When a customer places an order for plastic cards, they usually want to know what the “normal” turnaround time will be. In the plastic card printing business, normal is a relative term because it depends on several things:
* Quantity, specifically orders of 100,000 cards or more
* Card features, such as embossing and personalization (mag stripes, encoding, variable data of any kind)
* Time of year
Plastic Card Production at Different Times of the Year
Now that the holiday rush is over, we’re back to our traditional production schedule of 7-10 days. However, in the fourth quarter of the year, you can expect to wait 10-14 days before your cards are finished and ready to be shipped. Please note: I did not say delivered. You also have to plan for the length of time it will take the cards to go from our door to yours.
Speaking of planning, I would like to mention that some businesses fail to plan far enough in advance for their plastic cards. They wait too long and order too close to the holidays, which is in the heat of gift card season. Generally speaking, commercial printers see an uptick in orders beginning in July, and the number of orders continues to grow through the end of November. It’s critical to remember that plastic card lead times will always be longer in the fourth quarter.
Of course, this is not to say you can’t get cards done in the fourth quarter, but you will typically have fewer options for rush jobs, which “normally” take 3-5 business days. Not so during the fourth quarter.
So, make it a New Year’s Resolution to plan ahead in 2013 and take advantage of all the printing flexibility that’s available to you in the first half of the year.