Customer file submission

YourCastle

Well-known member
The company i used to work for a had a great solution... Integrated Print Account Manager.

We combined all aspects from client relations, estimating, design, prepress, printing, bindery, fulfillment and invoice into one position.

We were responsible for everything, individually, there were no messages passed between departments and clients, just direct one-on-one with client about everything.

We did pass jobs around the shop as needed, like i didn't run an offset press, but was the lead on the five digital presses (educate other acct mgrs as needed) nor more complicated bindery. One of the acct mgrs was a talented designer,so she got then more intense design jobs.

Overall, it was great being responsible for 95% of all work for an entire client group. needed

I would directly explain to clients about whatever and everything.

Not for all shops, but if you can implement...
 

deaner

Member
We have an ongoing debate amongst the Prepress team, management, and customers as to how files should be submitted to us. In most cases, we receive Adobe Illustrator files that need a fair amount of massaging to prepare for our process (we are an industrial screen printer). Prepress understands we will need to check for bleeds, trims, trapping, and colors used, fonts-the usual preflight items. Management assumes we are getting perfect press-ready files and is constantly questioning the time needed to prepare the files for production. Customers typically supply files that appear to have been made by a novice. Basic things like objects not aligning...just look it over-zoom up, use spot colors, check your gradients, convert to CMYK mode and use separation preview. So frustrating! WHO is teaching these people? How are they getting degrees in this craft? What are your experiences? Does anyone reject a job until the customer fixes it? I know customer training is in vogue but it is a rare client who will take direction-no one wants to be told their baby is ugly ;-)
Quit complaining. If customer files always arrived press-ready, you could literally be replaced by a hot folder. If you don’t welcome the technical and political challenges involved with working cooperatively with your customers, why are you even in this line of work?
 

YourCastle

Well-known member
Quit complaining. If customer files always arrived press-ready, you could literally be replaced by a hot folder. If you don’t welcome the technical and political challenges involved with working cooperatively with your customers, why are you even in this line of work?
I don't think it's the client, but management.
 

Macmann

Well-known member
deaner my original posting was really to express my frustration with management's lack of ANY understanding of all things Prepress. They think that in the normal exchange between CSR, Prepress, and Client, we are somehow being taken advantage of if we don't receive perfect files. Their ideal state is to have a hotfolder workflow as your snarky reply mentioned. My post kind of morphed into a rant against designers. My bad, but if we can't vent amongst ourselves, then I'm missing the point of a forum. Perhaps you're an incompetent designer? Setting up files for the industrial screen-printing process involves many ISO 9000 specs and processes that may not ever allow a complete hot folder workflow. We use ESKO software, and believe me we've tried. To be clear, I do enjoy the "technical and political challenges involved in working cooperatively with the customer". It is management who is now limiting this interaction which was what prompted my original post.
 

lenasal

New member
So many responses and points of view, and quite a few things I hadn't thought of! like @xmoles said, I have always been one of those designers who is always grateful to talk to the pre-press folks. @Macmann with regards to consulting opportunities, I too am at the tail end of my career but I have found the consulting opportunities are few and far between for a couple of reasons: 1) for all my technical and software abilities, I have no actual print-shop experience since the late 90s, and that was all old school; I don't have any updated pre-flight software or press experience a print-shop wants and 2) I have an art degree which gets me into design positions, then I have to maneuver my skills into pre-press and production. I was talking with a graphics processing manager at one of our vendors (the only one I have direct contact with and who turned me on to Print-Planet!) and he said if I wanted to go anywhere, programming was the next step for me. I never really got into programming, but I got what he was trying to say so I dug in and figured out ways to turn a traditional production artist position into an almost exclusively pre-flight and system integration position by bringing other systems into play. I led the charge to introduce and implement a DAM system company-wide; I learned about automation and scripting and implemented those into the creative department workflows; and I learned how to extract and organize data from the CRM to into client syndicated files. In looking around for consulting positions, I found that most places aren't willing to pay the kind of rates good technicians deserve, especially when a lot of companies are consolidating or streamlining as @kslight mentions above. It was purely by luck and a willingness to work for half my usual rate for a few months that I was able to land with this company and build up to my current position at a competitive salary. I can retire in 5 years (more than likely 7), and I might even push it to 10 years, assuming I still love what I'm doing. But to do that, folks in our situation (maybe a little older, a lot more experienced, and perhaps bordering on obsolescence) have to keep up with technology and processes. I'm always on the lookout for plug-ins, techniques, pre-press contacts, anything that will give me more information and skills to bring something innovative and useful to the table.
 

