The Next Disruption of the Reprographics Business is Here

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Sheet vs Square Feet Pricing

Since we opened for business 16 years ago, we have always charged sheet prices for standard sized items. I chose to go this route for several reasons including simplifying pricing for customers (they love round numbers, tracking of sales by sizes to determine supply & equipment requirements, and to be different from my competitors. The only times we use square feet is for odd-sized, large jobs or for government bid contracts (some still try to specify diazo). We have seen more pricing shifts to sheet sizes from our competitors in the past year. Educating the customers takes time, patience, and finding a forward thinking client.

Kevin O'Hea more than 6 years ago

The next disruption

It’s been nearly a year since we instituted sheet pricing. At the same time we increased our square foot pricing and then converted to sheet pricing. We have not received a single complaint from any customer on sheet pricing. In fact, when asked about the move to sheet pricing our customers said it makes sense because they order by the sheet as well.
In addition to a move to sheet pricing and a price increase we slipped in color as well. It’s been well received. The print volume in our market has dropped to the point that we don’t offer volume prices. All orders are low volume so we charge low volume prices. We also don’t sell printing – we sell content. It is available online as PDF’s, we can write the files to a flash drive, or we can print to paper. It’s the customer’s choice.

With equipment manufacturers moving to high speed and cost effective color on one end and print service providers producing affordable color on the other end a demand for color will soon follow if we are strategic about it. Those who do take-off’s, estimating, and bidding prefer to work from color. In my market we provide color to those who do the estimating, take-off’s, and bidding at a price they find attractive. We ask them to request that the architects send us color CAD files so we can print color for them. This is a way to start creating a demand for color drawings and it seems to be working in our market.
As for other digital services, they are billable by the hour.

Bo more than 6 years ago

Charge by the sheet

I am 100% in agreement that we need to charge for Digital Services. I am also in agreement that these services should be defined as Professional Services instead of print-related functions with terms like "plotting" and "raster image process". But, Geoff, while you are correctly arguing that we need to re-define ourselves and our roles on customer projects, it is baffling that you then say it does not matter whether we charge by the sf or by the sheet. Why wouldn't you change this archaic practice that allows our customers to continue to boil us down to a single, commoditized integer?

Gene Klein more than 6 years ago


Charging by the square foot or by sheet does not matter - the print is still the commodity. It's just obscuring a rather clear price increase to a product that has bottomed out. If you can charge your customers this, then great! There really isn't an argument here, do what works for you in your market.

In my opinion: What we provide is the service, the print is the byproduct of this service. Our expertise is not a commodity and ultimately where our growth is. Archaic? Baffling? While I don't appreciate the hyperbole - I could make the same argument about holding on the past.

Geoff more than 6 years ago

Response to Dialog

History will repeat itself for pricing for color digital prints based on market competition.
Our clients have become more suffocated but the old habit of low ball and volume pricing for market share will never die.
Digital Services are the differentiators for the products we provide regardless of the market or pricing method and surprisingly regardless of the lower demand in AEC.
Listing digital services as part of the invoicing process is a necessity. Consistent pricing policies that increase when volumes fall and material cost increase... is the only sound formula for good business management.

Bob Roperti - Jiffy Reprographics Clearwater Fl more than 6 years ago

Response to Gene

Print is a commodity. The labor & expertise involved to produce & organize it is not. Digital services / print management are where we can start charging significantly more, but we have to relate these in terms that people outside of reprographers understand so it isn’t questioned. Expertise is valued & appreciated when it’s clear what services are being performed, using industry jargon like “plotting” or “raster image process” doesn’t help our cause.

Geoff more than 6 years ago

Response to Geoff

Geoff, please be more specific. How do you recoup by "build (ing) it into other services"? Isn't that just another increase? If you can't get away with an increase in print, then how can you get away with another increase?

Gene Klein more than 6 years ago

Page v Sq Ft

While there is no doubt that PageWide/Memjet are going to be game changers in terms of the returns we can get from our customers (which way this goes is TBD), there should not be an uptick in staffing requirements - if anything this amalgamation of color & BW will lower the labor required to merge these two previously separate work flows, in turn allowing us to potentially lower our staffing requirements. How this turns out, none of us will know until the move to this new technology occurs and we see how each of our markets shift.

If you charge per sheet or by the square foot doesn't matter, if you can get away with an obvious price increase now - do it! If you can't - then you have to recoup by other means, build it into other services as your client's obsess over the price per square. I don't mean to be terse, but this topic feels redundant to focus on over and over.

In my experience with the AECO community in our market, we are viewed as a supplier - the same thing as every other trade/vender they use. Our client's consistently tell me that they are actively trying to eliminate print. There will always be print, but those numbers aren’t going to go up. Charging by the sheet or by the square foot doesn’t matter if our core client base is actively trying to move away from us. The question(s) we should be asking: Why are we different? What do we offer that isn’t viewed as a commodity by our client base? How do we make ourselves a crucial partner to our clients that a competitor can’t easily copy? What is our biggest weakness currently? How do we mitigate this?

Geoff more than 6 years ago

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