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Frequent Sales Questions
Frequent Support QuestionsFor more help, check our Forum Archives for answers to questions someone else may have already asked. Hundreds of pages of FAQs, Tips and Techniques, on line for easy searching. And don't forget our online Help System. It's based on the user manual for the Gold Edition, but answers on the web are by nature more up to date.
There are some caveats: No record locking or user accounts. Everyone will be logged in as the administrator. As the number of users grows beyond a few, the lack of record locking may become an issue. Without record locking, two or more users could have a customer record open at the same time, and all could make changes. Whoever updates the customer last gets the final change, overwriting any changes made by the others.
Setting Morning Flight up in a networking environment is a simple process. All that needs to be done are the following steps:
- Install Morning Flight on a server or on a peer PC. It will default to C:\Program Files\PrintFire\MorningFlight. Make sure the program runs properly on that server.
- Share the directory (folder) that Morning Flight is installed in.
- Create a shortcut, on the client PC's desktop, to the executable. For instance, if you install the Silver Edition on Server-7 the shortcut would look like: "\\Server-7\c$\Program Files\Printfire\MorningFlight\MFlightS.exe" (include the quotes)
It would be preferable (but not necessary) to set up My World, My Shop, etc. on the server before running Morning Flight on the clients. Also, run Morning Flight on each client at least once to ensure that the administrator is not automatically logged in. An alternate method is to share the MorningFlight folder and map a drive letter to it. For instance, if you map C:\Program Files\PrintFire\MorningFlight to G, the shortcut would be G:\MFlightS.exe (for the Silver Edition).
Morning Flight gives you two main paper categories, buy-as-needed and in-stock. With in-stock you can afford to charge for only the sheets you use because leftovers can go back on the shelf. With non-inventoried paper, no such luxury. If someone orders 200 letterheads, you have three options (work as a printer long enough and all three will play out, trust me):
- Print the whole ream but bill for only 200. The customer will thank you for your generosity and will never again order more than 200. A reminder that no good deed ever goes unpunished.
- Print 200 and put any leftovers into your odd lot room, hoping the customer will reorder in the near future. She does, but orders more than what you have sitting in your odd lot room.
- Print 200 and bill for 500 sheets of paper, just as Morning Flight asks you to. Shrink-wrap the leftovers and hand them to your customer when he picks up the letterheads. Tell him to bring the blank sheets back with his next order and you won't have to charge him for paper.
- Select any buy-as-needed paper from the pick list.
- Click the Special Paper button to the right of the F3 button.
- Uncheck the "No partial reams" box in the Special Paper window.
- In My Shop, open the Press Update window.
- If the umbrella is showing, click the button to turn off Data Validation.
- Make sure "Goofy" is showing instead of the umbrella.
- Click the Maximum Sheetsize button, then enter any size up to 99 x 99".
Data Validation is a Morning Flight mechanism intended to keep small errors small and prevent them from becoming catastrophes. Whenever you enter numerical data, the program imposes minimum and maximum "validated" values. With validation on, the program can safely be used by office staff with limited estimating experience. With it off, the sky still isn't the limit, but the range extends well beyond the reasonable.
There are other times when validation has to be turned off to keep on flying. For instance, trying to enter a PMS ink color that didn't exist when you downloaded the program. In that case, turning Data Validation off is the only remedy.
Why are points suddenly making a comeback? Digital printing, that's why. Turns out digital presses are more sensitive to how thick paper is than to how much it weighs.
Popular Help Topics
Some estimating systems claim to know your market's sweet spot, the exact point at which your prices are low enough to attract new customers, yet still high enough to earn you a profit. Their manufacturers suggest you use these miracle systems straight out of the box, abandon the prices your customers have gotten used to, and step boldly into a more lucrative unknown. What works in Brooklyn, they say, will work in every state and hamlet in the country.
There's a bridge in Brooklyn you may want to keep an eye on, because what you'll be stepping into is not where, under the rosiest of circumstances, I would want to take bold steps.
If you're just starting out
If your new shop is located in the United States, there's no reason not to start with out-of-the-box Morning Flight prices. They've been developed under real world conditions, have proven competitive as well as profitable, and are generally in line with the national average.
If you're already established
Here the rules change. Once you've built up a customer base and your business is well established, relying on someone else's pricing formula can just as easily break your company as make it. You've carved out a niche, mapped out your own playing field. That means your existing customers expect their next bill to be in the same ballpark. If you lower your prices you'll lower your profits, and it may or may not get you more business from your established base. Raise prices significantly all at once and you'll strain customer loyalties and jeopardize sales.
