2022-23 Bindery Study Correction Notice #2

Dear Bindery Study Participants,

Once again, we apologize for the following errors brought to our attention by John Mantia, Solid Impressions, Carol Stream, IL. l

Please note that the average and median price per pad (page 49) for 100 pads, 500 pads and 1,000 pads is incorrect. The entire Bindery Study PDF has been corrected to reflect our corrections. Once again, we apologize.

To download the entire new page 49 please click here.

NPRC Report Details Newsletter Pricing

Popular NPRC report details pricing for 4-p, 8-p and 16-p newsletters. Based upon feedback from more than 165 printers from across the U.S. this new report features average and median pricing, as well as comparisons between independents and franchisees.

Also included in this 11-page report is a breakdown of pricing between large $$$ volume shops compared to smaller firms. Price for this report is Only $35 and is available for instant download.

Click Here to order your copy. Links for downloading your purchase are provided instantly upon payment. You can also order this special report by visiting our Bookstore.

NPRC Publishes 2022 Profit Leader Ratio Sheet

NPRC has just released a brand-new, one-page sheet outlining five key ratios for industry “Profit leaders.”

The 2022 Financial Model & Goals Sheet is a one-page summary for owners who aspire to achieve or maintain “profit leader” status in the printing industry. The data is based upon statistics drawn from various statistical studies published in the past 18-24 months.

Ratios covered include Cost of Sales, Payroll Expenses, Operating Expenses, Owner’s Compensation and Sales Per Employee.

We encourage you to print-out this goal sheet and post it conspicuously in your office where you can monitor through the year.

To download your copy, click here.

2021 Wage & Benefits Study

The 2021 NPRC Printing Industry Wage & Benefits Study is one of the most popular reports published by NPRC. It contains 150+ pages of the very latest wage and salary data for 24 key positions in the printing industry. This brand new report also covers sales and compensation practices for outside sales representatives.

Specific positions covered include general managers, production managers, Sr. and Jr. customer service representatives, Digital and Offset press operators, graphic designers as well as bindery operators and mailing specialists, just to name a few. This year’s survey also included employees assigned to producing signs and large format.


Wages & salaries are broken down based upon population density, geographic location, sales and profitability.  Discover what firms your size in similar markets are paying for specific positions such as press operators, bindery assistants and delivery technicians. Click here or the artwork to the left to download and view the Table of Contents for the 2021 Wage & Benefits Study.

Complimentary Copies Distributed – If you’re one of the 200+ firms that participated in this popular industry recent survey you should expect to receive your FREE, complimentary copy of the study between Nov. 4-6th. If you did not receive your copy please drop us an email at: [email protected].


2021 Wage & Benefits Study PDF
Price… $179.00
To order your copy, visit the NPRC Bookstore.



One of the Industry’s Most Popular Pricing Studies

CLICK HERE to download three sample pages from the 2021 Digital Color Pricing Study.

This “Must Have” pricing study features pricing for products and services such as carbonless forms, envelopes, self-cover newsletters, rack cards, postcards, 6 X 9″ and 8.5 X 11″ booklets and directories, as well as pricing for flyers, catalog sheets, click charges and stock mark-up practices, just to name a few!

View and download average and median pricing for 8-page newsletters with a finished size of 8.5 x 11″. Pricing is provide for quantities of 100, 500, 1,000 and 2,500. Per newsletter pricing is also provided to assist in pricing for other quantities as well.

NPRC Introduces New Industry Listserv

The National Printing Research Council (NPRC) has just activated a brand new industry listserv. Financed 100% by NPRC, this listserv is available absolutely free to all owners of printing, mailing and sign firms.

Owners can sign-up immediately by clicking or visiting  https://nprcprintownerslist.com .  The new NPRC listserv will start accepting posts Oct. 26th. The moderator of the list is Armand Girard, a 30-year veteran of the printing industry. Girard was a founding board member of NPOA and has contributed greatly to that association as well as to to NPRC. Additional moderators will be added in the next three months.

