How To Hire A Print Estimator

Estimating print jobs is a tricky business. It demands someone with math skills, multitasking, and a feel for the press.

A good print estimator must juggle a host of factors. He or she has to consider not only the cost of ink and paper, but how different inks, papers, and coatings behave together, the labor needed to prepare computer files for press, and details as small as the cartons used to ship the finished job. That’s why hiring an estimator requires care.

A typical estimator might work on 2,500 quotes a year, so someone experienced will have gained considerable knowledge and tend to work more quickly, which is a boost to productivity.

Hiring a kid fresh out of school? In scanning submitted résumés, keep math grads on the short list. Also include candidates with specialized degrees in print management or paper science. Such candidates will be most familiar with printing software and electronics. Still, because printing methods can be complicated (with the exception, possibly, of digital printing techniques), schools can only provide a foundation upon which to build. And estimating software won’t capture all the nuances. So if you’re hiring someone fresh from college, have the new estimator work with someone more experienced to get up to speed on processes.

Another option? Consider hiring someone from your own manufacturing department. The individual will already understand how a job runs on press, and that’s one-third of the need-to-know equation. (The other two parts are pre- and post-press.) That person can be trained in your company’s specific computer systems and other areas where he or she may lack expertise.

An estimator who is numbers-wise, time and again, is essential to your company making the sale. If the estimator doesn’t quote the job accurately, your salespeople can sell like crazy, but you won’t get the job.