Anatomy of a Rush Job

(This is my 100th post!  I don’t know how most bloggers I read do it.  I am starting to run out of things to post that aren’t new!  I will always try and do 2 posts a week as a minimum, even is just a small thing.  Thank you for reading my therapy for any and all who do.  I have heard from a few of you andI appreciate it, even the criticism)

This is a timeline of a typical rush order with my shop:

Friday, 3/23:  Customer calls up and says they need a quote for the printing of their annual charity dinner. I called them about this 2 weeks ago because I noticed it was coming up and last year we had to bust our asses to get this done so it could be mailed in time.  NOW they call up asking about pricing.  After I give them pricing, she says ‘sounds good.  I am sending you the artwork in a few minutes.  There will be some revisions.  Oh, and how soon can we get it?”  Now I know well enough to never answer that question, especially with THIS customer.  So I tell her the invitation and outer envelope will take 4 days, ONCE THE ARTWORK IS OKed FOR PRINT AND the remittance envelope, in that special size I have to send out since my digital press can’t handle it, would take until the April 2.  My press outlet only works weekends and there was no way I would be able to get stock or art to the guy in time to print that weekend. The next email I get back says that isn’t good enough, they want the stuff in the mail by the 28th.  After a few deep breaths I tell them that would be physically impossible since 1) they haven’t given me artwork yet, 2) considering it was about 3 PM on Friday the only way to even POSSIBLY get the paper in time would be to have it messengered, 3) physically it would take 2 days just to PRINT the pieces because of coverage and paper then a day of bindery cutting to size and folding the flaps, then 2 MORE days for the mailing house to address them and deliver to the Post Office and 4) I need a list and a postage check from you before the mailing house or the post office will touch your job. Whew!

So we spend the next 3 hours (we closed at 5 but this woman just wouldn’t let me go home!) doing artwork changes.  She supposedly set this up originally but can’t make the changes?  She also set it up in the wrong size so I have to doctor the crap out of everything. Finally at 6 she gets a proof of what we think is done and she says she will go over it with her boss. I get to go home.  Woo hoo!

Monday 3/26:  We open at 8:30.  I usually get in 15 to 20 minutes early.  I load up my email and see 5 different messages from the customer and there is a voice mail on the phone.  I just know it is her.  10 minutes before we open the phone rings.  Caller ID says it is her.  I do not pick up.  Instead I read the emails first. There are 4 different revisions to her artwork and another plea to do these faster than possible.  So I make the changes she requested and then listen to the message.  She just wanted to let me know that she sent me “an email or two” over the  weekend.  OK.  At 8:30 on the dot the phone rings again.  Yes, it is her.  We spend the next 15 minutes going over each email she sent, even thought I had sent her a proof with all the corrections before she called. FINALLY she says good to print.  I tell her that she needs to send me an email saying so because I have to have it on file but I will get things started.  I don’t get things started.  I get the email saying OK to print, but then at noon I get another email saying it is urgent I stop production, they found out the left off a name of a big donor.  What part of “OK to print’ wasn’t clear?  Apparently all of it. Lucky for her I anticipated this so I did not start printing yet.  I tell her that I can stop it with minimal cost since it had already begun (I didn’t actually charge her, this time, but was trying to perhaps shock her into making a clearer decision) but that once I get going, if it needs to be reprinted it will incur a full reprint charge.  She SAYS she understands. Changes are made, emails sent, return email saying good to print received.  It is now about 2-ish on Monday so I decide to wait yet another day.  I actually have time for the invitations since I can’t get the envelopes in my hands until Monday late morning, so we good.  But I don’t want her to know that or she will drag it out until the end.

Tuesday 3/27:  At one point during my discussion of timelines with the customer I explained that even when I got the envelopes back from the printed, the flaps had to be folded down before taking them to the mailing house for insertion.  She remembered that and at 8:30 she calls me and offers to come in bright and early 8:30 Monday to help me fold them.  Oh GOD no.  I do NOT want her here.  She drives me nuts on email and phone, I would so go postal if she were actually here.  So I tell her thanks, but I won’t even be picking them up until mid-morning on Monday and all I have to do is get them to the mail house by 8am on that Tuesday to keep on schedule.  The realistic schedule, not her fantasy one. That seemed to satisfy her so she hung up.  I was free from her for most of the day but did get 2 more emails offering to come and fold the envelopes if we needed her, anything to hasten the job along faster.  I don’t print the invitations yet, just ‘because’.

