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How to bill it...........??

Discussion in 'Business Management' started by Gino, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    We have a customer, in fact for 26 years this past Spring, who has been buying quite a bit of work. Never a problem with payment, never a problem information-wise back and forth, never a problem with anything. Good for quite a bit of moolah every year and they've helped us out on occasion with some creative finances.

    Move up to three years ago. They are now asking us to itemize their/our invoices. They receive sometimes as many as 400, 450 or more signs in a two month period. So we calculate the substrate cost, the vinyl costs, labor and bill them making mention of each and every sign we did. That's a lota typing and figuring out. However, last year they brought to our attention, we still aren't itemizing the invoices.

    Wha ??

    Seems they want each and every sign priced separately, which will be a total nightmare, but they're insisting they have no way of billing their patrons, unless we do it to them.

    That would take almost a full-time person to figure all this out and besides.... I get a lot of yield sometimes and just bill them for what we do. However, if we have to do all this extra work, I'm afraid I'd have to raise their prices due to the extra hours it's gonna put into this and I don't know how to explain that.

    Any ideas of how to gingerly request someone pays more, because they can't figure out an invoice and use a tad bit imagination ??

    For instance, here's one of 22 lines just like it.

    • 33x48 Valley Forge, 16x20 boa & sandberg, 16x75dedication sign, 38x34 reesers, 25x31 field shot,15x20 ducky birthday,(2) 18x24 commissioners. Material included in this cost....... $XX.XX
    I have some 80 or so items on this invoice coming up to around $11,000. All the reasonably same sizes are grouped and priced out at.... $980.00.

    All they have to do is divide that amount by the number of signs, but no, they want me to break out each and every sign.... all 80 of them and price them accordingly.

    I have maybe 20 invoices in a two month period going out and the total of signs like I said is almost 500 signs.

    Do you think it's logical to price them all out individually ??

    :thankyou: for taking time to try to decipher this mess.
  2. Fatboy

    Fatboy Very Active Member

    No Gino.I think they must just figure it out and bill their customer accordingly.
  3. wildside

    wildside Very Active Member

    Aug 28, 2005
    must of been a new person come into the office a couple years ago that thinks they know best....:frustrated:

    breaking them down priced individually is what we do on alot of our stuff, but our system is designed to take that kind of input, however, you could approach them with the fact that you are giving them gang run quantity pricing on their stuff, if they want you to break it down per sign, you will have to adjust the prices to reflect a single sign purchase at a time, which could be considerably more depending on what you are actually building them

    i also would inform them the long history you have with them and how the system has worked all these years, micro managing the billing process can and will incur additional charges

  4. ChicagoGraphics

    ChicagoGraphics Major Contributor

    Feb 27, 2007
    hire an accoountant or couldn't you use quick books, that seems like a lot of added bookkeeping.
  5. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

    Sep 11, 2003
    Olympia, WA
    I think you have to then treat each item as a sign on its own and price accordingly while keeping in mind that this is a good and regular customer. You might try establishing a graduated volume discount schedule and a base price for each and every sign that will also cover your extra time in pricing each out individually. This way you cover your extra time and shift the burden of providing high volume orders to the customer in order to get the best overall price.

    BIG EASY DOES IT Very Active Member

    Mar 14, 2011
    Quickbooks....what would you do if you have five hundred customers order 1 sign. You would individually itemize each sign. Just do it. If you do it from the beginning it's not that big of a deal. Take a hit on this one and then next bill won't be so bad.
  7. petepaz

    petepaz Major Contributor

    Feb 14, 2007
    sounds like they want you to give them a bill for each sign?
    when you give them the bill can't you list each sign as a line item and just put that divided price from the total . you might have to adjust the small signs a little less and the big signs a little more but in the end your total should be the same as your group total. if you do have to do that i agree you should charge them more. it takes more time and labor to do that so unless you have enough in the job already you may have to add on another $50 to the total cost.
  8. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    Yeah, it's kinda like winning the Polish Million Dollar Lottery..... a dollar a year for a million years...............

