NPRC Launches Popular Biennial Survey

Dear Fellow Printer – We need your support! Once again, NPRC is launching what has clearly become one of its most popular and long-standing biennial surveys – the 2021-22 Digital Color Pricing Survey.

We’ve been producing top-notch, highly accurate pricing surveys like this for more than 25 years, but we can’t do it without your help. Participate and return your survey by the Jan. 2th Deadline and we promise to work 24-7 in late January and February to deliver you a product that will provide you with accurate, up-to-the-minute pricing info for dozens and dozens of digital products and services.

We need the support and participation of owners such as yourself to produce these top-notch studies. We can’t do it without your support. As always, participants will receive a FREE PDF copy of the final study – a 100-page report that will retail for $175 or more when it is released in early March 2021.

The final study will report both average and median prices for dozens and dozens of products and services – items such as carbonless forms, rack card, postcards, 6 X 9″ and 8.5 X 11″ booklets and directories, flyers, catalog sheets, as well as click charges and stock mark-up practices just to name a few.

TWO WAYS TO PARTICIPATE IN
THIS POPULAR INDUSTRY SURVEY

#1 Worksheet to SurveyThis method is the most efficient, but it takes a bit more time. You download a survey worksheet, complete it at your leisure over a 2-3 day period. When the worksheet is completed, you will then visit our official on-line survey site where you will transfer your answers to the online survey. We estimate that this method entails an additional 10-15 minutes, but you have more time to complete the process. CLICK HERE  to download and print the PDF Worksheet.

#2 Direct Submission of Survey This approach is slightly faster, but is also fraught with potential problems as well, including the chance of losing all of your answers in the event you cannot complete the survey in one sitting. If you’ve participated in the past, and you are super fast at preparing dozens of estimates in a timely fashion then go for it, BUT it is not what we would recommend. Ideally, the on-line survey needs to be completed in one sitting.* CLICK HERE  to go directly to the on-line survey. *(It is possible to pause and then return to an incomplete survey and continue entering data, but we don’t guarantee that.)


The deadline for submitting your survey is Jan. 25, 2021!

2021 Wage & Benefits Study Just Released!

The 2021 NPRC Printing Industry Wage & Benefits Study has just been released (effective Nov. 2, 2020), according to NPRC Executive Director John Stewart.

The new 150+ page study reports average and median wages, along with key benefits, 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: membership@printingresearch.org.

2021 Wage & Benefits Study PDF
Non-Member Price… $179.00
NPRC Member Price… $89.50

2021 Wage & Benefits Study (Hard Copy)
Non-Member Price… $195.00
NPRC Member Price… $98.00

To order your copy, visit the NPRC Bookstore.

 

 

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

 

NPRC Report Projects Sales Decline of 25%

Melbourne, FL, July 23-2020 – The National Printing Research Council (NPRC) has just published its latest report that explores the impact of Convid-19 on the printing industry. The report is based on a survey conducted between July 10-16, 2020. The 24-question survey attracted more than 190 participants.

Distribution of the initial 9-page report was and is being limited to participants only. Survey participants were provided confidential download instructions between July 22-23.

The complete report, however, will be made available to all printers, regardless of participation status, on Aug. 10, 2020. “We are slowly learning our lessons. Having now conducted three Covid-19 Surveys, we couldn’t help but notice a subtle decline in participation levels,” notes John Stewart, Executive Director of NPRC. “We believe many firms chose not to complete additional surveys because they assumed they would be able to read the results anyway,” adds Stewart.

“Free distribution of survey results will not longer be the case,” notes Stewart. “Henceforth, we will make it clear in our survey promotions that results of our surveys will only be provided to survey participants. Additional distribution to non-participants will be at our discretion.” adds Stewart.

Sharing of Some Results…

Based upon the results of our survey, it is easy to conclude on the one hand that the printing industry appears quite resilient. On the other hand, it is also quite clear that the vast majority of printers will be facing major challenges in the months and possibly years ahead. While it is no surprise that 2nd quarter sales would be down significantly, projections for the 3rd quarter of 2020 appear even worse, according to our data.

