Gregg's View
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Last week we received new phone books.  Whenever new books arrive, I turn to the printing section to see if I've missed any of the last years casualties.  In Phoenix, 60 out of 551 printers closed their operations last year.

Over 11%.  A lot, but still better than average.  A number of new shops began began operation in the same period, and there is now a whole new crop of competition helping define the 'market value' of printing.

Two days later I received a notice from NAQP and QP Consulting, indicating they had completed 'The most comprehensive analysis of pricing practices and profitability ever published in the Quick Printing Industry ...". How did they collect this data?  By sending more than 13,500 questionnaires to a random selection of quick printers and copy shop owners - and offering them a copy of the completed pricing 'study'.

After approximately 1,100 completed questionnaires were returned (about 8%), a 'Pricing Study' was compiled. The cost to purchase a copy of this survey?  $119 for non-members.

I have a question.  Who would be motivated to complete a pricing questionnaire in order to receive a 'Pricing Survey'?  And wouldn't the survey only profile printers with a similar interest?  If you think for a moment -- the question provides a clue about how valuable that data is.  Most successful operators, who already have a customer base and proven pricing policy, wouldn't look at it twice.

The truth is that there is a wide range of industry pricing for similar, or even identical work.  On small orders, the range is often over 100% of the low bid.  How can vendors get away with charging these premiums?  Why do customers pay these premiums?  Because quality and service are still a part of the mix that establish price.  Just because the end product is similar, doesn't mean competing vendors are selling the same thing.

Remember what you're selling.  It's your time.  Somewhere in the market, there is a source and a demand for all levels of service and quality. Know your costs.  You can't let demand dictate the level of service you provide, while the market dictates your price.  If you do, I'll probably miss you in next years directory. 

Gregg Lowney



SheetWise offers numerous tools for determining sales, overhead and production costs associated with manufacturing.  Gregg works as a consultant, designer, and programmer developing integration tools in various production environments.  Also available as a speaker, Gregg both writes and does research for industry journals.

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