, finishing, and mailing services, their printer can provide them with the luxury of one stop shopping. One respondent summed up this point by saying, "Trade binderies fill an important niche in the services we provide to our customers--we need them."

In addition, binderies can handle overflow for printers and enable them to meet tough delivery dates. In an industry fraught with inflexible deadlines, the ability to speed up turnaround times and the capacity to push large volumes through quickly are extremely valuable commodities.

Many respondents mentioned that sending work to binderies means losing value-added sales. Some printers reported that their sales representatives only receive commissions on the value-added portion of their sales and they decline jobs that require a high percentage of outside purchases. As a result, many printers have added some binding and finishing capabilities to their services. Although this appears to lessen the value of trade binders, the plethora of special services that we offer can keep the printing presses running during slow periods. Jobs that a printer would not typically handle suddenly become critical and feasible when a printer uses the bindery and its capacity. The depth of services that good trade binderies offer also provides salespeople with the luxury of accepting jobs that require special binding and finishing techniques and the ability to expand their service offerings when attempting to land a job.

Using trade binderies also allows printers to explore the development of new services. For example, a printer that wanted to provide its customers with perfect binding services could test the idea with the help of a trade bindery. This provides the printer with time to determine the validity of the business and, if desired, raise the capital necessary to bring it in-house.

Printers also expressed appreciation for the expertise that many trade binderies offer. The experience and technical knowledge that a quality bindery offers can be invaluable to printers because it can affect the design and quality of a job. A good bindery serves as a selling point for the printer. At Bindagraphics, we believe in sharing that expertise with our customers, and we encourage them to learn as much as they can about our business. To assist in this process, we offer a one-day seminar (Binda University) to educate customers and industry associates about all aspects of the binding and finishing business. The class provides a comprehensive overview of the industry and includes on-site demonstrations of the many different binding and finishing techniques as well as a reference manual that attendees take home with them. Binda University has been extremely well-attended and the response has been very positive. (Of course, an added attraction is that attendees get to miss a day of work.) Assisting our customers during the initial stages of a job translates into more efficient planning, quicker turnaround time, less spoilage, on-time deliveries, and less stress!

It makes sense that the majority of our respondents like dealing with trade binderies because the quality of the work is often better than when it is done in-house. Like any specialist, the more focused a company is and the more narrowly it targets services, the better it is at doing the job. A trade bindery only deals with postpress issues and those issues are its core business. Thus, the notion that binderies fill an important niche. Quality is a premier issue at Bindagraphics. We are in the process of becoming ISO certified and have already experienced dramatic results during the implementation of this program. In addition, this certification will benefit our customers because they can use it as a selling point with their customers.

Using trade binderies also helps printers finance the jobs that they do. If they were handling the entire job in-house, they would have to pay the labor costs as they occurred. Using a third party allows them to pay for the services according to the bindery's payment terms and, in effect, buy time.

Backup support is a big issue for our respondents. I spent a lot of time talking about the value of developing relationships in my last article. Here is a good example of the benefits of those relationships. Our customers want someone to rely on, to handle overflow, to provide superior depth of service, and to offer technical expertise. In addition, many of our customers depend on our services to cover vacationing employees or equipment breakdowns. Several respondents stated that they are loyal to the binderies that they use, that they rarely shop around, and that they have grown to rely on those binderies all the time. Believe me, those relationships are tough to compete with and impossible to quantify.

Perhaps the greatest response we received in the survey was, "They are nice people to work with." Of course, I assume they are talking about me!

If you have any comments relating to this article, Iâd like to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me via phone, fax, mail, or E-mail anytime.

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