    I feel like they are too lazy to do their own clerical work and want me to do it for them.

    what do you think about their having to give a PO# and title to each and every sign they want itemized. That way they have to put it in writing ahead of time and all I have to do is copy and paste.

    See, the other problem is..... doing this with the flatbed, we can gang up so many more signs at a time and our costs are better than anyone's around, but what we gang up in out rip doesn't necessarily show up for itemizing, so if they give us this PO# stuff, maybe they'll realize the importance of adding clerical staff and just trash this new stoopid idea.

    It's not that they have a new person in this spot, but this person is trying to make their own job easier..... by mine getting harder.

    Cripe's.... $50........ I could spend an extra 2 or 3 hours a week for 14 weeks typing all this stuff out and then having to keep track of all the individual prices for when a same size piece just happens by, I have continuity. More like an extra $3,500. all total.
  9. ThinkRight

    ThinkRight Active Member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Atlanta Ga
    Maybe you could bill each individual sign as a separate job , and you need a PO# from them for for each individual sign.
    It is not that hard once you get a system down.
    For instance , they call or fax an order in and each sign or group of signs has a PO# per sign or batch.
    You will be billing daily and sometimes 2-3 bills at a time.
    Sounds like an beancounter is having fits keeping track of all the signs.
  10. petepaz

    petepaz Major Contributor

    Feb 14, 2007
    Cripe's.... $50........ I could spend an extra 2 or 3 hours a week for 14 weeks typing all this stuff out and then having to keep track of all the individual prices for when a same size piece just happens by, I have continuity. More like an extra $3,500. all total.

    i didn't realize there was that much stuff. then just give them a bill for each sign and the cost is what it is for one sign. now they lose the group price and get the individual pricing and that will cover the extra work. (each sign will be treated like a new person walked through the door)
  11. jfiscus

    jfiscus Map Wraster

    Apr 2, 2009
    Cincinnati, OH
    Are you mailing individual invoices, or how are they receiving the invoices?
    if you have to print an individual invoice for each, you're going to incur ~$.25 ea for printing costs, plus envelopes & stamps...

    How are you receiving the orders/PO's?
    Are they actually sending every individual sign PO# on a different request/order?

    With that type of volume, I would assume their customers have some sort of "set pricing", so I can't see how your invoicing effects their billing customers.
  12. rjssigns

    rjssigns Major Contributor

    Jun 4, 2007
    Home Office
    With volume like that just go to a tiered per sq foot scheme. We did it with one of our clients. He figures out what he needs, burns a PO and sends it with the art. Of course it sounds like you client doesn't want any part of that.
  13. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    No, here is a section of one invoice. About 45 pieces all adding up to around $11,000 or more with tax.
    This is not itemized enough for them. I think it stinks, but they want more. So, I'm thinking I've done enough clerical work on my end. It's now time they give it to me piece-meal and I'll just copy and paste and make up some frickin' amount and be done with it.
  14. signswi

    signswi Very Active Member

    Oct 29, 2009
    I'd give them two options:

    Option A. Everything is individually line item'd and described. It is then priced as a one-off.

    Option B. Everything is ganged and the line item will contain a list of the signs that pertain to that line item. Priced as a gang.

    What sales software are you using? Most support a "description" field for the line item which is where you'd put the list of signs in that line item. As a note we never gang differently sized things, if it's a different size, it's a different line item and charged as a different line item, no matter if it gets ganged print-side or not. Quantity discounts are for quantities of the same thing (physically anyway, we allow "variable data" in a quantity discount aka different art). Having to constantly recalculate your costs seems crazy though, that should all be in your sales software.
  15. Tim Aucoin

    Tim Aucoin Very Active Member

    You know... in the time it's taken you to post all these reply's and the original thread, you could have had most of the work done for the customer... so stop wasting time on here!! :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:

    But seriously... I agree with Pat's assessment. If they want that much detail, the price has to go up to accommodate the request! :rolleyes:
  16. John L

    John L Very Active Member

    Apr 28, 2007
    They surely don't expect that for free?