chriscozi

Well-known member
it has nothing to do with proofing, but rather you said, "Trust us"... on something subjective. That opens the door for the client to be disappointed.
lol.
there is a lot there subjectively that has everything to do with your business model and your customer base.
nothing specifically to do with prepress, really.
i believe in my first comment i stated very clearly that there are not insignificant risks with customer contact.
you are proving my point.
 

Macmann

Well-known member
lenasal you are an inspiration. Never stop learning! At 60 my best years are behind me. I thoroughly enjoy learning new techniques and it always surprises me when I work with a client who's never used a powerful tool, method, or productive plug-in. It seems we all fall into using the familiar or do something the way the last guy did it.
 

YourCastle

Well-known member
lol.
there is a lot there subjectively that has everything to do with your business model and your customer base.
nothing specifically to do with prepress, really.
i believe in my first comment i stated very clearly that there are not insignificant risks with customer contact.
you are proving my point.

Your revisionist history is humourous. This is about pre-press and you said...

'Dear Customer, we can generate the files as is and you will have to pay for them as they are and “you get what you get”.
OR
You can trust us and pay us to make the repairs we have noted.

If you don't provide them a proof after your edits, you are responsible for the end result. If the client is unhappy, they will not pay, and your boss will be annoyed with you.

It is about prepress, it is subjective, and it will sometimes backfire.

#ostrich
 

YourCastle

Well-known member
I have always been one of those designers who is always grateful to talk to the pre-press folks
unfortunately, you are uncommon.

most people either can't or won't learn anything.

It would be great if all legit designers were able to have an internship at a print shop for a few months.

I have two designers on my team who are both young and aren't grabbing on to the idea that there is more to learn. I get pushback when sharing industry best practices. They thought I was talking greek when I tried to explain the value of step-and-repeat.
 

ThunderGraphics

New member
We have an ongoing debate amongst the Prepress team, management, and customers as to how files should be submitted to us. In most cases, we receive Adobe Illustrator files that need a fair amount of massaging to prepare for our process (we are an industrial screen printer). Prepress understands we will need to check for bleeds, trims, trapping, and colors used, fonts-the usual preflight items. Management assumes we are getting perfect press-ready files and is constantly questioning the time needed to prepare the files for production. Customers typically supply files that appear to have been made by a novice. Basic things like objects not aligning...just look it over-zoom up, use spot colors, check your gradients, convert to CMYK mode and use separation preview. So frustrating! WHO is teaching these people? How are they getting degrees in this craft? What are your experiences? Does anyone reject a job until the customer fixes it? I know customer training is in vogue but it is a rare client who will take direction-no one wants to be told their baby is ugly ;-)
It is worse if you are a cross between a print shop and a walk-in copy shop. 90% of the files we receive are not set up properly. Sometimes we send instructions back which we have prepared, and they send back files and it is still incorrect. They will send back files with crop and bleed marks without actually having a bleed. Sometimes it's just easier/quicker to fix their files and charge a flat fee rather than to keep sending back their files. It took over a year for one client's graphic artist to figure out how to set up a bleed -- we are so happy he did!
 

chriscozi

Well-known member
Your revisionist history is humorous. This is about pre-press and you said...
And Prepress is part of your business . . .
If you don't provide them a proof after your edits, you are responsible for the end result. If the client is unhappy, they will not pay, and your boss will be annoyed with you.
Agreed about the responsibility of proofs and proofing as stated previously. But your business sets the reason why, how, and when a customer will pay.
The 'boss' will be annoyed at any negative outcome. Prepress is not in charge of the customer payment and only partially responsible for the customer happiness.
Sales gets the top billing on any discussion of customer happiness in my opinion - and back to business practices.
The history of this topic is about how maybe to achieve harmony among prepress, management, and customer for an acceptable outcome for all.

It is about prepress, it is subjective, and it will sometimes backfire.
Backfires if you are just reacting to your client and their 'unreasonable' demands or lack of understanding.

