Industry Benchmarks: Measuring Performance

For print shop owners, understanding their position vs. industry benchmarks is very important in order to improve key areas of their operations. Benchmarks can be used to measure straightforward financial ratios and aspects of the print operation, as well as where the company stands in terms of adoption of processes and technologies that enable new business. InfoTrends’ recent “Emerging Trends” survey, developed in conjunction with NAPCO (the publisher of Printing Impressions and In-Plant Graphics magazines), was designed to create performance and value innovation benchmarks for the production printing market. A total of 377 shops consisting of print-for-pay and in-plant shops completed the survey in February.


At the most practical level, it is beneficial to be knowledgeable of the direction of markets in terms of year-over-year growth, profitability and key cost ratios. At a higher level, it is important to understand which products and technologies production printing establishments are investing in. Operational and business development can be visualized along the two axes shown above. On the operating ratio side, there are a total of 10 data points developed from this survey that a company can use to evaluate its performance. While some of these ratios are straight off the income statement, others are designed to provide insights on how busy a shop is, or how productive its workforce and sales force are relative to its peers.

Year-over-Year Sales Growth

One of the most interesting findings from the survey of 226 print-for-pay shops was their year-over-year sales growth. Viewed in total, 2011 was a little worse than 2010, with average sales per shop down by 0.48 percent. However, by looking at the size of those shops it is clear that bigger shops actually did a lot better than small shops. Year-over-year sales in large print shops actually grew in 2011 by 0.5 percent, while small shops, with less than $1 million in sales, reported that sales in 2011 were down by 36.5 percent, on average.