I always used to send my clients finished artwork to local printers in town close to me. I was doing this for some years. I always found them slow to respond to my questions and unwilling to help.
I wondered if this was just the specific one I was using, so I tried some others in the next town over, still I was getting the same response. I just found they were not interested and were quite happy plodding along with their long-standing clients and were not interested in my business.
I found waiting for proofs took ages and this could delay work to clients, I had to wave my fees for my clients once or twice due to holdups at the printers, my clients had an order with me and not the printers so I felt this was only fair. I tried to claim money back from the printers but they always came back on the defensive and never reduced their prince to reflect money I had refunded to my clients.
Customer services is so important to get returning customers so there was no way I was not going to do something to keep my clients happy, although the print run was out of my hands, I took the hit and made the apology.
What did I do? I decide to look online at printers that were located all over the UK. Overwhelmed with the choice I compared the prices and ordered sample packs from many of them, after reviewing the packs, which all looked pretty similar, I tried out several small orders to test the quality. Orders in the region of £20 or so, on some compliment slips and business cards.
I was shocked to see how fast the turnaround time was, I was ordering on day 1 and on day 2 or 3 they had delivered. I made some additional orders for clients and still I was shocked at the quality and delivery speed.
I did a flyer design for a care agency last summer and used the online printer I had been using for a while. It was for 3000 flyers. When the flyers arrived they had a smudge on the front, the company I used had no problem in reprinting them and sending them first call to me and arrived the very next day. The procedure of raising a complaint was super easy, they inspected the machine and found a small obstruction on the printer head, they actually thanked me for pointing it out to them.
When using an online printer you get a digital proof which you can check instantly on screen, usually this is fine, but if you want you can pay extra for one of the print techs to check over your design for correct printing layout before they print it. Using high street printers I found you could wait over a week for a proof at times, proofs were low quality and I had to go into the printers to sign off the proof before they would send it for the print run.
The price of online printers compared to high street printers is HUGH! You can save your clients a massive amount, I never make any money on printing and charge my clients what ever the printing cost is plus my design costs, I add nothing to the printing cost. Keep your prices reasonable, don’t get greedy and you will get returning clients and recommendations.
So I guess overall my point is that I really find online printers friendlier, quick and more willing to help when things go wrong. I would defiantly never go back to using high street printers and I would imagine a lot of graphic designers are going this way.