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Online vs. local printers

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by eruuska, Jan 27, 2005.

  1. eruuska

    eruuska LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 454

    Something's been bugging me the past few days, and until today I wasn't quite able to put my finger on it, and I'm not even sure that I have even yet.

    I find lots of discussion on LS about various online printing services, but very little discussion about local print shops. I understand that local print shops won't have as broad an audience because they are just that -- local. They aren't going to attract customers from all over like the online guys. But I get the impression that most people use online print services rather than the local guys.

    But let me tell you a little story about a local print shop.

    I just had a bunch of business cards printed up. Nothing fancy, just black ink on gold cardstock. I printed out a 200% master to take in, but they asked me to email them a .pdf file, doing so would save me a couple of bucks. I emailed it as a .pdf, but for some reason it was printing with ever-so-slightly fuzzy edges. I ended up emailing them a copy of the font, and a copy of the .jpg that was my artwork. They had to lay it out with their software, and they did it so it looked identical to my original master. When I picked up the cards, they told me that there was not going to be an extra charge for the layout work they did.

    Oh, and on my way out the door, the owner grabbed me and asked me what sorts of things I did. I told him, and he then asked for a quote on trimming his hedges for the growing season. I shot him a number, and got the job.

    Anyone ever get a job from their online print service? Huh? And would an online print service have let you know that your .pdf file was slightly fuzzy?

    I'm not knocking the online guys, but I think there is a general attitude on LS that says we should support the local little guy rather than the national big guy.

    Am I all wet? Or what? Please tell me.
  2. Mclaughld

    Mclaughld LawnSite Member
    Messages: 85

    Online printers tend to be cheaper and thats the ONLY reason why i would use one. I only have one local printer and he tends to be on the expensive side.
  3. eruuska

    eruuska LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 454

    Don't get me wrong, I don't think there's anything wrong with doing a little price-based shopping payup , but I could respond to the your argument with a couple of my own that are echoed on LS quite often:

    * You get what you pay for
    * He knows his costs and will be in business long after the cheap guy is gone
    * Don't let your prices be set for you by the guy who's no longer in business

    And so on.

    My printer is more expensive than some of the online guys, but I think that the added *value* of his being local more than makes up for it. He's willing to go the extra mile for me, and he understands the value of having a relationship with his customers.

    Does the low price of the online printers offset the reduced level of service you will inherently receive?
  4. tonygreek

    tonygreek LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,862

    eruuska, i have a general policy to keep my business within the area, but the price from the local shops is nowhere near the ballpark of the online guys. standard business cards, such as yours, are one thing. 4 color process business cards (4 color process is the same as magazine printing) are an entirely different beast. the locals can't come close. when you then add in 4 color flyers and brochures, i can't get within 30% locally. when you are talking printing costs in the thousands, those hundreds of dollars add up. i have larger print requirements than most, in terms of volume, but remember that volume brings buying power. your typical lco doesn't need high volume, thus they receive higher prices and the online guys are the only way to go for that.

  5. marko

    marko LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 963

    I try to keep my business local if at all possible. There is no way I am going to pay the $1050 for 1000 full color door hangers that my local print shop wants when I can get 5000 online for $399 - $499. Thats basic common sense and I could never rationalize that one. I dont mind paying double on a small order ($60 for business cards) or something like that but on the larger orders there is no way that any local printer can even come close. On the big stuff I will use the online printers every time.
  6. Team Gopher

    Team Gopher LawnSite Platinum Member
    from -
    Messages: 4,040

    Hi eruuska,

    That was a smart move on your part. Very good networking story. I bet you get more business from the printer because he knows you personally now.
  7. gogetter

    gogetter Banned
    Messages: 3,256

    No, as you said (in your own words) "you're all wet" on this one. When you're talking about getting 5 or 10 thousand flyers/door hangers (or more), prices aren't even in the same ballpark.
    As a local printer said to me, the online guys are set up for huge production and can afford to be way cheaper on larger orders.

    If you're just talking about a couple hundred business cards, then use a local printer, but on big orders of thousands, online is the way to go!
  8. Lux Lawn

    Lux Lawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,267

    I understand what you are saying but recently when I needed new business cards I thought I would check around before I bought anything.Since I do the Lawn Maintenance at the local Staples I thought that would be a good place to start 500 full color (my logo has 6 colors) was $160 Vistaprint.com 2250 full color on 1 side and 1 color on the back with a glossy finish and shipping $84.Not a bad deal.
  9. tonygreek

    tonygreek LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,862

    i just noticed the part about the "anyone ever get a job from an online printer referral?". obviously, no. what i did receive was an additional 10 or so customers out of the additional volume of mailings i was able to do over the same price as the local guy. i'm just pointing out the flipside to your argument. $10k worth of additional sales vs. $1k. it's called ROI.

    maybe it was the "huh?" that got me...
  10. Lux Lawn

    Lux Lawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,267

    How many colors in your logo it sounds like you mhad the same concerns as me.

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