While the NPRC listserv is unmoderated, meaning that all message sent to the list are automatically forwarded to all subscribers without intervention on our part, it is not anonymous, meaning that all posts must include a full real name, company name, city and state. Phone numbers are optional but recommended since some posts may eventually justify private one-on-one communications.

For those unfamiliar with a listserv, it is better understood by actually jumping in and trying it. However, for those that need a little more clarification, imagine you have a burning question or challenge facing your business and you would like to check with a dozen printers, 50 printers or maybe even 100 printers or more, and ask them your question. Maybe it’s about how to set-up a co-op paper purchasing group.

Well, as a member of the listserv, all you need to do is pose your question and send it to the listserv email address at [email protected] (this email address will only work if you have first subscribed to the listserv) and within minutes your message arrives in the in-box of all members of the list (a dozen, 50 or however many members of the list exist at that time). Members of the listserv who choose to do so will respond to your email. Others will choose not to respond. If three or four listserv subscribers choose to respond their responses will be distributed back out to all members of the listserv.

Yes indeed, the scenario described above can generate a fair number of emails. However, experienced listserv subscribers quickly learn which emails to respond to and which ones to ignore. Some recipients will feel they have something new and constructive to offer, while others will either have no interest in the subject and thus feel no need to respond.

Many experienced listserv subscribers quickly learn how to manage emails from the listserv by setting up a “redirect” in their email programs that will direct or place all incoming emails from a specific sender (in this case the NPRC listserv) into a special designated folder. By doing so, this helps to separate and manage important business email from important, but less critical email from the listserv.

Active Poster or Lurker – It’s up to you. You are free to join and just read emails when they are posted. There is no obligation or requirement to post or respond to posts. For additional information regarding the listserv, contact Armand Girard at [email protected] .


NPRC Releases 2021-22 Sign Study

Yes, it’s now available! The NPRC 2021-2022 Signs & Wide Format Pricing Study is now ready for purchase.

Survey participants, entitled to a complimentary copy of the study, received personalized emails on Sept. 9, 10 and 13th. The emails incorporated “URGENT” in the subject line and provided detailed instructions for downloading.

SPECIAL NOTICE: Please carefully check your email client and confirm that www.printingresearch.org is whitelisted. Doing so will insure that you will be among the first to receive announcements from NPRC regarding this study’s content and availability.

This new study provides average, median and per piece pricing for dozens of products and services provided in the signs and wide format industry. Included in this study is pricing data for banners (horizontal and vertical), feather flags, foam core and coroplast signs, aluminum signs, contour cut decals, vehicle decals, flat surface vehicle wraps and vinyl signs, just to name a few.

The 2021-22 Signs & Wide Format Pricing Study also explores general industry pricing across a broad spectrum of firms, plus it also details pricing by firms based upon their overall sign sales. View the Table of Contents here.

The 110-page study (PDF Version) will retail for $186.00 for non-members and $93.00 for NPRC members. Orders are normally processed within two hours of receipt. Visit the NPRC Bookstore to place your order.

Hiring Someone to Shop Competitors

Hiring a Professional To Conduct a Pricing Survey (Revised/updated 5-4-21)

Over the past 25 years, I have hired or retained a number of individuals to conduct surveys of my competitors.  I Wanted these individuals not only to survey my competitors about what they were charging for specific products, but I also wanted to grade my competitors in terms of professionalism, friendliness and overall demeanor.

In the 1980s and 1990s, a period during which I conducted more than 500 on-site consulting visits, I frequently found myself suggesting that some of my clients, especially those with apparent hang-ups about price, hire a professional to conduct a survey of their own competitors. Of course, with that came the necessity of explaining how I thought it should be conducted as well as how much it should cost.

Great Variations Within Individual Markets

Staff discussing key products to be surveyed.

As a publisher of dozens and dozens of pricing studies over the years, I have often told folks that the greatest variations in pricing in this industry occur not between one section of the country to the next or from one market to the next, but rather within individual markets. While prices for specific products might vary by 5-7% from one section of the country to the next, statistically it is not uncommon whatsoever to find prices for a specific products and quantities to vary by +/- 25-40% within even the smallest of markets.