Wednesday 3/28:  Today is the day I actually had to call her.  We need a check from them for the postage before the mail house can deliver the job to the Post Office.  She has the amount but I don’t have a check.  I don’t need it until Tuesday morning when I take the stuff there, but I want to stay on top of this.  Don’t need it to be even later because she forgot a check.  I am sure that somehow that would end up my fault. She claims she sent in for the check and is supposed to get it Friday.  We’ll see…Meanwhile I send her envelopes off to another location to be printed and have paper here to begin the rest.  About 4 PM I get en email from the other store saying that they are closed on Friday (Good Friday!) and are not sure the press guy can come in on Monday, but they will ask.  Great.  So I figure now is a good time to start printing the invitations.  About 300 pieces into it guess who calls?  Yeah, she has a change.  Apparently someone has donated $10,000 to their cause and their name HAS to be on the invitation.  I reminded her of the charge to reprint and silently debate telling her the whole thing is printed already, but instead tell her that she will have to eat the cost of the 400 that got ran before she called.  I made the change right then and emailed her while on the phone.  I made her send back approval right then and told her I was hitting start, no more changes unless they want to pay for a whole new run.  She says that she understands.  I think that phrase does not mean what she thinks it means. Regardless, will be running it on Thursday, just in case…

Thursday 3/29:  The outer envelopes run fine.  It is only 1400 so it doesn’t take that long.  The invitation is a bit slower being 2 sided on gloss cover, but it also runs fairly smooth.  There was a moment where I thought I didn’t have enough paper.  It seems the paper vendor sent me 2 reams of a text weight instead of cover weight so I was going to be short.  It turned out that I had enough in stock to cover that, so survived that mess.  The bindery was another story. Our scoring machine is an old Rosback that is probably as old as I am.  It runs, usually pretty good so no need to replace it.  But this day is wanted to test me.  The scores kept coming out crooked.  For some reason the page was fish-tailing when going thru the machine and not giving me a good, straight score.  I tightened the guides as tight as they would go but it still was off. I finally had to run it at about half speed to get it to work correct.  I think the feed roller may need to be replaced as it seemed to be slipping on the gloss paper at the higher speeds.  Fortunately I planned for that as well and had run about 100 extra, so the 50 I lost were covered.

Friday 3/30: At 8:30 on the dot my phone rings.  It is the customer telling me that she is SUPPOSED to have the postage check today. We’ll see.  At 8:40 I get a call from the shop that is supposed to be doing my envelopes on Monday.  He is supposed to be closed today, calling me can’t be good.  Well, it isn’t good.  press guy says 50-50 he can come in on Monday, won’t know until Sunday.  Awesome!  So I spend the next 2 hours trying to track down a place to get it done for me if the emergency arises.  I find one, at almost double to cost, so we’ll wait until Monday to see.  2 PM rolls around and I get a call from the customer.  She still hasn’t got the postage check and is in a panic mode.  I try and calm her by saying that I won’t be going to the mail house until late Monday anyway so we have time, but that prompts another meltdown.  “I thought you were getting the envelopes Friday! We’ll never make the mail on Monday!”  I remind her that I never told her it would hit the mail on Monday, but would get TO the mailing house on Monday.  Two more days there to print, stuff and sort before even seeing a postal carrier. The exasperation in her voice was almost sad.  She sighed and said OK, she’ll let me know as soon as the check comes in.   I make it to 4 PM with no more calls or problem so we close early and go home.  I need a beer.  Or five beers.

Sunday,  4/1:  I am a glutton for punishment.  Around 5 PM or so I decide to check my email.  I actually got somewhat good news, his guy will be in on Monday to run the envelopes.  Won’t be until later int he day but he will be there.  OK, now to strategize how to still get this to the mailing place by the end of the day.  Think I will have a beer….

Monday, 4/2:  As I expected, at 8:30 on the dot the customer is calling saying that she has the postage check, is the job ready to go( how many times have I informed her of the timeline?) and do I need help folding the envelopes.  It takes me almost 20 minutes to get her off the phone so I can actually go do something. Around noon I get a call that the envelopes are done but he ran the wrong shade of blue.  This one is a little darker.  Doesn’t matter now, they need it even if it was orange. I just tell him to adjust my bill and that I would be there in an hour to pick them up, then hit the road!  While out I managed to pick up the postage check while she was out of the office (BONUS!!!), get the envelopes and get back with no issues.  The day is kind of slow so both of us are sitting here folding envelopes.  I talk to the mailing house and I will be meeting them when they open at 7 Tuesday to drop it off.  They tell me they will still make sure it is at the post office by Thursday afternoon.  Around 3:30 PM I get an email asking if there is any way I can get it to the post office by 5 today so it van make today’s mail.  Ii send her a gentle reminder that in all my previous emails I told here that it would be going to the MAILING HOUSE today and the post office 2 days after that.  However I offered to hand mail a few pieces if she had someone that she REALLY needed it to get out to that day. Around 4 PM the customer calls and is worried that I am not going to be able to finish.  Lady, I always finish.  Sometimes first, but always finish…

Tuesday, 4/3:  At 7 AM I am at the mailing house.  I normally don’t get UP until 7, this sucks.  I drop off the job and make small talk with the owners for a bit then head off to work.  It is a husband/wife team and they do good work at a fair price. I have sent a few customers their way and they have sent a few my way.   I get into the store about 8:15 and I already have 2 emails and a voice mail asking if I managed to get the stuff to the Mailing house.  Like I told you, I always finish.  I should add the cost of my breakfast to your bill…


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