Apples & Oranges

Do you want to buy an apple or an orange? Can you tell the difference between the two? Well, of course you can.

The adage of comparing “apples to apples versus apples to oranges” is used a lot in the printing industry. When a customer solicits estimates for printing they are anticipating somewhat consistent pricing from supplier to supplier. But, because we create a custom product it’s not that simple.

An estimate is just that…an estimate of the amount of time and materials we think we’ll need to produce your job. We take into consideration the time needed to manipulate your files, show proofs, make plates, buy ink and paper and the manufacturing costs to put all those pieces together to provide the finished piece. Each printing plant has hourly rates based on the costs of their equipment, overhead and talent. Costs also fluctuate shop to shop based on shifts and manufacturing speeds of their equipment. Like every other business our goals are to be competitive yet profitable.

Why is it then that customers are experiencing wide variances in printing estimates from one supplier to another? We talked about that this morning in our weekly sales meeting. In some instances we are missing the expertise of the professional print buyer. Now more than ever I’m talking to Senior Marketing Managers and business owners. Their expertise isn’t in printing so now I must quickly and efficiently communicate all the possible nuances that my competitor may have left out of their estimate. If I’m not careful the confusion is too much for the non-experienced and they may just choose the lower price not realizing they are not comparing apples to apples.

Apples and oranges…both are fruit, but very different.


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