As an example, in you take a relatively small town or city where there are 10 small format quick printing operations, and you price out a specific product such as 500 #10/24 white envelopes in black ink, you will likely find an average price of approximately $80-85. However, if you price that product out among 10 different printers in that town, you are likely to find prices ranging from $59 to $108.

You may find even lower prices and higher prices depending upon the day of the week you are shopping and who you happen to talk to at the time. Interestingly enough, the printer who may charge the highest prices for envelopes may also be the lowest for matching letterheads. If you are looking for logic and consistency in pricing in this industry you’re probably looking in the wrong place! (P.S. These types of variations in pricing occur in countries as well. There is no logical explanation for these types of variations and inconsistencies.)

Put simply, while I would never allow my competitor’s pricing practices to dictate my own, I also believe it is important to keep informed as to what is going on in your market area. It is also important to get a better feel about your competitors from the eye of a typical consumer or printing buyer.

Hiring a Professional Shopper

The first mistake many printers make when considering shopping their competitors is to do it on the cheap. Spend as little as money as possible and do it quickly. Well, as is often the case, you get what you pay for. If you’re going to hire someone to call and visit other printers and evaluate what they offer and what they charge you have to do it the right way!

That pretty much means going outside. You don’t want to assign this task to a CSR or graphics person or maybe someone in bindery. You probably don’t want to have your grandmother or mother-in-law tackle this either.

First, you need to set up a real world scenario for your shopper. You need to select a reasonable number of closely related products that you would like to have shopped. Ideally, these should be the types of products (and services) that you like to get yourself. Look at your existing list of key customers, and try to develop a fictionalized company that closely matches real world customers that you tend to deal with.

Establishing the Proper Scenario

Let’s imagine that you consider the healthcare field a lucrative source of business for your firm. Maybe you already print for a couple of walk-in clinics. So let’s imagine a scenario where a secretary is sent out by a team of doctors who are considering opening up a new walk-in clinic and they are going to quickly need six specific items….

  • 500, 1M and 2.5M 2-sided, 4C 4 x 9 Rack Cards on 100# Coated Cover
  • 500 ea. Of four different 4C business cards, 1-sided
  • 1M Letterheads and Matching Envelopes 2C
  • 1,000 and/or 2,000 patient information sheets (blk)
  • 100 pads of 50 each prescriptions forms, 4 x 5.5” on Security Guard paper

The above list is strictly off the top of my head. You will have to come up with your own. I would definitely limit the number of products to be surveyed. Too many, and your shopper as well as the printers they are calling up will get discouraged or become suspicious. If you make the list too long, with too many variables, you are going to encounter reluctance and delays. Obviously, there are many other products and variables that could be applied. You could ask about the additional cost of numbering, or if the letterheads where only one color instead of two.

Hiring a “Professional”

Remember, you are not the person that is going to be doing this shopping. Someone else is, and they have to actually believe and play the part of a secretary for this fictional firm. So, you need to check around with your employees, friends and family and let the word out that you are looking for someone to tackle and take on a special 3-4 day project. Let it be known in advance that you expect professionalism and a thorough job to be performed.

You also need to be willing and able to pay someone a decent fee of $14-18 per hour (or more), and you need to realize that this project could easily take 20-35 hours or more to complete. Once you have established the scenario under which you want this person to operate, they need to be provided with a written list of products (like above), a list of printers you want them to visit, as well as specific questions or observations you would like them to make with each visit. What does the place look like, how professional where the people who helped the shopper, how fast did they get back with prices, etc., etc.

So What Does Kathy Do?

Let’s say you have hired Kathy. Kathy needs to dress professionally and should probably carry a small briefcase to play the role. You might or might not even supply her with her own business cards, but in that case the name of the business might be Medical Office Experts, Inc. and of course the phone would have to be her own cell phone. Whoever you hire has to be enthusiastic. Kathy needs to be smart, but she shouldn’t have to know much about printing, nor do you want her using an unusual terms that might set off alarm bells at the firms she visits.

