Thursday, October 15, 2009


During several of my recent visits to printing companies, the issue of prepress pricing came up. Several CSRs were concerned about the prices they had to charge for design and prepress services. They believed the prices were too high and that the customer was being “gouged.” When I reviewed the prices I found them to be either good or below market value. I never found a job that had been priced "too high." The CSR just didn't know what the value was and was having "sticker shock." They had never sold printing before and they didn't know what went into creating the job.

Owners need to review the value of prepress services with their CSRs. If the CSR isn’t comfortable with the prepress price, he will tend to lower the price. Most prepress prices are arbitrary in most shops and sometimes CSRs will skip the charge in hopes of just getting the job.

Owners need to explain the value of prepress. Equipment costs and software applications are very expensive. Most customers don’t have the knowledge to properly prepare a file for print nor do they have the ability to design work with a professional look. This type of service is only available from a printer or graphic designer. Using the equipment and software is more than just typing. CSRs should remember the printing problems and additional costs caused by amateur designers submitting files. The customer is paying for professional help to assure the file is created properly.

The value of the work particularly increases when original design is involved. Part of the charge to the customer will include the value of getting something no one else has. It is an original creation that the printer is selling to the customer. Check the difference between the cost of an original work of art and a copy. The original is always going to cost a lot more.

The prices can also be compared to other sources. Check the online printing sites and see what they charge for typesetting and design. Talk to freelancing graphic designers and ad agencies and see what they charge for their work.

Of course, work that is just replicated and reproduced does have a lower value than an original design, but it still has value. In many cases where the CSR feels the prepress prices are too high, there is no base line of pricing. Every year, the Crouser Estimating Guide includes the John Giles DTP Pricelist that can give a CSR the value price for many of the types of work sold by printers.

Customers will pay when they feel like they are getting value for their money. If you sell printing and apologize for the price, then the customer will feel like they are getting over charged. You need to be proud of your work and the services you provide. It costs what it costs. Price gougers won't survive, but neither will printers who give away their work.

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