My Prepress in Estimates


Posted: 1 December 2010

Hal, is it possible to have My Prepress show up in emails, estimates, acknowledgments, invoices, etc.? By show up, I mean, the product or process that I am charging them for. For example, I do a lot of direct mail so there is a lot pre- and post- press stuff that needs to be done. For prepress, I have NCOA/CASS processing and Mail List Presort. For Postpress, I have tabbing and delivery to Local PO which shows up in an estimate (but not when it is a book quote). I think it would be nice that all prepress/composition/revisions would show up in an estimate so they know you have those requested services in the price.

Oh and another thing, is it possible to have the estimated delivery date wording match what is selected in the job ticket when sending acknowledgments? Just about everything I do is time sensitive and when I email the acknowledgment, they all say "Estimated time..." no matter if I select Firm or Critical. Not a big deal, I usually just edit it in the email itself.

So far, everything is going great with 2010.3! I think I finally got my pricing in line. In fact, I think the added flexibility of the presses has enabled me to win more bids!

. . . . .  Keith

Music to my ears, Keith! In the end, that's the whole point of estimating.

I'll take a look at your prepress suggestion and let you know whether it's feasible. As for the "estimated" delivery wording, that's more of a legal precaution than anything else. Stuff happens, and when it does and delivery was stipulated as firm (which, I agree, every printer has to do now and then), it increases the possibility of a law suit.

For that reason, and that reason alone, I'd be reluctant to not say "estimated."

. . . . .  Hal Heindel

Once again, I never thought of that. My customers come to me because they know they'll get it when they need it so I should let my actions speak for me and not the email.

. . . . .  Keith

Keith, Not only doable, but done. Before we upload revised setup files, does "Preparation" make sense for the heading? I think Prepress may be too limiting. As long as we're adding My Prepress, should we also include composition and scans? The only consideration is the space available on the form - I'd prefer not to end up with multiple pages.

. . . . .  Hal Heindelforum_myprep

Not only limiting but some people don't understand what it means. I think "preparation," despite having too many letters, is very descriptive, encompassing and easy to understand. I agree with the two page thing, when I print an order from my website, I have to remember to select "print first page." Kind of annoying. As for composition and scans, definitely! Especially composition. That is something a lot of print shops lose money on. It should be clear that they are paying for it. I just don't know about the word "composition." Maybe "design," "artwork" or "layout"?

To keep things on a single page, I don't think we need to spell everything out in detail. I definitely would NOT put the hours of composition. Scan can just say "scan," don't think it needs to say quantity or size. As long as the default has a minimum of one word for each service rendered, I think the estimator is safe. He can always elaborate if necessary.

. . . . .  Keith

I see we're on the same page, Keith. The only question left is what we should call composition. There isn't a good word for it in the graphic arts vocabulary, at least not one the customer wouldn't question. "Artwork," "Design," "Layout," and "Typesetting" are all too narrow. The most encompassing description is "Desktop Publishing." The problem with that is, only people in the industry would know what we're talking about.

Anyone have any suggestions?

. . . . .  Hal Heindel

Well this is a hard one here. I think the way it is now is fine. There seems to be no better word. If I come up with one I will let you know. Come to think of it, preparation might be better. That can cover file prep to print a job that a customer does on their computer, then wants you to print it. You know how that goes sometimes ... I vote Preparation.

. . . . .  jerryjfm

It is hard, Jerry, I've tossed it around throughout Morning Flight's development. "Preparation" will definitely stay as the main heading. If we're going to add sub-heads, the question is what do we call "Composition"?

Maybe we'll need a compound description, such as "Design/Type" when there are no scans, and "Design/Type/Scans" when there are. Design is usually understood to include layout and artwork, type and scans are self-explanatory. We're getting down to the little things, but as the saying goes, the devil is in the details.

. . . . .  Hal Heindel

Ok, I have had some time to test and think on this. We have two different things here:

1.First is the word composition. That covers typeset/art/design. I would put changes there too.
2.Then we have preparation. Now that can include the above but it goes one step more. Here you include setup of file work such as Keith stated. Then customers come in with their art and you need to fix it in some way or set it up to run. Sometimes you call it setup. I think prepress goes under prep because that is what it is. Comp will deal with the art and prep will deal with the extras. I think I see this somewhat on your example, Hal.

