Working with a Leading Promotional Products Supplier

Kelly wanted me to write about our experience in working with some of the leading suppliers in the industry. We have many customers in the Graphic Production and Support Services division of Affinity Express.  They range from big to small and the revenue we get from each ranges from a few hundred dollars per month to many thousand dollars per month.

One big client markets a wide range of promotional products and business accessories. Here’s the story of how we provide them high-quality designs at quick turn times, handle their volume spikes and help them reduce operational costs.

Getting Started

This company uses our services for creation of artwork for screen printing, etching, embossing, engraving, etc. The client has a diverse range of products, each with different specifications. We started working with them in early 2009.

To understand the client’s needs, our team started with a thorough study of the client’s processes and procedures. We customized our processes based on the requirements and put steps in place to enable the client to successfully outsource the artwork process to our facility in India.

Now the client receives orders for artwork from its customers through various channels such as the company website, email, telephone and fax; which are submitted to its centralized system. We have integrated the client’s system with our own, so the orders get automatically routed to our production team. The finished jobs are uploaded back into the client’’s system.

Managing Quality

So how do we manage quality? Our team maintains an accuracy level of 98% minimum (and quite frequently exceeds this target). We maintain and improve upon quality by comprehensive reporting and analysis that allows us to see where and how errors arise, based on which we can provide regular, specific feedback and training to the team members.

If the client requests more than one revision with similar feedback, the team incorporates the input into the rules for this client so that it is incorporated in future orders as well. The team regularly consults with the client to improve quality and reduce the number of revisions.

Managing Delivery Times

We have a quality operations team dedicated to lowering delivery failure rates by managing rushes and super rushes (four to 12 hours turnaround time). The artwork team’s delivery level is at 98.5% (that’s how often we manage to meet schedules).

Client Benefits

Here are some benefits the client gets from working with us:

  • Around 80 orders processed daily
  • Delivery of all jobs by 8:00 a.m. local time the next day, even if the order is received late
  • Assured quality with continuous reduction in errors
  • One free revision for each order
  • Delivery of all revisions within four hours
  • Extra coverage to work on weekends in case of high volumes
  • Round-the-clock support to ensure quick resolution of issues
  • Effective handling of volume spikes and seasonal peaks
  • Lower operational costs

It speaks for the quality and reliability of our services that the number of orders the client passed on to us increased from 15-20 orders per day in April 2009 to 80-90 per day in April 2010. That’s a pretty fine graph of the way our relationship with this client has progressed.

I am posting this story not because it is unique or spectacular, but because it is typical: of the way we work and the value we deliver to our clients. (Read what clients think of us in this post.)

About Joanna Grant
One of the founders of Affinity Express, Joanna is vice president of Graphic Production and Support Services at the company.

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