Spencer Tucker

Pricing decisions are the most mysterious and least understood in the business of commercial printing. We want our prices to be fair. We want them to cover our costs. We want them to provide a profit. Our salespeople moan that everything depends on the price of the job. Our accountants wail that we mustn't drop our prices below a given level or we'll go broke. What the Sam Hill is the right price for a job: the fair price, the competitive price, the price that covers the costs, that yields some profit? Where and how shall we decide? Looking for Answers We want the Lone Ranger's silver

Back in the mid-1900s, managers had piecework, incentive pay, layoffs, short-hour call-backs and employment schemes reminiscent of the longshoreman's daily "shape-up" they used. There are still remnants of those practices. But, in printing? No way. Well, perhaps in emerging economies in Africa, Asia or Indonesia. Pre-1960, when variants of those employment practices were still around in our industry, by stretching a tad, you could call direct labor a job-variable cost. When a press was waiting for plates, you told the crew to "clock out" and go home. Anybody tried that lately? In the last 30 years? In the '60s we were still listening

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