Trying to decide where to buy presentation folders? Here’s what to look for in a printer.

The presentation folder that you are intending to produce will, in more ways than one, reflect your organization’s — and indeed your own — image and credibility. Choosing the right printer, therefore, becomes imperative.

Because no two clients will have the same order design and specifications, printing folders, with all the multiple processes it entails, is a specialized field of expertise.

So, what are the qualities and attributes of a printing company on which you should base your judgement and ultimate selection? Here are some important points to consider.

Unless you physically visit their offices and facilities, your initial impression of a printer will be formed by viewing their website.

Making snap judgements is innate in us humans. On the one hand, a website that can be broadly described as nice or appealing and pleasant to look at, could be initially deemed as reputable. On the other hand, while it is not an absolute indication of disreputably, outdated photos, images, scattered, unorganized layout and fonts, or a general slipshod look, could be considered a red flag; it may indicate a lack of professionalism or care for their customer.

But don’t drop the ax just yet. It could be that they are not overly concerned about aesthetics — although this would be a tad ironic since a printer is involved in the graphic arts industry.

While it may not be pleasant and appealing, upon further perusal, is the site easy to navigate? Can you easily find the most popular items, or the specific product you need?

Is the contact number or information prominently displayed?

Do they have pages or sections of informative and educational content?

The answers to the preceding questions could be an indicator of the company’s customer service philosophy. Positive answers give the impression that the company values your visit and would like for it to be pleasant; hence, they took pains and time to think ahead about what you might be looking for, or address the most common customer issues or concerns.

Do they make it easy to request and get samples of their products? If so, this could mean that they are proud and confident of the quality of their work.

As in any other industry, the length of time that a company has been in business can be a good indicator of its dependability. Multiple decades of continuous existence as the same entity could mean that they have acquired the highest level of expertise. Furthermore, because it is quite rare for a company to last that long without subscribing to and applying good business practices, they most likely have earned the trust of many customers.

Word of mouth is perhaps the one factor that most inspires confidence in a company that you haven’t yet dealt with.

Ask colleagues, associates or industry peers if they’ve ever heard or had dealings with the printer. Absent such personal endorsements, the next best place to get learn of a company’s reputation via third party would be “digital word of mouth”. Check reviews on Yelp, Google or other similar platforms.

Speaking of first hand experience, unless you have placed an order right away, your first contact with a printer would most likely be by means of email or phone call. In each case, are they reasonably quick to respond, and answer your questions?

Do your calls go to voicemail more often than they are answered by a person?

While a response within 24-hours is perfectly acceptable, companies that value customer service usually answer calls in real-time, or otherwise call back on the same day.

Their staff should reasonably (preferably excessively) patient in trying to understand and get to the root of your concerns.

Companies whose representatives speak with a tone of condescension, as if expecting you to be well informed about their industry is a very big red flag. Instead, it is they who should be extremely knowledgeable, and thus helpful and welcoming of questions from you about matters to do with presentation folders.

They should be able provide expert information and solutions on topics that include the following:

Graphic design
- Proper layout and placement of graphic elements so as not to cause problems in color or final appearance of your folder.

-The most appropriate design program or platform to use and alternatives if you do not have access to such tools.

Printing Technicalities
- The best and most economical printing process or techniques to employ in order to achieve the results you want.

Although you have not yet ordered from them, and therefore do not have any basis on which to asses the caliber of the printer’s work, there are two that could give you an idea: satisfaction guarantee and samples.

A printer that offers a satisfaction guarantee has the conviction to stand by their work.

As for samples, carefully scrutinize the pieces that were sent to you. A sample packet from a confident and competent printer will have at least five different pieces to show consistency in the quality of their work and production process.

Images colors should appear sharp without smudges or blotches. No design elements should appear unintentionally out of place.

Folds and edges should be crisp and neat.

Paper must be firm and not flimsy. It should also appear “fresh” and clean; not “washed out”.

TURN-AROUND TIME The samples could also give you an idea with regard to a company’s commitment to timeliness. Did you receive them on or before the promised date?

After their track record and the quality of work, perhaps the next source of pride for any printer worth their salt is the equipment they posses. Be wary of printers who outsource parts of their production, let alone the whole printing process.

Ask if they indeed have their own equipment in-house.

There are companies who are good at putting up a facade and are experts at marketing, more so than being actual printers — heaven forbid without their own facilities and equipment. You would be wise to steer clear of those.

As for a printer with a complete complement of machinery and expertise in-house, with end-to-end production solutions, such an organization has greater control on cost and quality, thereby benefiting you in both aspects.

As a smart businessperson and purchaser, you have a budget set for a business expense such as a presentation folder. While the lowest price will definitely benefit your bottom line, it should be balanced and weighted against the quality of the product you will receive, based on the other factors we’ve listed. After all, a cheap — literally, in price and quality — folder might defeat the purpose if it is not well-received by your client or recipient. It may put your organization in a bad light, thereby costing you more in the end.

A good printer will present you with pricing, upfront and prominently displayed on their product pages. You shouldn’t have to go through numerous loops of contacting them, or filling out forms.

Look out for hidden charges or added costs. Ask if and how much they charge for any revisions.

Check if their shipping rates are reasonable.

As consumers — and society at large — have become more conscious of the effect that their purchasing habits have on the environment, so, too, have businesses.

If you share these values and include it as a criteria in your evaluation, check for “eco” or “green” certifications from governmental agencies or environmental organizations that may be displayed on the printer’s website.

They may also have a page dedicated to the declaration of their philosophy, attitude and practices relating to environmental responsibility.

Even more questions to ask: Does the printer use plant-based inks? Do they use recycled paper? Do they utilize solar or alternative power sources in some way? Do they participate in any recycling program for any of their waste?

After careful evaluation, it boils down to selecting a printing company that is reputable, easy and pleasant to deal with, and will deliver a good quality product in line with your expectations, and, of course, at a reasonably good price.

More than just a supplier or vendor, what you are really looking for is a business partner. After all, if your presentations utilizing the folders that they printed prove successful, it is highly likely that you will need them again. So, it would be reassuring to have a partner who is willing and able to help and guide you through the process, on every iteration. A partner with whom you can forge a mutually beneficial relationship.