Save 18% on Popular NPRC Mailing Study

Use Coupon to Save 18%
On Association’s Newest Study
One of NPRC’s most popular pricing studies!

Now, for the first time, you can save 16% on NPRC’s recently released pricing study – The 2020-2021 Mailing Services Pricing Study. First published in February 2020 and offered at a retail price of $175 (PDF Only), you can now purchase this study for only $147, but you must act quickly since this limited-time offer expires Sept. 25, 2020. Use the following coupon code to save 18%: NPRCMAILING18

NPRC’s newest study has been praised by printers from across the country. The 2020-2021 Mailing Services Pricing Study is 110+ pages in length, and covers dozens of mailing services and products, including average and median pricing for products and services such as:

  • Full-Service IMb Charges
  • De-duping Fees
  • NCOA Processing
  • Markup Rates for Brokered Lists
  • Laser letter Merging Fees
  • Inkjet Addressing Fees
  • Insertion Charges #10, 6×9″ & 9×12″
  • Metering Charges
  • Hand & Machine Application of stamps
  • Self-Mailer Processing Fees
    Plus many, many other services & products

To order your copy or to read more about this study, visit the NPRC Bookstore.

“As always, NPRC has produced a top-notch publication. “Going rates” for mailing services are hard to track from company to company and town to town, so it’s very helpful to have a baseline to compare with. While the numbers alone are worth the cost of the book, the commentary and analyses that come along with these studies are a huge bonus, especially true because they are unbiased and accurate.”

James Jepsen, Gen. Manager
Local Copies Etc.
Santa Maria, CA


“I have been in the printing business almost 30 years. A big part of my success is because of John Stewart’s industry studies. The latest study, the 2020-21 Mailing Services Pricing Study has helped me determine that I was undercharging on some of my mailing services. We all are busy running our companies and often times simply forget how long it’s been since we last raised our prices to reflect the increased costs of operation. This study is the perfect tool to remind you to analyze your prices to ensure you stay profitable.”

Armand Girard
Curry Printing & Marketing
Auburn, ME


“NPRC has hit the mark again! We are very appreciative of the association’s tireless efforts to get these studies right and on time. We’ve been in the print and mail business for 15 years and have always relied on client feedback and market knowledge to help us set prices. It’s nice to see these corroborated by other businesses similar to ours on a regional and even national basis. Thanks again NPRC.”

Bob Heid
We Are Kymera
Orlando, FL


“The mailing survey is one of the best surveys to come out from NPRC in a long time. All of the association’s surveys are of immense help. This one hit a sweet spot for our company. It validated our pricing positions and gave us some items to add, services we should be breaking up into different price categories and not be “all-inclusive in pricing”. We have grown our commercial printing firm to be in the top ten in the San Francisco north bay. Surveys like the Mailing Services Pricing Study keep us growing.”

David Adams
QPS Printing
Petaluma, CA 94952

To order your copy or to read more about this study, visit the NPRC Bookstore.


NPRC Launches New Wage & Benefits Survey

Invest 12-15  Minutes of Your Time &
Receive 2021 Wage Study FREE!

The National Printing Research Council (NPRC) invites you to participate in our newest survey – The 2021 Wage & Benefits Survey. Owners who participate and submit their survey by the Sept. 15, 2020 DEADLINE will receive a FREE PDF copy of the final 100+ page study when it is released in very early November 2020.

This brand new survey, along with the final study, will provided detailed data for 25 of the industry’s most popular positions, including outside sales representatives, general operations managers, production managers, senior & junior customer service reps, graphics and digital operators, press operators, bindery supervisors, mailing specialists plus 16 other key positions in the printing, signs and mailing industries.

The 2021 Wage & Benefits Study you will receive in November will provide average and median wage and salary data based upon population density, sales, profitability and geographic location, thus allowing you to target and compare your compensation practices against markets most similar to your own.


