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What to Look for in a Banner Printing Shop

Back in the early 1990’s when I went into the sign making business, all you needed was a vinyl plotter and you could open a banner printing shop. In fact, guys were making great money hanging out banners for their shops and making decent money.

One of these shops, in fact, was part of the reason my Father and I decided to go into this business in 1991. One frigid February morning, my Dad had to go pick up some cut vinyl from the store he did business with in Spokane, WA. It was about 8:15 a.m., and so he walked up to the glass entry door, and read that it didn’t open until 8:30 a.m.

Printed fabric bannersHowever, he could see the owner in the window, so he rapped on the glass and waved at the owner who nodded back that he saw my Dad…but left him standing in the cold for 15 minutes until the clock read 8:30 a.m. If you know my Dad, he HATES bad customer service, and thrived on making his clients happy, no matter what the business was.

He was miffed…he said to me, “If this is the best customer service available, let’s go into this business!” So we did. We opened our own banner printing shop in the fall of that year and our customers love our customer service.

Looking for the Right Banner Printing Shop

So, what was it that they liked? If we were there, we were open, even if it was midnight (and sometimes it was). Our customers were treated like family…the door was always open, the phone was always answered (or if it wasn’t we got back to them quickly), and we priced our products competitively.

From Vinyl Plotter to Digital Printer

In the late 90’s, though, the signage industry began to shift from the vinyl cutter-plotter to the digital inkjet printer. At first, only some of the bigger shops could afford them, but as the prices came down in the following decade, more and more companies were able to afford to purchase or lease these printers.

We were among those who purchased digital print machines initially about the end of the 20th century, and we quickly learned that our customers still valued our friendly service and completing projects on schedule more than any other aspect of who we were.

The Banner Shop to Purchase From

So, let’s say you go online to purchase a banner, whether vinyl or fabric, vinyl-lettered or digitally printed, solvent ink printed or dye-sublimation printed, whom will you choose to purchase from and what goes into your decision to buy from a company. Cost, of course, is important. However, there are some very cheap suppliers that I ignore for one with good value and great customer service.

I personally look for companies who stand behind their product as my top priority – pricing is important or I don’t remain competitive, but if there’s a problem, and there always could be, how will they react. I purchase some of our products pre-printed and re-sell them. I only use wholesalers who stand behind what they’ve sold me or my client. On one occasion, before we had a wide format printer, I outsourced 20 banners that were 20 feet long by 8 feet tall to a company that I had worked with for a short period of time. They shipped them directly to my client who was unhappy with the print quality. The company that  imprinted them re-printed the entire lot at their cost, no questioned asked except “what can we do to make the displays acceptable this time?”

So, when you’re looking for a banner printing shop, look for a good price, certainly, but don’t forget to find out what kind of people are working for or running the company. The few dollars you saved on the front end could be a nightmare on the back end.


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Barry K. Brown

Barry Brown has been in the Sign, Banner, Decal and Display Business for over 20 years. It isn't what he thought he'd do with his life, but he says he knows too much now to do anything else!

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