Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Reprographers; are you incurring increased costs?; are you passing along those increased costs?

It has been my observation, over the many years I've been in and around the reprographics industry, that most reprographers are "very shy" when it comes to "price increases."

One of my reprographics industry friends mentioned, in an e-mail to me today, that it is highly likely that the industry’s material suppliers will increase their prices for the materials they sell, considering the fact that they, the material suppliers, will be incurring increased costs. One could go further with this and assume (and I think this would be an accurate assumption) that virtually all reprographers who pay for the “shipping costs” associated with materials shipped to them - - and that all reprographers who operate “delivery” cars and trucks will incur, if they are not already incurring, increased costs for operating their delivery cars/trucks.

I can easily remember “days gone by” when we used to “give away” pick up and delivery services. “FREE PICK UP, FREE DELIVERY.” Most reprographers, if not all, use to advertise that. Well, I guess that, when gas was $.35 / gallon, we (reprographers) were not all that concerned about what we were giving away for free. But, later, most reprographers “wised-up” and began charging for delivery and some reprographers even implemented charges for pick up.

When business is “down”, and that certainly applies “today”, given the ugly recession virtually everyone in the industry is experiencing, “demand” is down and reprographers, quite naturally, would approach “price increases” very gingerly, if consider them at all. Here’s how that would go, “OMG, I need to increase my prices because my costs are increasing, but, if I do, the competition might take my customers away from me!” I’m only sharing with you the same thought that ran through my mind, many years ago.

Certainly, there are sometimes differences between “theory” and “reality.” Theory would cause a reprographer to think that, if he/she raised prices to offset costs, that, by doing so, he/she would risk having his/her customers “picked-off.” Reality-wise at least in my opinion and experience (in other words, I’ve been there, done that, so to speak), if you are doing a great job servicing your customers (if your company excels in providing superior customer service and quality and is reliable and dependable) seldom will customers leave you over a minor change in (an increase in) price. How do I know that (or, maybe I should say, how can I form such an opinion)? Well, like I said, “I’ve been there, done that.”

The other way a reprographer might want to look at this is to consider that “all” reprographers, across the board (even the big guys/gals) are already, or will be, hit with cost increases. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! My experience with this “tells” me that when one starts, others will quickly follow (at least the ones that have an ounce of brain.) So, when you increase your prices, whether those price increases be for reprographics services you provide, or for delivery/pick-up services you provide, or, better yet, for both, don’t worry yourself to death about doing it; as Nike would put it, “just do it.” You AND your competitors will benefit from it. For the reprographics industry to remain alive, and for your business to survive and be profitable, you need to constantly reassess what you are charging, and when cost increases impact you, you had better figure out how to pass those increased costs along and then “implement that.”

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