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There are so many opportunities when it comes to banners – go through a trade supplier or bring the work in-house? Genevieve Lewis explores the best options

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Trade supplier vs bringing work in-house, what is the best option for you?

Trade vs in-house

Banners are everywhere – they’re perfect for temporary signage, advertising, sporting events and even as a more permanent solution.

However, if sign-makers do not have the equipment already to take on the work – what should they do? Invest in the equipment or build a relationship with a trade supplier that means consistently outsourcing the work?

Very Displays is a trade only supplier and offer a varied range of products to its customer base. Andrew Burdett is the managing director and explains why sign-makers should consider outsourcing banners projects: “As a trade only supplier, it’s important to us that we’re able to offer a 360-degree display solution to help across all aspects of our clients’ business. This is everything from competitive hardware only pricing, high-quality graphics, flexible and transparent customer service and helpful marketing materials.

Outsourcing banner projects allows businesses to free up their graphics department to make room for larger, more profitable jobs

“Outsourcing banner projects allows businesses to free up their graphics department to make room for larger, more profitable jobs, but it’s also a great opportunity to add value to your business by offering a wider range of sizes and materials without having to invest heavily in larger under-used machines.”

Trade benefits

Burdett also highlights other benefits of going to a trade supplier, explaining that it means sign-makers will not have to invest in machinery that may be left dormant during quieter times of the year. He says: “It allows you to flex your business in busy or quiet times and take on more work whilst keeping your own production at full capacity. It is not necessarily cheaper, but the responsibility and waste are not with yourself and allow you to offer more print than you are capable of doing on your own.”

Roller banners are also another product that Very Displays can help sign-makers with

What may be daunting to a sign-maker when outsourcing work is finding the right company to undertake the work. Building a relationship with a trade supplier could help ease those nerves, and as a benefit to the supplier, that sign-maker will keep returning. Burdett agrees that the relationship is important. “We have strong relationships with our clients, sign-makers making up a significant percentage of these,” he says. “Over the years we’ve invested a lot into our graphics and finishing department with a range of commercial printers that gives us credibility. Our clients feel confident that we can supply quality prints time and time again – whether that be for roller banners and pop-up materials, fabric stretch, or flag knit, and we supply them on time, directly to them or white-labelled to their customers.”

So, there are just some of the benefits of using a trade supplier, but what about the option to bring banner work in-house? “With the right investment in machinery and skilled, knowledgeable team members, print in-house can be extremely profitable, but it does require exactly that, investment,” continues Burdett. He adds: “We’ve got well over 50 years’ worth of experience in this industry under our belts and at times we all experience production issues with staff and machinery, but it’s all a learning curve and we’re now in a position where we have an incredible team behind us.

Banner materials can also be used to create other products such as light boxes – another product that sign-makers can look into if they use a trade supplier

“We have professional equipment and strong relationships with couriers and hauliers, allowing us to provide a seamless service from start to finish and meaning your business doesn’t have to be investment heavy where it doesn’t need to be.”

Even Very Displays as a trade supplier views investment in new equipment as important, with Burdett concluding: “Over the next few months, we are investing in some new equipment – both printing and finishing equipment – to streamline our service and improve our quality. We also have an exciting growing range of new products that use traditional roll materials. The advantage with this is that it allows you to either print more yourself or if required simply outsource, it depends on your circumstances.”

Banners galore

Venture Banners does what it says on the tin and is also a trade printer, and very much in favour of outsourcing banner work. Scott Conway, a director at Venture Banners explains: “For the jobbing printers [or sign-makers] doing banners in-house may seem like a good idea on the face of it but you need to look at your efficiencies.

Scott Conway of Venture Banners

Firstly, banners can come in virtually any size, giving you a potential issue with material wastage. Then, when you’ve finished cutting the banner out, you’ve got to hem it and then put eyelets in it, which can be incredibly time consuming unless you have industrial-level equipment.”

Conway also says that at Venture Banners, the firm is geared up for high levels of production, so it does not matter how much a sign-maker needs done, the company can help: “At Venture Banners, we are geared up to do volumes and as a trade only supplier, pass our considerable economies of scale onto our trade customers.”

Investing in new equipment during this time could also cause concern for some sign-makers that, much like everyone else, are worried about what’s to come with Brexit. Whatever your opinion on the matter, it is still unknown what businesses will have to go through to survive. At Venture Banners, Conway outlines the equipment it has in its repertoire to produce the high-end products that sign-makers and printers require: “All of our banners are printed on a 3.2m EFI GS VUTEk, which prints 600dpi at 160sq m/h. We print so many banners that they are nested up.”

Venture Banners produces its banner work using machinery from EFI, Zünd as well as laser-guide eyelet machines and Miller Weldmasters

Conway adds: “It’s actually someone’s job here to play Tetris with artworks to reduce material wastage.”

Next in the production line-up is the cutting of the banners, followed by the sewing and finishing. “Once the banners are printed, they are digitally cut out on a 3.2m Zünd and then they are hemmed,” says Conway. “The hemmers we use are Miller Weldmasters and can weld 13m a minute. That’s really fast. Then to our laser-guided eyelet machines before they are wrapped and packed around a central core.”

O Factoid: Vinyl banners can last anywhere between 2-12 years depending on the type of materials that have been chosen by the customer  O

Conway concludes that customers of Venture Banners feel that outsourcing banner work is cheaper, as well as faster. “Unless you have dedicated kit and do volumes of banners, most of our customers will testify it is cheaper and faster to have us do their banner work than do it in-house themselves,” he says.

Of course, when it comes to banner work, the decision lays with whether or not the sign-maker has the demand for it. If there is a constant stream of need for banner work, then investing in all of the necessary machinery to produce high volumes of banners is a good idea. But if you are unsure with how often the equipment will be used, much like Burdett of Very Displays mentions, then perhaps building a relationship with a trade only supplier is the way to go.

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