Additional Methods used to Estimate Printing

The following eight procedures are used to estimate printing in addition to or in place of the described cost-estimating procedure. The most significant difference between these techniques and cost estimating is that each is based on the selling price of the job. We define selling price as the total dollar amount the customer will pay when the job is completed. It is represented by the sum of all manufacturing, material, and overhead costs, plus profit.

Price lists.
Estimate from price lists is very common when the product line of the printing company is standardized. For example, many fast print businesses, offering standard sizes of prices for the array of products they offer. Because the work is standardized, it is much faster to utilize price lists than to cost estimate each job individually. Customers also may use the price list to determine the price of the work they are contemplating prior to contact with the business.
Large printing companies that offer standardized products, such as labels or business forms, normally develop a price list book printing that covers literally all products they produce. This book is carried by each sales representative, who has been trained in its use. When a customer desires a price for a certain quantity and type of label, for example, the sales representative is able to determine a firm price within a short time. Quick price estimating is a tremendous aid in selling standardized products. Of course, such estimating-completed in the customer’s office under less than ideal conditions-can be embarrassing if an error is made or a price is misquoted by the sales representative.
Price lists are an extremely valuable estimating aid when they are accurately developed and updated and used only for the product lines for they were designed. In this age of increased specialization and standardization the printing industry, more and more estimating from price lists is being done.

Pricing on the Basis of Past Work.
A common technique for estimating in the printing industy, especially for a mix of products produced in the same plant, is pricing on the basis of past work. Essentially, the estimator and sales representative establish and maintain a file of past jobs that have been profitably produced and for which production is geared. The salesperson uses this sample portfolio during the sales contact with the customer. Frequently, the client willseect a product from the sample, with a request for a color change or perhaps a slightly different page size. Back at the plant, the estimator will pull the original estimate for this job, review it, and make necessary changes to reflect the modifications desired by the customer. The sales representative will then retrun to the customer with a proposal stating exact prices for various quantity levels. If changes are limited, the procedure is fast and reasonably accurate. The technique leads toward product specialization that may be most prof table for the company in the long term.

In some cases, the procedure is modified somewhat: The estimator maintains a card file system of past job quotations. The sales representative then sells work without a sample portfolio and brings the work in to be estimated. At this point, the estimator refers to the card file for a similar job done perhaps three months ago and quotes that former price or one close to it. The filling system used must be indexed and cross-referenced to be a timesaver for the estimator.

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