You need to expect that Kathy will make at least one and possibly two visits to each of the ten firms. She should also probably have reason to call them once or twice as well…. Maybe if for no other reason than to check as to why she hasn’t heard back from the company. She truly has to be willing to play the role and believe in it if this is to be successful.

Personally, I would tell Kathy that I don’t really expect to hear from her until she is finished with the project. You should expect, at the very least, a pricing spreadsheet of some sort breaking out all the prices she has collected by individual printer as well as a written report with 1-3 paragraphs summarizing her visit to each firm. Her ovcrall analysis of the firm, the staff, general appearance, etc.

The one added touch, but rarely done because of the circumstances, is to have that same shopper shop your own firm. That means hiring your shopper and discussing the project either outside of normal office hours or hiring the person off-site.

Stressing Professionalism

I cannot emphasize enough that this project, if it is to be done at all, be conducted professionally, and not just thrown together by having someone make secret, quiet calls from some office in the back of your firm.

I can assure you that once you get the final report, and that’s exactly what you want to receive and expect, is a formal report with pricing, analysis and possibly even graphs. If you can get something like that and it takes 25-35+ hours to complete it is well worth the $350-$550 you might end up spending on this project. Quite naturally, I would expect that you would also be able to sit down with your shopper and get some one-on-one observations to fill in some of the possible blanks.

I will assure you, if this survey is conducted properly, you will be absolutely amazed at the differences in pricing, quality and general overviews that you will receive from your shopper, and that in turn should be of great benefit to your firm. All the more so, if your shopper is able to shop your own firm and be as brutally honest about your own employees and operation as you expect her to be about the competitors she shops.

John Stewart, Executive Director, NPRC
Email me with your questions at: mailto:[email protected]

“Excess Earnings” Are Key to High Valuations!


5-page valuation report

NPRC is offering, for a limited time, a special report detailing real world valuations for 48 printing firms. The report features four special valuation charts. Each chart features key factors used to arrive at a typical company valuation.  The charts examine factors such as  –  annual sales, excess earnings, excess earnings as a percent of sales, net assets and assigned earnings multipliers.

The valuation charts then summarize the estimated value arrived at for each of the 48 firms in question, as well as the ratio of value to annual sales.

Top & Bottom Firms by Value

When it comes to establishing the value of a printing company, there’s one fact that stands out above all the rest – “The value of a company has little to do with annual sales.” The charts depict that while one firm with sales of $717,000 can be worth almost $676,000 (or 94% of it sales), a similar size firm with almost identical sales of $745,000 can be worth less than $81,000 (less than 11% of sales.) The same comparisons can be made regardless of annual sales volume.

How do you explain these great variations? Most variations in company valuations can be explained by a company’s ability or inability to generate “excess earnings.” What are “excess earnings?” Complete the form below to download your FREE copy of this special report.

    Print Shop For Sale (6th Printing)

    Print Shop for Sale, one of NPRC’s all-time, most popular bookstore publications, is now back in stock. Quantities are limited, however, and available only as a hard copy. Sorry, no PDFs. 

    Don’t put your business up for sale or offer to buy a competitor until you purchased a copy of Print Shop for Sale.

    Now in its 6th printing, this 310-page book by industry leaders John Stewart and Larry Hunt is packed with practical information on how to arrive at a “fair market” price for the business.

    Chapter 12 of special interest –  This chapter is special… it contains 12, 4-page analyses detailing exactly how the “Excess Earnings” approach is used to value real-world companies. These sample valuations are well worth the entire price of the book.

    Print Shop for Sale includes 14 key chapters dealing with some of the following:

    • Historical and current valuation methods
    • Common valuation myths
    • Importance of “Excess Earnings”
    • What happens when there are no “Excess Earnings?”
    • What about a business with a negative “net worth?”
    • Great tips for increasing the value of your business
    • Cautions for prospective buyers

    RETAIL PRICE: $94.50 (includes shipping & handling)
    NPRC MEMBER PRICE: $74.00 (includes shipping & handling)

    An additional postage charge of $18 applies to Canadian orders.