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"I need it fast and I need it cheap!" If you sell printing you probably hear this all the time. In addition to drumming up clients you spend a lot of time preparing bids. A bid is a response to what is commonly referred to as an "RFQ" (Request For Quotation).
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Read the request and make certain you understand the job requirements. Pay special attention to any special instructions that may impact the cost such as packaging, shipping, turnaround time, etc. Clarify any request that is not clear.
Base the bid upon the requirements stated by the buyer. Do not substitute different materials than the client is requesting. For example, if an RFQ specifies 80# Mead Offset Enamel Text, do not use a similar sheet from a competitor because it will lessen the cost.
Calculate the printing cost. Three elements typically comprise the cost of a printing project: plates, paper and impressions.
Plates are usually single-use items that are charged at a rate depending on the materials and labor required to generate them, typically $20 to $50 per plate.
The paper cost includes the price of the paper for the finished product
and the estimated cost of scrap generated in production. In addition, a mark-up of 10 to 15 percent is commonly added.
Impressions reflect the press time required for production. Common press rates start at $60 per hour and can reach several hundred dollars per hour depending upon the cost of the equipment and operator.
These elements are not usually itemized on a bid. They are, however, the most common elements of the calculation. Occasionally, you will encounter a super-savvy buyer that will provide the paper. In this case the quote will cover only plates and press time. However, make sure your bid includes the size and quantity of sheets the customer must provide.
Calculate bindery and finishing costs. Other services including cutting, folding, shrink-wrapping, foil-stamping and the like are also added if the the RFQ requires such. If outside vendors are required for specialty services get the information to them as soon as you understand the requirements to avoid delays in the bid process.
Detail every aspect of the job in the bid. Develop a template in a word processing software package and use it for the bids you provide. The bid the buyer receives should repeat the requirements to avoid confusion and omissions.