#1 Worksheet to Survey – This approach is ideally suited for firms with 11+ employees, and/or where owners may need more time to gather records and may not be able to complete the survey in one sitting. This is also the preferred method for firms employing outside sales representatives. First you will download and print a PDF Worksheet of our survey. You can complete the worksheet at your leisure. When the worksheet is completed, you will then follow the instructions and visit our official on-line survey site where you will re-enter your answers from the worksheet. We estimate that this method entails an additional 10 minutes or so, but you will also have more time to complete the process. CLICK HERE or the button below to download the PDF Worksheet.


#2 Direct to On-line Survey – This is probably the fastest and most efficient method for many firms, especially if you have 10 or fewer employees. Grab a current payroll report and your company handbook, and this survey can easily be completed in 12-15 minutes or less. The only drawback to this method is that it should be completed in one sitting.*  CLICK HERE or the button below to go directly to our official on-line Wage & Benefits Survey. *(It is possible to return to an uncompleted survey and continue entering data, but we don’t guarantee that.)



National Printing Research Council
2110 Dairy Road, Suite 102, Melbourne, FL 32904 321-727-2444
Email: Web Site:


NPRC Shares Latest Wages (Update)

We’re down to the wire…  If you’re reading this now, you know the FINAL deadline for participating in this new Wage & Benefits Survey is midnight, Sept. 21st. In the meantime, in the last couple of days we can report some preliminary data.

The new survey covers 25 of the most popular positions in the printing and mailing industry, and the final report will provide average and median wages broken out by population density, sales, profitability and geographic location, just to name a few.

This is what we’ve uncovered so far:

General Operations Manager… $28.20
Customer Service Supervisor… $19.20
Combo Production Specialist… $19.63
Customer Service Rep (CSR)… $15.95
Jr. Graphics, Digital & Pre-Press… $17.70
Sr. Digital Press Operator… $20.63
Sr. Offset Press Operator… $23.61
Sr. Bindery Operator… $21.08

Obviously, the data above is very preliminary and subject to change as more data comes in, but we thought we would share with you what we have so far..
Complete this survey and return it by the Sept. 21st and you will receive the info-packed, 100+ page study absolutely FREE when it is released in early November.

This survey should take no more than 18-20 at most for the average firm to complete. Click here for more information on how to download our worksheet or go directly to our on-line survey worksheet.


Controller Embezzles $2.8M from Printing Firm

We rarely if ever provide links to outside sources that we are unable to verify, but the following story is worth the exception. Over the years, however, we have encountered a number of stories involving fraud and embezzlement, and not all of them involved multi-million dollar firms.

It’s amazing to hear printers say that this could never happen to them because they see and sign all checks personally. No way an accountant or bookkeeper could pull the wool over their eyes!

The truth of the matter is that there are many firms with sales far less than a million that have also be victims of embezzlement. The lesson to be learned is that it can happen to firms of all sizes. Click here or the artwork above to read the story of one such embezzlement.

The Shocking Surprise – Then read the story to the end where you will find a shocking surprise!



Calculating Break-even Sales in the Covid Era

Update & revised with corrections as of 8-28-2020 11:00 AM

The good news is that calculating break-even sales for a company is actually quite simple. The bad news is that many companies in our industry are having a difficult time meeting that break-even figure, thanks in large part to Covid-19 and the devastating impact it has had on the printing industry.

Basically, “break-even” sales is the dollar amount of sales that must be achieved that will cover all of the fixed and variable expenses of the business, and produce a profit of zero. While we would all love to produce a profit of $XXX dollars or a percent of 23% or more, the break-even calculation tells you the very minimum of sales you must achieve each month in order to survive, pay all your bills (including your own salary) and not report a loss!

So Exactly What Do You Need

Exactly what do you need to calculate break-even? First, you will need a current profit & loss statement, preferably at least a 6-month statement.

