ADAPTIVENESS: Does your label manufacturer adapt to change and keep up with new technologies in order to remain state-of-the art? Your label supplier (and partner) should be able to recommend the most current innovations to meet your die-cutting and printing requirements. If your supplier’s specialty is too narrow, chances are they will be unable to grow with you and your business.
PREPAREDNESS: Is your label provider prepared to talk about your account and your industry? You should always get the sense that you are talking to someone who is familiar with you and your company. Can they quickly pull up the facts and figures about your orders and current estimates? They should also be ready to discuss their pricing rationalization and offer you alternatives.
BOLDNESS: Is your label supplier able to think outside the box and suggest a surprising, unexpected, or even bold solution to your labeling challenge? They should be adept at suggesting enhancements—like adding a no-extra-cost 2D QR barcode for marketing purposes or including perforations between labels to make them easier to take off the roll. They should always be thinking about innovative formats that can kill two birds with one stone (in other words, solve two labeling challenges in one label). You may not know what you need, but your label partner should.
EASYGOING-NESS: Stuff happens. Equipment breaks down, critical details are left out, and out-of-your-hands shipping nightmares occur. Your reseller should be flexible, amiable, & sensible even under the most outrageous of demands or conditions. They need to understand your concerns and then cleverly and quickly provide solutions.
OPENNESS: Your label partner should be willing to share pertinent information with you, even if that information may lead to a smaller sale. For instance, your customer may ask for a rather expensive polyester label, and the application really only calls for a paper label. You should be able to trust your supplier to do the right thing, so you both can remain in business for many years to come. This does not mean, however, that your supplier will disclose your confidential information or business plans with your competition. They should invite you to tour their facility and allow you to conduct a full facility audit. If you tour EIM, you will see distinctive philosophies of lean manufacturing, green initiatives and Kanban.
COMPETITIVENESS: Surprised to see this only halfway down the list? A competitive price is certainly important, but very often that means using the cheapest materials, with no value-added services. We believe that superior customer service is priceless. Something to consider. As for being cheap, what is your recourse if your recommended labels fail? Anyone can quote a cost effective product, but if it is not the RIGHT product, you could wind up spending more and losing profit in the long run.
RESPONSIVENESS: Do your email questions and requests get answered quickly – within the hour or even minutes? If there’s a delay, do you receive a notice about the reason for the delay and a proposed time for follow-up? You should not feel that your questions and inquiries have dropped into a black hole. Call-backs should be prompt. At EIM, we have a mandated one-hour response to website inquires during business hours. That’s one hour, not one day!
PROACTIVENESS: Does your label partner send you new product samples and labeling ideas on a regular basis? Do they alert you in plenty of time when a mission-critical material is being discontinued? If they don’t, they are being remiss. Every time there is an end-of-life notification, we have an action plan, the longest possible lead time, a qualified replacement material, and a reasonable deadline. All of this will be provided so you can be prepared to help your customers through the transition.
ACCURATENESS: A label supplier can never be too accurate. Every detail should matter—from the initial intake, through the approval process, to the production run and beyond. Fonts, specs, colors, barcode symbologies, quantities, shipping method. Details matter – a lot! We are detail-obsessed barcode labeling nerds.
AND THE #1 thing to look for in a Label Partner IS . . . (drum roll, please) . . .
ATTENTIVENESS: Does your label supplier read your e-mails and specifications carefully? Do they ask good questions to make sure they have all the information they need to make good proposals? If you have a problem, do they respond promptly with an action plan and quick deliverables? Or do you get the idea that your account is taken for granted? You deserve a partner that cares about your business and is willing to accept responsibility for every facet of your labeling needs.