Estimates vs. Shopping Lists

  • Jan 2, 2020

Whether you need offset or digital printing, most likely you'd like to know what something will cost BEFORE you order the work. This makes sense to everyone. And we at Reno Type pride ourselves in turning your estimate request around right away. Nothing is as frustrating as wanting to print something and not being able to because you're waiting for an estimate!

We typically do about 15 estimates in a day at Reno Type. Usually, we love doing estimates: most turn into jobs that we will bill for.

But some estimate requests are not so popular around here. We call them shopping lists. Yesterday we had the "opportunity" to bid on a job -- a single piece of printing -- that required 480 estimates. It went like this: Version A = 8.5x5.5. Version B 3.75x8.75. Simple right? Hold on.

Give me prices for each as Black only, 4-color process, 4-color plus a pantone, and 4-color + a pantone + a varnish. That took us from 2 estimates to 8.

Then: Not sure what sort of paper we want. Please quote on 100# coated cover and 100# uncoated cover and a really nice high-end textured paper. You still with me? 8 estimates just became 24.

Give me prices for 5,000, 10,000, 15,000. 20,000 and 25,000 each. Heh. Now we're at 120 estimates.

Oh.... almost forgot. Mailing! Give me prices with and without mailing. Now 240.

And please give me a postage estimate... First class, and standard. 480.

This "estimate" will take the better part of an afternoon to complete, and will give a range from $200 to $20,000. The kicker will be when we get the phone call that another supplier is less... can you sharpen your pencil?

Whether Reno Type is your printer or not, do everyone a favor. Figure out what you need (either to print, or to accomplish with the project) BEFORE requesting an estimate. If you really don't know the answer, share the information you do have with your printer and ask for suggestions! If the 240 estimate client had called and said "We want to send a postcard to everyone within a 10 mile radius of our location, want it to look good but only have a budget of $2500 including postage," We'd have answered with a few additional questions that would have allowed us to drill down to the real need.

By the way... jobs that start as shopping lists almost always wind up costing more: If we spend 6 hours up front on an estimate, we have to recover those costs somehow