So, You Want to Sell Your Business?

Factors Impacting the Value of Your Business

So, You’re Thinking of Selling Your Business?
By John Stewart, Executive Director, NPRC

“Hi John, I think it’s time for a valuation. Lindsey and I are almost 60 and we’re giving some serious to selling the business and retiring, so what’s the first step we need to take to get a valuation done?”

How do I respond when someone calls me with a question like that?

Well, I start off by asking a bunch of my own questions. What are their current sales, and what do they think their business is worth. What are they going to do after they sell the business? How much is their net worth, and what percent of their total net worth is represented by the value of their business? What happens to their plans if their business simply doesn’t sell?

Sure, they may be calling me about a valuation, but virtually every single caller already has some preconceived notion as to what their business is worth.

Is the Business Value Inflated?

One of the early and most important questions I ask is, “what happens if it turns out your business is worth far less than what you think it is. What will you do then? Are you prepared emotionally and physically to continue operating it like you are today?” Some folks who call do have the time, the patience and the maturity to rationally answer those types of questions. Others are less fortunate and they are looking for instant solutions (selling) to problems that have taken years to develop.

One of the more challenging questions I raise with folks is, “What happens if you throw a party and no one shows up?” Unless you have one or two prospects already lined up and waiting to buy your business, what happens when you establish a fair market price for your business, put it on the marketplace and you are greeted with deafening silence?

Making More Money by Staying!

Many times, I end up suggesting to callers that they need to go back to the drawing board and rethink what they want to do, reminding them that they will never make as much money selling the business as they will from continuing to run the business on a day-to-day basis.

Even in cases where the callers are dead-set on selling their business sooner rather than later, postponing the sale by even a couple of years and concentrating their efforts on specific steps designed to increase the value of the business may very well be the best course of action.

Yes, that may be very discouraging for some folks to hear, especially folks who are biting at the bullet to retire now, but postponing the sale and working the business for a few more years may be a far more realistic option than what they have facing them now. There are many, many steps that owners can take in a relatively short period of time (12-24 months) to significantly increase the value of their business. We’re not suggesting these steps will be easy, but then again what is?

Business Valuations – Two Observations

I’ve been a consultant in the printing industry for more than 35 years, and I have also conducted more that 400+ valuations in the last ten years, and I feel comfortable in offering the following two, broad observations valuations conducted in our industry:

• Limited Market – First, unless you already have a serious, qualified prospect waiting in the wings to buy your business, the chances are better than 50-50 that no matter how fairly priced your business might be, you may never find a qualified buyer willing and able to buy your business, certainly not at the price you think it is worth, and certainly not for all cash, which is what many if not most sellers expect.

• Unrealistic Expectations – Second, most owners think their business is worth far more than most valuations would suggest, and they are sadly deceiving themselves to think they are going to find a buyer. PERIOD! Where or how some owners come up with their business valuations is beyond me. Anyone who suggests that a business is worth some multiple of annual sales needs to have his or head examined! Too many folks conflate the amount of money they collectively withdraw from the business on an annual basis with profitability or excess earnings. They are not the same.

Available only as a hard copy. Visit the NPRC website for details.

In 2007 I co-authored, along with my good friend and industry expert Larry Hunt, what is now considered a landmark industry publication titled, “Print Shop for Sale.” This 300+ page book has sold more than 4,000 copies, and remains as the only publication of its kind in the printing industry, offering “A step-by-step guide for establishing a fair market value for your printing firm, or one you are looking to buy.”

Valuation Lessons Learned

Since its publication, I have conducted well more than 400+ valuations. I have also been called upon to provide “expert testimony” at various legal proceedings where I have been asked to address various valuation methods as well as industry profitability ratios. Print Shop for Sale is available in the NPRC Bookstore.

I have encountered virtually every possible valuation scenario, ranging from nasty divorces where no one wins, to couples who had planned for the last 20 years to somehow retire at the magic age of 60 only to reach that age, and have nothing whatsoever to fall back on – their business having little if any value to anyone other than themselves, with the only source of additional income or benefits being what they will received from Social Security and Medicare.

As I alluded to earlier, the selling process is more likely to take a year or more, rather than months, and even then, there is no guarantee whatsoever that you will find a qualified buyer who is willing and able to pay your asking price, or anything close to that.

Remember too, that in at least a majority of the selling scenarios that occur in the real world, you are typically going to be asked to provide financing for the bulk of the selling price. If you think you’re going to show up at settlement, “Sign the papers and then walk away with a big check” you are mistaken. Consequently, the monthly payments you will come to depend upon will be closely tied to the success of the new owner and his or her ability to achieve all the promises that you made during the selling process.

“Even though sales have been somewhat flat the past four years, this business really has great potential, and with the right person at the top, it can reach the next level in terms of sales and profits.”

During the early stages of establishing a business valuation, owners who want to sell their business will often come up with a variation of the following: “Barbara and I have worked very hard the last 20+ years and we’ve made good money, and we’ve built a solid business, but we are getting burned out and we want to move on. Even though sales have been somewhat flat the past four years, this business really has great potential, and with the right person at the top, it can reach the next level in terms of sales and profits. Heck a new owner could easily double our sales if they got out there and properly marketed the business.”

Valuing a Business Based Upon Potential?

If you think you are going to sell your business based upon its potential you are sadly misleading yourself. In the simplest of terms, your business is worth nothing more and nothing less than (1) the current net, street value of your equipment and (2) the ability of the business to pay a new owner a “fair market salary” AND produce or generate enough excess earnings that allows the new owner to make payments to you the seller!

The bottom line in terms of selling your business is you are either a “leader” or a “Laggard” in terms of profitability and sales per employee. You either have it or you don’t. If you’re trying to make a “silk purse out of a sow’s ear” then good luck.

Just because you and Brenda worked 85-hour weeks and worked for less than minimum wage doesn’t mean a new owner should, certainly not if your business is half as profitable as you say it is.

Plus, if the business has potential to grow then you should have grown it. If the business has potential to be more profitable then you should have been the one to make it more profitable. If a new owner takes the bull by the horns and increases sales and profits as a result of their talents then the credit goes to them, and not you!

“If the business has potential to grow then you should have grown it. If the business has potential to be more profitable then you should have been the one to make it more profitable. If a new owner takes the bull by the horns and increases sales and profits as a result of their talents then the credit goes to them, and not you!”

If a business is unable to pay a new owner a working salary as well as generate enough “excess earnings” to pay the seller each month then it most likely is worth nothing more than the “street” value of the furniture and equipment used to produce those sales. We’re not talking net assets as found on the balance sheet, but rather the value that this equipment represents if a savvy business owner had to go out on the used equipment market and replace each key piece of equipment required or used to produce your current sales.

By the way, one of the biggest mistakes sellers can make is to load up their businesses with new equipment, leased or financed, in the last two or three years just prior to putting the business on the market for sale!

Regrettably, as many owners soon discover, there is very little interest in businesses producing mediocre sales and mediocre profits. Instead of being able to sell their business at a magical ratio of 60-70% of annual sales, they find they are unable to sell the business as an on-going entity, and instead end up closing their doors, selling off their accounts receivable, and then selling off key pieces of equipment one piece at a time, receiving just pennies on the dollar!

