In the mid-Fifteenth Century, when Johann Guttenburg brought movable type printing to the western world I doubt he envisioned the industry he would create. Today, printing is a significant line item on every business budget. Invoices, contracts, business cards, letterhead, and brochures are all part of the day-to-day operations of every business.

Often when the bill comes, it feels like you are carrying the whole$90 billion industry by yourself. There are, however, ways for a small business to save money on printing.  You just have to know the right questions to ask.

The most important thing to remember if you want to save money on printing is that printing is a production business. Large jobs and long runs are less expensive than short ones, so plan ahead! The most expensive part of the process is the set up. Once the press is running, your per piece cost goes down with every page you print.

For example: I recently designed a small postcard for a client. The printer’s quote looked like this:

    1,250 pieces $300
    2,500 pieces $420
    5,000 pieces $525

This is fairly typical whether you are printing 500 or 5,000 pieces. The more you print, the lower the per piece cost. It was easy for this client to make the decision to print the higher quantity instead of planning a reprint six months later. But what if you really don’t need more?

Ask about GANG RUNS. When you print small postcards your printer is actually laying them out on a larger sheet of paper possibly 4 to a page or 8 to a page.   When printing is complete, the printer will cut the page divide the finished project into piles. It doesn’t matter to him if the four piles are the same or different, but your savings could be tremendous. Using the Gang Run format, you can actually create four different cards and print them at the same time. Look at the potential savings on four batches of 1,250 postcards:

    Printed separately $300 each run for a total of $1,200
    Printed in a gang run for a total of $750

The benefits are obvious, but there is work involved. You must invest time up front to think about your printing needs for the next six months or year. Then bring that plan to a meeting with a printer, and let him help you look for ways to save money.