Tracing the Trends: Benchmarking for Printing Company Efficiency
Wide-format Impressions' sister publication Printing Impressions' annual PI400 is a listing of the top printing companies in the United States and Canada, ranked by annual sales volume. It serves as a microcosm of key trends and market dynamics influencing the printing industry. In addition to sales results, the list also includes other salient information for each company, including number of employees, printing specialty, and company location.
In an effort to uncover additional insights hidden in the venerable PI400 list, NAPCO Research (NAPCO is the parent company of Printing Impressions, In-plant Impressions, Packaging Impressions, & Wide-format Impressions) took a closer look at data collected to develop key benchmarks focused on sales per employee. This is a key benchmark for comparing your operation to leading print providers. Using the data from the PI400, we calculated a sales per employee benchmark by types of printing applications produced and regional location of operations. The analysis was done on the 2019 PI 400 list, which means that for most companies listed, the annual sales figures are from the 2018 calendar year.
Measuring Efficiency: Benchmarking by Printing Application
Although savvy print service providers benchmark themselves and measure ongoing success using numerous key performance indicators (KPIs), they may not be using revenue per employee, either because they are less familiar with it or because of a lack of publicly available benchmarking data. With many providers moving into adjunct print applications, a benchmark on sales per employee by print product produced offers insights into how a company compares, what they can expect, and levels of efficiency required. To determine this benchmark, PI400 data was segmented by each print application area, with sales for each segment weighted by its contribution (Figure 1). With this data, PSPs can effectively benchmark themselves against industry leaders.
Packaging has the highest annual sales per employee, followed by inserts/preprints and financial printing. Packaging is a product category that doesn’t have digital media alternative, so it is likely its place at the top of the list is because other print areas have seen print volumes be replaced by digital options. Inserts/preprint and financial printing are two areas where print volumes have been declining in recent years. Inserts/preprints often end up in newspapers, which have been declining in print volume, and financial printing has been in decline as many companies are no longer investing as heavily as they once did in large printed business reports. The presence of these applications at the top of the list may be due increases in workflow and manufacturing efficiency. These print areas have heavily invested in inkjet printing and data-driven workflows.
Newspapers and business forms are at the bottom of the list of printing applications by annual sales per employee. Both of these application areas have also been experiencing contraction in recent years. Their low annual sales per employee numbers may have more to do with declining sales and print volume than with inefficient use of staff.
It is important for printing companies to compare their sales per employee to the average sales per employee among providers that produce the same print applications. This benchmarking can highlight how your company’s level of efficiency stacks up against the competition.
Measuring Efficiency: Benchmarking by Region
For the second part of this analysis, annual sales per employee was broken out by company location. This data can be used to benchmark a print company’s sales per employee against other regional print service providers. Figure 2 below shows the average annual sales per employee by geographical region.
Printers in the Northeast and West have the highest average annual sales per employee. In both of these regions, wages and benefits tend to be higher and the job market tends to be more competitive relative to other regions. The high cost of labor may mean that printers in these regions are forced to be more focused on getting the most out of their employees: they have to do more with less.
It is important for every printing company to consider how they compare relative to other companies with regard to annual sales per employee in order to better understand their own level of efficiency. Use the data presented here to benchmark your company’s annual sales per employee against that of other companies in your geographical region or printing specialty, and, if necessary, identify strategies to improve efficiency within your printing company. Whether this means eliminating human touchpoints, evaluating automation options, or investing in higher margin printing equipment, finding ways to increase your annual sales per employee can help your business’s bottom line by increasing profitability.
Evan West is an Associate Analyst at NAPCO Research. In this role, he conducts data analysis that drives key research insights. Previously, he has worked as a market research analyst in the consumer products industry and as an in-house analyst in the food and beverage industry. At home with large datasets, West’s core strengths revolve around uncovering data trends and using them to tell a story.