Owners ignore data like the above at their own peril. Many owners spend years in this industry never realizing how poorly they are performing as compared to their peers.

Five Factors Worth Considering

It would be easy enough for us to pull out the past dozen or so valuations and highlight what we found, but suffice it to say the five specific commentaries offered below would be near the top of just about any list I prepared.

(1) Confusing Salaries vs. Owner’s Compensation – Husbands and wives, or even brothers and sisters working as teams running and operating a business, often mistake the amount of money they collectively withdraw from the business as being the same as profits or owner’s compensation. They are not. Only the salary and benefits taken out by a single individual can be considered as part of the owner’s compensation calculation. So, just because Tony and his wife Carol collectively take out $75,000 on a business doing $750,000 in annual sales, this does not mean they are taking out 10% or $75,000 in profits. Far from that! Assuming a new owner would replace Tony as the new working owner, he would also have to go out on the market and replace Tony’s wife as well at a fair market, competitive salary. If that means spending $35,000 to replace her, then the unadjusted excess earnings for the company would now be $40,000, or 5.3% of sales.

(2) Failure to Achieve Top SPE levels – We can report with absolute confidence that firms falling in the top 25% of our industry report average “sales per employee” ratios of almost $160,000. We also know that those in the bottom 25% of our industry continue to struggle with reported SPEs of $125,000 or below! How owners (assuming they even track info like this) can sleep at night knowing their company’s SPE is so much lower than others in the industry is mind boggling, especially when it can be so readily improved.

(3) Ignoring Key Industry Statistics – The printing industry is almost unique in some aspects, especially its history of collecting, tracking and publishing key financial ratios. Owners who make excuses for not knowing the fundamental financial ratios that define this industry have no one to blame but themselves. To be blunt, if you can’t instantly put your hands on what those key financial ratios being reported by the top 25% of this industry then shame on you.

How on earth does a smart business person run a business without knowing the key benchmarks being achieved by competitors in their industry?

The 2017-18 Financial Benchmarking Study, one of many studies published by NPRC (and available in its bookstore) is packed with ratios related to what the winners in this industry report for benchmarks such as sales per square foot, current ratios, owner’s compensation, cost of goods and one of the most important ratios of all – employee payroll! It is not surprising that firms that lack this type of data tend to be under-performers.

(4) Rationalizing Key Ratios – It is one thing not to be aware of key ratios, it is a far different thing to actually have access to these key ratios, especially ratios reported by the very top performers in the industry, and yet to conclude that somehow they don’t apply to your firm. Rationalizing that key performance ratios don’t apply to your firm or that your company or market is different from all the rest is simply a recipe for disaster – It’s also a reason why no one in their sane mind will pay you what you think your business is worth. If only owners would stop rationalizing and act upon the wealth of information available to them they would end up making their lives so much much better, at least in the long run!

(5) The Enemy in the Mirror – Like it or not the biggest culprit preventing many owners from achieving higher levels of success (and higher values for their businesses) is the man or woman staring back at them in the mirror first thing in the morning. That individual typically exudes negative vibes. They are filled with excuses. They talk a good game, and say they are willing to change, but when push comes to shove they will fight the consultant and ignore advice from even the most qualified, most trusted advisers they can find. Sometimes that trusted adviser is a spouse or partner, but even then they are ignored. Many of these owners simply fail to push themselves or the folks around them. They make little effort to change, and remind one of the old expression, “It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.”

Ok, that’s enough negative rants for the day! <g>

Recovering from Hip Surgery

I just had my left hip replaced on Aug. 21, 2017 and I am very impatient to get back to my old self. If you sense from the column or comments above that I sound a bit “irritable” you are correct. Don’t look for a retraction! <g>

While I am pleased with my progress, it just never seems fast enough. The healing process pretty much is following what I endured five years ago when I had the other hip replaced. My hip was operated on Monday mid-day, and I was up on a walker walking around the ward five hours later.

I was discharged the next afternoon. By Thursday, I had given up using the walker, and I was walking up and downstairs as soon as I returned home. Each day it has been getting a bit easier to endure. Anyway, as I kept proofing and reproofing the above I kept stumbling upon one “negative” sound comment after another. I would revise or delete one and yet another one would pop up a couple of paragraphs later.

Nothing makes me angrier, however, to know that our industry has so many resources available to help troubled firms and yet so many just ignore them and think they “know better.” It is really a tragedy to find myself talking to owners who say they are now ready to retire but when I end up looking at their financial statements I discover one mistake after another than could have been avoided had they availed themselves of some of the many outstanding reports available in this industry.

Oh well, I hope you enjoy the column. Don’t hesitate to email me with any comments or questions you might have.

 

NPRC Releases New Digital Printer Survey

NPRC has just released its newest study – The 2017 Survey of Color Digital Printers, a 60-page report providing average and median ratings and performance data for 36 different digital devices. The new report is based upon input received from more than 280 survey participants.*

If you’re looking to upgrade to a newer digital printer this study will prove invaluable. It provides weighted ratings for 19 classes of digital printers, plus ratings and recommendations for nine different envelope printers, as well as the conveyors and feeders that are often sold with these devices.

“Another great report! The latest Color Digital Printer Survey allows me to evaluate all the current machines on the market and allows me to consider what machines can work and most important which machines to avoid. Not to mention information about service calls, envelope printers, click rates and all the other data. Each time I read one of NPRC’s Survey Reports, I am able to take away many actionable points to better my business and bottom line. I am grateful for the efforts of John Stewart and Bob Hall! Keep it up.”
                  Eben Miller, Miller Printing, Amsterdam, NY

The new report provides user ratings and data for a variety of devices manufactured by Canon, Konica Minolta, Ricoh and Xerox. We report the overall rating for 19 different classes of printers, plus average and median ratings as to whether users would recommend the specific device to others. Discover for yourself which currently available digital printers rate the highest and which ones received low scores from our participants.

“Thanks so much to the folks at NPRC and for what you do. It has always been worth the few minutes it takes to do your surveys in order to get the wealth of information your reports provide. From what machines perform the best and their features, to salary/wages and possibly most important – pricing. It is all great information to help- us run our business! Thank you.”
Jennifer Jordan, SD Visual Images, Marlborough, MA

To place your order for this or other reports, visit the NPRC Bookstore. This new publication is now available for processing and shipping. As always, this study/report is sold on a 100% money-back guarantee. No questions asked. If you believe you participated in this survey please read notice below.

Retail Price (PDF): $114.95
Retail Price (hard-copy): $124.95

NPRC Price (PDF): $57.50
NPRC Price (hard-copy): $67.50

Survey participants received special emails containing a download link on Friday, Aug. 18 and again on Aug. 23. The subject line was: “Your digital color copier survey available now.” Please check your spam, deleted and trash folders carefully. If you are not sure whether you participated or not, please visit our home page and check-out the list of participants.

List of Digital Printer Survey Participants – Are You Eligible?

The list below is an alpha listing by company name of firms who participated in NPRC’s recent 2017 Survey of Color Digital Printers and thus are entitled to a FREE PDF of the final report.

