Rush Printing Services: When will my print job be ready?

Meeting your needs with Rush Printing Services

The short answer: It can be ready for when you need it.

Rush orders are inevitable. Last week a guy dropped by my shop.  He needed two Construction Site Safety Rules signs to pass inspection and the inspector was expected early that afternoon.  He had forgotten all about it till now.

On another occasion a woman phoned and explained that she had come from out of town for a trade show.   She had ordered brochures from a local printer so she could just pick them up when she got into town.  She told me on the phone that she just picked them up and they were wrong….”do you do emergency printing?”

Finally, a woman phoned and explained that she was working on a Bollywood production and had a tight schedule.  She ;had a variety of props that needed printing, all of which had to be on set the next day for filming.

rush orders

In all of these cases, the customer was in a pinch and needed help, fast.  Most printers offer rush service, for a fee, but those services are defined quite differently from shop to shop.  Is some cases, work is refused if the deadline it too tight.  In the case of the Bollywood production, the  customer told me that I was the first printer shop who would even hear her out.  She had been refused by the first seven.

Keep reading to find out we respond to rush orders like this.  

Why do print shops charge rush fees?

Believe it or not, it is not to just take advantage of the pinch you find yourself in.  A print shop is a busy place, with lots going on at once.  In order to keep costs down, reduce waste, and prevent errors, print shop managers organize jobs carefully.  The print shop runs more effectively when media does not have to be change d all the time. In addition, printers get a much better return on jobs that are grouped on media or processed together.

Rushed jobs disrupt the schedule.  Changing media for a rush job, then changing back after the job adds significant work.  It also delays other jobs, requiring extra time for catching up.  Rush fees compensate the print shop for the extra work and stress to staff and machinery.

Production speed service levels and fees are not just about the revenue.  By establishing a “normal” expected delivery time for print orders, the shop manages customer expectations.  Without that, customers may consume staff time answering calls about when the job will be ready.  

What should you expect to pay for Rush printing service?

If you have found a print shop who is willing to take the job, you are more than half way there.  Remember the Bollywood prop customer?  Printers commonly turn away work that is too rushed. You should expect to pay more if they take it at all.

How much of a rush?

This depends on the job.  It is important that you remain realistic.  One customer ordered labels and asked to have them done the same day, within 4 hours, and sent a print job that took 8 hours of machine time.   It was an impossible goal.  If you are ordering priority service online, it is important to understand that the size and type of job dictate production speed, not the whims of the print shop staff.  

Typical costs

Standard production times can vary from 1 day to 15 days, depending on the company and the market they are trying to capture.  There are companies that advertise 1 hour or same day business cards, for example, to bring customers in the door.  Most products take much more time, though, and the majority of printers offer advertised turnarounds of 3 to 5 days.  Costs vary from 10% to 65% or more of the total order cost.

rush printing services

The fine print on rush orders is important to read. 

One popular print shop  in Vancouver offers 3 – 4 days for production on the product we checked.  For them, the clock starts only after the submitted file is approved as print ready (up to 24 hours).  If your file is not print-ready, they have a charge to fix it, if you like, and your 3 – 4 day production would start after that.  This company adds production days with some finishing options, so you need to add those to your expected finish date.  On the product we checked, they offer one level for rush printing service, an upgrade to 2 days.  The fee adds just over 50% to the overall cost of the product.   In total, this order could take 3 days or more to complete (24 hours + 2 day rush) for an extra 50% of the cost of your order.

Another Vancouver shop offers 2-3 days rush for printing only.  

Laser Sharp Printing Rush Service

We are here to support you.  Laser Sharp Printing has a rush service tailored to you:

  • We add “Just do it” artwork service to all products at no charge.  We fix small issues with layout for you at no charge to avoid delays.  Other printers charge $25 or more to fix layout issues.
  • It is all inclusive: our rush is not just for printing.  We work hard to get your finished product to you on time.  We don’t sell you a timeline then look for reasons to extend it.
  • If you select one of our artwork support services AND our priority printing, we also prioritize your artwork.
  • 3 levels (over standard): fast, very fast, and priority.  This allows you to accurately communicate your deadline.  We honour the deadline you give us.  If your  priority need is strong, just tell us.  Priority is priority…it will be done as soon as possible.  We are here for you.

My 3 customers, introduced at the beginning

  • The man who needed the Construction Site Safety Signs:  he ordered my predesigned signs, which we customized while he was in the shop. I started the print job as soon as he left, and finished the signs, with a small free upgrade, before his inspector arrived.
  • The lady from out of town: she sent me her brochure artwork.  How the other printer messed them up was baffling.  I quickly printed her somewhat large order and had them ready in about an hour.  I did not charge her a rush fee.
  • The Bollywood prop woman: I accepted her job and got everything ready for her by the next morning, so she could get them to set.   She ordered several other prop pieces that week, all needed priority service.

My personal note on rush printing services:  Is it ever appropriate to ask a printer to waive the rush fee?

I can’t speak for all printers, but will share my own thoughts on this.   To me, the reason is everything.

  • If your rush is because you need to get ready for a birthday party tomorrow and want a banner, then don’t ask.  You have known about that birthday for years and have had a full year to plan – a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.
  • If you have a designer who has taken too long to get the artwork to you,  don’t ask.  It was the designer you should have rushed, not me.
  • You are part of a volunteer organization and “everything takes so long because everyone is a volunteer”, don’t ask.  At least give me to same respect you gave to the volunteer who let down the organization!  You didn’t want to rush the volunteer because they are unpaid, so don’t rush me if you don’t want to pay.
  • For months or years you have managed without NCR numbers on your truck. You got caught. Don’t ask.
  • On the other hand, you most often cannot foresee a death, and the funeral date gives you very little time to plan – please ask.  I will waive the fee.
  • Your situation is outside your control and could not be anticipated. For example, you discovered that another printer messed up your print job.  Let’s discuss

Conclusion

As long as there are emergencies, surprises, and poor planning, there will be rush fees.  Rushed orders are often emotionally charged, because they are often the result of someone’s mistake.  They are a consequence, and a last hope to “fix” a bad situation.  If you need this kind of support, I do what I can to help.

For the most part, any printer will offer rush, and the charges are relatively consistent across the printing industry, sitting at 10 – 65% or more of the product price, depending on the order.  Still, not all rush service is the same.  In my case, it is not always even appropriate.  Pay the fee, don’t refused service.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *