One of the things essential to getting your business systemized and streamlined is farming out the stuff that you really don’t have any business doing. The key to systemizing work to external vendors is choosing the right vendor for the right job. IE: qualified, technically able to produce the work, has the right equipment, etc.
For me, printing is an easy one to farm out. But I didn’t always do that.
It’s a little like a 12 step program for me, as I’ve got several printers here, yet my printing still gets done all over the place:)
I have a duplexing B&W laser that I use for every day stuff, but I still don’t print the newsletters for my newsletter service using that printer. Tried that once (for mine, not for a client’s), let’s just say that was a bad idea:)
I have a fancy color laser. That sucker will eat up $500 in no time flat. 4 toner cartridges at $80+ each and a drum at $200+. Expensive to use, but it produces nice output in low volumes. But, it doesn’t print full bleed – ie: ink out to the edge – that’s something I go to a local print shop or online service for.
Local print shops work fine for simple jobs that don’t require complex data merges (IE: having “Dear Mark” printed on 1 postcard and “Dear Mary” printed on the next one). There are some other more sophisticated things that I avoid with them, but they do work well for my newsletters because those pieces are 1 color, use standard folds and don’t use elaborate papers, perforations or other services.
More often than not, when the job is outside the ability of those 3 resources, I’ll end up going with an online service for complicated printing jobs. One thing where this crops up repeatedly is large format printing. I found a nifty service that office supply stores started offering not long ago. They print pretty good sized stuff, though they are limited in size. Some of them even have nice online interfaces so you don’t even have to leave home.
When I’m involved in event marketing, I usually need the services of a sophisticated print service. Usually events involve poster printing, complex folding, special papers, tickets and/or seals, which are not the kinds of things that most local print shops are up to. Because I’m in a rural area, I go online to make the fancy stuff happen.
As you can see, there isn’t a one size fits all solution for me, at least for this type of work. I suspect you’ll find the same thing.
But – it isn’t just about printing. You’ll often find businesses outsourcing graphic design, web site work, and any number of other technical and artistic tasks.
What can you farm out that you just don’t need to be doing? Could be any number of things, just make sure it isn’t your core business.
That’s why you’re farming stuff out, remember…so you can focus on the core of your business.