Second, you will need to separate and total all your fixed expenses from your most current statement. Fixed expenses are typically, but not always, those expenses listed under general overhead expenses. Generally speaking, fixed expenses like rent, utilities, insurance and leases are those expenses that remain pretty much the same each month regardless of sales.

Real fixed expenses are those that cannot simply be reduced or eliminated just because your sales are down! They are, as the term implies, FIXED! What about depreciation? Depreciation is generally considered a fixed expense as well, but for the purposes of calculating a “real world” break-even we will not include this figure in our calculation.

What about payroll? Payroll tends to be far more of a fixed expense than a variable! You will need to total $$$ figure required to cover your total payroll expenses, both direct and indirect. That figure would include FICA expenses, workman’s comp, health insurance, payroll processing costs and all other benefits paid on behalf of all employees.

Do You Include Owner’s Salary?

What about a salary or wage for the owner or spouse? Yes, you would include that figure as well. The same would be true for an owner. Include his or her salary and benefits as well. To exclude this figure, would be to assume that the owner, in terms of calculating his or her break-even sales, is willing to forego his or her salary in order to arrive at the lowest calculated amount of sales that must be achieved in order to pay all expenses of the business, both fixed and variable.

The above scenario, speculates that the owner is saying to himself (herself), “I need to calculate the bare bones break-even for my company, and I am willing to forego my salary for a couple of months in order to calculate exactly the minimum sales I need to achieve in order to pay all my bills as well as cover my current payroll. What do those sales need to be?”

Checking out Variable Expenses

Variable Expenses are next! While the fixed expense calculations noted above are looking for dollar ($$$) totals, for variable expenses we are looking at ratios or percentages in terms of sales. Most variable expenses are expressed as a percent of sales. Most of those variable expenses appear on your profit & loss statements under “cost of goods.” These are expenses that generally vary directly with sales. In theory, if you have $0 sales you have 0% of cost of goods. Sometimes, however, variable expenses appear elsewhere on your profit and loss statements so you will need to check carefully.

Examples of variable expenses on a typical P&L would be paper costs, digital copier clicks, outside services, outside purchases, repairs & maintenance, shipping costs and other materials. If you have minimum service costs that are paid in addition to meter clicks, these costs would be included under fixed expenses, not variable. Once again, we are looking for a ratio or percent representing the total percent of all variable expenses required to operate the business.

Some Real World Calculations

After gathering the above, we should end up with two entries:

• Total Fixed Expenses in dollars ($$$)
• Total Variable Expenses expressed as a percent (%) of sales

Break-even Formula – The formula used to calculate break-even is as follows:

Break-even sales = Fixed Expenses in $$/inverse of variable expenses*
*(If total variable expenses is 45%, the inverse would be 55%)

Using actual sales and ratios from two sample breakout from the NPRC 2019-2020 Financial Benchmarking Study, and the formula noted above, we will calculate the break-even sales (annual) for two different firms, one a low profit firm and the other being a high profit firm.

Low Profit Firm: Reported sales $1,448,004 and Owner’s Comp of 5.4%
Fixed expenses: $927,557 (64% of sales)
Variable expenses: 30.6%
BE Sales formula = $927,557/.694
BE = $1,336,537

High Profit Firm: Reported sales $1,037,417 and Owner’s Comp of 19.4%
Fixed expenses $469,525 (45.2% of sales)
Variable expenses: 29.0%
BE Sales formula = $469,525/.71
BE = $661,302
(Note that in both examples cited above, payroll expenses were treated as fixed expenses. You can re-calculate by treating payroll costs as variable expense instead and your BE figure will be different. However, as noted previously, payroll tends to be far more of a fixed expense than a variable expense.)

General Conclusions & Comments

General observations – Note that the above are actual quartile ratios and expenses from our Benchmarking Study. Note that the low profit firms don’t have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to reaching a break-even in sales. If they lose approximately $111,000 in sales they will already be at break-even, meaning 0% profit.

