The Art of Negotiation
It is critical to establish a consistent format for receiving and analyzing price lists, paper requirements, proforma invoices, annual billing comparisons and schedule commitments. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to compare print bids if they are allowed to provide different price and invoice formats.
Printers should be asked to identify its manufacturing plant, equipment to be used and key management's experience level. You should insist that your work be consistently scheduled on optimal equipment to assure on-time delivery. Predetermined proforma specifications and formats that itemize prepress, press work, ink, binding, distribution and paper into the appropriate makeready and run components help clarify the printers prices and give a quick overview of bottom-line comparisons.
You should ask courting printers to provide alternative proposals based on either printer-purchased or publisher-purchased paper. The contract should allow flexibility if you wish to change your paper purchasing structure at a later date. While somewhat linked to the manufacturing decisions, the paper purchasing strategy decisions are important enough to warrant their own thorough analysis. Magazine publishers should also give consideration to the alternative approach of publisher-specified/printer-purchased paper, explained in PrintMedia's January issue. In cases in which the printer will be buying the paper, the action to be taken, in light of future price increases or decreases, needs to be clearly defined. Ask how the printer intends to share spot purchasing savings with the publisher during soft markets.
In addition to the obvious per-unit price comparisons among the printer proposals, you should also focus on each printer's poundage requirements for each press form. By knowing the press circumference and web widths, you can calculate the inherent waste allowances and see how reasonably the allowances were quoted. If your titles have a trim size of 10.5˝, it is extremely important that the quoted allowances are based on short, cutoff presses. The printer should clearly identify paper mark-ups or handling charges, if any.