 

WiseGuy

Well-known member
In a past life I hired artists to help with seasonal production. All of them we're degreed graduates.... all of them said they were Photoshop "experts"... 95% would fail a simple resize an image to 18x24 with a 1 inch boarder. I would give them 10 mins to do the test... a 30 second task and the "experts" would fail. Sad.

BTW... very interesting discussions and interesting to see the different perspectives. As a solutions developer who provides services in this area, it's always a challenge to appease every scenario. However, I do believe that catching the error as early as possible and getting communications out of email is key. From what I've seen, important information is constantly being buried in emails between clients and CSRs, sales or the art department and not getting to the right person. Open collaboration is key.
 
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petermif

Member
Its consoling to hear that this problem seems to be everywhere. Here in Europe we get similar situations. As a small company we take different approaches to solving / managing this tiresome issue.
If it's a new customer we ALWAYS quote for printing based on print ready PDF's. If the files submitted aren't print ready we'll fix them ONCE for free, inform the customer about what we did (but not give them a corrected version of the file) and politely advise them that perhaps whomever produced the artwork may need a talking to! If the customer is a returning customer with the same issue we'll call and explain that the file isn't correct and requires work and we'll tell them what we need or happily fix it for a charge. The problem here is that savvy customers know that a new client is worth keeping so they'll normally reply that some 'other' press offered to do it for free and if we're willing to do that as well, then we'll get the order. This is a tricky play as if the files need a lot of work you'll end up kissing your profits goodbye, but have kept the customer happy and probably he'll return again. Very often by this time (job 2) we have a pretty good idea what needs fixing and if the customer seems to have potential we'll offer to meet with his graphic designer / person and show them what we need (never what they're doing wrong!!). This either works very well as the customer appreciates the fact that we're training their staff (for free) and this improves the relationship or sometime we realize that there is no designer and that the customer is the designer and doesn't want to look like an idiot so they refuse (thus confirming that fact!!). As far as qualifications / degrees in Graphic Arts go, we're seeing a trend where Design for Print is actually a very small part of the curriculum and normally not much emphasis is placed on it, so even graduated designers lack the proper fundamentals to appreciate what we as printers require. Furthermore with lots of online software that's available many clients end up doing the 'artwork' themselves and believe that they've done all the heavy lifting and we printers can now just push the button and voila' it's done!!! So what are we complaining about :)
 

Macmann

Well-known member
Oh my gawd petermif your post could literally be from 1999. What amazes me is this never changes! This has been such an informative thread-so appreciative for all the input.
 

printingt

Member
Perhaps another title needs to be arrived at, instead of Graphic Artist or Graphic Designer. Those terms do lend themselves to "creative" talents and gifting. Preparing files for output falls into the "technical" side, which "creatives" are abhorred by. One of our local Graphic Designers sent me a two-color job (black+one Pantone color) to be run on a two-color press, but when I went to print out the two-color separations, not only was the file in CMYK, instead of picking a color and rolling with it, the 12 areas that had a shade of blue were all different values (so, black + 12 Pantone colors). She was just using the color picker in a very un-efficient way, and like most of your experiences, she did not appreciate me questioning her ability. It is a matter of non-compensated instruction with our customers, all in the hope that it will eventually make our lives easier. Back to names .... we have Graphic Artists and Graphic Designers. How about a title like "Graphic Technician" and we can threaten, "If we have to involve our Graphic Technician there will be an additional fixed charge of $ __________ ." and say it in such a way that it will cause the hair on the back of their necks stand up. ; )
 

Macmann

Well-known member
printingt we already use the term Graphic Technician-it doesn't seem to help :-/

We fancy "Prepress Engineer"... now that sounds expensive :)
 

chriscozi

Well-known member
Oh my gawd petermif your post could literally be from 1999. What amazes me is this never changes! This has been such an informative thread-so appreciative for all the input.
We remember - In 1999 roughly 80% of the artwork arriving in Prepress could NOT be printed as supplied.
I kid you not. Today roughly 20% has a 'fatal error'.
I do not believe this is due to an improvement in the 'Designer Education'.
Most likely due to the sophistication of the available software tools.
YMMV
 

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