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Better Business

Make printing easy for your customers

No clutter. No pop-ups. No up-sells. No cross-sells. No information overload. Back in December, web-to-print business Printed Easy went live with a new-look customer-focused website that said ‘no’ to all those things, and many more of those annoying web ticks.

It formed a major part of a larger company restructure and rebrand that cost half a million pounds. “Modernising or rebranding the image of any business begins with a website,” says Printed Easy’s online director Paul Duffy. You can see his point: in this digital age that all-important first impression is almost invariably acquired online.
That is where you need to show off your company and the work it does. Furthermore, a good web design will give you one of the best returns on

Make finishing touches the first priority of your company

It started with finishing. Commercial printer PCL Digital was looking to win customers by offering more services. Print was well balanced on supply and demand, so managing director Nick Westley-Smith took a post-press tilt.

But this was to be no minor tinkering on the fringes of finishing. Westley-Smith embarked on a comprehensive refresh involving tens of thousands of pounds covering several new pieces of kit.

The challenge

The company, established as an HP Indigo printer 12 years ago, is based

Skills schemes to attract bright young things

Whenever I thought of the print industry I pictured big warehouses printing stacks of newspapers: I guess I just thought of print as being quite old-fashioned,” recalls one of them.

Another admits unflatteringly “If I’m honest, with recent technology I was under the impression print was outdated”. Meanwhile a third rookie printer “knew the basics: requests come in, print goes out”.
All of them have now wised up to the reality of print in the here and now. And all of them did so by completing the

Business Inspection: A local solution to the problem

Finding the right premises close to home has enabled a labels expert to plan a big expansion in a major industrial area.

It is only half a mile away, but it has taken Print-Leeds more than two years to get there. Managing a move from one part of a major industrial city undergoing large-scale regeneration can throw up problems – especially for a company keen to expand. One of the biggest is finding the right space in a place that is on the up and where property of all types is hard to come by.
It

How to raise your profile or make an impression

Now that colour digital printing is ‘good enough’ for the sort of things most people want to do with it, attention is switching to the twiddly bits that catch the eye and add value to the print job.

Embellishment is the fashionable term. This means what used to be called special effects, such as spot gloss (or matt), texturing, embossing, metallic and other exotic finishes.
There has always been the option to add these with traditional analogue processes, but we’re now seeing more and more

Market options for short-run periodicals and books printing

Producing short runs is no longer cost-prohibitive. It is a breakthrough that has entirely changed the publishing industry’s credo about what to print, for whom, and when. Digital printing has become synonymous with “short-run".

For a long time, publishing books and magazines was mostly about manufacturing and distributing them in large quantities. The model still exists, and it continues to account for the majority of book and magazine production being done today.
But because the model is based

A focus on the past helps build for the future

There’s no future in history, unlike heritage. And for one large-format printer what lies ahead has never been more promising for a service both high in impact and highly acclaimed.

 

For more than 125 years Leach has specialised in large-format graphics from its base in the North West. Only in recent years, however, has it honed its service to a core niche that focuses on heritage displays for museums and galleries.
Breaking into a niche is hard, making a name for it can be harder, then

Grow a greener business from the ground up

After his vegetarian breakfast Gary Toomey mounts his bicycle and pedals the seven miles to his business. He’s new to this game. Not healthy, meat-free living, but launching a web-to-print firm.

Yet it’s the healthy, vegetarian lifestyle that will help define the ethos of his new company, which was registered this March and launched in July. Hatch delivers high-quality print-on-demand for creative agencies, trippy designers, fresh-faced entrepreneurs and principled start-ups just like his.
The

You can’t put a price on the value of good relations

Price has long been king for print buyers and brand owners, particularly in recent years with budgets being squeezed to the limit. And with some printers falling over each other to offer the lowest price they can to secure work, many buyers do not have to look far for a competitive quote.

 

Price is important because everybody’s got a budget and that magic figure in mind that they want to pay, says independent print consultant Mark Francis.
But price is far from the be-all and end-all for

Ways to expand your sphere of influence

Like it or not, networking is a hugely effective way to increase your profile, and it’s no secret that it pays to make friends and influence people.

Simon Biltcliffe, founder and chief executive of Webmart, is speaking into his phone, recording a voicenote. He is on a plane. And the plane is landing. But Biltcliffe speaks on until the last possible moment, telling the flight attendant that he is going to “shut the thing down in a moment”, because he believes in networking. And networking is not

Stand out from the crowd to up sales

Profit is sanity, turnover is vanity’. It may be an old cliché, but like many clichés there is a degree of truth attached to this statement – especially when you apply it to the printing industry.

 

For far too long far too many printers have chased turnover without giving enough consideration to what their margins are likely to be. Their main priority has been to keep their presses ticking over rather than allowing them to stand idle.
However, this approach has caused irreparable damage to

Time spent on SEO will be richly rewarded online

There are more than 6 billion word searches over the internet everyday. More than 4 billion of those are on Google. More than 94% of those searches lead to an ‘organic’ link click, with just over 5% opting for the advert.

Experts say that if you are a pure-play digital company, then at least 40% of your initial cost of setup should go towards your search engine optimisation (SEO).
But what is this mythical beast that everyone speaks of so reverentially?
SEO is how you make sure your website is

Low-cost solutions for colour consistency

Colour is a very subjective concept in that we each perceive light and colour in subtly different ways. But colour management is all about eradicating differences in the way that colours are printed.

