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Time's ticking! How to handle that next rush job

There’s nothing like a rush job to raise your blood pressure. Even if you’re a disciplined planner, there will always be last minute client requests and unexpected changes in strategic plans or market conditions that prompt calls for a herculean turnaround.


We recently received a large job request that required quoting, prepress, production and installation in a city hundreds of miles away from our print facility – all in less than two weeks. While that’s something we can often do, our existing project schedule required a creative solution. Fortunately, we’re part of RMX Network, a national network of independent digital print service providers, so we were able to do a warm handoff to one of those partners in the same city as the eventual installation. Because of our existing relationship, we were confident that they’d deliver on time and as expected – and they did – and now our client has multiple connections they can call on again in the future.


So next time you face a rush request, how do you say “Yes, we can do that!” without losing your mind or blowing the budget? How do you still deliver great work in less time?

  1. Maintain processes – Nothing adds more time to a project than error, so keep proven project processes in place. While it might be tempting to skip steps to meet a tight deadline, work on quickening turnaround rather than bypassing important project checkpoints, like confirmation of on-site conditions, press checks and careful material packaging.

  2. Reduce approval times – While review is crucial, a rush job wipes out the luxury of more lenient approval windows. Setting half-day expectations is one of the easiest ways to buy back time, and you should make sure that every reviewer is aware of the truncated schedule at the start. It’s also crucial to know in advance where each person will be and how to reach them when their turn for review is scheduled.

  3. Look for workarounds – Are there in-stock materials that can be substituted without a loss of effect? Perhaps you can still deliver the overall project vision with smart substitutes such as high-density urethane instead of wood or patterned vinyl instead of special-order fabric.

  4. Stick to expectations – You should never compromise project quality. If you have an existing partner who has the materials, fabrication and installation resources you need, now’s the time to call in a favor. At the same time, trust your judgment of their capabilities based on past experiences.  Some teams respond better to rush requests than others, so if you aren’t confident, it may be time to call in another expert.

  5. Use in-market resources – Having access to production and installation resources in the same geographic location as your project can be a lifesaver. It reduces the time required for each project step and can completely remove shipping from the timeline when needed.

  6. Plan for the next rush project – Finding a new expert can feel uncomfortable, particularly when it happens in conjunction with a rush client request. So that you’re not left in a crunch the next go around, vet and try out a new production partner now.


  • Do an online review of their capabilities and look at their past projects.

  • See if they have processes already in place that might address some of your current pain points, whether that’s reliability, quality, production options, cross-country capabilities or something else.

  • Test the waters with a new project. Even a small request will give you an idea of personalities and future potential.

This trial run may even open your eyes to solutions you didn’t know existed or new people who are just plain nice to work with. And if things go well, you’ll have a working solution in place for your next rush job.

How do you cope with rush requests?

What’s the most challenging last-minute project you’ve had to manage and how did you solve it without losing your sanity or sabotaging your client's happiness? Are there any tips you can share with others? We’d love to hear them!



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