Looking forward to the 4th quarter, we find that printers are projecting a 26% decline in sales ($415,295 down to $307,025). Examining median figures we find that the projected drop in sales is even worse at almost 32%.

Dramatic Decline in SPE

With the dramatic decline in sales beginning in early March 2020, it is also no surprise that sales per employee (SPE) took an even greater dramatic hit due to the delayed reaction by most printers as to how they would handle payroll and staffing issues.

The chart below illustrates the dramatic decline in sales per employee as first calculated for Jan-Mar. 2020 and then for subsequent periods. Notice the dramatic 44% decline in average SPE between the 1st quarter and the 2nd quarter.

While the 1st quarter SPEs might be considered somewhat “optimistic” in terms of national averages reported in the past, the SPEs reported for the remaining three time-frames are signs of a troubled industry, especially if this trend continues into 2021.

Generally speaking, SPEs are indicative of relative degrees of productivity and there is little doubt that Covid-19 has directly and indirectly impacted productivity of the average printing firm. We suspect it will be at least 12-18 months before we see a return to healthier SPEs.

A special note as to our SPE calculations. The data below is most useful and informative when examined within its own context, as opposed to comparing to historical SPEs reported in other studies.  Nonetheless, the periodic changes are reliable in terms of the time frames noted.

Impact of Convid-19 on Your Business

Our survey asked printers to what degree has Covid-19 impacted their business during the January-June time-frame. As you can see from the graph below, approximately 78% of all participants said Covid-19 has had a significant if not catastrophic negative impact on their business. The results are certainly not surprising. Some printers will clearly learn to roll with the punches, but many others will keep absorbing them until they can’t take it anymore.

Clearly, learning to closely monitor, control and reduce total labor costs will continue to be the single greatest challenge facing printers in the next 6-12 months. Printers who fail to grasp the critical significance of payroll costs as a percent of sales and who fail to react quickly to these “red flags” may find themselves facing even greater changes in the 2nd half of this year than they faced in the first half.

Reacting quickly to sharp declines in sales with equivalent adjustments in labor costs is a skill that needs to be sharpened in this era of Covid-19.

Cash Reserves

Despite an abundance of discouraging “negative data” collected in our most recent survey, we were surprised and encouraged to find that almost 24% of our participants told us the they have enough cash reserves to last at least six months, while an additional 50% say the can last one year or more.

Confidence Level

One of our key survey questions posed the following: “Taking into account all that has transpired in the past four months (March – June), how would you rate your confidence level that your business will be somewhat ‘back to normal’ or better by July 2021?” The scale we used went from “-100” on the left, “0”0 at the center point to “100” on the right.

We intended and interpreted that firms selecting the center point were indicating a 50-50 confidence level that things would return to normal. Or, another interpretation might be that 28% of participants were sort of “neutral” in their predictions, selecting neither a positive or negative view of what might happen between now and July 2021.

Participation in Future Surveys?

As noted earlier, we intend to supply the entire 9-page Covid-19 #3 Summer report no later than August 10, 2020. We strongly encourage you to participate in future surveys. We are the only association serving the printing industry that brings you up-to-the-minute surveys and reports. We are proud of the caliber and quality of the reports we publish, whether they be various pricing reports, mailing and signs studies, or statistical studies reporting on the latest financial benchmarks in our industry.

We encourage you to visit our Blog (See tab at top of HOME page) or our Bookstore. When visiting the Bookstore, you can click on any of the dozen or more studies depicted to obtain additional information. In most cases, we offer a free preview of the Table of Contents for each study. Oftentimes, we also provide for free down loads of sample pages as well. Best yet, all of our studies are offered on a 100% money-back guaranteed basis.

Revision date: 7-23-20, 4:45 p.m.

Are Grants & Loans Really Necessary for Survival?

By John Stewart, Executive Director, NPRC

Are printers counting on government grants and Loans to survive the Covid-19 crisis?  Well, checking out various printing industry list servs, it certainly appears that many printers are indeed doing just that!

