Bleed Issues

I need some advice i think! working at a printers, I regularly come across the problem of bleed, in as much as a lot of people who supply artwork to us don't put it on their work. When the work is sent back to them (only when PDF supplied and there is no way we can sort it out), I tend to get a lot of attitude thrown back at me about it, and I was wondering what the best way to deal with it is?
It frustrates me a lot, especially when the client is a repeat offender. For example, we have a client that regularly sends us large format posters, usually to be printed A1/A0. BUT always supplies them a3 with no bleed, in a 'print ready,' (ha) PDF format. This means dumping said file into indesign and enlarging - wouldn't matter so much but he's quoted as print ready so we're not paid to sort out his mistakes.

So, I thought, I know, i 'll sort him out some indesign templates (programme he uses) which are preset to A1 and A0 with the bleed on - all he has to do is set his poster using the template and bingo! so I send him the templates, with full instructions, and my phone number just in case. I also set him up with a PDF preset so the PDF's would be print ready too (always puts those colour bars on the top, which we don't need at our place). The first say, two or three posters came through to us perfectly, so i thought brill, he's cracked it, lovely! Next thing they start coming through with no bleed one side...colour bars reappear....why????!!! I did my best to help him, explain why i needed it a certain way, what bleed was for etc. Now we're back where we were, A3 no bleed.

I believe part of the problem is our sales office who deal with customers - we're not allowed to (stupid i know) unless given permission. I patiently explain problems to them, about bleed etc. - saw an email sent to someone from our sales team, who needed proper assistance with bleed and could have done with a bit of help, saying - 'send again, appears to be no bleed' and that was it! Unsurprisingly, the client:icon_Wall: just sent exactly the same PDF with no bleed. The email was ridiculous, of no help to the client, who needed help to understand what bleed is! Arggghhh!

Either our sales team won't help customers properly, or I end up dealing with a designer who takes personal offence when bleed is requested. I would appreciate advice and tactics as to how to deal with these situations, to help both the clients, and our dealings with sales. I don't talk to the clients in a frustrated manner i have to stress, i am always polite and do my best to help, but sometimes its like talking to a brick wall. does anyone else ever have people saying , 'well thats the way we always do it!!!" said to them? as if that solves any problems!!!
I know EXACTLY where you are coming from and used to have the same problem on a daily basis, however, we now have a good system in place which has solved 99% of these issues.

Firstly, you need an area on your website (do you have a website?) where there are templates for ALL of your print products, in different formats.

For example: © Free Print Templates > Flyer Templates > Business Card Templates ©

Secondly, you need a comprehensive FAQ page that covers almost every possible question and explains in detail what you require from an artwork point of view.

Having the above sections will save your customer service staff explaining your requirements again and again, explaining important issues like this over the phone or by e-mail is difficult, especially if your staff aren't 100% sure. At least this way your staff can direct customers to these sections and you will be confident that what is shown is correct, and explained in an easy to understand way.

In response to your customer that regularly supplies in-correct artwork, you have obviously taken the time to explain what is required. However, you have to draw the line somewhere so charge him for future alterations, charge £30 +VAT per alteration and see how quickly he remembers how to do it, he is just being lazy IMHO. Alternatively, next time print his A1 poster from his A3 artwork with a nice big white border (joke) :icon_smile:

The problem is if you start messing around with customer's artwork then you are opening yourself up to all kinds of problems, who will pay for a re-print if you miss off some text or an image when re-sizing/adjusting?? Artwork supplied as Print Ready should be treated as such, hence, this should be detailed in your FAQ section and in your T&C's which should be agreed to by the customer with a tick box somewhere when EVERY order is placed.

Hope that helps.
Train your sales staff

Clearly if you are not allowed to talk to customers without permission you need to get together with your manangement to train the staff that do. Put the business case to the manangement. How much money is being lost in you doing things for customers that you don't or can't charge for? How much time is also being wasted both by you and the sales staff who could be spending that time talkiing to new customers or getting more work out of the existing ones.

The web site stuff is a good idea but then again this kind of lazy person is not going to go to your web site. What needs to be done is that at the point of the quote a pdf advice sheet is attached. Don't call it something technical like 'How to prepare files for print' Call it 'your guide to achieving the very best high quality results every time' or something positive like that.

Make it simple and drive them through all the settings and considerations you would like to see. Make sure there is a link in it to a video or powerpoint version. Obviously you can also have links to your web site for them to get templates if that is what they want to do.

Make sure that all your sales staff are trained to understand this stuff and can also clearly see the problems and time it takes up to solve some of these problems. Get the management to make sure that if the system of providing the advice information doesn't happen with a quote then the sales person loses their commission on that job or has to pay for your time out of their commission.

Have a new customer orientation process which will make them feel loved and cared for. Find out exactly who designs their work and provide that person with all the helpful hints at the beginning of the relationship. If you have been this helpful and people still ignore you then you are in a very strong position to start charging them for your time and don't be afraid to do it. Serial offenders are unprofitable. If you don't want to show the charge the simplest thing to do is to start building it into the quote for the job by raising your prices for the posters.

Frankly, if you have decent management you shouldn't need to come to this forum to get help. Good luck
Bleed is always an issue with us too, and you are right to try to educate your customer. One solution might be the latest version of Acrobat Professional, I am told (and haven't yet checked) that you can edit such things as bleed on it. Might be worth looking into an upgrade.