Friday, November 15, 2013

How Budgeted Hourly Cost Rates almost put a printing company out of business.

Case Study - "We learned our lesson the hard way."

An essential tool for being a successful printing or packaging organization is budgeted hourly rates (BHRs). Inaccurate BHRs can put an organization at risk by making them less competitive, less profitable, and less productive as Quality Printing found out in the following case study:

Quality Printing* is a digital and offset printing company with 45 employees located in the Midwest United States. Quality Printing purchased a new Management Information System 3 years ago. Budgeted hourly cost rates were indiscriminately created in order to implement the estimating and job costing software.

For 3 years, Quality Printing continued to produce estimates and job cost reports using the original BHRs with minor changes. When they finally updated their rates using Cost Rates Advisor, they found that their old rates had significantly impaired revenue, profit margins, and growth. Quality Printing had unintentionally been deceived by the estimating figures used for pricing, and the job cost figures used to measure job profitability. Below is a summary of their findings:

Old BHRs vs New BHRs

Using their old BHRs, smaller jobs were being under-estimated by 4.2%. Unknowingly, Quality Printing was selling smaller, short-run work below their cost. This was causing the organization to drift towards smaller, less profitable work, which required more administrative costs and machine setups to produce orders, and ultimately lowered the organization's profits and efficiencies.

Quality Printing also found that larger, more expensive jobs were being over-estimated by 10.2%. The old rates caused Quality Printing to overprice and lose a substantial number of higher priced, more profitable quotes over the years. This also caused excess capacity and lower levels of productivity in the shop.

"The BHRs we calculated by Cost Rates Advisor has provided insight to our real costs. We have more faith in our estimates, which has helped us shrewdly price jobs, be more competitive on profitable work, and shy away from less desirable work. We're now processing less orders, but at much higher profit margins. We learned our lesson the hard way. Now we update our BHRs at least annually!" -  John, President

If Quality Printing had not updated their BHRs with Cost Rates Advisor, they would have continued to lose profits and would have eventually gone out of business.