All participants, as listed below, were sent an advance notice email, plus two special emails on Aug. 18, 2017 and Aug. 23, 2017 advising them where to go to download their complimentary PDFs. 

If you do not recall seeing such an email we encourage you to go back to your “trash,” “spam” and other miscellaneous folders and check  for an email sent out on Aug. 18, 2017 with the subject line: “Your Digital Color Copier Survey Available Now!”

Please do not call us and request that an additional copy be sent until you have conducted a thorough examination of your email records. We do our very best to make sure all participants are sent a FREE PDF of these studies, but we don’t have a lot of sympathy for firms who casually delete emails and then ask us to send another copy.

Company City/Town State
A&B Digital Printing New Liskeard CAN
A. Carlisle and Co.  Reno NV
Abbotts Printing Inc Yakima WA
Accel Printing and Graphics Mount Kisco NY
Accurate Printers, Inc. Norcross,  GA
Action graphics Charlotte NC
Action Print Helena MT
ADPRO LITHO, INC MUKILTEO WA
Advanced Printing Stuart FL
Advantage Business Forms Rialto CA
ADVANTAGE Marketing and Print Auburn CA
Aiea Copy Center Aiea HI
AIM Mail & Print Center Redondo Beach CA
Alachua Printing Alachua FL
Allegra Charlotte NC
Allegra Alpena Alpena MI
Allegra Hamilton Hamilton MI
ALLEGRA Marketing Print Mail Alsip IL
Allegra Marketing Print Mail Tampa FL
Allegra Marketing, Print & Mail Rolling Meadows IL
Allegra Naples Naples FL
Allegra Print Marketing and Mail Plymouth MI
Alphagraphics Plano TX
AlphaGraphics Mokena IL
AlphaGraphics San Antonio TX
Alphagraphics Alexandria VA
AlphaGraphics Roseville CA
Alphagraphics #16 Salt Lake City UT
Alphagraphics #450 Brentwood TN
AlphaGraphics 711 Dallas TX
AlphaGraphics Boston Boston MA
Alphagraphics Cleveland Cleveland OH
AlphaGraphics Downtown Raleigh Raleigh NC
AlphaGraphics Kansas City Kansas City MO
Alphagraphics Los Angeles Los Angeles CA
AlphaGraphics Mission Viejo Mission Viejo CA
Alphagraphics of Carmel Carmel IN
Alphagraphics of the Twin Cities Minneapolis MN
AlphaGraphics US333 Bannockburn IL
AlphaGraphics-Savannah Savannah, GA GA
Alta Systems Inc Gainesville FL
American Harwood hts IL
American Printing & Promotions Manassas VA
Amity Graphics, Inc. Bemidji MN
Apple Printing Co. Buford GA
Arc Reprographics, Inc. Absecon NJ
Arrow Printing LLC Waterford MI
Arrow Swift Printing & Office Supply Greenville MI
Arthur Printing Cape Coral FL
ASAP Printing Okemos MI
B & B printing kewanee IL
Bart Nay Printing Houston TX
Bayou Printing & Graphics, Inc. Houma LA
Belmonte Printing Co. Schaumburg IL
Bentley Printing & Graphics, Inc. Garden Grove CA
Blacksmith Printing & copy center, llc Wolfeboro NH
Bob’s Printing boynton beach FL
Boggs printing Hatboro PA
BOWLING GREEN PRINTING Bowling Green KY
Bozeman Printing Company Bozeman MT
Budget Print Clark  NJ
Campbell Print Center Harrisonburg VA
Canyon Copy Highland UT
Cascade Printing and Graphics Grand Rapids MI
Celestial Print & Design North East MD
Century Printing & Mailing El Reno OK
Cirrus Visual Tucson AZ
CJ Printing Highland IN
Clear Choice Printing Winchester VA
Cocheco PrintWorks Dover NH
Composite Forms Inc Port Chester NY
Copies Today Inc. Kelso WA
Copy Express Inc. Woodstock IL
Copy King Inc. Greensboro NC
copy stop/royal press white plains NY
Copycat Print Shop, Inc Wilmington NC
CopySetPrinting Des Plaines IL
COPYTWO INC. ANN ARBOR MI
CORTINEO CREATIVE DOYLESTOWN PA
CSE PRINT KALAMAZOO MI
Curry printing West Springfield MA
Curry Printing and Marketing Auburn ME
D&K Printing Boulder CO
DG Solutions  Conyers GA
Digital Printing Innovations Oshkosh WI
Dominick’s Quick Print, Inc. Ontario OR
Dsa Printing Chelmsford MA
DSIGNS Arlington Heights IL
Durel Mail & Imaging Technologies Lafayette LA
Econo Print Inc Pinckney MI
Edwards Printing Service, Inc. Dallas TX
Esprit Graphic Communications, Inc. Kennewick WA
Esterman Printing Services Cincinnati OH
Exclamarketing Miami FL
Express Printing Inc Hailey ID
Falcon Printing & Graphics, Inc. Freehold NJ
Fasprint Monticello IL
Fast Print, Inc. Fort Wayne IN
First Impressions Printing and Design Springfield MO
Fotorecord Print Center Greensburg  PA
Franklin Printing Co Inc Zanesville OH
Full Circle Printing Solutions Ellsworth ME
Furbush-Roberts Printing Co Bangor ME
Gerard Printing Elk Grove Village IL
GPI Farmington Hills MI
Graphic Information Systems Tualatin OR
Graphic Resources Woodbury MN
Gulf Business Printing San Antonio TX
Heartland Litho Monona WI
Henle Printing Company Marshall MN
Heritage Printing & Graphics, Inc. Waldorf MD
Highlight Printing Minneapolis MN
Holiday Print & Promotions Ltd London ONT
Holland Printing, Inc. South Holland IL
hudson printing carlsbad CA
Images Plus Madison WI
Impact Printing Thornton CO
Impression Printing Co., Inc. Seattle WA
Independence Press Aspen CO
Independence Press Aspen CO
Ink Spot Printing & Copy Center Inc. Frazer PA
Inklings Printing Company Lompoc CA
Instant Print Inc Inglewood CA
International Minute Press Charlotte NC
IPC Manchester MO
IPM Lithographics Inc San Diego CA
ISS Shirley MA
J & J Graphics and Design Canton MI
Jaz Press Norristown PA
J-M Printers, Inc. Crest Hill IL
John Latka & Co., Inc Westfield MA
 JS Printing   Franklin Park   IL 
JTCPrinting Needham MA
Kahny Printing, Inc. Cincinnati OH
ken’s printing co. smithfield RI
KEYSTONE QUALITY PRINTING RENO NV
KKP Printing Brampton OH
Kustom Kwik Print Owensboro KY
Kwik Kopy Frisco TX
Kwik Kopy Business Center 130 Evansville IN
Kwik Kopy Printing  Chicago IL
Kwik Kopy Printing Dallas Dallas TX
Kwik Kopy Spring Spring TX
Launch Printing and Promotions Saint Marys GA
LAXprint La Crosse WI
Lithtex Hillsboro OR
Local Copies Etc Santa Maria CA
MarketMailPrint Austin TX
Marlow Visual Communication Cornelius NC
marshall anchorage AK
Masthof Press Morgantown PA
McKinsey Printing Tryon NC
Mercersburg Printing  Mercersburg  PA
Merlin International Corp Rochester NY
Miller Printing Amstedam NY
Miller Sherwood Printing Burbank CA
Minuteman Press North Palm Beach FL
Mission Graphics Ludington MI
Modern Way Printing Ooltewah TN
Moonlight Graphics Inc Grand Rapids MI
MP Express Salinas CA
Mpress Digital, Inc. Santa Cruz  CA
n.e.w. printing appleton WI
National Media Services Inc Front Royal VA
North Delaware Printing Tonawanda NY
Paradise Printing Paso Robles CA
Partners Printing So Portland ME
PBR Graphics, Inc. Albany NY
Pel Hughes Printing New Orleans LA
Pinnacle Printing & Promtions Southfield MI
PIP Ridgeland MS
PIP Marketing/Signs/Print Iowa City IA
Plaza Graphic Associates, Inc. New Hyde Park NY
Porath Printsource cleveland  OH
Portage Printing Portage MI
PostNet Humble TX
PostNet Bentonville Bentonville AR
Precision Printing Inc Louisville KY
Premiere Business Printing & Graphics Arlington TX
Premiere Printing Rockville MD
Presto Prints Wausau WI
Print Basics, Inc Deerfield Beach FL
Print Bureau Dublin IRE
Print Digital, Inc. Stow OH
Print Factory, PLL North Lima OH
Print It Plus Royal Palm Beach FL
Print King Inc Williamsville NY
Print King Inc. Williamsville NY
Print Max The Woodlands TX
Print Plus Buffalo NY
Print Professionals, Inc. High Point NC
Print Solutions Englewood NJ
Print Source Corporation Bluffton IN
PrintFocus Phoenix AZ
Printing Arts Press Mount Vernon OH
Printing Creations Inc. Columbia KY
Printing Depot Oldsmar FL
Printing Etc Dallas TX
Printing Ideas Fairfax VA
Printing Impressions Martinsburg WV
Printing Sensations Miami Gardens FL
PrintPlus Stewartsville NJ
PrintRoc Rochester NY
PrintSource Newnan GA
Pro Printers Hudson NY
Professional Print & Mail Fresno CA
Prographics Inc. Annapolis MD
Progressive Printing Battle Creek MI
Promotions By Mail, Inc Hilltown PA
ProPrint Digital North kansas City MO
Pro-Type Printing, inc. Paxton IL
Pyramid Printing Missoula MT
QP Consulting Melbourne FL
Quality Printing Services Inc. Petaluma CA
QUALITYQUICKPRINT DELAND FL
Quick Solutions Jamestown NY
Rapid Press Printing Forest Lake MN
Redlands Blueprint Co Redlands CA
replica printing services poway CA
Reprint, Inc. Houston TX
Reskyu Honolulu HI
Richwood Graphics Franklin VA
 ROYAL PRINTING & SPECIALTIES   BROKEN ARROW   OK 
Royal Printing Company Sterling CO
Rutledge Printing Co. New Albany MS
Scott’s Discount Printing Fond du Lac WI
sd visual images marlborough MA
Service Printing of Lynchburg, Inc. Lynchburg VA
Shawnee Copy Center, Inc. Shawnee KS
SIR SPEEDY MIAMI FL
Sir Speedy Havertown PA
Sir Speedy Mercerville NJ
Sir Speedy Greensboro NC
Sir Speedy Nashville TN
Sir Speedy Cranston RI
SIR SPEEDY 4043 CARROLLTON TX
sir speedy printing orland park IL
Sir Speedy Printing 4072 Carrollton TX
Smellies Copy & Print Shop Bracebridge CAN
Solid Impressions Carol Stream IL
SOS Printing Port Townsend WA
South Shore Printing Scituate MA
Southbury Printing Centre, Inc. Southbury CT
Southern Printing  Hope AR
Southwest Printing & copying Dallas TX
Specialty Printing Shepherdstown WV
Speedy Printing Houston TX
Stallings Printing Co. Lenoir NC
Stone Mountain Printing Woodbridge NJ
Suncoast Printing New Port Richey FL
Sundance Printing Parker CO
Sunset Printing Gardena CA
Supreme Graphics Arcadia WI
Sycamore printing Muscatine IA
Systems Print & Mail Laguan Hills CA
TBL Print Clive IA
TechnaPrint, Inc. Eugene OR
the Copy Shop Wiscasset ME
The Copy Shoppe Springfield MO
The Foley Group Yorktown Heights NY
The Freedman Company Hurst TX
The Highland Press Athol MA
The Ink Spot Quincy MA
The Print Shop Naples FL
The Print Shop Marion AL
The Printers’ Printer Collegeville PA
The Printing Factory Mundelein IL
The Printing Spot Gilroy CA
The Responsive Mailroom Elgin IL
Towne Printer Kalispell MT
Tps Newton IL
Trademark Printing Cookeville TN
Triangle Reprocenter, Princeton Princeton NJ
Unique Litho, Inc Englewood CO
UpClose Printing Champaign IL
Volz Tucson AZ
Walter Printing Inc Albemarle NC
Wells Print & Digital Services Madison WI
Wolf Printing, LLC York PA
XPress Printing Sisters OR
Zip Graphick Cincinnati OH
Zoom Printing Syracuse NY