On the other hand, the high profit firms, because their fixed expenses in terms of raw dollars as well as a percent of sales are so much lower, their break-even is much, much lower. With their current fixed and variable expenses as stated, they could weather an economic crisis such as Covid-19 so much better. They could lose approximately $376,000 in sales before dropping below 0% in terms of profits or break-even.

Remember when making calculations to account for the period you are using. If you are using quarterly figures, then your formula would reveal the break-even for that quarter, not a month. You can and should calculate break-even sales and convert to a monthly sales figure. It is also worth noting that your financial statements ought to conform or follow what is suggested per NPRC’s suggested chart of accounts, thus making it easy to extract fixed and variable expenses.

One last comment – If your financial statements do not automatically include ratios (expense as a percent of sales) for each entry on your P&Ls then you ought to fire the bookkeeper or accountant who is preparing them. This not a topic of debate but rather a statement of fact. If you’re not being provided with the proper information, find someone who can.


Save 18% on Signs & Wide Format Pricing Study

18% Discount on Popular Signs Study

The 2018-2019 Signs & Wide Format Pricing Study is one of NPRC’s most popular pricing studies, and you can now save 18% – BUT you must place your order by Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020.  Use Coupon NPRCSIGNS18 to save 18%.

This study has already proven to be a real eye-opener for many firms! Read testimonials below.

Visit our bookstore at to read details about this popular study. Remember too, that 98% of  all orders are processed and mailed same day as received.Covering dozens of products & services – This new, 110+ page study details real-world pricing practices for dozens of the most common products and services in the signs and wide format industry. Click here or the artwork below to view and download two sample pricing pages.

Click below to view
Table of contents 

AND PAY ONLY… $138.58!


“After reviewing the latest Sign & Wide Format study I realized I’d been leaving money ‘sitting on the table’ on some products. Literally within minutes of receiving the study, I was able to confidently revise a quote for a customer, knowing the price would still be fair yet competitive. The resulting revenue increase nearly covered the cost of the study—and that’s just one project! Thank you for all of your hard work.”

James Jepsen, General Manager
Local Copies Etc. Santa Maria CA

“The work that John and his team do is so great for our industry and I would hope more companies invest the time in taking part in the survey every year. We all rise up together and this work is a great step for all of us! Our company is only 4 years old so this information is invaluable.”

Zeno Signs & Chesterton Printing Co.
Chesterton, IN

“Hi John. Got the study, printed it, and now using it. Every time we get a survey from you we spend a good deal of time reviewing our pricing. I know we should do this more often but your surveys are the ‘kick in the butt’ that we need to make sure we are getting the best return on our work. I have been doing these surveys for more than 20 years. While I own other businesses, there is nothing in those industries to compare with the surveys you produce. Thanks.”

Jon Robson
Auburn Document Centre, Auburn, NY

This information-packed study offers average and median pricing for dozens of products and services offered in the sign industry, including the following:

  • Laminating Services
  • Substrate Pricing Retail and Discounted)
  • 3′ x 6′ and 4′ x 8′ Banners
  • Vertical Banners & Stands
  • Feather Flags
  • 4MM Coroplast Yard Signs (1-S & 2-S)
  • ACM Panel Pricing (18″ x 24″ and 24′ x 36′)
  • Magnetic Signs
  • Decals – square and contour cut
  • Vehicle Decals
  • Flat Surface Vehicle Wraps
  • Window Perfs
  • Basic Pricing Charges for Vinyl Signs

The study is available in both PDF and Hard-Copy formats.



100+ Words to Avoid in Email Subject Lines

NPRC sends out upwards of 30,000 or more emails each week. Most of our emails are designed to promote industry studies, research surveys and general articles about the printing, mailing and sign industries. We learned early on that half the battle in getting folks to open and read our emails is based upon the “subject lines” we create and use. In fact, we often spend more time writing and re-writing a subject line than we will spend on the body of the email.

