Standard doesn't exist in my world.
Consultants and coaches I've worked with say that every business should have a range of package prices posted prominently on their website. The concept is great, it allows clients to vet themselves before they contact you. However, I cannot for the life of me figure out how to make that happen—every project has too many moving parts.
Here is a small example: Last year I designed an invitation package for a local non profit organization. After getting quotes from several printers, tweaking the specs, and ultimately revising the design, we settled on the printer. After we set the base price I asked if they would consider donating some of the work as a gift. They very generously donated one half of the cost in return for credit in our publicity. It was a win. We got an absolutely lovely invitation for a great price. And our response rate was really terrific.
Fast forward to this spring when the event planning began again. I shared the 2014 print quotes with the committee. They were concerned that a tight budget would necessitate downgrading the work. So back I went to the printers with the old specifications. But this year I gave the printers the option of tweaking dimensions and paper stock if it helped keep the cost down. Well, wouldn't you know it, the prices are completely different than 2014. One printer is higher. The other, the one we went with last year, is one third the price. Both opted to stick with my dimensions and paper choices. Weird, eh?
I don't think anyone is snowing me. And I don't think the prices are, or were, artificially inflated. The nature of our work is that every project is different. Deals with merchants and sub-vendors change. Equipment and software changes. Maybe the printer switched their house stock and it worked in my favor. Or, perhaps, one printer is getting a better price on envelopes.
Every job has to be re-specified and quoted every time.
Now let's talk a little about schedules. How long should a job take to design and print?
I'm busy juggling dozens of active jobs. My clients generally travel a lot and are pulled in different directions. And, any parent will tell you the spring is a nutty time of year. By necessity work priorities shift all the time.
Truly, it is OK to ask for a schedule, but don't expect an accurate answer. There is only so much a designer controls. We can't make a you supply us with accurate copy and/or content. We can't make you turn around design proofs quickly. In fact, I'm not sure there is actually anything we can control beyond our own desktops.
All we can do is communicate clearly and work accurately and efficiently. Sometimes that means insisting that a client give me all of the content before I even open a job jacket. Other times it may mean going with the flow and designing a concept comp—and finishing the project in pieces. Sometimes it means squeezing in an hour here and an hour there. Other times it means working through the weekend.
Every project is different and every schedule is unique.
I love the idea of having packages. I wish I could do it.
Do you have package prices? Are they satisfying? I would love to hear.