4 Tips For Choosing A Professional Print Lab

3D little human character holding a Clipboard with Checklist and a MultiColor Pen.

You’re a photographer. You’ve managed to turn your hobby, your pasttime, and your passion into a career. And you are good at it. But what is the best way to get your clients the prints, the albums, and cards in this rapidly changing digital age?

It might be time to start researching professional printing fulfillment services.

A Google search will get you a list of names to investigate. The question becomes how do you know which company is right for you? This article is about the features and benefits the right fulfillment service should have before you decide to sign on with them.

The Quality

First and foremost, you need to be sure that the work the company produces is of the quality you would be happy to associate with your business. Ask for a wide variety of samples, from greeting cards, to photo albums, to stand alone prints. Ask for a variety of sizes. If the lab does not have free samples, ask if they have sample discounts. Does the lab offer custom sizes? What is their range of custom sizes? On what kinds of materials can they print your images? Does the company offer test prints? Test prints are important as a quality check and a color calibration check. If your color comes back less than stellar, does the lab have a technical advisor on staff to work with you on becoming calibrated?

Customer Service

What kind of customer service does your lab have? Can they be reached by telephone or is their customer service email based only? Does the lab offer extended customer service hours to assist you after normal business hours? Are the customer service reps knowledgeable? Are they friendly?

The Variables

This topic can easily vary from service to service, but there are still a few points you can hang your hat on. First and foremost, is the ordering systems easy to use? Second, is navigating the website or ordering system easy? Third, what is the payment system? Credit Card, PayPal or cash/check? Credit Card and PayPal are the most user friendly. Does the print fulfillment service you are looking at accept credit cards or PayPal?

Turnaround Time

In this day and age of instant gratification, it is important to produce a quality product as well as produce it quickly. What is the turnaround time on the products you will be ordering most? Is it a reasonable amount of time? If not, you may want to look at other print services. Your clients want to see, hold, touch the final product as quickly as possible.

There are over 200,000 people in the photography business in the United States alone,  and over 150,000 businesses, and by the end of 2015, the number of annual images taken by Americans will top 105 billion. It goes without saying, photography is officially a big business. You can not afford to waste time with print fulfillment services that don’t put the best possible face forward for your company, brand, and clients. Do your research and find what company is right for you.