Springtime typically marks a period of normal operation for campus card offices. But even though the workload this time of year is relatively straightforward compared to the hectic orientation periods, it’s never too early to start planning for that next, inevitable rush.
Properly planning your card consumable orders is key to being prepared for both the high-issuance periods and normal office operations.
“Planning your card order is vital to the success of a card office,” says Mark Degan, director of corporate marketing at ColorID. “If you aren’t in touch with your provider and know what the accurate and most up-to-date lead times are then you could run the risk of having no cards to issue.”
It goes without saying that a card office without cardstock is a terrible scenario. “It’d be like a gas station running out of gasoline or a grocery store running out of milk,” says Degan. It certainly would be a black eye for the card office if they couldn’t issue cards for a completely avoidable reason.
In order to avoid down time, a card office needs to first consider their operation and the types of consumables needed and then place that order.
“A very good rule of thumb is to look at the time of the year and plan accordingly,” explains Degan. “The summer months are by far the busiest season for orders with early fall and late spring being the elevated lead times.”
That said, the more a card office can think ahead the easier the order process will go. “The winter months are the best time to order,” Degan says. “Lead times also depend on what type of card a campus is issuing, the card technology, the type of customization the campus is having done, etc.”
Predictably, the fewer the components included in a card the quicker and more readily available the materials will be, and in turn, the quicker that cardstock can arrive to campus. “100% PVC pre-printed cardstock with black imprinting on the back and one HiCo, three-track mag stripe may have a lead time of just three weeks, for example,” Degan explains. “But if a campus adds a custom holographic overlay and embedded identification technologies or chips, it can increase the lead time to six weeks.”
Avoid the pitfalls
Improper lead-time is by far the biggest pitfall that a card office faces when placing consumable orders.
“What many offices aren’t considering is how many other jobs are already in line ahead of them, how rare their card materials are, and whether those materials are already sitting on the inventory shelf or not,” Degan explains.