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  • Breaking into the Business

    I've had a number of years working on the finishing side of small format printing in the past but have been out of country doing volunteer work for the past few years. Moving back to the Seattle area soon and looking to break into the business. Might be a fools errand seeing I have no clients currently but if there's one thing I can do, is sell. Looking for ideas, suggestions, pitfalls, etc for just starting out - ie buy a used machine and work out of the garage or broker until I get enough business to justify a purchase. Problem I've had in the past with brokering is one, I'm not in control of the quality (producing garbage just isn't my thing) and two, have zero control of the time frame when a job can get done. Thoughts?

  • #2
    Well . .. we have some "independent" brokers/sales people who use us exclusively for all the items they sell . . so we treat them the same as our in house sales people, priority in scheduling and quality they can count on . . . kinda like a freelance sales person for us . . .

    so find a shop that produces the work you want to sell and talk to them about a situation like that .. .

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    • #3
      Thanks for the advice dabob. Wasn't sure companies out there would be up for something like that but knowing now that it is at least possible is definitely the better way of breaking in. Saves me the dirty looks from the wife if things went sideways and I had bought a machine. = P

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      • #4
        If you are young enough, I'd really consider getting a job that will help you to build a pension/retirement and do the print thing on the side as labor of love that provides some side cash. Small/Quick print is really tough these days to make a living much less build a retirement.

        If you can use your experience to get into a city / county / college in-plant shop and get some schooling (certificates) to move up the internal ladder you can eventually take over as supervisor. They will often pay for your certifications and training to help you advance. These govt jobs are not the best pay to start, but they provide great benefits and tons of days off and in place like Seattle are going to be fairly secure and stable.

        If you're older and independently wealthy and enjoy the "ink on paper" addiction like the rest of us here, put some machines in and go for it. LOL

        Seriously... You will ALWAYS make more money producing yourself as well as keep control of what you send your clients. If you get in a bind you can always fall back to farming it out. Just keep the costs down..... With EVERY purchase weigh the cost benefit. And try not to finance ANYTHING. Save up and buy it. And many here would argue, but stay away from click plans, they will kill you. Look around and learn self maintenance. It's frustrating sometimes, but there are many resources for help if you look around. Finally, when deciding on equipment, remember versatility, ease maintenance and downtime. Keep all this in mind, stay determined, and make the number one goal to give the best customer experience you can, and you will be successful.

        Best of Luck in whatever endeavor you so choose.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by dabob View Post
          Well . .. we have some "independent" brokers/sales people who use us exclusively for all the items they sell . . so we treat them the same as our in house sales people, priority in scheduling and quality they can count on . . . kinda like a freelance sales person for us . . .

          so find a shop that produces the work you want to sell and talk to them about a situation like that .. .
          If you wish to broker, just know that there will eventually be the inevitable first disaster: customer goes out of business before paying, supplier's shop burns down, etc. It takes a strong stomach to be in business for yourself.

          We run a "trade printing" operation and I can tell you wholeheartedly that a good trade supplier, or an assortment of good trade suppliers, is an excellent way to keep your headaches to a minimum. It's hard enough to profit on sales alone: why bring the problems of machinery and high payroll into the mix, too?

          Kringle is right about the satisfaction and higher profit potential of your own production facility, IF you enjoy the non-sales end as well as sales, and if you are trade competent.

          If you're just starting off in competence, brokering is a much lower reach to profitability... and you can always start up a production facility later with the money you've made, making sure to follow Kringle's very intelligent guidelines.

          As Dabob implies, an intelligently run shop (even if it isn't a "trade only" shop) will understand that you as a broker are a REALLY valuable source of work. The biggest challenges are finding a place that can produce what you want and who won't steal your customers.

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