Instead of returning to the basics and concentrating on improving key financial ratios such as SPE, payroll and profits per employee many printers seem to be spending the better part of their days worrying how to fine tune loan applications and mastering SBA regulations.

Ironically, more printers appear to have mastered the myriad of new government regulations involved in securing PPP and EIDL loans and grants far better than they have mastered their own financial ratios. To be blunt, I have seen more posts in the past two weeks about how to secure various government loans than I have seen discussions in the past two years regarding  achieving higher SPEs and best practices for lowering payroll costs.

Most profit leaders in this industry (the top quartile in terms of profitability) appear well prepared to deal with the challenges that Covid-19 represents. Sure, there will be struggles and bumps along the way, but there is little doubt that they will survive and prosper both in the short term and the long term. Profit laggards, on the other hand, were ill-prepared to weather even a small financial storm, long before Covid-19 even existed. Now they find themselves in a cash and profit crisis mostly of their own making.

Sure, receiving a loan for $20,000, $50,000 or even $100,000 or more sounds great, but if that loan or grant is viewed as making the difference between “closing your doors” and your surviving to see 2021 then I would seriously question the financial strength and stability of your firm, Covid-19 not withstanding!

If you’ve been running a marginal or below average firm for the past two or three years, or possibly even longer, any loan or grant that you receive will end up being nothing more than a small band-aid where a tourniquet is required instead. Covid-19 related loans and grants are not likely to save firms that are foundering financially. At best, the inflow of new money will simply prolong the inevitable.

I talk to profit leaders all the time, and virtually all of them admit to me admit to me that while the loans and grants they have received are certainly helpful, they note that their firms are not dependent upon them for their survival. Some are treating these loans as “icing on the cake.” Ironically, because they are profitable to begin with, the loans and grants these firms will receive will end up making them even stronger in terms of profitability in 2020 and 2021.

Don’t misunderstand me when I talk about “icing on the cake.” Yes, even the strongest companies in our industry surely welcome the help, and they will indeed put these grants and loans to good use. Weaker firms, however, will likely use the money to patch holes in a sinking ship – a ship that was sinking long before we ever heard of Covid-19. In fact, many troubled firms will end up using the influx of cash to patch holes above the water line, instead of the more serious ones down below.

Don’t misunderstand me when I talk about “icing on the cake.” Yes, even the strongest companies in our industry surely welcome the help, and they will indeed put these grants and loans to good use. Weaker firms, however, will likely use the money to patch holes in a sinking ship – a ship that was sinking long before we ever heard of Covid-19.

Six months from now – I strongly suspect that that many of the troubled firms that so desperately need government grants and loans to survive will have blown through those funds faster than a speeding bullet, and six months from now they will be once again desperate for more loans and grants. As always, this industry, like all industries, has “profit leaders” and “profit laggards.” The difference between the two groups is that the former know there ratios inside and out and recognize that they are indeed in that top quartile. On the other hand, the “profit laggards” are generally poorly informed as to the types of key financial ratios it takes to operate a profitable firm in this industry, and thus struggle along, week to week, month to month.

In turbulent and uncertain times such as  we are facing today, it is more important than ever that you understand the kinds of key financial ratios required to survive and prosper. Granted, “increasing profitability” may be a bit “pollyannish” during the Covid-19 era, but the last thing you want to encounter these days is a slow, yet subtle decline in key ratios.

One fact we know for sure – Six months from now “profit leaders” will continue to be “profit leaders,” while many of the “profit laggards” of today will be struggling even more so than they are today, regardless of any loans or grants they may have received.

Granted, “increasing profitability” may be a bit “pollyannish” during the Covid-19 era, but the last thing you want to encounter these days is a slow, yet subtle decline in key ratios.

We’ve been publishing Financial Benchmarking Studies for the Printing industry for more than 30 years and we have tracked dozens of key ratios in our industry. Most important of all, we’ve been able to compare and breakdown ratios of of the top firms vs. those at the bottom in terms of profitability. Suffice it to say that the “profit leaders” in our industry seem far better prepared to weather the “storm” than the “profit laggards.”

