Frequently Asked Questions

What are budgeted hourly cost rates?

Budgeted hourly rates (BHRs) are necessary to accurately and confidently estimate, price, and cost orders, so that you can be more competitive and profitable. They are a best practice used by the printing and packaging industry for over 100 years.

BHRs are the hourly cost rate in which you must sell your equipment or services in order to break-even or recover your out-of-pocket costs. Some organizations make the mistake of using rates from publications or use outdated rates.

The primary goal of BHRs and the Cost Rates Advisor is to recover 100% of your expenses with the production hours you sell to customers. Cost Rates Advisor does this by distributing all of your expenses (wages, leases, depreciation, supplies, utilities, insurance, etc.) among each piece of equipment or cost center; and then recovering those expenses based on the equipment production hours you expect to sell.

Inaccurate rates can cause you to:

  • Price without a clear understanding of your true costs

  • Overprice and lose beneficial and profitable work

  • Sell orders below your cost and lose profits

  • Be deceived by your estimating and costing figures

Why do I need budgeted hourly cost rates and Cost Rates Advisor?

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that developing BHRs is a time consuming and often dreadful process; finding and gathering the required information, determining how to allocate expenses, and getting management approval on the new rates. This is the main reason why so many companies neglect to update their BHRs on a timely basis. Nevertheless, accurate BHRs are essential for estimating, sales, costing, and ultimately profitability.

We know the pain. For over 20 years, our consultancy had been calculating hourly cost rates for our customers using substandard software and homemade spreadsheets. We needed a more robust tool, flexible enough to handle the unique needs of any printing or packaging company, and easy to use. So we developed Cost Rates Advisor.

The Cost Rates Advisor will:

  • Give you an accurate picture of your true costs so you can confidently and strategically estimate, price, and cost jobs

  • Ensure all of your costs are fully absorbed and accounted for in estimates, quotes, job costs, and accounting reports

  • Confirm that 100% of your expenses are recovered in the production hours you charge to customers

  • Help you be more competitive on the desirable profitable work, and avoid the less lucrative work

  • Provide a catalyst for measuring the performance and cost effectiveness of your organization

  • Determine the rates needed for your estimating and job costing software (Enterprise 32, EFI Monarch, Avanti, EFI Pace, CRC, Radius, Globe-Tek, Printsmith, Franklin, etc.)

What types of equipment and companies does CostRatesAdvisor calculate budgeted hourly cost rates for?

CostRatesAdvisor will calculate Budgeted Hourly Cost Rates for any of the following:

Equipment and services: prepress, design, proofing, sheetfed presses, web presses, flexographic presses, digital printers, large format printers, screen presses, high volume production printers, extrusion, inspection stations, rewinders, cutters, folders, stitchers, perfect binders, collators, folder gluers, die cutters, foil stamping, embossing, grommeting, sewing, cellophane windowing, film laminating, drills, shrink-wrapping, handwork, fulfillment, warehousing, hand assembly, kitting, packing, delivery…

Businesses and processes: lithographic printing, digital printing, large format printing, flexographic printing, label printing, packaging, folding carton printing, corrugated printing, UV printing, newspaper, publication printing, POP printing, banner printing, sign printing, screen printing, rotogravure printing, in-plant operations, mailing, prepress trade, finishing trade, photography studio…

What information do I need to figure my budgeted hourly cost rates?

You will need to enter or import the following information:

  • Equipment list or cost centers, available production hours, and square foot occupied

  • Assets list with equipment investment costs and depreciation - fixed assets

  • Company expenses typically from an income statement or operating budget

  • Employee list with annual wages and benefits

  • Allocations of employees, expenses, and assets (overhead, occupancy, department, or cost center)

How long will it take to enter and figure my budgeted hourly cost rates?

This depends primarily on how organized and available your information is. If your information is available, the average size company can take between 2-5 hours to import or enter the information, set up the allocations, and finalize budgeted hourly cost rates.

How do costs get allocated?

Cost Rates Advisor gives you the flexibility of allocating costs a number of methods manually or automatically using built in industry formulas.

Company Sales & Administrative Overhead Costs - Managers, salespeople, office employees, office furniture, supplies, advertising, utilities, automobile expenses, and asset depreciation can be allocated as indirect Sales and Administration Overhead costs. These expenses are automatically allocated to each cost center proportionately based on the cost center’s direct expenses.

