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The bottom of the deck

What to do when it’s time to replenish card stock

Every university has to manage its card stock supply, and though it’s not the most exciting task for a card office to undertake, being left without a sufficient supply of cards can bring a university’s card issuance to a grinding halt.

Depending on the size of the institution, the type of credential, and even the time of year, replenishing card stock is more of a process than you may think. ColorID’s corporate marketing manager, Mark Degan, offers his insights to better explain the factors that a university should consider when it comes time to restock.

Keeping stock

When it comes to card stock supplies, the first consideration for any university card office should be the amount of card stock needed to keep the operation running smoothly.

“Depending on the university’s orientation sizes, as well as the functions that they are using their ID cards for will help determine the amount of card stock it should keep handy,” explains Degan. “I would suggest having at least six months worth of card stock in house at any given time.”

Housing six months worth of card stock should provide a significant cushion for a university to accomplish its average operations, but it is also important to account for potential abnormalities in card stock consumption.

“A number of issues can come up that could increase your card consumption,” says Degan. “The most common are large orientation classes, re-carding, card stock failure, bad batches or even an ID printer malfunctioning and requiring reprints.”

Degan explains that the size of the institution may also play a role in the restocking process, as larger universities do usually have a larger replenish size. Alternatively, larger universities can order more frequently rather than placing a single, larger-quantity order.

Know your lead time

In addition to the many operational challenges that a card office may face, another key consideration for replenishing card stock is lead time.

As Degan explains, a card office must take lead time into account because delivery time frames will vary depending on the type of card stock.

“Non-custom, non-technology, or blank, card stock is usually available in sleeves of 500 in a number of options and varieties,” explains Degan. “For blank card stock, the standard lead time is one week, and if for some reason it isn’t in stock, a new order could take up to four weeks.”

Next on the list is custom, non-technology card stock. “These card stock orders usually take between 2-4 weeks, but in the summer months, universities should assume 6-8 weeks,” says Degan.

According to Degan, non-custom, technology card stock typically comes in sleeves of 250-500 and offers a number of options and varieties. “Standard lead time for this card stock is 1-2 weeks, but if it’s out of stock a university should expect 4-6 weeks for manufacturing throughout the year and 6-8 weeks during the summer months,” he adds.

The lengthiest lead time can typically be found with custom, technology card stock. As Degan explains, these orders routinely take around 4-6 weeks, but in the summer months can balloon up to 6-10 weeks.

Despite their varying lead times, Degan does explain that the type of card stock does not affect the overall order quantity, provided the university can afford to wait for the shipment to arrive. It’s for this reason that planning ahead is crucial.

Time is of the essence

As previously mentioned, the time of year can factor into the amount of time it takes to process an order. With this in mind, Degan offers some advice for planning ahead.

“The best time of the year to order card stock is from October to April,” Degan explains. “After spring comes around, and throughout the summer months, lead times always increase because some universities forget to place their orders earlier, or have just realized they opened their last box of cards.”

Degan places a hard deadline on a restocking order. “The absolute latest that a university card office should wait to reorder card stock is six months worth of card supply,” he says. “Waiting any longer than that will result in longer lead times and could make life a little more stressful.”

“We send our customers emails throughout the year with accurate lead times so they can plan ahead,” says Degan. “Lead times can change very rapidly so be sure to ask at the time of your order what the current lead time is and if you need cards by a certain date to relay that to your provider.”

Ace up your sleeve

Running out of card stock will bring any card office to its knees, halting all card issuance in its tracks. Knowing the lead time for your university’s type of card stock is vital.

While replenishing card stock likely isn’t a daily thought for card office administrators, it’s nonetheless a task worth considering. With just a little bit of planning in advance and an understanding of your university’s needs, a card office can steer clear of catastrophe and avoid the bottom of the deck.

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