Ever wonder what you can do with a hammer? Almost everyone owns one, but what do you do with it? It’s probably safe to say most hammer owners keep one around for light duty tasks, like hanging a picture or tapping a tight fitted widget into conformation. But what if you had more complex tasks, like building a house or forming sheet metal for a car? Would you know if you had the right hammer for the job?
Sure, you could probably make just about any hammer work, but what would the final product look like, and how much extra time will you spend completing the task using a tool that didn’t have features designed for the application?
Think about the history of the hammer: early designs were no more than a stone tied to a stick. Even those crude designs might work to hang your picture, although you would probably run a higher risk of smashing your finger. But could you imagine framing a house with one?
Today, there are hammers designed specifically for just about any project. Length, weight, balance, shape and even the material the hammer is made from all play a part in the final design to make on the best choice for its intended purpose.
Like the hammer, wide format printers are also created with a specific job in mind. There are multiple brands, models and technologies to choose from, with varying price points and operational skill sets. And, much like a common hammer, all are capable of doing the basics — in this case, printing.
So how do you decide which is best for your individual needs? You could spend the time it would take, reading and researching the pros and cons of every brand and model until you’ve earned the equivalent of a college degree in wide format technology. Alternatively, and possibly with the same level of effectiveness, you could stand back, close your eyes and throw a dart. Neither of these seem like very good options.
The best strategy, then, is to partner with a knowledgeable vendor who will take the time to listen to your objectives first and make suggestions based on your requirements. But how do you find a “good” vendor?
A good rule of thumb when assessing a vendor is to look at the amount of time they take to listen to your needs before they go full throttle into selling mode. Then, balance their recommendations against your own knowledge and ask as many questions as it takes to fill in the gaps. The old adage, “There’s no such thing as a dumb question” applies here — a legitimately good vendor will make every effort to answer any and all of your questions.
Another helpful barometer for evaluation is the level of commitment the vendor is willing to make to accommodate you even after the sale. Ask for details about the training you’ll receive during the install and the assistance your vendor offers beyond that. How deep is their support bench? There’s a lot of great equipment out there, most of which requires technical attention from time to time — all of which is useless when sitting idle, waiting for parts and service.
In general, the number one marker of a good vendor is their eagerness to see you do well. A wise vendor knows that the success of their client is also a success for themselves. Your vendor should be able to help you choose a machine that will deliver results that meet your expectations at a price point that makes sense for you and will earn you the highest possible return on investment. Nobody wins if you end up stuck with a machine that costs you more money than you can bring in by using it.
So, back to the hammer metaphor: if you’re not a master carpenter you may not need a master carpenter’s hammer, but that doesn’t mean you should just use a rock. When making a purchase you want to be sure your investment is worth it, and a consultation with the right vendor can help you hit the nail on the head.