If you achieve open rates of 15% or more you are doing quite well. Pat yourself on the back! If you’re not getting open rates that high, then you might consider avoiding using one or more of the following words or phrases since they are likely to trigger spam filters at your recipient’s end and place your email in a spam or trash folder rather than in your customer’s “in-box.”

We know it’s hard sometimes, especially when you are emotionally close to the subject at hand, to avoid some of these words. Nonetheless, you need to avoid many of the words below if you want to boost readership. Sometimes it seems like every catchy word or phrase you want to use appears in the “no-no” list below, but don’t give up. On the other, try to think out of the box!

Other email subject-line tips offered by the experts… Avoid exclamation marks, using all caps, subject lines longer than 5-6 words. Be careful with attempts at humor, they can definitely backfire. We messed up big-time one time many years ago with a promo for our printing firm. The subject line? “A special offer for Doctors & Dentists.”

Did you catch the mistake? Dentists are of course doctors, and half the dentists that opened the email were offended to one degree or another by unintentional slight in our subject line!

Common email spam words and phrases to avoid

#1 $$$ 100%
Act now Action Additional income
Affordable All natural/new Amazed
Apply now Avoid Be amazed/your own boss
Beneficiary Billing Billion
Bonus Boss Buy
Call free/now Cancel Cash
Casino Certified Cheap
Click here Clearance Collect
Compare rates Congratulations Credit card/check/offers
Cures Deal Dear friend/somebody
Debt Discount Direct email
Don’t delete/hesitate Double your income/cash Earn
Extra Expire Fantastic
Free access/money/gift Freedom Friend
Get it now/started/paid Great Guarantee
Hello Income Increase sales/traffic
Instant Investment Junk
Limited Lose Lowest price
Luxury Make $/money Medicine
Money Name No credit check/experience
Now Obligation Offer
Only Open Order now
Please Presently Problem
Promise Purchase Quote
Rates Refinance Refund
Remove Request Risk-free
Sales Satisfaction Save
Score Serious Spam
Success Supplies Take action
Terms Traffic Trial
Unlimited Urgent Weight
While supplies last Win Winner



Download FREE Digital Pricing Pages & Save 18%

Act now and save 18% on popular 2019-2020 Digital Pricing Study. This study covers pricing for dozens of the most popular digital products and services provided in our industry. Use Coupon: NPRCDIGITAL18

As an example, you’ll find useful pricing info for 4 x 9 rack cards, #10 and 9×12″ Envelopes, 4/4 flyers, catalog sheets, rack cards and postcards just to name a few. Most prices includes cutting and trim charges, but assumes artwork is provided by customer.

Click here to view the Table of Contents. Visit the Bookstore for more info about this study. Reg. Retail Price  (PDF) is $225. With coupon pay on $184.50


You can download two sample pricing pages from this popular study by clicking here.



Resilient Industry Despite Major Sales Declines

You can now download for free NPRC’s latest Covid-19 Report. Based upon a survey conducted in mid-July 2020 that attracted almost 200 printers, this report offers a detailed look at sales and productivity in the printing industry.

Although the industry has been forced to tighten its belt and make significant adjustment in daily operations, the report notes a “ray of optimism in terms of how printers continue to handle accounts payable. The new report also notes that 89% of survey participants indicate they are either “back to normal” or open under modified hours of operation. Only 11% of respondents indicated they remained “closed to the public.”

Download this special FREE report by clicking here or the artwork to the left. Please note that these NPRC surveys and reports are published and distributed free throughout the printing industry.

If you are interested in furthering and encouraging the type of research represented by surveys such as these, we encourage you to support our efforts by joining NPRC. With annual dues of only $240, your contribution will go a long way towards ensuring that top-notch research such as this continues in our industry.

Prospects that sales will return to “normal” by the end of 2020 are highly unlikely according to NPRC’s latest report.

Approximately 44% of industry report some degree of confidence that the economy with return to normal by July 2021, with the remainder being neutral or negative in their outlook.