The only safe way to install a new estimating system in a running business is to first synchronize the prices generated by the software with the prices you're charging now, then make incremental fine adjustments, one at a time, until you're satisfied you've reached the best sales/profit ratio your market can give you.
What if you raised the prices of only those products that are noticeably out of step with the national average? No reason not to, especially if they're marginal items and not part of your bread and butter. But here, too, avoid sticker shock. Give your customers a chance to get acclimated.
. . . why don't we offer different price levels in Morning Flight, like those in the Crouser Guides?
Fair question, with more than a single answer. However, let's start with why we think price levels are a poor pricing strategy. One of the quickest ways to lose a customer is to price 1,000 of that customer's letterheads at $50 last month (level three), at $40 today (level two), and at $60 next month (level four). If a temporary slowdown forces a price reduction (or a sudden influx of orders motivates you to raise your prices), there is an easy way to do that in Morning Flight: Adjust your hourly press rates.
The problem with price levels is that they're too broad, too much of a shotgun-type remedy. On some jobs, switching from level three to level two may merely lower your profits. On others it will mean you're selling below cost. Adjusting hourly press rates is just as broad and no better that way. That's why Morning Flight offers a more targeted approach. Here, price adjustments are linked to individual customers.
More reasons against
- Ease of Use. Morning Flight is designed to let office staff handle the low end quotes, freeing the shop manager to tend to more lucrative projects. Price levels would put that at risk. Rolling the dice by picking a level at random is probably not the sort of thing you'd want to entrust to Cousin Mel. Customer-by-Customer adjustments, on the other hand, can easily be locked in beforehand by the owner/manager.
- The Internet. You'll soon have a web site that offers your customers unattended, 24/7 print pricing. When that happens, price levels - and most price adjustments - will become untenable and go flying out the window.
Step by Step
- Click the My Store button, then click My Customers.
- Double-click the customer to open the customer entry window, then click Terms.
- Enter the courtesy discount you want to extend to this customer, or an aggravation surcharge.
Morning Flight comes with three offset presses pre-installed, one each for 1-color, 2-color, and 4-color. With that in mind, do you really need more presses? It depends. If you have no qualms about selling 500 flyers to ACME Electric for the same price as the 500 similar flyers you printed last week for the Garden Factory, then no, you don't need more presses. Not for estimating. For production maybe, but not for estimating.
On the other hand, if all of the following conditions are true:
- You actually have more than three presses,
- You use a different hourly rate for each press,
- You price each job based on the press you'll run it on,
then yes, you will need to install more presses into your estimating program, one for each press sitting on your shop floor. You'll also need one of the paid versions of Morning Flight. Any version, even the entry-level Passport Edition. Having a press in the program for each press in the shop is the nature of the game for Cost-Plus estimating with Budgeted Hourly Rates (BHRs).
The mechanics of adding another press are simple enough. Just click a few buttons and match the specs. And, once you've figured out the BHR, so is integrating the new press into your estimating. The only real chore is calculating that BHR.
The Pushing a Button Part
- From the main menu, click the My Shop button.
- Click the Presses button, then highlight the fourth press (Litho-4).
- Click the Check button to activate it.
- With the press still highlighted, double-click Litho-4, then update the press name, properties, and hourly rate.
Setting up a Cost Center
Once you've added the press, the first thing you'll need to do is set up a separate cost center for it. Because Budgeted Hourly Rates include a profit percentage (as opposed to Budgeted Hourly Costs which do not), it's tempting to think of the new press as a profit center. It isn't. Peter Drucker originally coined that term around 1945 but quickly recanted, calling it "one of the biggest mistakes I've made." He now says there are only cost centers within a business, and “the only profit center is a customer whose check hasn’t bounced.”
Within that cost center you'll have to calculate four different elements:
- Total annual equipment costs.
- Total direct and indirect labor costs.
- Allocated overhead costs.
- A markup percentage for profit.
If you're unfamiliar with BHRs and how to develop them, find an early edition of "Printing Estimating" by Philip K. Ruggles. Current editions are pricey, but older versions are still available at Amazon and other booksellers at a fraction of the cover price. The chapter on calculating BHRs hasn't gotten shorter over the years. It's still 50-plus pages.
The new Press in Practice
Let's say the new press is a 25 x 38" 1-color Komori and you've kept the three built-in presses as your primary presses for 1, 2, and 4-colors. Two things are now immediately available to you without any other action:
- You can enter a 25 x 38" press sheet, previously blocked because you didn't have a press big enough. The program will automatically select the Komori since it's the only press that can handle 25 x 38".
- You can override the built-in 2-color and assign a 2-color job to the 1-color Komori, twice through. Most likely because your primary 2-color press can't lay down the ink coverage.