Ordering Less Costs More? (Per unit)

A Mr. Beldar Conehead, from Bethany Beach, Delaware by way of France, writes in and asks:

Q: You quoted me $300 for 100 programs, but now I only need 50…does that mean the price is $150?

A: Thanks for considering us to help you with your upcoming print project! First, you are making a great decision to have your daughter Connie’s wedding programs professionally printed. I can understand why you might think that ordering half the number of pieces would cut your price in half too. For instance, if you want to buy 10 candy bars for $1 each, or $10 total, then decide you only want 5 instead, you pay $5, so I see your logic. However, candy bars are “generic,” if you will, each one is the same, so the per unit cost to you will remain constant usually.

With custom printed pieces, we gear our manufacturing process for each job and thus “economies of scale” enter the picture. The design of your piece remains constant, regardless of the quantity you order. And once we start having to set up our equipment to handle your specific job, there are basic costs that stay the same irrespective of what quantity you order. Those “set up” costs must be absorbed by the total amount we are printing. Therefore, the more you order, the lower your per unit cost will be, since there are more pieces to burden with the fixed costs.

Some machines have minimum time standards in order to set up and run your specific job, and that time must be accounted for in the pricing. Special order papers might have to be ordered in minimum quantities, triggering a lower per unit cost with higher quantities printed. And once we set up our digital or offset presses to run your program pages, the machinery is so fast that we can print hundreds in mere minutes! It’s funny, but sometimes the actual printing of the job takes much less time than the design, set up and bindery work! This all leads to a lower per unit price for larger quantities.

Your trusted printing vendor can show you this in practice, if you ask for a shop tour and in person explanation. I’d be happy to show you, Pyrmaat and Connie around the next time you come to our print shop. We can all consume mass quantities of printing!