A properly run commercial print shop with an established client base is typically a profitable, secure business. The standard operating procedures for a print shop are designed to create a smooth work flow, control costs, ensure quality, meet deadlines and make a reasonable profit. Adding an ongoing marketing program to the standard operating procedures keeps the business growing and thriving.


Create an ongoing marketing program to ensure a steady stream of clients. Once clients are secured, stay in contact with them as they will recommend your print shop to others. Craft a sales message for potential clients, asking them to use your services. Compile a list of companies or organizations you would like to do printing for. Send them a series of postcards, offering print services. Write a press release about the print shop and send it to the local media. Try listing the business on craigslist.org, and create a Google adwords campaign targeted to your city or town. Marketing is most effective as an ongoing part of your operations.


Clients will bring printing jobs to you, with specific information about quantity, stock (paper, envelopes, or T shirts), and graphics. Create a price estimate for the job. Typically, the price will include the cost of the stock, a markup on the stock and a print labor price. A standard stock markup is 50 percent of the cost. To create a print labor price, calculate the time needed to execute the job. Multiply the time by the shop labor rate. For example, a half hour job will bill $40 for labor if the shop labor rate is $80 per hour. Print estimating software is used by many commercial shops.

Order Goods

Once the client approves the price estimate, order the goods for the job. Commercial printers will order paper, board, or envelopes for the job, while screen printers may order blank T shirts or sportswear. Many printers will order slightly more stock than is needed for the job, to allow for spoilage. The standard procedure is to order print stock from a specialty trade wholesaler. Most wholesalers will offer credit terms to printers that they do regular business with.

Schedule And Print

Add the job to the shop production schedule. Consider how long it will take to produce the job and allow enough time for it in the schedule. Ask your client when the job is needed to be sure you can deliver it in time. Add a 20 percent to 50 percent surcharge to rush orders. Print a proof of the job if the client has requested one. Print the job as per the schedule. Should problems arise during production, keep the client informed if it impacts your ability to deliver the job.

Invoice And Deliver

Write an invoice for the job to give to the client, keeping a copy for your records. Most clients will pay upon delivery or on standard net 30 terms. Net 30 terms means that the client will pay the invoice within 30 days. Arrange for delivery or client pickup. Require the client sign for the delivery of the job.


Hire and train staff to provide a high level of customer service and quality printing. Motivate your staff with pay incentives and share responsibility with them. A good staff is the No. 1 asset of a successful business. Retain key employees over time to enhance profitability.