Perfect Printing

Back in 1992 around this time I left home for 3.5 weeks of printing training.  I was just hired to run a print shop that hadn’t opened yet and the new owner and myself got what was called ‘New Owner Training’ from the franchiser. I spent that time learning everything I could about printing and how to run a print shop.  We learned terms, we learned machines and we learned methods to produce various things in the shop.  There was a model shop in the corporate office where we took pretend orders and ran them on copy machines, did the bindery and finished the orders.  There was even a press which we learned about for a few days and even ran once or twice.  We weren’t expected to actually RUN the press, but we had to know at least a little bit about it, so we got our hands dirty there as well.

One of the many things they would do was remind us that while we can’t always be the ‘perfect printers’, we should not pass off crappy printing regardless of what we see out in the world.  To push this point when we would go out after classes that day as a group, they would point out the crappy folding of carryout menus or the off-center print job on some sales flyers we would see. This was kind of fun spotting all the bad printing out there, but it started pissing my wife off whenI would do that every time we went out once I came back.  Trust me, you don’t want her pissed.  I might get funny once in a while when I am pissed, not her.  Love you, hunny!  (She reads this blog)

So now here I am in printing, trying my best to always be the perfect printer and usually doing a good enough job.  I redo jobs that are really off center or where the color doesn’t match.  I redo jobs if the cuts are not straight.  I just hate having a crappy job out there that has my reputation attached to it. Now that isn’t to say that I don’t make mistakes.  I do.  However I own up to them and try my best to fix them.  Unless the person just feels like being an asshole, they often remember that more than the mistake, so you turn a negative into a positive.

That being said, when you are running 20,000 flyers that are folded, SOME of them are going to be a little off and you won’t catch it.  The machine folds 3, 4, 5 per second and you can’t see every one.  You check them often and adjust as needed.  If you are doing a letter fold you have a little bit of play in the fold for an acceptable fold.

So here I am running a 20,000 piece job that I have to letter fold.  I run about 150 extra because the folder just IS going to mess some up. The folder seems to be running pretty well, only a few jams in the whole thing.  I count the pieces I have off to the side to see how many are messed up and I have just under 100.  That leaves me about 50 extra for the job, pretty good cushion should I have missed any in the box.  We deliver the job to the customer, all is well.  until about 5 days later when he comes in with about 20 sheets in his hand that are folded bad.  He is SCREAMING at my counter guy about how he wants money off for this ‘bad print job’.  I go to the counter and try and calm him down and get the story.  Turns out what was in his hand was all the bad ones he could find in the job during their stuffing of the items into envelopes. 25 sheets of paper.  And he is DEMANDING money off for this.

So I went over to the computer, changed his invoice to read 20,050 pieces and then give him a credit for 25 messed up ones, final invoice of 20,025 pieces.  Congrats asshole, you now owe me an extra $2.  Needless to say that didn’t go over well, so i explained to him how I ran extra, counted the bad ones I caught leaving him with 50 extra.  In hindsight I should have let this guy know about that since he is a blowhard.  but it was fun to see his face when I presented him with the higher bill.

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