    We have a long-time property management customer that for the last year has insisted we do about the same, plus we must obtain p.o.'s, plus we must have a handwritten job ticket for each job we do for them that comes from the property, plus their no place to park there...ever, etc etc etc. .... we just add a line item every month, "administrative fee". We aren't charging them $3500 a month for it but their highest to date was actually $2850 last month. It averages about 10% of their total billing.

    It can be just one more thing to add a little profit center for yourself. I kinda look forward to stuff like that.
  17. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    Each and every sign is completely different. Files and sizes are always different. Ripping varies and so does print time to a certain extent. Some things are printed 4 pass, while others are 8 pass. I just always grouped it into one lump and averaged it out over the massiveness of the order. But No-o-o-o-o-o..... they want it separate.

    This is like a two football teams coming into a fancy restaurant and wanting separate checks. But I don't get a tip.... I get frickin' lip.

    :popcorn: :munchie: :corndog: :beer:Coffee: :bushmill: :Oops: :covereyes: :munchie::popcorn::wine-smi::Sleeping::corndog::beer: :bushmill: :wine-smi::munchie: :toasting:doh: When does it stop ?? I'm outa here...................
  18. fixtureman

    fixtureman Member

    May 16, 2012
    Medina Ohio
    Sounds like the place I worked a couple years ago. New production and he thinks like that need to have everything broke down then when they did a job for some one he wanted to bill for any extra pieces that they did even if they printed it on the customers substrate no overage at all. if there was a bad one he wanted them to pay for an extra one even if they ordered 500 and they printed 500 but some where messed up and they had to print a couple more to get the 500.
  19. FireSprint.com

    FireSprint.com Trade Only Screen & Digital Sign Printing

    I completely understand where your customer is coming from. If they need the items broken out so they can re-bill them to their appropriate clients.

    You have a tough call. As I see it, change the way you do billing/pricing for that customer, or run the risk of letting someone else service your customer the way they need.

    On another note, you know alot about this customer's order habits. Why couldn't you just average the cost of several similar items and build a price list. I realize from time to time you might come out behind on a job, but on another job you might come out ahead.

    We do this every day. Yellow inks costs 60-80% more per gallon than black, no to mention different coverages, different artwork, etc. I just look at it at the end of the month and make sure we averaged well off overall based on specific product categories.

    You'll probably have a learning curve with your customer, and need to adjust pricing a little as you go along, but I would imagine a customer that loyal would understand.
  20. Techman

    Techman Major Contributor

    Jun 24, 2003
    they are likely using PayPal, and want to get a single payment for each individual item.

    I do it that way to stop a total charge back on an entire item instead of just one item if something is wrong...

    Last year i sent to Cali a set of items. One got a 1/4 inch nick on the corner because of shipping. The loser charged back the entire order to pay pal and refused to pay for the parts that were totally acceptable.. So from now on. Every item gets a separate pay pal bill.

    That is what it seems your client is trying to do to avoid a rip off..
  21. cdiesel

    cdiesel Very Active Member

    Jan 28, 2005
    Phoenix, AZ
    One of our big clients has changed their invoicing standard four times in the past four years. I'm going through one right now, including submitting complete vendor info again, despite the fact we've done tons of biz with them in the past. Pain in the ***, but they're the customer..

    Not sure what invoicing software you're using, but here's how I'd handle this using QB. I'm making a couple of assumptions too, which from my experience could be true, but you know your client best: You said you're generally nesting signs together for the best yield so I'm assuming most jobs will average out. I'm also assuming your margins are high enough so if they don't average out, you're still okay. You can make any manual adjustments in case of weird situations (like a 96x2 sign that would essentiallly kill a sheet)..

    I'd figure pricing in square inches. Column A would be the sign description, B the width, C the height, D the price, figured at B*C*(sq inch price).
    Copy/paste this spreadsheet into a description block in QB with a quantity of one and the total price in the amount column. This way they've got their per sign price, and it's easier on you to input everything. If you've got a receptionist, have them do it in between calls.

    I'd also up the cost a hair to account for the extra time involved.. A couple bucks a sign maybe?