Seeking A Contract Printer For The First Time? Here Are 5 Things You Need You Know

As a community of decorators, we rely on contract printers to help us cope with busy seasons, shoulder the load when our business is growing, and handle jobs that are outside of our expertise.

If this is your first time seeking out a contract printer, here are 5 things you need to know.

1. Everything comes at a cost

Contract printers are explicit with their pricing. They will charge you for everything from the screens, setups to the digitizing, and packaging. The charges also vary by the difficulty of the job. For example, you may notice a price difference for underbasing or printing difficult jobs compared to the easier ones. Therefore, be sure to fully understand the underlying cost per t-shirt printed before quoting your customer.

2. Leave zero room for doubts

Be as specific with your purchase order as possible; they should be able to know everything about the job when they look at it. To send perfect purchase orders, you should thoroughly understand the requirements of your contract printer. If you are not clear with your instructions, they will not process your order and put it on hold. Their responsibility is to print your orders, not fix them. Which leads us to our next point.

3. Make sure the artwork you sent is print-ready

A contract printer will print an order exactly as you send it to them. If your artwork is not scaled correctly or has hidden layers, there will be a lot of back and forth correspondence, which can delay your order and leave both sides frustrated. 

4. Keeping up with their schedules

As a B2B service, contract printers have to meet all deadlines they have agreed or risk losing their business. Therefore, contract printers stick to strict timetables and will not deviate from it once set. As a result, you must factor in their schedule before promising your customers a delivery date. Remember, you can pay more to get a faster turnaround time, but only if your contract printers schedule allows it.

5. Understand their spoilage rate

Each business will have their spoilage rate specified in their policy, which is typically 2-3% per order. What this means to you is that, if you place an order of 100, they are allowed to misprint 2 – 3 t-shirts without having to replace it. Considering mistakes happen, replacing each t-shirt ends up hurting their business. This is an industry-wide practice, be ready to accept it. Therefore, pad your order by 2-3% to account for the spoilage rate. Extra t-shirts in your inventory are better than unhappy customers.


The services of contract printers are invaluable as they help our businesses grow by doing the jobs outside our scope and shoulder the load during busy seasons. We hope that with these rules in mind, we can all work better with our fellow contract printers.

CEO & Principal Engineer at

Having worked as a software engineer for Amazon and Microsoft, Anbin founded YoPrint to build the best-in-class print shop management software. Anbin aims to use cutting-edge technology staple to tech giants to help modernize the print industry.

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