Custom or Contract?

I was recently talking to friend in the industry about offering custom printing vs. contract printing vs. doing both.  My thoughts on this matter have been consistent for the past ten years: choose one or the other, not both.

I do not recommend offering both for specific reasons, i.e: the inevitable conflicts of interest that arise when you are actively selling to the same potential customers as your… customers (if that statement was confusing, don’t worry, it should be).  More importantly, I think it’s a bad idea because these are really two totally different business models, rather than different order types as is commonly understood.  To achieve success under one business model is difficult enough, to win at both borders on impossibility for the fundamental reason that a successful contract business requires a core competency in decoration and logistics while a successful custom business requires a core competency in sales and sourcing (and of course adequate production competency).

I shared my thoughts on this subject in a Printwear panel discussion at an NBM show a few years back…

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