 

Save 30% on 2015-16 Mailing Services Study

NPRC is running a special 30% off sale on one of its most popular industry studies – The 2015-16 Mailing Services Pricing Study. This information-packed report contains pricing info on more than 45 key services and products provided in the mailing services industry. This special sale ends July 31st.

Retail price is $179, but for a limited time you can save 30% and pay only $125.30. NPRC members pay only $89. This study is available as either a PDF or hard-copy. As always, all NPRC publications are sold on a 100% money-back guarantee if you are not totally satisfied. Click here to visit the NPRC Bookstore and to place your order.

NPRC Releases Hourly Rates Report

The 2017 Hourly Rates & Mark-up Practices Report, a 58-page special report published by NPRC, will be available for purchase on June 28, 2017. This brand-new publication, based upon a recent survey conducted by NPRC in early June, attracted more than 240 printing firms.

The new report offers a special look at the popularity of various computerized estimating systems, and then quickly moves to various budgeted hourly rates used in graphic arts departments as well as hand labor rates for a variety of bindery and other back-shop tasks. The report also reports on mark-up rates used for handling sub-contracted services and products as well as rates used to mark-up paper used in offset printing. 

SPECIAL ALERT – If you believe you participated in this survey but have not received the PDF report then it is due to it either going into either your trash or spam folders, OR you accidentally deleted the email we sent you. It is also possible that you never received it because the email address from which it was sent (membership@printingresearch.org) was not “whitelisted” as we requested during the release of this survey. The PDF of this report was sent to 245 email addresses on both June 26th and then again on June 27. The subject line was, “Your Complimentary Copy of the Hourly Rates Report.” Please thoroughly check all email folders prior to contacting us.

Table of Contents… Click here to view the Table of Contents for this new report.

Table of Contents

Retail pricing for this new study is $49.95 (PDF) and $56.95 (Printed);

NPRC member pricing is $24.95 (PDF) and $31.95 (Printed).

