What is the value of hiring an experienced print buyer vs. a novice buyer?

Answered by Suzanne Morgan, founder, Print Buyers Online.com

I was recently asked if there are any research findings regarding the value of hiring an experienced print buyer vs. a novice buyer. My company wants to save some money and hire someone without experience and then train them. I am trying to quantify a percentage of savings recognized by the skills of a seasoned buyer. What’s your take on this?

Last year, because of quality issues at the printer, we ended up with about 10% under and now we have to go back on press. Obviously, this re-print will cost us much more. I would like to put an underrun number in our contract for next year. Is it okay to request 0% underruns?


I think this question is very interesting. I’m often frustrated with organizations that attempt to “save” $10,000 or $20,000 by hiring someone without experience over a seasoned buyer. Print Buyers Online.com hasn’t conducted formal research on this. But after spending over 10 years training print buyers and providing consulting services to buying organizations, I feel strongly that an experienced print buyer (who is forward thinking and has a big-picture mindset) can save an organization a substantial amount of money. If this buyer is responsible for a significant print spend, then the cost savings – just due to the experience of knowing which suppliers to work with, how to effectively produce jobs, etc. – could be many times the person’s salary. I just can’t understand the penny-wise, dollar-foolish view that many organizations take in hiring. It takes a long time to gain the expertise as a buyer and unfortunately that expertise is not always recognized within organizations.

Almost all print buyers start from the novice position, so I’m not knocking new print buyers. I just believe that there are many senior print buyers with excellent skill sets who are seeking work that are overlooked because their desired salary is viewed as being too high.

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