Below are just a few of the key ratios that we look at closely when analyzing the value of firms and their survivability score. Average sales for the firms in this extraction was $1,100,000. These ratios are extracted from the NPRC 2019-2020 financial Benchmarking Study. The 64-page study is a comprehensive analysis of Key financial benchmarks and ratios for the quick and small commercial printing industry. See page 48 for specific definitions and formulas used to report the following. (Click here to read more about this info-packed study.)

Key Ratios – All Firms by Profitability Quartiles

 

Key Financial Ratio* Bottom Profit Qrtl Top Profit Qrtl
2018 Average Gross Sales $1,448,004 $1,037,417
Cost of Goods % 30.6% 29.0%
Payroll Expense % 38.8% 25.8%
Overhead Expense % 25.2% 19.4%
Owner’s Compensation % 5.4% 25.7%
Excess Earnings $ -$7,135 $201,258
Profits Per Employee $ -$637 $32,461
Sales Per Employee $ $118,688 $144,085

Definitions as to specific ratios reported below can be found in 2019-2020 Financial Benchmarking Study

Sales Per Employee can often act as instant indicator of overall financial health. You don’t need a P&L or a Balance sheet and you don’t need the help of a CPA or bookkeeper to calculate it. SPE has nothing directly to do with payroll or wages so you don’t need that info either. Simply divide your annual sales (do not include postage income) by the total number of FT equivalent employees, including all working owners, partners, etc. used to produce those sales. SPE is generally calculated and expressed in annual terms, not monthly, although it can change somewhat from month to month.

By the way, a SPE in the $140-$150,000 range, even though that puts it in the “Profit Leader ” category, does not represent the top of what can be achieved. I know many firms, most of them heavily invested in digital printing, that report achieving SPEs of $160,000 to $180,000 and even more. So don’t be patting yourself on the back too quickly. You can always do better. On the other hand, if your SPE is $130,000 or below you are seriously under-performing in this industry compared to your peers.

Recent SPEs reported by NPRC – SPE varies modestly from report to report. Below are are recent SPEs as reported in various studies:

Study                                                               Average        Median
2019 Digital Color Pricing Study                    $139,830         $130,673
2020 Mailing Services Pricing Study             $156,179          $142,500
2019 Wage & Benefits Study                            $139,048         $134,444
2019 Financial Benchmarking Study              $139,595               NA

2019 Financial Benchmarking Study – Average SPE

California Mailer Praises Mailing Study

“The new NPRC Mailing Services Pricing Study is one of the best surveys to come out from NPRC in a long time,” says David Adams, owner of QPS Printing, Petaluma, CA.

“Although 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,” adds Adams.

Adams is one of many printers and mailers who have praised NPRC’s latest industry study, the 2020-2021 Mailing Services Pricing Study. This brand new, 100+ page study is packed with average and median prices for dozens and dozens of popular mailing products and services, including:

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

Click here to download the complete Table of Contents for this just-released study.

 

Check-Out Table of Contents for 2020 Mailing Study

More info @ Bookstore

Check-out NPRC’s Table of Contents for its soon-to-be-released study – the 2020-2021 Mailing Services Pricing Study. Official release date for study is Feb. 3, 2020.

Based upon feedback from almost 170 firms, this new study is packed with average and median prices for dozens and dozens of services and products in the mailing industry. Popular quantities covered include 1M, 5M, 10M & 25M, plus corresponding unit pricing.

To view specific products and services covered in this brand new study click: Table of Contents.

Place Your Order Today – This new study will begin shipping February 3, 2020, but you can place your order today by visiting the NPRC Bookstore. Retail price for the 110-page study is $175 (PDF) and $189 for hard copies.

Orders are processed and shipped same-day as ordered. All orders are offered on a 100% money-back guarantee if you are not totally satisfied it is everything we promise.

Save 18% With NPRC’s Latest Coupon!

