A printing broker functions as a salesperson and a job coordinator. The broker recruits clients using sales and marketing skills and then uses a group of printers to produce the jobs that he sells. Profits are earned by “marking up” the price that the broker pays for the jobs.
Industry knowledge is essential for a print broker, as expertise is the primary stock-in-trade in this field. Many brokers open their own business after spending many years as a sales person in the printing industry.
Decide which niche to exploit. The printing industry is immense, so specialize in one area. Office supplies; letterhead, business cards, envelopes, labels and the like are products that virtually all businesses use in varying degrees. Conversely, printed packaging is a more specific application and the market is smaller.
Develop a network of printers. Research printers in your area to recruit the companies that will actually produce the work. Picking printers requires evaluating each on three basic criteria; quality, service and price. Ask to see samples of the work they produce, obtain equipment lists and learn the capabilities that set them apart from other printers. Obtain competitive quotes from a variety of shops and compare not only price, but the lead time to produce the work.
Recruit clients. During a visit, your goal is to find out the needs of the business and what they like or don't like about their current suppliers. Gaining clients requires finding people who have problems. As a broker you offer solutions to the problems. For example, if a prospect's problem is the labels they use on their product cost too much, your job is to find a less-expensive solution. If the quality of a prospect's presentation folder is sub-standard, provide high-quality samples of the same product that one of your network printers has produced. Solving problems is the key to earning a prospect's business.
Oversee the production. Once a prospect has contracted you to produce a job, deliver it to the printer and monitor its progress. Typically, the printer will commit to a deadline. Ensure that the job is going to be delivered on time by periodically checking with the printer. Alert your client to any delays that may crop up.
Deliver as promised. You were awarded a contract because a competitor didn't do their job. Make sure that doesn't happen to you. Deliver when and how the job was promised. The key to having a successful printing broker business is reliability.
Continually explore new suppliers. Printing companies come and go, capabilities and requirements change; stay abreast of new technologies and suppliers by reading several industry trade journals and attending various trade shows. The internet is good place to locate specialty producers and new suppliers.
Recruit new business constantly. The most valuable skill a broker has is recruiting clients. When the sales volume of your business is adequate hire an assistant to monitor the jobs, answer the phone, prepare quotations and handle customer service functions. The long term growth and security of your business depends upon persistent and consistent contact with new prospects.
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