Choosing a printing partner isn’t a decision you should make on a whim. Ideally, this service will be the go-to for all your graphics needs for a long time to come. Selecting the wrong service for one project means you have to start the decision process over again for your next print job. Here are five questions to ask a prospective partner so you pick the best one right off the bat:

“The more products a printer creates, the better equipped they are to handle your future projects.”

1. Do you have experience with my business or product?
This is the first question to ask a potential printing partner. An experienced service is less likely to make mistakes that cost you valuable time and money such as understanding your reasons for tight cutting tolerances, color matching between printed panels, or how to safely pack and ship your graphics and have the means to meet those requirements. Plus, you want a partner who understands your industry and knows the ins and outs of your graphics needs. NGS often makes recommendations to their clients to help obtain their goals, but it starts with having experience in the industry to effectively help. The more products they can create – POP signage, floor graphics, aisle markers, window graphics and more – the better equipped they are to handle your future print jobs, not just your current ones.

2. What quantity do you need?
Many printers have a preferred order quantity that they target and know is within their wheelhouse. If they’re using old or slow digital printing equipment, small jobs may be their specialty and anything beyond a few sheets becomes too labor intensive for them and not cost effective. But what happens when that small job expands into a large production run? Finding a new printer to handle such work is a hassle. Vice versa, working with a printer that only offers offset or screen printing will be focused on only obtaining large production print work as short run jobs are time consuming and costly. It’s therefore important to find a printer that has versatility to meet your changing demands by being able to print the small run or large production order in a timely manner.

3. Can I see samples?
Any reputable partner should be willing to let you see samples of their previous work. This is the best way for you to gauge the quality of their product. Some vendors are reluctant to invest in newer, more advanced machines, and their product suffers as a result. Ask your potential partner for examples of their recent work, or see if they know where any of their graphics are located so you can observe how they look in real life.

4. What is your turnaround time?
The time it takes to complete a project is hard to pinpoint, but a prospective partner should be able to give you a reasonable estimate based on a few details. Briefly describe your project, including quantity, size and destination. Once you get a job quote, your partner should be able to give you a more accurate timeline.

5. Do you provide any other services?
Your ideal printing partner is one that takes as much work off your hands as possible. These companies do more than print your graphics and displays – they help you with your print job from start to finish. Look for a partner with a prepress department to go over any final graphic adjustments, help you choose the best materials and more. Make sure your potential partner also takes care of any finishing touches like cutting, bending and lamination, and don’t forget to ask if they provide order fulfillment services.

Asking these five questions will help you narrow your pool of potential candidates to the right partner.