Interested in buying NPRC’s newest research publication – the 2019-2020 Digital Color Pricing Study? If so, this is your lucky month. NPRC is offering 18% off this special study if purchased in January. Instead of paying the retail price of $225, you’ll pay only $184.50 when you use our special promotional coupon.

When asked on the order form, enter coupon code NPRCVIP18. This 80+ page study is packed with pricing information for dozens and dozens of digital products and services currently being offered in our industry. Compare your prices against others in the industry, or at least be reassured your pricing is in the “ballpark” and not way out of line like some customers would have you believe. Visit our bookstore today.

NPRC Offers Printing Goals Sheet

NPRC Offers Free Financial Printing Goals Sheet

NPRC has just released its latest 2018 Financial Printing Goals sheet for the printing industry. Based upon years of research conducted by QP Consulting, Inc., as well as data available in NPRC’s 2017-2018 Financial Benchmarking Study, this new handout offers specific financial printing goals required to attain “profit leader” status.

Printing Goals  

The data is based upon information provided by printers falling into the top quartile in this industry in terms of profitability. This new Financial Goals Sheet for the printing industry details specific ratios for cost of sales, payroll expenses (excluding owners) and overhead expenses.

Download Printing Goals Sheet…

Free Financial Printing Goals Sheet with key ratios

Free Financial Printing Goals Sheet with key ratios

Our advice, download and print the PDF provided and tape or staple to the wall next to your desk. Simply viewing these key profitability ratios on a daily basis, according to many printers who have used this sheet in the past, will help you improve your profitability.

To view and download a PDF of this goal sheet, click here.

2018 Digital Pricing Study

New Digital Pricing Study Proves Popular

NPRC has released its highly anticipated 2018 Digital Color Pricing Study. This new 100+ page report offers up average and median pricing for dozens of color digital products and services in the printing industry. Data on digital pricing is provided in various formats, including average and median prices for a range of quantities, plus in many cases the price per booklet, sheet or in some cases per signature.

“Hello John,
I just had to let you know how impressed I was with the Digital Pricing Study you just released. While I only spent 30 minutes going over the study, my initial impression is that the quality of this study is as good if not better than previous studies. Thanks for the hard work you and NPRC put into these studies, The printing industry is better off because of studies such as this.”
Armand Girard, Curry Printing & Marketing, Auburn, ME

To NPRC,
“An excellent study. It is great to see what other printers are charging for the same products and be able to compare those prices in an organized fashion.”
Kevin Williams, Systems Print & Mail, Laguna Hills, CA

Pricing Study Cover

Cover of New Pricing Study

Publication Price…
PDF Copies… $179.00
Hard Copies… $191.00

NPRC Member Pricing
PDF Pricing… $89.50
Hard Copies… $95.50

 Discover what fellow printers from
around the country are charging for…
Graphic Services – Standard and Complex
Variable Data 4/4 cards (sizes 4.25 x 5.5 and 5.5 x 8.5)
Flat sheets, 100# Text & Cover (finished sizes 8.5 x 11 and 11 x 17)
Rack Cards – 4/0 and 4/4, finished size 4 x 9, full-bleed
2-Part and 3-Part Carbonless forms, plain and numbered
Click Charges Only for quantities ranging from 500 to 5,000!
16-page and 32-page newsletters (qtys. 100 – 2,500)
32-page Booklets – finished size.5 x 8.5 (qtys. 100 – 2,500)
#10 and 9 x 12 Envelopes – Blk only and 4-C (qtys. 100 – 2,500)
Plus many, many other prices with majority high-low guidelines

Special Note to Survey Participants – Please note that printing firms who participated in our Digital Color Pricing survey receive an email and link for downloading the FREE PDF of the study on Dec. 2oth and Dec. 21st, 2017. Please check your trash and deleted folders as well as your spam folders if you are unable to find the email used to distribute this study. The subject line used to advise participants was: “Urgent – Here’s Your 2018 Digital Color Pricing Study.”

Visit the NPRC Bookstore to place your order.