Order your copy via the NPRC Bookstore.

Digital Pricing Study – Table of Contents

Table of Contents for the 2016-2017
Printing Industry
Digital Printing Pricing Study:

Preface…………………………………………………………………………………… 7
Executive Summary……………………………………………………………………… 9
Terminology & Definitions …………………………………………………………… 19

Section I: Profile of Respondents and Pricing Data……………………………….. 21

Part 1: Basic Company Information………………………………………………… 27
Basic Company Information
2014 Gross Sales of all Respondents……………………………………………. 27
2015 Gross Sales of all Respondents……………………………………………. 27
2016 Gross Sales (projected) of all Respondents……………………………….. 27
Projected Increase/Decrease 2015-2016 of all Respondents…………………….. 27
Percent Single vs. Multiple Location……………………………………………. 27
Age of Firm……………………………………………………………………… 27
Number of Employees…………………………………………………………… 27
Distribution of Respondent Firms by Region…………………………………… 27
Distribution of Respondents by Estimated Market Size…………………………. 28
Sales Per Square Foot…………………………………………………………… 28
Age of Owner…………………………………………………………………… 28
Sales Per Employee……………………………………………………………… 28
Distribution of Respondents by Annual Sales…………………………………… 28

Part 2: Pre-Press, Graphic Services & Industry Trends…………………………… 31
Minimum Charges …………………………………………………………………. 33
File Handling Fees………………………………………………………………….. 33
Hourly Graphics Charge……………………………………………………………. 33
Jobs Provided by Whom?………………………………………………………….. 34
Percent of Color Digital Jobs Finished On-line…………………………………….. 34
Percent of B&W Digital Jobs Finished On-line…………………………………….. 34
Variable Data Color Printers……………………………………………………….. 35
Variable Data B&W Printers……………………………………………………….. 35
Variable Data Minimum and Hourly Fees………………………………………….. 35

Part 3: Pricing for Digital Color Printing…………………………………………… 37
Flat Sheets In Color:
100# Coated Text……………………………………………………………….. 39
100# Coated Cover ……………………………………………………………… 40
Variable Data Pricing……………………………………………………………….. 41
Carbonless Forms:
2-Part Carbonless……………………………………………………………….. 42
3-Part Carbonless……………………………………………………………….. 43
Color Click Charges Only………………………………………………………….. 44
General Stock Mark-Up Practices………………………………………………….. 45
16-Page Self-Cover Newsletters……………………………………………………. 46
32-Page Self-Cover Newsletters……………………………………………………. 47
16-Page Booklets with 4/4 Cover…………………………………………………… 49
32-Page Booklets with 4/4 Cover…………………………………………………… 50
Finishing Methods Used for 16 & 32-Page Booklets with Cover………………….. 51
Digitally Printed Envelopes…………………………………………………………. 52
Business Cards……………………………………………………………………… 54

PART 4: Pricing for Digital B&W Printing………………………………………… 57
60# White Offset, 8.5×11…………………………………………………………… 59
60# White Offset, 11×17……………………………………………………………. 60
80# White Cover, 8.5×11…………………………………………………………… 61
80# White Cover, 11×17……………………………………………………………. 62
32-Page Booklets…………………………………………………………………… 63
Carbonless Forms:
2-Part Carbonless……………………………………………………………….. 64
3-Part Carbonless……………………………………………………………….. 65
B&W Click Charges Only………………………………………………………….. 66

PART 5: General Discounting Practices……………………………………………. 67
Special Discounts Offered………………………………………………………….. 69

Section II: Usage & Ratings for: Digital Color Envelope Printers, Primary and
Secondary Digital Color Printers, Primary Digital B&W Printers 71

Usage & Ratings for: Digital Color Envelope Printers
Ratings of Dedicated Inkjet Envelope Printers………………………………….. 74
Ratings of Dedicated Digital Envelope Printers…………………………………. 74
Ratings of Digital Printers with Envelope Capabilities………………………….. 74
Envelope Printers – Ratings of Devices & Service………………………………. 75
Usage & Ratings for: Primary and Secondary Digital Color Printers
Color Printer/Copier Vendors by Placement…………………………………….. 77
Average & Median Copies/Month by Color Printer Vendor……………………. 78
Average & Median Click Charges by Color Printer Vendor……………………. 78
Average & Median Vendor Ratings for Color Printers…………………………. 79
Average & Median Service Ratings for Color Printer Vendor………………….. 79
Device & Service Ratings by Printer Vendor & Model Number ……………….. 80
How was Primary Color Printer Financed?……………………………………… 81
How was Secondary Color Printer Financed?…………………………………… 81
Usage & Ratings for: Primary Digital B&W Printer
B&W Printer Placements………………………………………………………… 83
Average & Median B&W Copies/Month by Vendor……………………………. 84
Average & Median B&W Click Charges by Vendor……………………………. 84
Average & Median B&W Device Ratings by Vendor…………………………… 85
Average & Median B&W Service Ratings by Vendor………………………….. 85
Average Device & Service Ratings by Printer
Vendor and Model #………………………………………………………… 86

Section III: Industry Snapshot Comparisons……………………………………… 87

2016 Industry Snapshots…………………………………………………………… 89

Market Baskets Based Upon Geographic Regions
Northeast………………………………………………………………………… 92
Southeast………………………………………………………………………… 93
Central…………………………………………………………………………… 94
West…………………………………………………………………………….. 95
Canada…………………………………………………………………………… 96

Market Baskets by Population Density
Rural…………………………………………………………………………….. 97
Small…………………………………………………………………………….. 98
Medium…………………………………………………………………………. 99
Large…………………………………………………………………………… 100
Major…………………………………………………………………………… 101

Market Baskets by Annual Sales
Sales $200,000 to $499,999……………………………………………………. 102
Sales $500,000 to $799,999……………………………………………………. 103
Sales $800,000 to $1,499,999…………………………………………………. 104
Sales $1,500,000 to $4,999,999……………………………………………….. 105

Industry Market Basket Analyses, Independents vs. Franchisees
Independents…………………………………………………………………… 106
Franchise………………………………………………………………………. 107

Market Baskets by Sales Per Employee
SPE <= $99,999……………………………………………………………….. 108
SPE $100,000 to $124,999…………………………………………………….. 109
SPE >=125,000 to $139,999…………………………………………………… 110
SPE >=140,000………………………………………………………………… 111

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Improving SPE Can Add $200,000 to Bottom Line

 

Like it or not, there is an enormous chasm between printing firms when we measure them based upon their sales per employee (SPE).

On the one side, we have firms reporting average SPEs of $160,000 or greater while on the other side we have firms reporting average SPEs of $126,000 and below – sometimes much lower!

Although the differences in SPE between those at the top and those at the bottom are significant, the differences in profitability reported by each group are even greater. When we take a close look at the numbers and how they play out in terms of various ratios related to profitability and productivity, we quickly observe that relatively modest increases in SPE can lead to increasing “excess earnings” by  as much as $200,000!

