Buying print effectively takes years to be honest. Print is a wide spectrum, from a little business card to the hand-bound brochure. Clients rely on your expertise to help them get the best possible job for the best possible price. You have a whole lot of learning to do.
To start with, get to know your paper types and weights. Gloss is the cheapest, silk second, uncoated will give you a nice tactile finish, but images will be darker and the job will take longer to dry.
Call your printers and talk to them. If you are dealing with a sales person, they will know print, but the production guys are the ones with the real knowledge. Speak with them right from the beginning, they will point out the potential problems. Spend time building a relationship with your printer. The more you know them and what they do, the better you can place the work.
When you start buying a lot of print you will get preferential prices. The more buying power you have, the better prices you will get, as long as it is with the same supplier.
Don't mark up print prices too high. Clients can get print prices in as well. They are happy for you to handle the whole job, but not happy to be ripped off.
Every printer will tell you they can handle most jobs, but the reality is they all have a 'sweet spot', for the perfect job that suits their press size and skills base. Try to find out what that is. It will save you time and save your clients money.
Collect a loyal set of printers. You will need a small 'craft' printer who can print two colour jobs, perhaps foil block and deal with smaller runs.
You will need a B2 'work horse' printer who can print medium run jobs with a bit of finishing in house.
Get a nice B1, five colour medium to long print run printer.
Find a good screen printer.
Find a dirt cheap, 'knock it out' and cross your fingers company for those budget jobs.
Once you have these, you are on your way. Don't forget to build a long term relationship. I have worked with one printer for over 18 years.
Go and visit each print company. Meet the MD, you may never see them again, but they will know who you are. Obviously you will meet your sales rep, but when you visit the factory, try to talk to the people who operate the machines, the ones that do the work. It shows you care.
Printers don't have to be local. Our offices are in London, but one of our best suppliers is in Cardiff.