Screen Printing Pricing; Should I under cut other screen printers to get business?
At the end of the day this is the big question every new printer has. I will admit in the begging I priced jobs super low, I would not be beat on price. I had everyone telling me not to be the lowest, but in my head I was doing what I though I had to do. My brilliant idea was to corner the market by undercutting everyone and putting them out of business. Once they were all out of business then then I would raise my prices.
Let me tell you we got all the work. Even looked like a super busy shop that needed to automate to keep up with screen print orders. problem was I did not have any profit. My cash flow was the Sahara desert, dry, and to try and get to the point, I was only able to almost put one person out of business, I almost put myself out of business.
So the moral of the story is if you are a printer, there will always be some asshole, like me that will under cut you, and the client will go to them if all they care about is price. But I have found with most clients price is only the second most important thing to them. What they really want is a good experience and they want to be able to trust the services they are working with.
I also want to put something in perspective. You are a bootstrapper, I hear most of the new b printers complain about the 10 dollar difference between this film manufacturer and that film manufacturer. Most printers are cheap skates by nature because you are starting without financial help so you penny pinch every damn thing. But as a printer matures in the business they start to care less about the 10 dollar price difference and more about the final product or the service and convenience of their supplier.
So you eventually become the ideal client as you mature in business so to are the clients you are going after newb business owners will always look for the cheapest deal, but seasoned vets go with service and trust as long as the price dose not exceed their budget. Many of your clients have already been were you are now and have matured as well, those are the clients you want.
The real question you should ask yourself is how can I offer more value than the other cheap ass about to go out of business printer down the street from you? The biggest value increasing methods I have found are, always answer you phone. Always be available during business hours, always be ahead of your deadline. That last one is super hard to pull of when you are growing and busting at the seams. If you can educate and inform your clients with out boring them to death with technical mumbo jumbo, they will trust you and eventually they will bust out that credit card and place an order with you the more expensive guy.
To tie this up and reiterate. Focus on customer service especially with the clients you already have. You wont get as much work you wont look as busy as your competitors but in actuality you will be in a better financial situation and you will build a better foundation of good solid clients, that keep coming back because of you, not because of your pricing.
– Cam Earven