Building Occupancy Costs - Building leases, mortgages, building repairs & maintenance, real estate taxes, maintenance employees, and other building expenses can be allocated to Building Occupancy. This determines your building occupancy cost per square and are recovered based the square feet assigned and occupied by each cost center.

Department Costs - Supplies, shared equipment in a department, department supervisors can be allocated to a department as direct manufacturing costs. Department costs are automatically disseminated to each cost center in the department proportionately based on the cost center’s direct expenses.

Cost Centers Costs - Equipment operators, helpers, repairs and maintenance, and equipment asset depreciation that are specific to a cost center can be allocated directly to that cost center as direct manufacturing costs.

What if I need help setting up my budgeted hourly cost rates?

Cost Rates Advisor includes easy to understand online help screens, a Quick Start Guide, and a detail Users Manual to help you setup, maintain, and implement your cost rates. You can also contact our expert consultants for advice or questions through our online Support Request Form.

We also offer more in-depth one-on-one professional consulting for an additional fee. This includes printing industry expert consultant assigned to your account, personal phone consultations, advice on best practices, what to include and exclude in your rates, a review of your finished cost rates, approaches for implementing new cost rates, and more.

What estimating, job costing, MIS, or accounting software does Cost Rates Advisor work with?

The Cost Rates Advisor has the ability to import data from software products like EFI Pace, Enterprise 32, Avanti, Printsmith, Monarch, Radius, Franklin, QuickBooks, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Sage Accounting, and other products using the Data Import Wizard. The Data Import Wizard has Import Spreadsheet Templates and field mapping functionality that enables you to import income statements, payroll information, fixed assets, cost centers, and other data from a spreadsheet or a .csv file directly into the Cost Rates Advisor database.

How often should I update my hourly cost rates?

The industry best practice is to update your hourly cost rates at least every 6 months or anytime there are increases or changes in expenses, equipment, staffing, utilities, and other expenses. This will help you constantly recover out-of-pocket costs, forecast profitability, manage your company, and improve your bottom line.

What types of financial analysis and ratios are included?

The Premium Edition includes various financial analysis and ratios that can be used to benchmark your financials to other companies using the PIA Financial Ratio Studies including:

  • Costs & Ratios By Allocation Type

  • Sales & Administrative and Direct Manufacturing Costs By Company, Department, or By Cost Center

  • Payroll Cost Analysis By Company or Department

  • Sales & Administrative Cost Per Employee

  • Direct Manufacturing Cost Per Employee

  • Production Hours Analysis By Cost Center

  • Cost Center Percentage of Productivity Analysis

Additional financial analysis and ratios are being added in future releases.

What are the PIA Financial Ratio Studies?

For more than 90 years, the Printing Industries of America Financial Ratio Studies has been the industry’s most valuable financial benchmarking tool for strategic management, investment, productivity, and profitability. The PIA Ratio Studies are a compilation of expenses, assets, salaries, and other financial information from hundreds of printing and related graphic arts firms. Each year 15 volumes are developed from a survey of more than 400 printing firms. Click here to learn more or purchase the Financial Ratios from the PIA.

Can other people or companies see or steal my information?

NO! The Cost Rates Advisor runs on a secure SSL-protected website with 256-bit encryption, providing one of the highest levels of security and authentication. Your financial and personal information is encrypted and protected so other parties cannot gain access to your sensitive and confidential data.

If I’m not satisfied, can I cancel my subscription?

You can cancel your subscription at any time, regardless of the reason, and you will no longer be billed for future charges associated with your subscription.

Can I upgrade my plan?

Absolutely! You're in full control of what plan you would like and you can easily upgrade your account from within the account manager dashboard.

Who created Cost Rates Advisor?

Cost Rates Advisor was designed by Profectus Inc. after years of putting up with ineffective products and spreadsheets. Profectus is a national consultancy that helps printing and packaging organizations improve their business by implementing best business practices and maximizing the value of their information technology investments. The company was founded in 1993 and has contributed to the success of hundreds of small and large printing organizations throughout the United States and Canada spanning all industry segments.


Our consultants have deep industry expertise in cost accounting, budgeted hourly cost rates, business practices, processes, management, estimating, sales & marketing, inventory control, production, change management, people, and management information systems. Learn more>



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