It is also clear that moving an additional $200,000 to the bottom line can increase the value of a firm by $700,000 to $800,000 or even more, since a typical multiplier used to arrive at valuations will typically be in the 3.5 to 4 range. Mind you, when we talk about firms producing “excess earnings” of $200,000, we are not talking about firms with sales of $3-4 million, but rather about firms who reported 2016 annual sales of just about $1 million in 2016.

SPE – A Quick Definition

Although we’ve done it seems like a thousand times, let’s quickly define SPE in the simplest of terms. Sales Per Employee (SPE) is arrived at by dividing total annual sales (or monthly sales annualized) by the equivalent number of employees required to produce those sales. The latter would include all working owners and partners as well as outside sales representatives. Technically, it also includes a spouse who may work in the business but does not even draw a salary or paycheck.

SPE can be calculated quickly and is used to compare overall productivity between one firm and the next. SPE is an expression that allows someone to compare, in relative terms, the productivity of one firm against another.

Let’s take a look at two firms each producing $1 million in sales and each relying on approximately the same sales mix. When we calculate our SPE for each firm, we will discover that one company will be able to produce $1 million in sales with approximately 6.5 employees, while another firm just down the road or across town, producing the same mix of products, will require almost 9 employees to produce those same sales?

By the way, every time we initiate a discussion of SPE we consider leaving the definition of SPE out of the article, assuming everyone already knows what we are talking about. And yet hardly a time goes by when we don’t get at least one or two private emails asking us to define the term. That happened recently when I released a column titled “Stewart Shares Key Takeaways Uncovered In Latest Financial Ratio Report.” (See NPRC Blog at www.printingresearch.org)

The ink was hardly dry on the column when we received two private emails asking us to explain the term. We answered the emails privately, but couldn’t help but wonder how many other basic financial terms such as “current ratio” and “excess earnings” did these owners not understand as well?

The Lack of Financial Oversight

There are worse things than not knowing what SPE stands for. I am still appalled by the number of owners who do not receive monthly financial statements. Almost as bad are owners who do receive monthly financial statements but give them only a cursory 15-minute look before heading back to the bindery to resolve some problem with the booklet maker.

Equally challenging are owners who receive monthly financial statements that fail to provide a column of ratios expressing each expense item as a percent of total sales. You cannot properly or adequately manage a business of any type by simply looking at a column of raw dollars – You need ratios for each expense item if you wanted to make informed decisions.

 “I think I am ranting now, so I have to move on before my blood pressure rises to the dangerous level.”

How the heck an owner can analyze his or her operations without having access to an adjoining  column of financial ratios is beyond me. When I receive financial statements and ask owners why their statements lack ratios some just shrug their shoulders, while others tell me they don’t know how to get Quickbooks or some other accounting package to generate them!

Every accounting software program can produce these ratios, you just need to know where to click. Shame on owners who don’t get this basic type of information. I think I am ranting now, so I have to move on before my blood pressure rises to the dangerous level.

Comparing (2) $1 Million Dollar Firms

Let’s use data obtained directly from the latest Financial Benchmarking Study published by the National Printing Research Council (NPRC), and translate a few of the ratios we’ve already mentioned into real world examples. Let’s examine what we already know…

We already know that firms in the top 25% of the industry (the Profit Leaders) in terms of net owner’s compensation reported average sales in 2016 of approximately $1 million. We also know that these firms reported an average SPE of $156,000. Using those two numbers and working backwards it means that the average firm in the top quartile employed approximately 6.4 employees to produce that $1 million in sales.

Relying on similar data for firms in the bottom profitability quartile, we know that these firms actually averaged slightly more in sales ($1.1 million) in 2016 but reported a SPE of approximately $125,000. Once again, working backwards, we can calculate that firms in the bottom quartile employed an average of 9 employees (or 2.6 more employees) to produce almost the same level of sales!

“The only noticeable difference is that the firms in the bottom quartile report brokering out significantly more in sales (18% to 11%) than do firms in the top quartile…. somewhat ironic considering the fact that companies with more employees still end up turning to outside firms to help them produce some of their annual sales!”

So, now we have two groups of printing firms with one group falling into the top quartile and the other group falling into the bottom. One group is able to produce its annual sales with approximately 6.4 employees, while the other group requires approximately 2.6 more employees to produce only slightly more in sales – $1 million vs. $1.1 million!

Breakout                                SPE*                   EXCESS EARNINGS*
   Top Performers                    $156,000                      $200,000
   Bottom Performers              $125,500                     $(3,100)
* $$$ amounts are approximate. See study actual entries.

We also know that firms with the highest SPEs (those in the top quartile) also report “excess earnings” of almost $200,000, while firms in the lowest SPEs actually report negative “excess earnings.” By the way, it is “excess earnings,” and not the net value of assets, that plays the primary role in determining the value or worth of a company. If you are reporting little if any “excess earnings” then your company is worth very, very little to others!

What about profits per employee? It’s the same story as above. Companies who find themselves in the bottom in terms of profitability oftentimes report negative profits per employee, while those at the very top produce profits per employee of $30,000 or more! (Note, these terms are clearly defined in the 2017-2018 Financial Benchmarking Study.)

By the way, it is interesting to note that the job mix (source of sales) for these two quartiles is almost identical, meaning that each of these groups report approximately the same percentages for sales in terms of sales for pre-press (graphics), offset printing, digital printing (color and BW) and even mailing services.

“The latter is somewhat ironic considering the fact that companies with excess employees still end up turning to outside firms to help them produce some of their annual sales!”

The only noticeable difference between those firms in the top quartile and those at the bottom is that firms at the bottom report brokering out significantly more in sales (18% vs. 11%) than do firms in the top quartile. The latter is somewhat ironic considering the fact that companies with excess employees still end up turning to outside firms to help them produce some of their annual sales!

Should Employees Wear Signs?

Wouldn’t it be great if employees were required to walk around with signs on their back identifying their levels of productivity or competency? Signs like, “Bad Apple,” “Generally Expendable,” “Somewhat Lazy,” “Company Gossip or Trouble-maker,” “Many Personal Problems,” “Pot Head,” or “Family Member – Can’t be Fired.” Ok, I will admit that might be a bit extreme, but wouldn’t be great if those problem employees were “tagged” with signs like that, if for no other reason to remind the owner who he needs to terminate! Start with a family member!

Not to be too simplistic, but sometimes the most obvious cause of low SPEs is in fact the result of employing too many employees to produce the work in question. Yes, it is that simple. I believe I have consulted for more small to medium size companies in the industry than any other consultant, and I can tell you that “excess employees” was and continues to be near the top of the list when it comes to reasons for either low profits or low productivity.

Although the sample “employee signs” mentioned above are somewhat “tongue-in-cheek,” they are in fact the types of signs (figuratively speaking) that I encountered in many of my shop encounters. Take me to a firm employing approximately 8-10 employees and I will almost guarantee that the company has at least one “bad apple.” How do I determine that? Hell, in many cases the other employees will tell me, if not directly then in answering “Yes” when asked if the company they work for employs at least one bad apple employed!

“Of course, one of the worst causes of low SPEs in this industry is the employment of family members who otherwise couldn’t get a job as a ticket taker at a local cinema.”

