I recently got into an interesting discussion with some other designers when the topic of print vendors was raised. More specifically we were discussing whether they share their print vendors with their clients or keep these services “blind.” I personally have always handled the fulfillment of print services on the behalf of my client unless they had a standing relationship with a printer that was discussed prior to the beginning of the job. However I am finding that some designers have no problem sharing their vendors with their clients, something I do not agree with.
There a number of reasons why a designer would keep the source of their vendors to themselves. For one, a lot of time and consideration goes into developing a working relationship with these vendors. During this time you are able to establish a level of quality that can be expected, and learn how to best prepare files for compatibility with their workflow. The obvious benefit of keeping your vendors to yourself is that you can offer the printing services and then apply a fair markup for the time spent fulfilling the client’s order. Additionally, handling printing services on behalf of the client allows us to manage interaction with the prepress department in the occurrence of any issues that may arise.
What if a client asks for the name of your vendor?
This is where the conversation really got interesting amongst my colleagues. I believe that I should not have to share my vendors with the client, an issue they did not all agree on. I have developed a working relationship with these vendors, why should the client benefit from this yet not give me fair compensation? I would not ask a client for the names of their vendor so I could obtain their product at a wholesale price, so why can they?
The opposing side
The main opposition to this argument is that these print companies are offering a service and if I believe in their services then I should openly refer them. This is something that I do, however only with colleagues. Why? Well, in most cases if the client has issues with fulfilling the printing on their own, then I am still responsible for handling the problem. However in this situation I am unable to add a fair markup to the service and thusly go uncompensated for this time.
I believe that by offering printing services you are minimizing time spent and offer a better service because you are able to take a proactive approach. As an added bonus you save your client from the hassle of having to deal with printing, a process they are probably not very familiar with. However, I am interested to see what opinions other designers have on the situation.
If you share your vendors with your clients, then maybe you can shed some light on your decision in the comments below. Or if you have any other reasons why you choose not to share your vendors I would be interested to hear them as well.