 

Colour management means measuring targets, defining tolerances and profiling presses to achieve the same results time after time. However, it is often considered to be fiendishly difficult to carry out, something that is undeserved. As Paul Chamberlain, Heidelberg UK’s colour management

Train to gain: earning from learning

Demographic shifts, such as lengthening lifespans leading to longer working lives and developments in work, including the rise of the robots, all reinforce the trend towards people having several different careers.

As a result there is a need for new professional skills at all stages of one’s career, and with few of us rich enough to take time out for academic education, they need to be learned while we continue to work.
No longer does an apprentice have to be someone at the beginning of their

Ensure you keep your staff out of the danger zone

 

On the whole, print has a reasonably good safety record. According to the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) annual statistics, the printing sector has a lower accident rate than associated industries such as paper and board production.

 

 

Yet there is certainly no room for complacency. Sloppiness has potentially terrible ramifications. Several years ago, the HSE issued specific safety requirements for using hand-fed platen (die-cutting) machines following five fatal accidents around

Hue and cry: don’t let your colour get lost in translation

Over the past 25 years a whole alphabet soup of colour working ‘standards’ has been brewed up for the printing industry in the wake of the device-independent digital pre-press revolution.

Some of them are internationally recognised and implemented (ISOs), some are de facto but proprietary (such as Pantone), some are interconnected, others are confined to broad territories. Some are different names for the same thing.
We get confused, we’re sure that newcomers to the industry get confused too

Logistics and the just-in-time production model

An approach centred on timeliness, efficiency and frugality, its origins lie in the mid-20th century. But it remains relevant today because, after all, time is still money.

 
When you buy bananas, all you want is the fruit, not the skin. But you have to pay for the skin also. It is a waste. And you, the customer, should not have to pay for the waste.”

Shigeo Shingo, the Japanese industrial mastermind who helped pioneer the famed Toyota Production System and the just-in-time manufacturing

A personal approach wins new ground for digital tech

Conventional wisdom has it that digital printing is best suited to short-run applications with very limited opportunities in packaging, which is mainly a business of very long runs.
But we have seen from the rapid ugrowth in digital label presses uthat brands do value the added umarketing opportunities that udigital brings. Maik Laubin, sales director for KBA’s Digital Solutions division, says that this also applies to the wider packaging sector, which is becoming more interested in digital

Part-timers provide full-time benefits

 

Many print businesses use temporary workers and there are many reasons for doing so. Seasonal peaks in demand, new clients or unexpected orders, cover for full-time staff absence, boosting capacity in the short term after a machine breakdown – these situations and more may drive the need to dip into the temporary talent pool.

 

There has been a strong growth in the temporary workforce over the past decade, which is good for employers requiring flexibility. But before going any further

Connecting paths of cooperation

There is no doubt that technology is helping companies to collaborate in ways that were unthinkable 20 years ago. The internet is of course the main reason for this – but advances in video technology, cloud computing, processing power, and so forth have led to new types of collaboration.

As Jason Oliver, head of digital at Heidelberg, explains, there is a lot of technology that helps to drive partnerships. “We’re using digital video and photography, and we’re sharing digital data to communicate

A kinder blue

 

One of the theories on the origins of life on earth is that of the ‘primordial soup’, which posits that chemicals dissolved in water when hit by ultra-violet (UV) radiation from the sun reacted together, creating life.

 

While not as profound as that, new water-based inks cured by UV may be a building block for inkjet’s evolution and expansion into new markets. 

 

The story so far

 

At Fespa 2015 last summer, water-based UV (WUV) technology was announced by inkjet equipment firm

Speed specialists supply the want-it-now generation

You could blame Amazon; its relentless focus on shortening delivery times infected the rest of high-street retail and ultimately spread further afield, including to print.

So, the causation of those same-day delivery demands seeping into your sales channels may well be the entrepreneurial mind of Jeff Bezos, founder of the online retail giant.
Yet that would be to simplify things in a rather complex area. In truth, there are multiple reasons why print production facilities are now geared up to

Ensure you reel in the perfect job candidate

According to ONS figures released in December 2015, the UK unemployment rate has fallen to 5.2% – its lowest level in a decade. Economic recovery has boosted confidence, encouraging business expansion.

 

While that is undoubtedly a good thing, the boom in hiring is leading to talent shortages. As Tom Hadley, director of policy at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation pointed out shortly before Christmas, “the challenge of ensuring that the demand for staff is met by the supply of

Setting up pay strategies for long-term love affairs

Salespeople are the beating heart of a business; without the revenue they generate no other parts of a business will function for very long. The question is, how best to incentivise sales to work well, individually and as a team?

Fiirst principles
The Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD) suggests that any pay structure “should be carefully designed to support the business strategy of the organisation and to provide a clear and non-discriminatory framework for pay progression and

Calculating the costs of kit enlightenment

No one likes reading the manual. Whether it be electronics, toys or furniture, the huge accompanying instruction booklets are usually largely left untouched. And even when instructions are followed, as with certain flatpack furniture products, things often still go awry.

 

What you need is some hands-on training, a knowledgeable person to talk you through all aspects of the thing you have brought so you can maximise its potential. With small consumer electronics, like a new digital radio

Strategies to land the perfect catch

The question of how best to grow a business is asked again and again and again. Organic or acquisitive – either way the intended end-result is the same: the greater efficiencies and profitability that come through economies of scale and increased market clout.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with organic growth, it’s just that it takes time. It’s an option that Nick Dixon, director at Veriteva and a long-term buyer and seller of businesses in print, says firms should consider because “if