There’s almost always an employee with serious personal problems, all of which seem to be brought to the workplace. Some employees have abused drugs and alcohol in the past, which of course is Ok, if they have sought treatment and are “cured.” It’s the employees who continue to show up high for work each day or repeatedly come in late or call in sick that need to be terminated, but owners too often seem reluctant to take these types of remedial steps.

Of course, one of the worst causes of low SPEs in this industry is the employment of family members who otherwise couldn’t get a job as a ticket taker at a local cinema. Sometimes it is a brother-in-law, uncle or worse case of all a son or daughter who joins the firms with a heightened sense of entitlement! Arrggg! I would never, never, never hire a family member unless they had at least 3-5 years of on the job experience working for someone else.

The biggest problem with employing family members is that the basis for their pay is often different than for other employees. Most employees are paid on the basis of their value to the company. Family members are often paid based upon what they need or are entitled to, not on what they contribute to the business.

Your Employees Already Know

Believe me when I tell you that your employees already know if you have an employee (family member or otherwise) that should have been terminated months if not years ago. They’ve seen the favoritism, the coddling and they’ve heard all the excuses offered up by the owner about why Cathy or Mike have not been terminated. After a while, they too start caring a bit less and maybe not working quite as hard as they used to because they perceive, rightfully or not, that if the owner doesn’t seem to care why should they.

It is a rare company indeed, certainly those with SPE levels in the $120,000 – $130,000 range, that doesn’t have at least one excess employee! Assuming we are talking about an $18 per hour employee, his or her termination would free up more than $38,000 in excess cash – some of which could be distributed as raises of $2,000 for each of six or seven remaining employees and still put $24,000 into savings, or available for lease payments for that digital press you’ve been looking at.

Pricing & Equipment Can Produce Low SPEs

It is important to note in this discussion that excess employees are only part of the problem. Pricing techniques and practices can also play a role in contributing to lower SPEs. No matter how good a team and no matter how hard they work, if the prices they are quoting are lower than they should be it will automatically result in a lower than expected SPE.

However, while firms with higher SPEs do in fact typically report charging more for their products than do firms with low SPEs, the differences in pricing remain somewhat subtle.

Low SPEs can also be the result of poor equipment selections or the unwillingness of owners to listen to their employees when it comes production problems and suggestions for fixing them. Owners who insist that their employees “make do with what we have” or owners who simply fail to reinvest in their businesses are almost always going to end up with lower SPEs than some of their peers in the industry.

Knowing Which Ratios to Use?

Owners who have come to rely on the biennial financial benchmarking studies turn to different sections of the study depending upon their experience and expertise. However, you don’t have to be a financial wizard or former CPA to benefit from the study.

The 2017-2018 NPRC Financial Benchmarking Study is basically divided into four key sections.

  1. Executive Summary by Larry Hunt – The summary written by industry author and financial guru Larry Hunt is a great “short” read about this industry, including where it has been and where it is going in terms of profitability and other key ratios. Spending 15-20 minutes reading this section alone will advance your knowledge of this industry ten-fold.
  1. Profit & Loss Statements – Broken down into various breakouts based upon sales, product mix, and profitability (including profitability quartiles), this section is packed with useful profit and loss statements that can be used to compare your firm’s performance against others. Compare ratios for expenses such as depreciation, rent, interest, accounting & legal and a dozen other expenses as depicted in the study and compare them to your own P&Ls.
  1. Balance Sheets – Similar in breakouts provided for profit and loss statements, this section includes a variety of balance sheets allowing you to compare current and long-term assets, in both really dollars as well as ratios, against current and long-term liabilities.
  1. 2016 Key Ratio Extractions – This section of the study provides a number of breakouts, each of which provide 29 key ratios that you can compare against those for your own firm. Ratios and breakouts include average sales, COG, payroll and overhead expenses, as well as owner’s compensation, excess earnings as well as discretionary income.

Interested in reading more about the new 2017-2018 Study? Visit the NPRC website at www.printingresearch.org. This just-released study is available at a record low, low price of ONLY $115 and includes S&H. It is sold on a 100% money-back guarantee.

Sorry, this study is only available as a hard copy – no PDFs! Even though it is considerably more expensive to provide and mail hard copies, we believe this study is simply too valuable to be transmitted and stored electronically. This study needs to be printed and readers need to be encouraged to use paperclips and yellow highlighters to truly benefit from this study.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Huge Takeaways from Latest NPRC Ratio Study

 Although the just-released 72-page, 2017-2018 Financial Benchmarking Study published by NPRC is filled with key financial ratios, there is one page that virtually screams out at the reader with the following warning…

“You cannot survive, let-alone prosper in this industry if you allow your business to report key performance ratios this low!”

As of June 5, 2017 this just-released study is
available 
in both PDF and hard-copy formats! 

Despite the fact that the new Benchmarking Study offers up a variety of breakouts such as comparisons based upon annual sales, percentage of sales produced via offset printing versus digital printing, as well as breakouts based upon “sales per employee,” page 64, titled Key Ratios of All Firms by Profitability Quartiles, offers up some shocking comparisons.

If It Was Up to Me…

John Stewart Executive Director NPRC

The “Key Ratios” page is so important, so valuable, that if it was up to me, I would insist that every owner, especially those who are troubled by the fact that they are not making the kind of money they expect, make a copy of page 64 and tape it to a wall next to their desk. Of course, owners of the more successful companies in this industry have already been doing this for years, it is the troubled firms that I am most concerned with.

The “Key Ratio” section of the study offers up 29 key ratios or percentages used to identify or distinguish top performers in the printing industry against those at the very bottom. The ratios use to analyze firms in various quartiles aren’t inconsequential ratios found in accounting textbooks but rather key financial that impact exactly how much an owner and sometimes his or her spouse take out of the business every two weeks.

“Even more important, the ratios you will discover, when compared to your own ratios, will determine whether, after spending 15-20 years in this industry, you will have anything of substance to either sell or transfer over to a son or daughter!”

Depending upon how your ratios compare to those detailed in the study, these ratios ultimately will determine whether in fact you should return to your previous field of employment or stick it out and try to turn your business around in the next 12-18 months. Even more important, the ratios you will discover, when compared to your own ratios, will determine whether, after spending 15-20 years in this industry you will have anything of substance to either sell or transfer over to a son or daughter!

Comparative Ratios – Winners vs. Laggards

What types of ratios are we talking about? The ratios range from the simplest ones such as annual sales and rates of annual growth based upon four profitability quartiles, to percentage comparisons for fundamental expense categories such as cost of goods, payroll expenses and overhead expenses.

The Benchmarking Study delves far deeper than the basic ratios noted above, with comparisons of ratios such as owner’s compensation, excess earnings, and profits per employee. Other ratios examined include current and quick ratios (all ratios and terms are thoroughly explained in the study), as well as average Accounts Receivable collection days, to return on net assets.  

Below are are just a few of the shocking comparisons between firms at the very top as compared with those at the very bottom.  Remember, the results we are reporting are based upon real-world firms with employee teams, job and equipment mix, and types of sales very similar to your own. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of rationalizing and saying that, “Things in my market are really different from these companies… my business is really different and there is no way I could achieve these types of ratios. I just can’t worry about things I cannot change.”

