"How accurate are the hourly press rates in Morning Flight?" That's a question we're asked regularly, and I don't have a good answer for it. The truth is they're not designed to be and should be considered guide lines. For canned rates to be more than that - localized if you will - we'd have to know your pricing method, canvass your customer base, find out what your costs are, just to set the stage. And there's no way to wrap that into an algorithm.
Because pricing so often finds its way into the conversation even when the initial phone call is about something else, we've created a whole new "Pricing Workshop" for it on our website. Will the workshop open a window to magically reveal what your hourly rates should be? That's too much to ask. Instead, you will learn where to fine-tune every cost factor until you reach your optimal price level.
You'll also learn to appreciate Terry's soon to be released "Print Pebbles." What started out as a proof-of-concept FileMaker GO iPad app has since been refocused to help Morning Flight users fast-track their digital price making.
Unitac International Inc.
Pricing Workshop for Offset/Digital
Our job would be so much simpler if we could tell you, with a straight face, what a box of letterheads should sell for. Many of our competitors seem able to, so why can't we? Mark Twain summed up our sentiment when he compared himself to our first president. "They say George Washington couldn't tell a lie. I can, but I won't." Advocating price levels without factoring in the local economy makes for good advertising copy but ignores the truth: You alone can pinpoint the precise price-to-value intersection at which a buyer decides you're the best source. No software vendor can do that for you.
During my 36 years of owning a print shop I've encountered dozens of ways printers calculate their prices. Some innovative, others as primitive as quoting a two-color job by doubling the price for one-color. Get right down to it and small printers don't have much of a choice. It's either Cost-Plus, an obsolete but still dominant method for offset, or Value Pricing when it's limited to digital.
Why only digital? Value Pricing depends on knowing what your market will bear. Competitive prices for digital items - what other printers are charging - are easy to find on the internet. That's not the whole of value pricing but it's a good start. Offset is different. There rates are rarely published and not easy to come by. We tried. Results varied from wildly fluctuating to "let me get back to you on that" and even "I can't give you a price - I only work here."
Today in our new Pricing Workshop we'll examine the mechanics of how to make price adjustments. Later we'll look at the pros and cons and pitfalls of commonly used pricing methods. Did you know that one of the imperatives of Cost Plus is that you should raise, not lower, your prices when presses are idle and you're looking for work? Oh sure, that can only be good for you.
The Hidden Talents of Terry's Print Pebbles
Three years ago we previewed MorningFlight/FM, with the FM standing for FileMaker. For a number of reasons, among them a buggy FileMaker, the project never left the ground. It happens sometimes. We've learned to be selective with our tools.
At the time I pointed out that "with more than 16 million units shipped and eight offices around the world, FileMaker is to database software what QuickBooks is to accounting. It's also an Apple product and that alone says MorningFlight/FM will run natively on the Mac. Apple isn't stupid - the same program will run on Windows."
A number of encouraging developments have emerged since then, foremost among them FileMaker GO for the iPhone and iPad, CSS styling, and WebDirect. Enough positive things to make us take another look. What happened next was one of those "Aha" moments. The paper pricer iPad app we hobbled together in FileMaker had to be tested, and what better way than to simply verify the results against the standalone paper pricer built into Morning Flight.
It didn't take long to discover that, with cost input fields available on the same page as selling prices, here was a quick and easy way to match hourly rates to a specific price tag. In other words, what's the hourly press rate I need to enter to come up with a price of $48.50 for a box of letterheads?
We're hoping to have the digital pricing module of Terry's Print Pebbles finished in time for the next FlyBy. The app will not be for sale but will instead be a give-away to users of all paid Morning Flight editions, including the $49.50 Passport.
Tip of the Month
Question: We run two AB-Dick presses, both at the same speed for letterheads and envelopes. How can we prevent Morning Flight from dropping the run speed for envelopes and keeping it high for letterheads?
Answer: You have two options. Either modify the makeready and run speed for all your envelope products, or create an envelope press as a virtual clone of the one used for letterheads, then adjust the makeready and Max IPH of the envelope press. You won't be able to achieve exact parity for all quantities, but you'll come close.