How to halve your print buying time

I was so frustrated.  Every few minutes I saw signs to the motorway.  And here I was, stuck on the back roads, taking the long way round.

I was in Croatia.  Despite not speaking the language I had successfully found a bus to where I wanted to go.  But it was the slow bus.

What should have been an hour long journey took nearly twice that long.  And I spent most of that journey being annoyed at the time I was wasting.

After all, none of us want to take the slow route

But oddly enough, that’s not what some print buyers do.  They choose to take the long way round instead.

  • They ask the print for a price
  • And then the print run change
  • So they ask the printer for another price
  • And then the print run changes again
  • So they ask the printer for yet another price

But they could avoid all this to-ing and fro-ing if they asked for a run-on price

What is a run-on price?

Print run-on and run-back prices

Add run-ons and run-backs to your print pricing spreadsheet to make it more useful

A run-on price is simply a way of calculating a price for any print-run.  Normally a printer will give you a price for a fixed number of products – 2,000 for example.  The price for these 2,000 items will include all the set costs (called make-ready costs) as well.

To calculate the price for a higher print run, you need a run-on price.  This price covers the cost of printing extra items (typically per 1,000) without any make-ready costs.  You can then use this figure to create a price for the print run you need.

But what happens if you need to calculate a price for fewer items than you originally needed?  Then you need a run-back price.

So what’s a run-back price?

A run back price works like a run-on price in reverse.  So you take the run-back price away from the original price to find the cost for fewer items.  Some printers issue run-back prices that are exactly the same as run-on prices.  But many say that a run-back price is 90% of the run-on price.  So you need to check this with your printer.

Some printers issue run-on and run-back prices as standard.  Other printers need to be asked for run-on prices.

Print buyers who use run-on prices save time

And, yes, adopting run-on prices really can save you half your print buying time.  That’s because some clients just can’t make their minds up!  But there are other advantages as well as time to using run-on prices:

  • You will create better relationships with your printers as you will waste less of their time on new prices
  • You will create stronger partnerships with your clients as you can give them revised prices almost instantly
  • You will be in better control as you easily calculate how many items a budget can afford

Print buyers who don’t use run-on prices have weaker relationships.  They have less control over their budgets.  And they have less time so they achieve less.

And now, let’s look at a way to achieve more with your run-on prices.

What is the most powerful way to use run-on prices?

A little while ago, I wrote about the power of price matrices  If you combine run-on prices and price matrices you create a very powerful pricing tool for your standard items.  You can enter a print-run into your spreadsheet and it will automatically calculate the right price.  And it can even calculate a price from each of your suppliers and tell you which to use.

I used price matrices when I bought print for magazines.  The production teams used the price matrices to create orders.  The publishers used the price matrices to create their budgets.  And I used the extra time to create better relationships with my suppliers and take on new responsibilities.

So run-on prices can even allow you to change your job role!  But there are certain times when you should be beware of run-on prices.

Here’s when not to use a run-on price

Run-on prices work very well when you adjust the print run by a fairly small percentage.  But if the print run changes by 20% or more you need to be cautious of run-on prices.

The run-on price will still calculate the right price from the printer that supplied the quote.  But you need to consider if that is still the right supplier.  Or whether you should consider a supplier with a different press.

However, most of the time, you will find the run-on price a useful tool.

Here are three steps to help you start to use run-on prices

  1. Ask your printer for run-on (and run-back) prices as standard
  2. Use run-on and run-back prices to create a price matrix for your standard items
  3. Inform your internal clients that you will use run-on prices to respond to print run changes more quickly

You’ll be impressed at how much difference run-on prices can make to your print buying efficiency.

So avoid the back roads in print buying

Make sure you use run-on prices to make sure you reach your print goals quickly and efficiently.  Don’t get frustrated about the length of your journey like I did.


P.S.  If you want to learn more about specifying print, you may be interested in our print and paper specification workshop.  Click here to find out more.

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