 Average Cost of Goods

Although COG, as a percent of sales, has remained fairly steady for almost 30 years in this industry, it is still worth nothing that the “Profit Leaders” in this industry still end up spending 9% less than the “Profit Laggards” when it comes to cost of goods – A shocking indicator that some owners are simply running very poor, very inefficient operations combined most likely with terrible pricing discipline!

“If your COG, as a percent of sales, is 31% or higher you are most likely destined to mediocrity in terms of financial success in this industry.”

The bottom line? If your COG, as a percent of sales, is 31% or higher you are most likely destined to mediocrity in terms of financial success in this industry. Most likely, it is almost impossible for you to become a “profit leader” in this industry with a ratio of 31% or greater. 

Payroll and Overhead Expenses

Once again, according to the Key Ratio Extractions, poorly managed firms in this industry, despite the fact that many of them are averaging annual sales of $1.1 million or more, are doing a terrible job when it comes to controlling both payroll and overhead expenses. In many cases, some of the most troubled firms are paying 4-6 percent more for payroll and overhead than companies in the top quartile!

“How owners can possibly manage, let alone improve their operations, by relying on financial statements that lack even the most basic tools is beyond me!” 

Rest assured that the reasons these companies are paying so much than those at the top are rarely, if ever, related to geographic or demographic reasons. The most common cause is the failure of owners to carefully examine their monthly financial statements and then to take the necessary actions that are so clearly dictated.

To be perfectly blunt, how any owner could discover a total payroll cost ratio (excluding money paid to the owner) of 33-35% from his current financial statements and still be able to sleep well at night is beyond my comprehension. Note too that I am now 73 and really “cranky” sometimes but there are some owners out there who need to be grabbed firmly by the shoulders and given a good shake. 

A special footnote worth mentioning – it is shocking to discover how many owners receive monthly profit and loss statements lacking a vertical column of financial ratios – i.e. the percentage of total sales represented by each expense item. How owners can possibly manage, let alone improve their operations, by relying on financial statements that lack even the most basic tools is beyond me! 

Excess Earnings of Winners

Excess earnings is defined as those funds or profits generated by the business after paying a single owner a fair-market salary for his or her efforts. Excess earnings is often a key factor in determining the value of a business. It is typically subjected to an excess earnings multiplier and used to calculate the value or worth of a business.

“Sad to realize that companies can ignore this type of data for so long, only to realize after spending 15-20 or more years in this industry that their business has no value whatsoever!”

Suffice it to say, that companies in the top quartile in terms of profitability reported an average excess earnings figure of almost $200,000 while firms in the bottom 25% actually reported a negative amount. The latter meaning that these companies have very little if any net worth other than the “street market” value of their equipment.

Sad to realize that companies can ignore this type of data for so long, only to realize after spending 15-20 or more years in this industry that their business has no value whatsoever!

“However, before you start patting yourself on the back, realize that 25% of the entire industry is actually reporting an SPE of $180,000 or greater!”

Sales Per Employee

SPE has always been a reliable indicator of overall productivity, and once again those at the top, according to NPRC’s latest Financial Benchmarking Study, consistently report a considerably higher SPE than those at the bottom. Almost 13% of our participants reported an SPE of less than $100,000!

If your firm’s SPE is below $126,000 you will discover you are in the bottom 25% of the industry – Like it or not, you are clearly doing something wrong, at least compared to your peers, when it comes to either pricing, personnel management or equipment selection and you need to make some dramatic changes in the way you run your business.

If your SPE is in the $156,000 or above range then consider yourself fortunate because that would place you in the top 25% quartile. However, before you start patting yourself on the back, realize that 25% of the entire industry is actually reporting an SPE of $180,000 or greater!

Purchasing this Brand-New Report

The 2017-2018 Financial Benchmarking Study, published by the National Printing Research Council (NPRC), is available for purchase through the NPRC Bookstore. It is priced at $115 and sold on a 100% money-back guarantee. It is only available as a hard copy. Sorry, no PDFs available. To read testimonials from fellow printers, click here.

 

Special Pricing on Benchmark Study Ends June 7th!

Based upon the feedback received from recent surveys, as well as a strong desire to get critical information about profitability into the hands of as many printers as possible, the National Printing Research Council (NPRC) recently broke with a 34-year industry tradition and slashed pricing on its latest study.

Since it was first released in April 2017, the study has been offered at an exceptionally low, low price of only $115. That special introductory pricing ends on Wed., June 7, 2017. The study is now available as either a PDF or hard-copy!

Traditionally, the biennial Financial Benchmarking Study, due to higher than normal research and production costs, has always been one of the more expensive studies sold in the industry, typically selling in the $175-$225 range. However, a recent survey of both NRPC members and non-members strongly suggested we would better achieve our goal of getting this type of critical information into the hands of as many readers as possible by considering a drastic reduction in price!

And that’s what we have done! – Because we believe this study has the real potential of dramatically improving the profitability of every printing firm that purchases it, we have decided to drastically reduce the price of this study to ONLY $115. In addition, even though it is far more expensive for us to do so, we are limiting the distribution of this study to hard copies only, rather than offering PDF copies as an alternative. To place your order visit the NPRC Bookstore. All orders are shipped within 24 hours or less via USPS Priority Mail. Order processing begins April 12, 2017. Participants have already received their complimentary, VIP copies.

With an overall margin of error of better than +/-4.4%, this year’s 2017-2018 Financial Benchmarking Study provides an analysis based upon the input of 130 firms ranging in size from $200,000 to $5 million 2016 annual Sales. The study offers up almost 100 individual breakouts and analyses. This 66+ page report provides detailed breakouts based upon annual sales, sales per employee, franchise vs. independent as well as firms that emphasize brokering as opposed to those that don’t.

Discover the kinds of financial ratios being reported by the companies at the very top – discover the kinds of ratios being reported by the top 25% of our participants that enable them to achieve owner’s compensation levels of between 25-27%! Analyze their ratios for cost of goods, payroll and overhead expenses and compare those ratios against those reported by others in our survey. Compare the “profit leader” ratios against your own and then use our special worksheet at the end to set real-world goals for the next 12-18 months!

Some Study Facts… The average study participant reported 2016 average annual sales of $1,080,000; reported median sales was $727,200. Average owner’s compensation for 2016 was 16% – the highest reported in years. Broken down by quartiles, owner’s compensation ranged between 5.9% for those in the lowest quartile to 25% for those in the top quartile.sales. The study details the types of key ratios required for cost of goods, payroll and overhead expenses required to produce above average profits.

Sponsored by AccuZIP, this latest study by NPRC features an “Executive Summary” by highly acclaimed industry expert and author Larry Hunt. Hunt has authored the the “Executive Summary” of this biennial report since it was first published in the early 1980s. Hunt’s special industry analysis, takes you through a step-by-step look at what has transpired in the industry since the early 1980s – both the good and the bad!

Not only does Hunt examine and explain key trends that have developed during the past 33 years, he also offers up insight as to why some firms are actually achieving higher levels of profitability today than ever before. He details the key ratios you need to track and improve in order to achieve “profit leader” status. 

To order, visit the NPRC Bookstore today.