Saying no to a loyal customer is never easy. For most business operatives, saying no is the same as accepting defeat, rejecting money, and letting down the customers you depend on the most. The truth is, failing to tell your customer that you can’t do what they’re asking for, can be much more detrimental to both your customer and your bottom line.
QSL and our retail partner instaprint are no strangers to the dilemma of saying no. As a commercial printer, our products and capabilities are extensive, however, like all printers, there is a limit to what we can reasonably do in-house. There are three components that make up our strategy to deal with these situations; local collaboration, a well-defined wheelhouse, and good old fashion problem-solving.
Developing relationships with local, non-competing printshops is an invaluable resource. If we can get 90% of the way there on our own, sub-contracting with a trusted partner for the final touch is a perfect solution. If a project requires more sub-contracting than in-house production, we’re happy to refer our customer directly to that partner because we know first hand that our customer will get the same great quality and service that we rely on ourselves.
What’s in your wheelhouse?
A well-defined wheelhouse (standard capabilities), along with some good problem-solving skills, helps us determine whether or not we sub-contract or refer the job to another shop. Just recently we were asked to help facilitate a complex custom project for one of our most treasured customers, Cafe Yumm. Our sustainable materials and planet-friendly printers make us a perfect fit for this environmentally responsible company.
The job was to create a bean bag toss game for Cafe Yumm events. The board, measuring three feet wide by five feet tall, needed to be freestanding, able to withstand having bean bags thrown at it, collapse flat for transport, and have a custom printed face — a tall order for a print shop. We can print on just about anything, however, building things out of wood is not in our wheelhouse. Additionally, while printing on wood is a cool thing we do, the customer did not want the wood to show through the design in any way. We would need to prime the wood and add extra layers of white ink in order to make the design pop. The job was clearly presenting itself as something we should refer out, but to who? Combining woodworking with graphic design and printing in an efficient and functional way didn’t seem likely. Our customer was adamant that we coordinate the job.
Solving the problem
We compromised. I was able to find a half inch thick plywood board with an applied white vinyl face. Black edge caps would eliminate the need for sanding and sealing the edges. We sub-contracted the CNC routing through ES&A which consisted of cutting the board to size and shape, doing the interior cuts for the holes, and cutting out two easel wings that will later be attached with hinges to the back of the game board. Once the board was cut, we printed the graphic directly to the board using our flatbed UV printer. Since the wood had a white vinyl face, only a single layer of CMYK was needed. The client agreed to assemble the parts themselves. The result, a beautiful, freestanding bean bag toss.