. . . . .  jerryjfm

Ok, so an acknowledgement or estimate could look like this:

"....Preparation: Design/Typeset, Scan, Presort. Finishing ..." (from My Prepress)

What about customer created files? We could use the word "Ibuprofen"!

. . . . .  Keith

Good one, Keith. Although I'd probably stick with "Preparation" and just add an "H".

Here is what the final description would look like: "Preparation: Design/Type/Scans, Presort. Finishing: Fold, Round-Corner." The term "Presort" is pulled in from My Prepress, "Round-Corner" from My Postpress.

. . . . .  Hal Heindel

Some thought here. Just how much info do you want on an estimate to your customer? I like to see art and things like numbering for example. Does a customer need to know ALL that is done on the job? Seems 99% do not care. They just want a good price. It would be nice to have all the details on our in-shop forms such as a time sheet. Does it help to give so much info?

This brought a thought to mind. When we do a quote it is about numbers. It would be nice to be doing a quote and have a button to open up a time sheet that you can look at and print. Why, you say? Well you can run numbers and see just what all you have in the price and it would help you flex the numbers. A detail breakdown is what you have. I just know it helps me at times.

. . . . .  jeryjfm

Agreed, Jerry. We don't need to tell the customer every footstep that is taken to get their job done and it would only invite questions- "Why does it say 3 hours? Can't you do it in 2?" So, no, so much info does not help. But I had noticed that there was nothing said about prepress (on the estimates) and I do think the customer should know what they are getting for their money.

Come to think of it, a little extra info would probably help. For instance, I have a File Correction charge in My Prepress for customer created files that required tweaking. If a customer sees that, they'll ask why and you can tell them how they can save some money and you can save on ibuprofen. Then again, file specifications should be worked out beforehand. Wait, here's a good example: I gave an estimate to a customer, they send me their PO with a price on it. I get the file and it needs some help. I call them and they approve the charges. So I update the ticket and email an acknowledgment which has the File Correction charge in it. And when I print the invoice, it will show-up on there too so if they wonder why the invoice does not match the PO ...

I am starting to wonder if we are all over-thinking this.

. . . . .  Keith

You're both right. Too much information is as counter-productive as not enough. I do think, however, that the descriptions were a little thin before. The revisions should put us at a happy medium.

Jerry, are you suggesting to have time sheets available dynamically, in the midst of preparing a quote? That's an interesting thought, and since it wouldn't get in the way or detract from the quoting process, I'll gladly consider it. In the meantime, cost breakdowns are of course already available when you click on the panels in the quote window, just not all in one place as is the case with time sheets.

One thing to keep in mind: Except for the sliders in the properties window, it wouldn't help you "flex" the numbers. In Morning Flight, all user-controlled price adjustments are done at the estimate, not the quote level. That's by design. When you look at prices in a price sheet, you always know those prices were generated by the program, not fudged by the sales rep or someone in the office.

. . . . .  Hal Heindel

Turns out that pop-up time sheets would come with too much baggage attached to be practical, too many dependencies. However, I was able to meet you halfway, Jerry. In V2011.1, to be uploaded in January, you can click on a product or paper price and get an instant breakdown for that quantity.



Keith, the expanded descriptions for pre and post press made it into V2011.1 as well. Thank you both for your suggestions.

. . . . .  Hal Heindel


That should work, Hal. I overcharged by $255 on one job because I put straight perf in postpress. Then I added perf and number from My Postpress. Hey they paid it, too. Now I am doing a rerun and found it. Rats!

. . . . .  Jerryjfm

Decided what you're going to do, Jerry? Maybe this will help. A lawyer discovers he overcharged his client. Here is the ethics question: Should he, or should he not, tell his partner?

. . . . .  Hal Heindel

Just wanted to chime in ... although late. I agree with the outcome of this discussion. I, like Keith think the customer needs to see what they are paying for. I just had a customer yesterday send a job to me 3 times because they could not figure out how to include a bleed in a PDF from InDesign! Now I will bill them for the time it took me to "educate" them on how to properly prepare their file, after all I had time in opening all the files up and find that none of the 12 pages had bleeds, email her back, finally on the last email I had to giver her specific instructions on what to do. All this I figured I have a half hour of my time.

. . . . .  Craig

I think if My Prepress is set up like My Postpress it will be great. Then you can add anything you want. Hal, it looks like your sample would work well. I like the new changes.

. . . . .  jerryjfm